19 Unique Winter Formal Theme Ideas for a Next-Level Dance

Think way beyond the old Snow Ball for your formal dance theme this winter.

Updated January 4, 2023
Two women wearing cocktail dresses at a party

The right theme can take your winter dance from meh to magical. Unique winter formal theme ideas help make your formal dance a one-of-a-kind experience. Forget the standard Snow Ball. Think outside the box by looking at things associated with winter to create a cool new theme. From winter weather to the northern lights, there are so many creative ideas to consider.

Winter Weather Theme Ideas for a Dance

Winter weather and related apparel make great themes for formal dance decorations. Look past the obvious icicles and snow globes for a unique winter weather theme.

White Balloons

Blizzard Blowout

Go beyond a simple Snow Ball or Snowflake Soiree and create blizzard-like conditions with a white party.

  • Ask all guests to wear white from head to toe, giving the appearance of a blizzard when the crowd gathers.
  • Use splatter painting techniques to create blizzard-like photo backdrops.
  • Fill the event space with white balloons.
  • Blow fake snow around the dance floor with a snow machine or wind machine.

Frosty Fete

Sparkling frost is pretty much one of the most beautiful parts of winter, and you can use that glitter as inspiration for your winter formal. Take sparkle to a whole new level.

  • Suggest sparkling attire for everyone. Think sequins, silver, beads, and glitter.
  • Light the room with fairy lights set to twinkle.
  • Use glittery tablecloths and photo backdrops so there's something sparkly everywhere you turn.
  • Pick up some curtains of white or silver mylar streamers to hang in doorways.

Skating Soiree

Ice skating is considered an elegant sport and often features elaborate, bling-y costumes. Create the feel of an Olympic figure skating venue at your formal.

  • Ask everyone to wear short, skating-inspired dresses and or shiny fabrics.
  • Decorate with sequined fabrics, bright colors, and lots of crystals to resemble figure skating costumes.
  • Make a playlist of songs used by Olympic Gold Medal figure skaters over the years.
  • Purchase synthetic ice panels and create a faux indoor skating rink in one corner of the room.

Aurora Borealis Ball

The northern lights are a beautiful spectacle in the cold northern climates. Use them as inspiration for a magical, colorful event.

  • Decorate with shades of green, blue, purple, and pink to mimic the colors of the aurora borealis.
  • Use flowy, satin fabrics to give the movement of the northern lights.
  • Ask guests to dress in bright colors.
  • Have the DJ use cool lighting techniques to change the color of the room periodically.

Cozy Celebration

Celebrate the beauty of winter's most popular apparel, anything cozy! Coats and capes serve the basic function of keeping everyone warm, so infuse warmth into your theme.

  • Ask guests to wear a formal coat or velvet gown as part of their outfit.
  • Feature a "coat room" as decoration by lining up rows of antique coat racks along one wall where guests can hang theirs if they get too hot.
  • Use luxurious coat fabrics as accents like fur or faux-fur pillows and blankets or wool tablecloths.
  • Use antique and elaborate buttons as table decorations.

Winter Holiday Theme Ideas for a Formal

Holidays that fall in the winter months include Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, Groundhog's Day, and Valentine's Day. They're basically a built-in reason to celebrate, and you can pick and choose which parts you want to include in your formal.

Happy people enjoing the party with confetti

Solstice Darkness and Light Party

Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year, and the days only get longer and brighter after that. Play with that theme of darkness and light at your winter formal.

  • Keep the lights low and use candles to light the room. The flickering glow will feel super magical.
  • Ask guests to dress in dark and light colors to go with the theme. Gold and black are perfect.
  • Use glow-in-the-dark stars to decorate the tables and (if possible) the ceiling with a starry pattern, just like looking at the night sky on the darkest night of the year.

Countdown to Fun

Some winter holidays feature countdowns, such as New Year's Eve. Use the traditional countdown activities as the basis for your dance.

  • Decorate with numbers as table centerpieces and around the room.
  • Have a ball drop at the end of the dance.
  • Give each guest a numbered list with tasks to complete at the dance, like requesting a song or dancing with someone you don't know well.
  • Suggest lots of sparkle when it comes to attire, inspired by the ball drop.

Holidays Around the World

Create a multi-cultural holiday affair with decorations, foods, and images of holiday characters from around the world.

  • Set up food stations, each with traditional foods served on winter holidays in a different country or as part of a different culture.
  • Ask guests to dress in attire inspired by Christmas celebrations in other countries or by their favorite winter holiday.
  • Decorate with holiday words written in different languages.

British Boxing Day Ball

Boxing day started as a way to celebrate opening boxes of monetary donations for the poor. Give your ball some British flair as you celebrate this uncommon holiday.

  • Ask guests to dress in trendy British formal wear.
  • Decorate with small, decorative boxes filled with fake gold and silver coins.
  • Display Union Jack flags on walls and tables.
  • Serve up popular British foods and drinks.

Cold Dance Theme Ideas

Winter is chilly and beautiful at the same time. Think about the most iconic cold locations and things you associate with them, and use one of them as your dance theme.

