We all have a heritage, whether we know what it is or not. Some of us are very in tune with our cultural backgrounds. Customs or traditions may have been regularly celebrated in your home growing up. Others may have such a mix of cultures in their family or have little connection with theirs that they don’t value any traditions in particular.
But whether or not you come from a culturally-rich background incorporating cultural elements into your next event can really make it stand out and create a real sense of belonging.
But we’re not talking cheesy luau or Mexican themes here.
Using authentic and understated cultural elements to pay tribute to or celebrate a special guest or guests, an honoree, or your employees can create some memorable moments.
At my wedding I used Indian sari material to make fabric envelopes for my invitations and had a steel band playing at the end of my ceremony. Both were authentic nods to my Indian and Caribbean ancestry.
Here are some other ways you can incorporate cultural elements into your event:
- Entertainment: Henna Artist
This is a great way to inject some Indian culture into your event! The flowery and intricate designs from a henna tattoo can be applied to décor, art, or your attendees! Or why not host workshops where attendees can try doing henna for themselves. They’ll learn a new skill and maybe a little history too.
- Décor: Colors
For a more subtle nod to a cultural theme why not choose a color scheme with a rich, cultural significance? Maybe red and gold from China or from the traditional Hindu wedding sari, or tartan prints from Scotland or emerald green from Ireland. Or maybe choose colors from the international flag of your favorite country. This is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to visually represent another culture.
- Interactive: Guest Books
These keepsake items are a great way to record who was at your event and can be personalized in almost any way you want. How about getting guests to sign a large map or a world globe? Maybe they could sign near or on a country they’ve visited. Or collect postcards from the origin countries of your guests and have people write messages on the back. Or create a ‘diversity quilt’ by having guests or attendees write their name and favorite cultural tradition on a piece of fabric which is sewn together after the event and displayed somewhere.
- Giveaways/Décor: Charms
Different cultures use different things to symbolize a good luck and prosperity. Traditionally the Irish place special significance on horseshoes, bells and the Celtic knot. In Greek culture a pomegranate and a head of wheat symbolize prosperity and abundance. Swedish brides carry gold and silver coins in their shoes! A small charm from one of these cultures could be a giveaway item or used as design inspiration in your event.
- Networking: Cultural Bingo
A great way to encourage interaction or networking at an event is using a network bingo where attendees have to find out particular attributes or facts about other attendees. How about making all the facts related to someone’s heritage or cultural traditions?
What other ways have you seen culture infused into an event? Do you think that hosts should be free to adopt traditions from other cultures? I’d love to hear what you think!