Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
David Giesbrecht/HBO Max
Life > Experiences

21 Fun College Party Theme Ideas That Are Actually Unique

College parties have become a staple of university life (even though some students think they should be abolished). There’s no denying, however, that some college party theme ideas have gone a little stale. So if you’re planning your own soiree, whether it’s a birthday gathering or a fall fest, and you’re hoping for something a bit more unique than the toga party popularized in Animal House, we’ve got a comprehensive list. Some of these are stripped straight from TikTok and pop culture, while others are classic themes that have been around for years.

If your idea bank is coming up empty or you don’t go to parties a lot, don’t worry — the best and most unique college party themes don’t have to cost much money, and don’t take a lot of time to plan, making them super easy to pull off. Whether you want to dress up for something fancy or host a cool, casual house party, keep reading for fun festivity options you can use for your next get-together, that will provide a memorable night and some great photo ops.

Astrology party

Leave your party theme up to the stars, by wearing shirts, jewelry, and other accessories with your zodiac sign on them (or your big three, if you’re really passionate about astrology!). You can lean in by buying cute celestial or astrology-themed decorations, like these hanging moons and stars from Amazon. You can try your hand at tarot and set up a table with a deck, or get a magic 8 ball to make predictions. And hey, you might even find a dancing partner who’s astrologically compatible with you.

Top Spotify artists theme party

It’s time to own your Spotify Wrapped, for better or worse. Dress up as one of your top artists from the last year, or someone who constantly appears on your On Repeat playlist. (And when there’s 20 Taylor Swifts and 15 Harry Styles at the same party, pretend to be shocked.) This is a fun way to find new friends who have the same music taste as you — or maybe reignite some passionate debates about which pop diva is really the best.

The Met Gala’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion” theme party

People call just about anything “camp” these days, to the point that it’s become a part of Gen Z slang, but does anyone actually know what it means? Put your guests to the test by having them follow in the footsteps of the 2019 Met Gala’s theme, and make them wear something camp, whatever they think that means. You can even take your own iconic Met Gala bathroom selfie — Anna Wintour would be proud. (Probably. Okay, maybe not, but she’s notoriously hard to please.)

Anything But Clothes

Anything But Clothes, or ABC parties, aren’t quite as out there as the full naked party from The Sex Lives of College Girls, but are still an opportunity to get experimental. An ABC party means wearing curtains, trash bags, caution tape, or anything else you can fashion into an outfit that isn’t actually “meant” to be worn.

Anything But Cups

You can also throw a different kind of ABC party, Anything But Cups, where your guests have to bring empty ketchup bottles, Pringles cans, or other non-cup containers to be served drinks.

East Coast, West Coast or 50 states

If your school has a large population of students that hail from other states, this is a fun way for people to rep where they’re coming from. If you want to keep it simple (and perhaps restart a debate that’s been going on for decades), you can ask people to choose the East Coast or West Coast and dress accordingly: all-black everything for the New Yorkers, surfer-chic for the SoCal lovers, and everything in between. If you’d rather open it up to more variety, try a 50 states party, where everyone can wear something representative of their home state, whether that’s a cowboy hat for Texas or a Broncos jersey for Coloradoans.

Pajama party

Was Pajama Day during middle school Spirit Week not the best day ever? If you’re of the opinion that Pajama Day should be every day, you’re in luck, because you make the rules at your own party. The best part about this theme is that you can take “pajamas” to mean whatever you feel most comfortable in, whether that’s plaid flannel pants or a satin nightgown.

Flashback Friday

Ring in the weekend with a throwback theme. You can get as creative with this one as you want: recreate a baby picture of yourself, dress up as a pop culture icon from your childhood (Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, even the Powerpuff Girls if you’re going with friends), or throw on any outfit that reminds you of simpler times, before you had things like finals to worry about. You can extend the flashback theme to your snack options, by buying the candy and foods you loved as a kid, like Scooby-Doo fruit snacks or Gushers.

Partner clothing swap

This theme originates from a TikTok “Dress As Your Spouse Friendsgiving” video by @hunterraeeee. Of course, most college students don’t have spouses, so pair up with your SO, your bestie, or even pick names out of a hat with your friend group, and dress up as each other. You can borrow clothes from each other’s closets, and it’ll be fun to see what other people think of as your most iconic look.

Multiple theme prank

Also as seen on TikTok, you can pull one over on your guests by telling different people to dress for different themes. Then, when they all show up, you can watch their reaction like TikTok user @p4ytonx did — everyone will be laughing by the end of the night, and you’ll end up with a Halloween-esque mashup of costumes. You can draw inspiration for your multiple themes from the rest of this list!

