For 14 years I went to a church that had an amazing group of people who coordinated the social functions of the church — banquets, father-son outings, church picnics, etc. At any kind of banquet (they had three annually: a sweetheart banquet in February, later changed into a “Midwinter Banquet” to be more inclusive of everyone in the church rather than just those in relationships; a missions banquet in the fall, and a ladies’ banquet in the spring) they had beautiful and imaginative ways of working a theme out into the decorations and favors. It didn’t occur to me until my last few years there to start a file to record some of these ideas for future use. I made file folders for the different types of banquets and a couple more for baby and wedding showers, then I would include a copy of the program and maybe even a page of notes of some of the details. In the shower files I’d include a particularly cute invitation or ideas about games or centerpieces, etc.
Several years later I found myself the coordinator of the ladies’ group at church, and one of our functions is the annual ladies’ luncheon (used to be mother/daughter banquet, but once again, we wanted to make it more inclusive). I haven’t copied any of the ideas verbatim — in fact, I think I have only used one variation of one of the themes there — but sometimes it is inspirational just to flip through that folder. The memory of seeing a theme creatively worked out through the details of a banquet spurs more creativity in applying the process to different themes.
You could even expand this to include a file for different types of party ideas. We’ve had the generic birthday parties at the putt-putt place and simple ones with just cake and ice cream and presents, but a few times we’ve had themed parties — a train one, a Lego one, an army one, and a detective one — that were a lot of fun. The Family Fun magazine web site has tons of ideas for themed parties. We found a few ideas for the detective party just by searching on the internet, and what we found plus a little thought led to more ideas.
I’m starting a Word document to jot down other theme ideas as they come to mind to possibly be worked out later.
(An updated P.S.: You can also find a wealth of ideas for banquets/luncheons at the Creative Ladies Ministry site, a book called Let’s Plan a Party from Regular Baptist Press, and the Sweet Monday ministry for ladies’ meetings).
For more works-for-me tips, visit Shannon’s place at Rocks In My Dryer.