Bright colors, bold outfits, big hair, blasting party music – what’s not to love about the ’80s? If you’re a fan of the decade, whether you’re nostalgic for the good ol’ days or simply want to have the 80s experience, this is a great party theme to set up! The era of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince, and Madonna is a fab throwback that everybody can get involved in with minimal effort.
Here are some helpful ideas you can adapt for your 80s themed party:
Get your guest excited for the awesome fun you have planned by sending out some cool and funky-themed invitations. Encourage guests to come in their 80s attire in the invitation.
You can go the DIY route and decorate the invitation with 80s themed elements like Pacman, cassette tapes, boom boxes, and neon colors. Orange, bright green, blue, hot pink and yellow – these are the colors to choose to make your invitation pop. Either decorate it digitally or go the old-school route with colored paper, cutouts, and gluing.
You can step it up a notch by printing out party details on adhesive labels and attach them to cassette tapes. Plus points if you have old cassette tapes, but you probably rather keep them for nostalgic purposes. So, it’s best if you can buy new, blank cassette tapes to use.
To make it convenient, you can simply buy a fill-in 80s themed invitation online.
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For an 80s themed party, decorations are very important. You have to set the theme so that people will feel like they were back in the ’80s, or at least, seeing all kinds of things that will remind them of the decade. Here are some decoration tips:
- Collect items representing the decade by raiding your attic, borrowing from your folks, or scouring thrift stores. Display an old boom box as the centerpiece of your food table, glue together VHS tapes to form a box, and use them as risers for food trays. You can also buy novelty boom boxes made of actual cardboard boxes.
- Decorate the walls with 80s-themed party cutouts like music players, cassette tapes and vinyl records to create the 80s atmosphere. A cassette tape banner would also add to the 80s party vibe you’ve got going on.
- Set up a gold chain balloon like a banner on the wall and use the telephone and boom box balloons from this balloon decoration set.
- Don’t forget the balloons! This party theme is fun and full of color, so don’t skimp on the balloons. Choose colorful ones that say “I love the 80s” or those with 80s elements printed on them. Get a “Back to the 80s” balloon banner to complete the look!
- Set up a black backdrop behind your buffet table and splatter it with neon paints. Hang oversized paper fans made of neon-colored paper or brightly-colored paper pom-poms for a bold and bright impact.
- Hang neon circle garlands on your ceiling to make an easy decoration. You may want to add some 80s themed swirls to go along with it.
- Use retro centerpiece sticks and group them together for a bigger impact. You may also want to use honeycomb centerpieces for your tables.
Outfits and Look
One of the best parts of hosting or going to an 80s party is dressing the party. There are tons of fashion fads that scream the 80s, such as:
- Shoulder pads
- High tops
- Off-shoulder, oversized shirts
- Leg warmers
- Vibrant tracksuits
- Jean jackets
- Leather trousers and skirts
- Flannel shirts
- Baggy clothes
- Sequined outfits
- Animal prints
- Studded belts
- Fingerless gloves
- Fluorescent headbands
- Dark sunglasses
- Rubber bracelets
- Intense eyeshadow
- Funky wigs
- Side ponytails
- Big hairdo
Look up to famous celebrities of the decade for your fashion inspiration.
To encourage guests to go all out with their wardrobe, make it a competition and promise some exciting prizes. Decide who will be the winners for categories, like the funkiest outfit, biggest hair, loudest makeup, most accessories, etc. Try to come up with categories of your own!
The 80s era was defined by its music. Besides the decorations and outfits, do not forget a rocking retro playlist! Include the greatest hits and dance music from the 80s for a truly awesome party. Make sure you include hit songs from the famous music icons that ruled the decade, such as:
- Michael Jackson
- Air Supply
- Whitney Houston
- Tina Turner
- Elton John
- Bruce Springsteen
- Phil Collins
- Billy Joel
- Donna Summer
- Diana Ross
- The Police
- Bon Jovi
Food and Drinks Ideas
An 80s themed party should have some of these food ideas:
1. Neon-frosted cupcakes
Bake any flavor of cupcakes you like and top it off with bright, neon-colored frosting. Use zebra-patterned cupcake liners for the ultimate 80s look.
2. Sugar cookies
To adhere to the 80s theme, all you need to do is to make square or rectangle sugar cookies and decorate them with throwback elements, like the MTV logo, roller skates, unicorns and rainbows, pixelated images, Rubik’s cube, Pac-Man, and even the Atari logo. Use colored icing to give life to these themes!
3. Microphone cake pops
Music was big during the 80s, so much that the decade belongs to the golden age of pop. Lots of high-profile and highly popular singers and artists emerged from the decade, so it’s just fitting to represent that with microphones! Design your cake pops into microphones by making balls out of Oreos and cream cheese, and place them on top of mini ice cream cones! Insert a cake pop stick to keep them together and use candy melts for gluing. It’s a cute and delicious treat for your 80s party!
4. Hamburger Helper
Looking for a fast, filling, and crowd-pleasing dinner? Serve a variety of Hamburger Helper. Kids would love it, as well as adults who are not looking for a fancy meal.
5. Pizza Rolls
Everybody’s stuffing their faces with pizza rolls in the 80s, so do it at your party! Gobbling up a little bite-sized pocket of hot cheese and sauce followed by another and another is simply “human nature.”
