5 Weird Celebrations to Plan Events Around

From pirates to tacos, we’ll show you how

Year after year, certain events get the royal treatment when it comes to event planning. New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Halloween—while they’re all fun celebrations, the decorations and menus don’t change much from year to year, which can make planning meetings around said holidays a little stale.

To combat your potential planning rut, Meetings Imagined looked into lesser-known upcoming celebrations and how you can plan events around them. Here are our five favorites:

Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19)

Ahoy, matey! If ye want yer attendees to go on the account, ye must put on an event that makes ’em say, “Shiver me timbers!”

Translation: If you want your attendees to speak like a pirate, you have to host an event that makes them say, “Whoa!”

When Talk Like a Pirate Day began in 1995, it started as an inside joke between two friends. A few years later, in 2002, they wrote to syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry, who then wrote an article about the made-up holiday. When Barry promoted the event, the world took notice—and the pretend holiday became real and celebrated internationally.

Now, Talk Like a Pirate Day offers a fresh perspective of what’s considered “holiday planning” for event planners. To make a pirate event shine, and to really promote people speaking in pirate lingo, you have to host an event conducive to a pirate’s life. That is, focus your décor on a seascape theme. Include pirate props, such as hats, peg legs, eye patches, hook arms and toy parrots made for sitting on pirate shoulders, to get guests in the mood. Create a scavenger hunt that leads to buried treasure, and offer plenty of rum and other tropical drinks. Consider making talking like a pirate a challenge—one in which if guests don’t participate, they’ll have to walk the plank.

National Taco Day (Oct. 4)

One of the best parts of any meeting is the food—especially if it’s tacos. Enter National Taco Day, a holiday meant to celebrate and devour the beloved Mexican dish. To partake in the day, host a fiesta stocked with a build-it-yourself taco bar with all the essentials: corn and flour tortillas, meats, cheeses, salsas, lettuce and sour cream. Invite guests to create their own plates throughout the party—and come back for seconds! To extend the Mexican fare, pair tacos with rice, beans and margaritas for good measure.  

National Happy Hour Day (Nov. 12)

For meetings that place more emphasis on the beverage experience, give guests an excuse to drink by putting on a National Happy Hour Day meeting.

The term “happy hour” began in the early 1900s with the U.S. Navy and was used to describe ship entertainment that included alcohol. Although you might not be able to take attendees for a cruise on the water, you can give them a worthy happy hour on land.

Because the holiday is centered on booze, offer a wide variety of liquors, cocktails and flavors, so that everyone—over the legal drinking age, of course—can indulge. Consider curating cocktail flights with lesser-known alcohols, like different international spirits, so attendees can sample new flavors. To make it more interactive, set up different tasting stations to allow guests to get up and moving.

Remember, drinking on an empty stomach can be dangerous, so be sure to also offer snacks to help keep attendees’ alcohol intake balanced.

National Cookie Exchange Day (Dec. 22)

By December, the holiday season is in full swing. For planners looking to host a winter Network meeting, capitalize on the season by focusing on another holiday favorite: cookies. National Cookie Exchange Day on Dec. 22 offers the perfect opportunity to get guests together and connecting.

The rules are simple: Have guests bring a plate of cookies to the event to share and disperse with new connections. To ensure that attendees play along, consider the cookies an attendee’s entry ticket. Before the meeting, make sure to send out a reminder outlining any other cookie exchange rules, such as noting potential allergens, so that everyone can take advantage of the sweet treats.

The Super Bowl (First Sunday in February)

In the U.S., there’s no bigger sporting event than the Super Bowl, where two American football teams go head-to-head for the championship. And whether you root for the teams or not, the Super Bowl is a great time for people to come together and celebrate.  

Because the event is about watching a sporting event, TVs should be placed throughout the meeting space to ensure that attendees have a good view of the game no matter their vantage point. If the space is big enough, you could also consider projecting the game onto one large wall. One large screen will give attendees one central area to congregate around, whereas separate smaller screens might segment the group.

Besides the game, food and alcohol are an essential part of any Super Bowl party. Buffalo wings, chips and salsa, burgers and beer are all standard football foods and drinks—and will likely be missed by attendees if they’re not included in the menu. Instead of straying from the classics, think about how you can add a modern twist to make the dishes standout from regular Super Bowl fare. Maybe that means using the chef’s special wing sauce instead of traditional buffalo sauce, or maybe it’s just in the way you serve and plate the food.