Togas, Tuxes, and More: Great Themes for Your Next College Party

A great theme can create a better party

Masquerade Masks
An Nhien Truong / EyeEm / Getty Images

Your club, organization, Greek house, or group of friends is going to throw a campus party. The best way to make sure your party isn't a total dud is to have a theme that ties everything—from the advertising to the decorations—together. Check out these college party themes for some ideas that will stand out and attract a crowd.

Classic Toga Party

The toga theme is a perennial campus favorite, and unless there's another toga party traditionally held on your campus, it's a no-brainer. The costumes and decorations are easy to make, it's inclusive, and the environment is easy to put together on the fly. 

A Current or Classic Movie

Is there a must-see movie out right now? Is everyone quoting lines or characters from it? If so, don't be afraid to jump on the hype and use it for your own party. If people are excited about a hot new movie, they'll be interested in attending your bash. Likewise, classic films can make for great party themes. Quentin Tarantino or James Bond movies, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and Austin Powers are just a few ideas for movie-themed parties that call for awesome costumes. 

A Current or Classic TV Show

Is there a new sitcom, drama, or reality show that's getting a lot of buzz? If so, think like a network executive and figure out how to use the show's popularity for your own benefit. Encourage people to dress up as characters and include decorations that match the sets or themes from the show. Keep in mind that "current" and "trendy" can mean a show that everyone loves to hate too. Hello, Kardashians! 

Choose a Decade

Seriously, who doesn't love seeing their friends in flapper dresses from the '20s or in the bold, mod outfits of the '60s? Going with a decade-themed party ensures that everyone coming will know what to wear. (Besides, who doesn't also love running to the local thrift store to see what treasures are in stock?)

Fundraising Party

Make fundraising the goal. You can turn your party into a fundraiser for a nonprofit or other organization you hold near and dear. Often, you can even use that organization's mission (e.g., preserving the environment) into a theme that works for your party (e.g., nature decorations). Added bonus: Everyone feels good about donating, so the $1 or more you ask everyone for at the door turns into both a fundraiser and a way to boost the spirits of your guests—and there's no better way to guarantee a killer party than a room full of people in a good mood! 

Pick a Season

You can pick a season opposite of the one you're in—after all, who wouldn't want to go to a tropical, beach-themed party in the middle of December? That said, themes like Winter Wonderland during winter can also be perfectly nostalgic and charming.

Host a Masquerade

This is a classic theme for good reason; nearly everyone likes a good masquerade party. Guests can get dressed up without having to go too crazy with outfits, and you can easily buy a ton of masquerade masks at a 99-cent store or a party supplies store. Add some shiny decorations, a few balloons, and feathers, and you've got yourself a party.

Go Formal

After seeing your friends and classmates in shorts, jeans, and even pajamas all year, mix it up by throwing a formal party. You never know how the cutie from your Shakespeare class might look in a suit or tuxedo. A formal party allows everyone on campus to get dressed up without feeling ridiculous for doing so.

Head Underwater

Turning your house (or another party venue) into a deep-sea world can do wonders for sparking a sense of excitement throughout the night. Low lights, some cool decorations (especially hanging from the ceiling), and low music can all contribute to a funky theme. Add a yellow submarine somewhere, and you're good to go!

Head to Outer Space

Just like heading underwater, heading to outer space can be a simple and straightforward theme for your college party. You can get as wild as you want without seeming too ridiculous. Include lots of glow-in-the-dark decorations, too!

Look Into the Future

Grab some friends who have strong imaginations (or who are into science fiction) and see all the things you can dream up for a fun, futuristic party. Added tip: Have a fortune-teller on hand reading the futures of those in attendance too.

Look to the Prehistoric Past

You don't have to be a paleontologist to know that dinosaurs were incredibly cool. Fortunately, they can also help make your party one to remember. Keep an eye out for decorations and other items that can be used for a kid party (origami dinosaurs anyone?). Mix them up enough so that they suit your adult guests too. 

Think Western

Sure, the Old West was a rough-and-tumble place and time. But that doesn't have to mean that your party can't take the best of what it had to offer. Fun hats, decorations, music, boots, outfits, and food can all work together to ensure your Western party is one everyone will be talking about Monday morning.

Choose a Color as a Theme

Go crazy with one specific color: invites, promos, decorations, foods, and costumes. Using various shades of one color can make your hue-themed party a little more visually exciting while also offering a way to transform your house into a place nearly no one will recognize. Encourage attendees to come dressed in the color, too.

Go Grayscale

It doesn't have to be formal or New Year's Eve for you to go with a black-and-white themed college party. This theme is particularly flexible, too, because it will look classy no matter how fancy (or not fancy!) you make it. Let people know, too, that they should come wearing only black and white for an added effect.

Historical Figures

Have everyone come as famous people from history. How fun would it be to schmooze with George Washington one moment and share a drink with Joan of Arc the next, stopping to talk to Socrates along the way?

Pick a Classic Board Game

You may have thought that games like Monopoly, Scrabble, or Sorry were tucked away in your past, but with a little creative planning, they can be turned into party themes. Most of these classic games hold a sense of nostalgia, which is always a huge draw. 

Celebrate a Popular Video Game

If you have a ton of gamers on campus (and what school doesn't, really?), tap into their creative side by throwing a video game–themed party. World of Warcraft or even classic games like Zelda or Super Mario Brothers can bring out the best of everyone in attendance.

Angel or Devil?

Angel or devil parties are super easy to throw because your attendees pretty much bring the main decorations through their costumes. Tell guests to come dressed as either an angel or a devil; all you have to do is use black, white, and red decorations around your party location to tie everything together.

Go With an Animal Theme

You might be surprised at how creative people can be if they're coming for an animal-themed party. People can choose the simple whiskers-drawn-on-the-face or go all-out in a mascot costume. As the party host, you just need to coordinate a bit by providing things to help everything seem cohesive: zoo advertising? animal prints? "Please Don't Feed the Animals" signs?

Think Classic Literature (Especially Children's Lit)

Dressing up like Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Bears, or even Hansel and Gretel can be a new way to mix things up at a college party. With so much to choose from, your guests should feel comfortable coming as simply or elaborately dressed as they want. For the theme, you can choose one story in particular or just use the broader theme of classic children's literature.

Choose Your Own Music Figure

This theme provides endless ideas because there are so many musicians to choose from (Beethoven? Bowie? Britney Spears? Michael Jackson?). Additionally, creating a playlist to play during the party is easy-cheesy. With a little searching online, you should be able to find enough images of famous musicians to create some promos and decorations, too.