With the holiday season fast approaching, this is the perfect time to plan events with cool winter themes. Here are six ideas to spark your imagination.
1. Snow Day
Do you remember winter mornings waiting by the television wondering if school would be canceled? And then, feeling the utter joy of learning it’s going to be a Snow Day? Attendees will feel a similar exhilaration when they unexpectedly get time to play. Combine that excitement with winter comfort foods and activities that bring to mind favorite childhood memories, and you will have an unforgettable winter theme event.
Food and Beverage: Serve grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup shooters. Set up a hot chocolate bar with all the trimmings. As one of the event activities, guests can shave their own ice and pour vanilla cream on top to make snow ice cream.
Decorations: Snowflakes can be suspended from the ceiling. Tuck blue and white twinkle lights under snow blankets. Show vintage film footage of children playing in the snow, and display skis, ice skates, and mittens.
Parting Gifts: DIY snow globes
2. Winter Picnic
There’s nothing more invigorating than crisp, winter air. Add a picnic, and you have the recipe for a cool winter theme event. There’s something about being in nature that helps people relax and enjoy gathering with others. It may be chilly, but with comfy blankets and warm food, your winter picnic will be a cozy get together.
Food and Beverage: Bowls of steaming hot stew and crusty baguettes with tabletop s’mores and spiked hot chocolate
Decorations: Red plaid tablecloths, rustic lanterns, pine cone name cards and sprigs of greenery, as well as colorful bench cushions and flannel blankets
Parting Gifts: Flip-top mittens
3. Retro Holiday
There’s nothing like transporting your guests to another decade. Try the 60s as one of your winter themes. Some of the guests will have lived through that time of transformation. If not, the popularity of Mad Men will have enlightened them. A retro holiday party is a perfect counterculture winter event theme.
Food and Beverage: Cheese fondue, meatballs cooked in grape jelly, and Jello salad; for dessert, pineapple upside down cake washed down with sherbet punch
Decorations: Silver aluminum Christmas tree colored by a light wheel; big-bulb multi-colored lights; posters of vintage Christmas ads, and, if the budget allows, rented retro furniture
Parting Gifts: Vintage Santa mugs filled with 60s candy (jujube divinity, hard candy ribbons, and caramel cremes)
4. Winter Around the World
Elevate the winter wonderland event theme by making it a celebration of winter around the world. Pick several countries to spotlight–some ice covered, some tropical. Feature food and culture from those exotic locations and watch your guests enjoy traveling around the world without leaving the room.
- Food and beverage: Potato gratin, charcuterie, and Glogg (mulled wine)
- Decorations: Snow, bare white birch branches, and twinkling white lights
- Food and beverage: Hutspot (beef and gravy poured over a mixture of mashed potatoes, carrots and onions) and Stroopwafels (crispy sweet wafers filled with warm, caramelized syrup) served atop a mug of Dutch hot chocolate
- Decorations: Ice skates, wooden shoes, and anything Delft blue
- Food and beverage: Crostini, gnoochi, pane dolce (nut and fruit cake) and, of course, Italian wine
- Decorations: Presepi, presepi and more presepi (nativity scenes)
- Food and beverage: Tamales and Ponche de Frutas (a drink made by boiling pieces of apple, pear, pineapple, and papaya with a bit of sugar, raisins and cinnamon)
- Decorations: Colorful blankets and Christmas piñatas
Parting Gifts: A mini box of Godiva chocolates from Belgium wrapped in world map paper
5. A Christmas Story
Who hasn’t seen the Christmas movie classic A Christmas Story? It conveys the holiday hopes and dreams of every child. As a winter event theme, it’s perfect with so many movie elements to stoke the imagination.
Food and Beverage:
Food–Triple Dog Dare You (cocktail sausages on a skewer), Smeatloaf (mini meatloaves with mashed potato topping), 1940s relish tray (cornichons and olives), cheese log with Ritz Crackers, Pink Bunny Ears Cookies and, perhaps, Soap Bars (red chocolate candy made in a soap bar mold).
Beverages—Ovaltine Bar and an “Oh, Fudge” chocolate martini
Decorations: Frozen Pole Photo Booth, leg lamp, “fragile” boxes and packing straw, eye glasses with one shattered lens, a 1940s Christmas tree, and posters–You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, I Can’t Put My Arms Down, I Triple Dog Dare You, I want a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle, How about a nice football?
Parting Gifts: Mini takeout boxes filled with fortune cookies with a custom message, such as “Happy Holidays from the XYZ Company”
6. It’s a New Year!
Everyone gets overwhelmed at the holidays. Instead of throwing a party in December, why not host an event with winter themes in mind, such as the New Year? That’s a time when people are eager to establish a fresh, new routine, eat right, and set lofty goals. Inviting attendees to enjoy a party where they can catch up with friends, co-workers, and family and eat gorgeous, healthy food, and just ease into the new year will set a positive tone for the next 365 days.
Food and Beverage: mini-quiches, a rainbow of fresh-cut fruit, turkey bacon, whole-grain waffles with fresh fruit toppings (made on site, of course, for the familiar, comforting aroma); and for beverages a smoothie bar or fresh-squeezed juice bar, coffee
Decorations: You can use typical New Year’s Eve decorations, but instead of going with the usual gold, silver and black color palette, opt for bright, bold colors for a Happy New Year banner, number balloons spelling out the year, and paper lantern clocks. You can also cover a wall with paper and encourage guests to write a special goal for the New Year.
Parting Gifts: Stress balls with the client logo and an upbeat message, such as “Don’t Stress About It”
How do you weave in winter themes into your meetings and events? Let us know your cool ideas in the comments or on Twitter!
Sherri Defesche works at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, where she coordinates events and manages web content for the Center for Ethics and Leadership and the School of Arts and Humanities. She has 33 years’ experience in event management and is certified in social media marketing.