Arctic Mocktail Party

Channel the glamour of an elegant cocktail party by serving winter-themed mocktails. These alcohol-free drinks are sophisticated and fun, and your sparkling Arctic decor will make the whole party sparkle and shine.

  • Decorate in all white with lots of glitter to call to mind the chilly winter wonderland of the Arctic.
  • Encourage everyone to wear cocktail attire and maybe a little extra sparkle in the form of jewelry.
  • Set up tables at standing height so people can mingle with their drinks.
  • Serve the mocktails in fancy glasses.
Decorative disco balls and fire sparkler

Ice Castle Extravaganza

Give your formal the look of a chilly fairy tale. Bring the magic of a castle made from ice to your local event.

  • Purchase ice sculptures in the shape of castles for decoration and that house food or drinks.
  • Make the place look like a frozen wonderland by decorating with ice blues and silvers.
  • Create a large castle guests can enter by stacking and securing clear, squared plastic containers.

Fur & Ice Gala

Fire and ice themes are old news. Now it's time to celebrate the furs that keep all kinds of people warm in icy climates. We're talking fake fur here, of course.

  • Ask guests to dress in attire that celebrates fur and ice. Faux fur collars and capes are perfect with silver and white formalwear.
  • Decorate sitting areas and photo booths with faux fur rugs, blankets, and pillows.
  • Use faux fur fabrics along with crystal vases and fake ice cubes to create funky ice and fur tablescapes.

Winter Color Theme Ideas for Your Event

Although winter colors vary by theme, there are a couple color combos that universally represent the season. Try one of these to make your party really pop.

Red and Gold Gala

From Christmas to Chinese New Year, bright red and gold are popular during winter holidays. They also call to mind a fiery warmth that counteracts the chill in the air.

  • Decorate the room with streamers, mylar curtains, and tablecloths in only red and gold.
  • Ask guests to wear only these two colors (neutrals are also allowed, of course).
  • Serve foods and drinks in red and gold and use red or gold paper plates.
woman wearing elegant red dress celebrating or having party

Blue and Silver Soiree

Another popular winter color combo is blue and silver. This color scheme feels super classic and elegant.

  • Ask guests to dress in shades of blue and silver.
  • Use uplighting to give the whole room a blue glow. You can do this by placing blue LEDs on the floor and under tables.
  • Stock the drink and food tables with silver serving dishes.
two teenage girls holding glasses of punch

Black Tie Blowout

Winter tends to be dark, and you can use that for inspiration here. Plus, it's just so much fun to make this dance ultra-formal.

  • Suggest guests wear tuxes or dark suits and long, dark-colored dresses.
  • Drape tables in black tablecloths and scatter votive candles all over to call to mind the night sky.
  • Use twinkle lights to add ambiance and keep the house lights down very low.

Cocoa Celebration

Although it might not be a common winter color scheme, hot drinks like cocoa, coffee, and tea rule the season. Let these warm hues bring a cozy feel to your formal.

  • Have a hot cocoa or specialty coffee buffet for guests.
  • Ask guests to wear attire that falls in the brown or gold color family.
  • Keep decorations lower in the room brown, gold, or tan, then use white for higher decorations to mimic foam or marshmallows that typically top these drinks.

Pop Culture-Inspired Winter Theme Ideas

Movies, TV shows, and songs that include winter themes make great inspiration for formal events. Go for one of these ideas.

Winter Is Coming Dance

Give your formal a Game of Thrones twist when you celebrate the undead ice creatures known as White Walkers from the show.

  • Ask guests to don makeup, masks, or costumes resembling the characters from the show.
  • Decorate with smooth, shiny black fabrics and vessels to mimic the dragonglass that's deadly for these creatures.
  • Use accents of ice blue to represent the iconic eye color of the characters.
Iron Throne, Game Of Thrones

Bridgerton Winter Ball

For fans of Bridgerton, there's nothing like old-fashioned glamour to make an evening amazing. This theme is all about the outfits, but the decorations matter too.

  • Suggest guests wear period-style costumes. Think top hats, old-fashioned clothes, and over-the-top details.
  • Drape chairs and tables in sumptuous winter fabrics like velvet and fur, adding plenty of satin for shine.
  • Sprinkle fake snow around the dance floor and add winter-themed photo backdrops for everyone to do pictures.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland Formal

While it's usually considered a Christmas song, this classic is actually more about winter than any specific holiday. Take your inspiration from this favorite.

  • Give your dance a 1940s winter theme and encourage guests to dress to match the era.
  • Decorate with garlands of hanging snowflakes, fairy lights, and plenty of white.
  • Add other elements from the song, such as birds, snowmen, and a fake fireplace.

Choose a Winter Formal Theme to Remember

Winter-themed formals can take place any time of the year and typically have a magical feel. Don't stress if you still need inspiration; you can get even more ideas for school dance themes that will be perfect. Once you choose your unique winter formal theme, look for a venue that captures the spirit of that theme and the mood you want. Then it's just about decorating, finding the right outfit, and having a great time.

19 Unique Winter Formal Theme Ideas for a Next-Level Dance