To Theme or Not to Theme?
That is the Question
Posted June 25, 2014
"Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:40
I love themes for ladies meetings, and by themes I mean a topic or a main subject, not decorating themes. Webster describes themes as:
the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.
For ladies meetings, Bible verses and Bible truths are what we are talking about as the "main subject as being discussed from a piece of writing". I like to have a topic of a spiritual principle or Bible truth which is weaved throughout an event.
One of the reasons that I like themes is because it is very useful in planning to keep everyone on the same page. The main purpose though is that I like to have one key point that I want to leave with people. Hence I use themes.
I like it when I can throw in some decorating ideas with my themes I use too. I enjoy decorating and making things look nice. Do I use or want decorations for a theme every single time? Of course I do not. Can theme decorations and details be overwhelming? Of course they can. Can theme decorations and details enhance your events and meetings? Of course they can.
I have a whole ton of themes on the website for you to look through and gather ideas. From time to time though, I try to encourage you all not to go overboard with decorating for themes. That's why there's a little note on the main Theme Page and also on each and every individual theme page. "Take a few ideas".
Theme ideas should enhance what you are doing, not be the main focus. In women's meetings and events, you want to leave the focus to the key Scriptural point or Bible truth you are trying to emphasize.
The reason there are so many ideas for the themes on the website is that people come from all types of backgrounds, churches, and walks of life. I try to put enough in the themes so that everyone can find a few nuggets to use.
I don't expect anyone to use every idea. Also, many of my website visitors use the decorating portion of the themes for party planning and nothing related to women's ministry. It's okay to have a little more "theme-y" ideas when you are party planning.
When we use a theme topic for planning along with decorating ideas for that theme, there is always the possibility to go into that realm of "theme-y-ness". When it comes to decorating and enhancing themes, like with most other things, less is more.
Here are some questions to help you gauge whether what you are doing with a theme is helpful or harming your ladies event.
1 Is it God Honoring?
Sometimes there might be some questionable things come into play when decorating or when trying to incorporate something into your planning for an event. Make sure it is God honoring.
Maybe it is a questionable song. Questionable decorations. Questionable activities. Does it really honor God and godly living?
If there is any doubt or you and your team are questioning whether it is appropriate, it is a good idea to just leave it out. Delete it from your planning altogether.
2 Is it distracting?
I love focal points, but frankly, I don't like them distracting me. Here are some things you can do with focal points.
- Cover it.
If you have a stage or a front area that you have turned into a focal point, use a curtain to cover it just before you introduce your speaker. I've been in places where they covered their props with white sheets just before the speaker spoke. That's a simple solution.
- Move it.
Put your focal point in the back or in the area where your guests arrive so it is behind them when the speaker begins. That way it is fun for them when they arrive and during the event, but the focus is off of it when you are having your devotional time.
- Scale it.
Make focal points simpler. A large open Bible along with a nice floral centerpiece and one or two small items from your theme is usually pretty acceptable to leave in the front even when the speaker begins or during your devotional time.
Another area of distraction is too many colors and patterns. You know, that busyness that sometimes tends to happen. What can you do for that?
- Mute it.
Try using softer colors or just one brighter color for an accent, but use any bright accent colors sparingly.
- Learn it.
Teach yourself some skills when it comes to colors and decorating or get help from someone with some know-how. There is lots of information online about colors and mixing patterns when it comes to decorating.
- Lose it.
Drop the colors and busy patterns and go for the neutrals. Neutrals are calming and fit perfectly into almost any event. Neutrals are my favorite when it comes to decorating at ladies events.
3 Is it in the way?
You've got to remember that when you are decorating, things will be a lot different when there are 25, 50, or 100 or more people in the room. Things get tighter. Don't let props and decorations take over.
Make enough space to walk. Don't leave cords and things where they will be tripped on. As a side note here, if you have tables, make sure that people can easily push their chair back and have a walkway without hitting something or another person sitting behind them, and not just for skinny people but oversized people as well. You have to make allowance for that.
Make centerpieces for tables low enough for people to see over. I know I've mentioned that a lot before, but I'm mentioning it again. Ladies meetings are for fellowshipping. Allow for conversation over the table.
4 Does it make people uncomfortable?
Sometimes you can go way overboard and make people feel uncomfortable. For instance, you wouldn't want to do a lesson on being wise and have a bunch of very scary owl figurines starring at you. That tends to verge on the creepiness.
Also, too many decorations can make people feel uncomfortable. You don't want to overwhelm them with decor so much that it closes in on them.
- Contain it.
Instead of putting your decorations all over the tables where people may be sitting or all around the room or event area, make a focal point on one table with a hodgepodge of decor and items for your theme.