Neon or glow

Hand out glow sticks to your guests (you can buy them in bulk online beforehand), tell everyone to show up in their brightest clothes, and turn out the lights for a fun rave party theme. “Neon” is often associated with the 80s, so if you want to take it that route, you can curate a playlist of 80s hits to be your soundtrack as you dance the night away. If you’re looking to make things really specific and memorable, an “80s in Aspen” theme requires neon ski gear that would fit right in on the slopes.


Speaking of the 80s, why should they be the only decade that gets to have any fun? Y2K is in with college students, so you can likely easily put together an outfit for a 2000s party with pieces from your own closet or from friends. Or maybe you’re more into the retro style of the 60s or 70s — whatever decade you choose, go all-out and have the music match your theme, so you can transport yourself and your guests back in time.

Memes or TikTok trends theme party

Challenge your guests to get more creative with this theme, which will make for tongue-in-cheek Instagram posts the day after. Choose your favorite meme that’s been making the rounds online recently — The Rock in that turtleneck? Distracted Boyfriend? — and recreate it by yourself or with friends. You can also choose TikTok trends that would make people laugh, like Noodle the pug, so you can decide if it’s a Bones Day. Most of these require very little in the way of costumes, and if someone gets your obscure reference, you’ll know they’re a real one.

“Dress like your favorite animal” party

You can never go wrong with a classic, and animal party themes are no exception. Deck yourself out in animal print, buy animal-themed decorations like leopard print balloons, safari-themed plates and cups, and green fringe decorations for the wall. You can even consider decorating animal-themed cupcakes or cookies if you want to really sell the theme.

Celebrity doppelganger

This theme is a conversation starter: which celebrity looks most like you? Wear their most iconic outfit to the party, and you can pretend you’re hosting an awards show. You can even buy a cheap red carpet to provide a cool photo op for your Hollywood stars.


If you’re looking to make things a little more formal, take inspiration from Gossip Girl and throw a masquerade party, complete with fancy dresses and masks. You can decorate your space with elegant black and gold touches like these streamers and pompoms from Amazon to add some ambiance and mystery to the evening. Hopefully, your masquerade ball won’t contain as much drama as an episode of Gossip Girl, but it will be just as fun.

Music festival

Even if you can’t make it to Coachella, you can still bring Coachella to you. Throw on sundresses, chokers, or anything crochet to channel the festival aesthetic. This is probably best as a warmer weather party. If you’re thinking of throwing it outside in your backyard, even better. The most important part of any festival is the music, of course, so curate your own dream festival lineup — no boring opening acts at your party.

“You are what you eat” party

You know how some people say, “I only came here for the food”? This party is perfect for them — everyone has to dress up as something edible, whether that involves simply slapping a McDonald’s logo on your t-shirt or attaching actual candy to your outfit. When food is the star of the show, you’ll want to make sure your pantry is stocked, so buy sweet, salty, and even spicy snacks to keep all the foodies well-fed.

Stop light party

This colorful theme will actually help highlight the importance of consent. At a stop light party, those who are taken or don’t want to be in a relationship wear red, people who have “complicated” relationship statuses are in yellow, and anyone donning green is open to new flirtation. It’s low-effort, but it’ll save you a lot of guessing about whether or not you can approach your crush on the dance floor.

Euphoria theme party

Sure, it may take place in high school, but you can still have some Euphoria-themed fun in college — you just don’t want to get quite as wild as some of the Euphoria episodes have. This theme is all about the heavy, glittery eye makeup that the HBO show made iconic when it first debuted, and from there, you can pick your favorite Euphoria character’s style to emulate in your outfit.

Winter Olympics

We can’t all be Chloe Kim, but we can at least dress like her: wear your ski jackets, goggles, and any other winter sports gear to this Winter Olympics party. The Olympics involve games, of course, but you can swap out high-stakes snowboarding for beer pong instead (or hey, maybe an ice luge if it’s in your budget — it is theme-appropriate, after all).

Erica Kam is the Life Editor at Her Campus. She oversees the life, career, and news verticals on the site, including academics, experience, high school, money, work, and Her20s coverage. Over her six years at Her Campus, Erica has served in various editorial roles on the national team, including as the previous Culture Editor and as an editorial intern. She has also interned at Bustle Digital Group, where she covered entertainment news for Bustle and Elite Daily. She graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Barnard College, where she was the senior editor of Columbia and Barnard’s Her Campus chapter and a deputy copy editor for The Columbia Spectator. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her dissecting K-pop music videos for easter eggs and rereading Jane Austen novels. She also loves exploring her home, the best city in the world — and if you think that's not NYC, she's willing to fight you on it.