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How important is recognition in the workplace? According to American writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie, “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.” Recognition is the fuel that powers a business, lifting spirits, uniting teams and pushing everyone to higher heights. One of the best ways to acknowledge your everyday heroes is by holding regular gala dinners and award ceremonies.

But there’s a disclaimer. The sheer volume of corporate events in the typical calendar means that cobbling something together at the last minute just isn’t advisable. If anything, a patchy live event might even come across as lacking care and attention. So, what can you do to make it so special that everyone wants to get involved?

One of the best places to start is by thinking about which award ceremony themes are most likely to be an instant hit with the troops. The concept you choose will run through your occasion like words through a stick of rock. It’s there in the invitations, the marketing materials, the stage design and the entertainment. It’s also your secret weapon in the fight against mediocrity.

Join the crew from ConnectIn Events as we share five of our favourite award ceremony themes. We’ve got everything you need to turn your next big event into the highlight of the working year. 

5 Fabulous Award Ceremony Themes  

1 – Mexican Day of the Dead

A common tactic for event planners is to take inspiration from other countries’ customs. For some companies, this could mean a fair dinkum Aussie barbie, or stein-smashing Oktoberfest knees up.  But, for our money, award show themes don’t come any spicier than ‘Dia de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead). 

You’ll need to capture the visual essence of Mexico in your venue and stage dressing, so don’t skimp on the skeletons or crazy colours. The national shades of green, white and red are an easy choice…but anything bright and bold could be really effective. That means pink pinatas, cyan sombreros and maroon maracas!

Guests at gala dinners and award ceremonies will also need to be fed, refreshed and entertained — and this theme has bags of potential. Music lovers will have a blast dancing to the live mariachi band, while the artistically-inclined will delight in displays of Mexican cultural icons like Frida Kahlo. And with food and drink choices that include tacos, tamales, enchiladas and margaritas, the after-party could be truly increíble.

2 – Rat Pack

The past is fertile ground for anyone considering award ceremony themes. Understandably so, as there’s no shortage of famous historical eras — and many of them can elevate a live event into something really special. While ‘Ancient Rome’ and ‘Roaring Twenties’ are always popular, we personally enjoy the sleek 50’s elegance of the ‘Rat Pack’.

This award show theme is all about style, sophistication and sumptuous jazz standards. To really nail the look and feel of the era, you should aim for classy black and white with splashes of red in your event design. You could even complement this with era-specific touches like velvet ropes, red booths, and even a Mad Men-esque Martini bar. 

For entertainment, you could think about hiring professional performers and impersonators, while blasting swing and jazz music between awards. Guests will love sipping classic cocktails while playing poker, blackjack, and roulette in their most stylish fineries. And the actual awards? It has to be vintage silver microphones for every winner, surely?

3 – Big Top Bonanza

Roll up, roll up for the next top tip for gala dinners and award ceremonies…it’s the Big Top Bonanza. If you want to wow guests with a riotous explosion of carnival colours, engaging entertainment, and dazzling delicacies, this one’s for you. You might even hook a duck and win a prize in between awards. 

Naturally, the ideal setting for this particular award show theme is an actual big top. Don’t worry if this sounds like a tough ask — venue-finders enjoy thinking outside of the box. Once you’ve found the perfect location, all you need to do is recreate the controlled chaos of the circus and you’re halfway there.  

One of the many appealing features of this award show theme is that filling the lulls between presentations is pretty easy. You can entertain attendees with roaming jugglers, fire breathers, acrobatics, carnival games such as ring-tossing…the options are limitless. And, when they’ve seen enough, how about offering food trucks to hand out carnival classics like hot dogs, burgers, doughnuts, and candy floss?   

4 – Hollywood Glamour

Picture the scene. You arrive at the venue and are immediately struck by the tasteful art deco architecture. Outside a red carpet leads you through a gaggle of paps jostling to get the perfect snap. You slip inside to find a lobby glittering with gold fittings and the twinkling of lights cast by a vast dripping chandelier. How does it feel to be a star?!

‘Hollywood Glamour’ is one of the most popular award ceremony themes for good reason. It gives your audience a once-in-a-lifetime (year!) opportunity to mingle with the stars (impersonators!), smile brightly while missing out to coworkers (through gritted teeth!) and finally pick up an Oscar (shaped award!). In all seriousness, there’s so much potential for fun and frivolity that this award show theme has it all.  

Once the serious business of handing out awards comes to a close, what better way to ‘wind down’ than a VIP after party? Whether you stay in the same venue or slink towards the rooftop bar for cocktails is completely up to you. Just don’t forget the DJ, so people can party all night long with such icons of Hollywood’s golden era as Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

5 – Cyberpunk

The last of our award ceremony themes fires us from the golden oldies into the neon metropolis of the future. The subject of countless video games, novels, cartoons, and other media, Cyberpunk revolves around such modern preoccupations as VR, AR, and the wider march of technology. It also happens to look really cool, which is perfect for gala dinners and award ceremonies.

The success of a Cyberpunk-themed show will largely hinge upon getting the visuals just right. To do this, your venue should be splashed liberally in neon and guests should display the future-punk aesthetic of leather, denim and studs. This is a real test for your event technicians, but the potential rewards are huge. Think giant holograms, futuristic projections, AR gaming, VR stations — everything you’d associate with cutting edge technology.

For food choices, why not take your lead from Blade Runner, and turn to Japanese staples like sushi, udon and ramen? The flying cars might be difficult to achieve but dry ice and a selection of food trucks will more than compensate. You could even break up the awards with interactive games or an employee fashion show!

Sweet Themes Are Made of This

Now you’ve been inspired by the award ceremony themes we’ve covered, the hard work begins! These events are a valuable undertaking, so it always helps to have guidance from someone who knows the ropes. When you work with ConnectIn Events, that’s exactly what you get — a helping hand to steady the ship and a fresh pair of eyes to separate the flawed from the flawless. 

Whether we’re working with a global superbrand or a startup, our ethos remains the same. Everything we do is focused on your needs, goals, limitations and budget. You are at the centre of our thinking from the day you come onboard until the day the venue turns off the lights on your big day. 

Our friendly team excels at delivering stunning one-of-a-kind events that make a lasting impression. No matter whether you only need us to sort A/V or to handle the whole shebang, we excel at working around you.

To take your first step towards theme-land, connect with our team today!