That way it's in one place and out of the way. People can enjoy looking at it without it invading their space or without it jumping off the table at them when they are trying to enjoy the function.
- Scale it.
As I mentioned above with focal points, you may need to scale back when it comes to your decorations. Make them smaller and use less of them.
5 Is it a Good Use of Time and Effort?
Just let me say here that I don't think working and making an effort for the things of God and in ministry can't be a wonderful thing. However; you have to judge whether something requires too much time and work by your team of volunteers. Is it something logical that needs to be done?
Having your ladies lug and haul roomfuls of furniture, tables, and chairs and have them rearranging for several hours or maybe days just to have an hour program might not make a lot of sense. Having them make favors that require an overabundance of work and time and effort just to send a novelty home can begin to border on the unnecessary.
I'm not saying it's not okay to spend some time and effort on things. I've had my share of staying up late working on favors for an event. I think it's great to spend a little time and effort making things nice for your ladies, but you really have to judge and be discerning as to what is needed and what is not.
Be good stewards of your time and effort. Spend it where it is needed. For instance, if you can purchase a favor for less than what you can make them, it might be sensible to buy them.
If you can choose a favor idea that requires less work and effort and it is still as nice as what you need, go for that idea. It's not a matter of throwing things out altogether sometimes, but just being a little wiser in our decisions of what we do or don't do.
6 Is it Too Expensive?
Face it. Most women's ministries are on low budgets or without any budget for their ministry. You have to be conservative in your purchases.
One way to help in this area is to list out every area of your event and budget, delegating so much money for each area. That can help a lot.
Even when we have a good budget and amount of money to spend, we still shouldn't spend it foolishly.
Think about how these things are going to be used afterward as well.
- Are you spending huge amounts of money on decorations and things that will just be put in the trash?
- Are they something that can be used again?
- Are they something that can be donated elsewhere?
Limiting what we spend on things that will end up in the trash has the ability to slash our budgets dramatically. That is not to say we can't spend money on something that just beautifies and that will end up being thrown away, but we have to be careful.
God wants us to be frugal and wise in how we spend money.
7 Is it Overwhelming?
I've mentioned that we may need to scale it in a couple places already but is it overall too much? That's when it really becomes "theme-y". We have to learn to judge what is too fussy and gaudy for our events.
God calls us to do things decently and in order and that goes for our women's ministry events too. God's Word and the Biblical focus of our theme is what we want to leave with the ladies who attend our events. Don't let anything get in the way of that, whether it is decorating, or how activities are executed.
Toning it down in decorations will help keep your theme in focus and not the decor. You may think you know your ladies group the best and that they will "expect" things to be over the top, but really I've found most ladies just appreciate things being nicely done.
Doing it nicely doesn't require spending a lot of money or using a lot of "things". Simple centerpieces, muted colors, and neutral surroundings can be just lovely and give us that calming that we need when we attend a ladies event.
Just because you see twenty five things you think would go nicely with your theme at the dollar store doesn't mean you should get them all and use them all. Just pick a few.
The theme ideas on the website are there for you to choose just a few from. Larger events you can get away with more things. If you have a large venue and will be using different rooms and locations, sure, spread things out a little. But if you are confined to a small room and little space, you can quickly overdo.
If it's a once a year thing, maybe a pajama party, outdoor outing, ladies camp, or a lock-in, you might be able to turn it up a notch, but we have to be discerning as we delve into planning a ladies event for our churches.
Sure, keep those elements of fun and even fancy and elegant from time to time, but just be sure to use decorating and theme related items to the right scale for your place and function.
Our events should edify, encourage, teach, and encourage fellowship. They should not make people feel uncomfortable, overwhelm, or detract from the Word of God and the Biblical message you want to convey.
There are some great alternatives to keep you from overdecorating to enhance themes. Try just using the key verse in picture frames or on a chalkboard or overhead along with simple centerpieces.
Try making just one main centerpiece and forgo floral centerpieces for individual tables and place just a few votive candles on the tables. Try just using your favors in a basket or on a tray as your decoration.
Perhaps choose a color to run with in monochromatic tones. You could bring in pieces of home decor to give your meeting a lift and forgo "theme-y" items.
Perhaps use one word themes, such as "Faith", "Joy", "Worship". These don't require much. You could put out a few picture frames with the word printed or make a simple banner with your chosen word.
Here are some pages on the website that might be useful to you.
For me, themes help me see a visual goal and I like that. It gives me direction. I think this is like any other thing, we just have to be wise, discerning, and seek the Lord in prayer in how we go about our events.
"Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:40
Copyright ©2014 Julia Bettencourt
Scripture References are from the King James Version.
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