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Guest Gifts & Theme Nights - Part Three

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Carrying on from Great Theme Nights - Part Two, here are some ideas for impromptu theme nights as well as great ideas for turn-downs and guest gifts.

What if your owner does not like to spend money on expensive decorations?  It is important to be able to think outside the box and see the potential around you – on board and in the marina.  Here are some cheaper suggestions:

Anything from the nearby beaches (just leave the coral alone!!).  Driftwood, sea glass, shells, rocks, sand.  We once used a rose bowl and filled it with some seawater and little fish caught with a net (we put it all back in the ocean after lunch).

Courtesy flags, charts, walkie-talkies, sextants, binoculars, lines – all things you have on board for a nautical theme

The empty wine bottles your guests had during their trip – collect them and put candles in them for the last night on board – and have little notes on the table describing where you were when they had each bottle of wine – and also keep the corks as part of the table décor.

Food already on the yacht - vegetables and fruit make great table accessories, also an Italian theme using dry pasta, vegetables, garlic bulbs, red and green peppers, some olive oil - and you have an Italian theme table setting

Troffiette genovese

Themes for Men Only Trips

: black tablecloth, red or white napkins , a packet of cards displayed and a roulette board if you have one

Sports: the possibilities are endless...

James Bond or Godfather

White and Silver or Black and Red


Little Havana: cigar boxes, cigars after dinner, rum, fedoras, pinup-girl style menu art and pics for the table.  Chef cooks Cuban food.  Men all wear white tux jackets and black ties.

dicky bow2Golf: Also for lunch white table cloth, green napkins and fill some hurricane vases with golf balls and golf clubs down the middle of the table. Use golf score cards as name placements. This was a huge hit with our golf trips.

Surfers: Italian pizza night, BBQ, Western/Cowboy

Grand Prix
: electronic cars on a track as part of the centrepiece

Idea for Guest Turndowns:

Another question we frequently discuss, related to themes, is different turndown and guest gifts whilst they are on board, or on the day they leave the yacht.  

Here are some wonderful turndown ideas to keep in mind:

Chocolate – must be wrapped and visible (preferably on the bedside table)

For children:  soft toys or towels folded in animal shapes

Lay out their pajamas – neatly folded and ironed and washed

Photos of day’s activities with a note:  “compliments of the captain”

Fresh flower laid out on bathrobe – NEVER use rose petals for turndowns – will stain bed and carpet

Satin eye bags

Baseball caps, T-shirt – yacht branding items (or any other fancy yacht gift – some yachts have engraved lighters, etc.)

Poems – nicely printed out (translate if you have another language on board, like Spanish poems for Spanish guests)

Experiment with towel origami, but keep it classy!!

Peacock and hen towel animal


Classy sarongs for wearing over their swimming costumes whilst on board or on the beach

A nicely typed out itinerary with some ideas – what to do the next day – information about the local area, etc.

Perfumes and after shaves

Nice bottles of little jams, olive tapenade, small decorative bottles of Limoncello, etc. – depending on where the yacht is

Samples – like Clarins, Estee Lauder, Chanel

Little books with sayings (Life’s little instruction books, etc.)

Teas – nicely packaged

Tasteful postcard, or mini print from local artists

Ideas for Guest Gifts:

Personalized (with yacht’s logo/name) pens

Personalized playing cards

Personalized sunglasses

DVD montage with music of all the photos and movies made during their trip

Personalized hats, T-shirts, visors, fleece tops, belts, golf shirts, travel bags, even boxer shorts!