6. 80s candies
The 80s was a fun time for kids and teens who grew up in that era. While they are putting on their Walkman headphones, watching MTV, and strutting through their skateboards and roller skates – they are probably enjoying the popular candies at the time. Serve a candy bar filled with Airheads, Nerds, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Hubba Bubba, Ring Pops, Skittles, Cow Tales, Runts, Laffy Taffy, Pixy Stix, Big League Chew Bubble Gum and other retro candies.
7. 80s snacks
8. Kool-Aid drink station
Kids in the 80s grew up drinking Kool-Aid after snack time. Serve different flavors of Kool-Aid at your party and make sure you have enough multi-colored tumblers for everyone.
9. Themed dinner plate sets
Whatever you’re serving for your dinner – be it sandwiches, casseroles, bread and pasta, or whatever you feel like serving – make sure your guests are eating in themed dinner plates. An 80s party plate set bundle with dinner plates, napkins, and cutlery will make your life easier.
If your 80s party leans in more to the arcade game element, you might prefer these black dinner plates and napkins. If you prefer something a little more vibrant than that, you can get these square dinner plates and dessert plates – both of which comes with matching neon-colored napkins.
If you think printed plates are visually overdone, you can always opt for a neon-colored disposable party set.
10. Floppy disk coasters
Don’t want water rings on your table? Provide some novelty floppy disc coasters for guests to use. This disk drive was common during the 80s, so it makes a great conversation starter at your party. The bright colors can also make tables more vibrant.
Make your party fun and exciting with these activities:
1. 80s Accessory Bar
Ask your guests to come dressed in their 80s outfits, but it helps if you provide the accessories yourself so they can embellish themselves with the popular fashion fads of the time. Set up a dressing station and display neon party sunglasses for the guys and the complete accessory set for the ladies: some jelly bracelets, fish wrist gloves, and lace headbands. Glow bracelets are a fun element to include. New wave sunglasses, funky wigs, and leg warmers can also enhance their fashion statement. Let them take it home as a party favor!
2. Photo Booth
Get a black backdrop with splashes of neon-colored paint, or buy 80s party backdrops. It’s not every day that you get to wear a costume as a nod to the glorious decade, so make sure you provide guests an opportunity to take loads of photos of their throwback getup. Get some props ready!
3. Boom Box Piñata
Set up a boom box-shaped piñata for the kids to try and break open. This piñata has a nice rectangular shape that can hold lots of fillers and is easy to fill.
Let your guests show off their 80s skills and knowledge by hosting contests at your party. Some fun ideas include:
- Lip-synching contest
- Air guitar contest
- Break dancing contest
- Moonwalking contest
- Rubik’s cube contest
- Pop culture trivia quiz
- 80s Guess the Song
5. 80s Karaoke
Hire or buy a sweet karaoke machine in your home, then sing the hits from the decade. For this party, make sure everyone’s choosing throwback songs from the 80s or even beyond! Songs from the 90s up to the current years are banned for the day, so everyone can feel that they were transported back in time.
Twist your way back to the past and get tangled up with your friends in the nostalgic Twister game. Give it a whirl and see what’s next as you try to keep your hands and feet on the mat!
Prepare strips of papers and write as many 80s pop culture references as you can think of. It can be movie titles, TV shows, fictional characters, fashion items, song titles, celebrities, games, toys, technology – anything that will remind you of the decade. Your friends will have a blast trying to act out themes and trying to get the rest of the players to guess who or what they are.
8. Kissing Games
Remember the classic teen kissing games of the decade? Get up close and personal with your guests by playing these famous party games:
Spin the Bottle
Truth or Dare
Seven Minutes in Heaven
Don’t forget to set clear rules for this game before starting the party!
9. Classic 80s Movie Marathon
If your crowd is more on the chill side, a classic movie marathon might be more fitting. Gather people around and have some iconic movies from this decade playing for your guests? Consider these titles:
- Ghost Busters
- 16 Candles
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Dirty Dancing
- The Breakfast Club
- Back to the Future
- The Princess Bride
- Police Academy
- Revenge of the Nerds
- Indiana Jones
- Top Gun
- Say Anything
- When Harry Met Sally
- The Karate Kid
Besides the 80s accessories mentioned above, here are some party favors you can offer for your guests before taking off and going back to the present time.
1. Rubik’s cube
The Rubik’s cube first came to the scene in the 80s, and what a magnificent time it was. People were going gaga over this colorful puzzle toy, and you can easily spot Rubik’s cube in every kids’ hands. It’s the perfect choice for a party favor for your 80s party. You can give them away regular-sized , in mini and keychain versions.
2. Retro badges
Send them home with some retro badges that represents everything from the 80s.
3. Brick game keychains
Brick Game was popular after a few years after the success of Tetris and other puzzle games in the 1980s. Though it became mainstream in the 90s, it originated in the 80s, so it makes an exciting party favor for your 80s shindig. Give your guests mini brick game keychains so they can also feel the nostalgia!
4. Hershey’s chocolates
Send off your guests on a sweet note with some Hershey’s chocolates covered in retro wrappers. You may want to give each guest a Hershey’s chocolate bar wrapped in cassette tape-inspired wrappers. If you want them to enjoy more candy, you can offer Hershey’s Kisses and Miniature bars wrapped in 80s-themed wrappers and stickers. Put them in retro favor boxes for them to enjoy at home!