Personalized drinks coolers and neoprene beer cozies

Personalized wine labels and liqueurs

Custom luggage tags

Personalized nail care sets

Personalized hand sanitizer, lip balm, flip flops, slippers, suntan lotion

Personalized neoprene skins or leather covers for Ipads, Ipods, Iphones

Personalized eye pillows


Recipe book with food photos, recipes, menus, table settings of their trip while on board

Personalized photo frames or digital photo frames

CDs burnt with guest’s collection of favourite music while on board

Longitude and latitude of trip printed on linens, with a picture of the yacht

For a return charter, print out photos from their previous trip and place in frames around the yacht

DVD with photos from the trip

Recipes from their favourite chef's dish or a little goodbye pack with some cookies or pastries along with a card - this goes down well especially for those with onward travel.

A recipe of their favourite dish from the trip - include a little bit of the main spice or a hard-to-find ingredient from the dish.

Teamwork and Planning!

It's quite a lot of work, but make each couple/family a memento folder that contains a brief description of the highlights of each day, a colour copy of each day’s menus and some photos of both the various destinations and the guests (jet skiing, etc).

We'd put a great photo of the boat on the front cover and the second page could contain a sheet with the guests’ names with a trip cruising map below it. The greatest challenge is getting photos without making the guests uncomfortable.

sailing yacht adviye5Mask theme

This takes immense team work. For example, the Chief Stew gives the used menus to the Purser who colour photocopies them, Deck Crew take photos, Chief Officer does the map, Purser does the writing and puts the books together.

A lot of boats will give a photo disc to all guests when they leave. Of course you do this between trips and sometimes it takes months for the guests to receive them. They are hard cover, with magazine-like pages.

They can be used as coffee-table books. You can include professional stock-photos of the yacht to make your job easier. Guests LOVE them – it is often a once in lifetime trip for them – and having this professional looking book would be a reminder forever. There is a feature on some photo sites where you can click "auto flow" and this will avoid you having to place all the photos yourself.

Additionally, you can collect everyone's camera cards the morning of departure and download all their photos. Depending on the number of pages - they can range from about $45 upwards., are just a few of the programmes you can use, and take advantage of your iPhoto on your Apple © Macs.


A final note – here's a tip to help you plan ahead:

Theme Idea - 20th Wedding Anniversary

Date: 29 July 2015

Location: TBD

Champagne breakfast

Roses / appropriate flowers according to number of years together

Card / gift from the crew (signed crew photo or something more expensive) – maybe jewelery?

Themed table layout – red rose petals, black table cloth, napkins

Couple’s favourite food in classy menu

Decorate eating area (skylounge or deck)

DVD of their special day. Can be done by a crew member?  Possible to edit footage on laptops.  Small snippets if they do something different (wakeboarding, etc.). Could be fun as opposed to high quality? Possibly not conducive to overall ‘superyacht charter’ notion?

Kids would be babysat and taken out of their sight all day and evening. Private time for the parents.

Romantic dinner (candlelit) on a secluded beach off anchor.  Gazebo set up on beach?  Romantic table, chairs and rose petals?  Courses delivered by tender / Chef BBQing on beach? 

Romantic table for two set on small table on sundeck – very formal – black and silver with candles and red roses.

rose 631331 640

Organize an evening event, i.e. music or theatre show, etc.  Is there some specific reason they chose the charter location?  Something they’ve always wanted to see or do?  Research.

Romantic champagne cruise?  Depends on guest tender condition?

Find out how they met / first kissed / spent their honeymoon?  Can we recreate something or at least attempt a theme based around some of it?  For instance, if they honeymooned in Italy, set up the table with an Italian Café theme.

Day of pampering – massage / fill up spa, products, etc. Book private massage therapist to come to the yacht.

Helicopter ride (depends on location) Monaco – possible, Capri / Ischia / Naples?

 *Image credits: Wikipedia/Pixabay/Pixabay/Pexels

See more Great Theme Night ideas in Part 1 and Part 2.

About the Author:

After working in the superyacht industry as a stewardess, chief stew and purser for 10 years, Isobel Odendaal moved back to her home country, South Africa, and co-started a training school for superyacht steward/esses, Super Yachting South Africa, where she continues to learn and teach every day.

 isobel logo


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