How to Throw an 80s Theme Party

Nothing beats a theme party and if you grew up in the 80s, throwing an 80s theme party can be a great way to relive your colorful past. It’s also a great excuse to break out the crimping iron and blare Prince’s Purple Rain on the speakers.

Set Outrageous 80s Expectations

From the very first save-the-date announcement, make sure you’re setting the tone for your totally radical 80s bash. Make sure to use buzz words like bitchin’, tubular, rad, and bodacious. The eighties were silly and over-the-top so your party should be too. For a theme party to work you’re going to need to get your guests’ buy-in. Hyping up the fun factor in advance is key. Make sure people know everything you’re planning. For my recent 40th birthday, we did an 80s Prom theme, so in addition to the wild outfits, hair, makeup, and music, we crowned a royal court and had some cheesy slow dances. It was a hit!

Costumes Encouraged

Personally, I love a costume party, but not everyone likes to get dressed up. It’s a good idea to let people know that while costumes are encouraged, they are not required and that they will be welcomed at the party even if they are not in costume. There’s nothing worse than worrying you won’t fit in. Think outside the box. The eighties were full of stock brokers too, and that’s a pretty easy costume!

Food and Décor

I searched for 80s food and frankly couldn’t find any that was particularly representative of that era—at least not any I wanted for a party. Keep it simple and don’t stress about the food. For décor and general party atmosphere it sort of depends on the flavor of your 80s. My party was a prom theme so we named it ‘Pretty in Pink’ and had the DVD of the Molly Ringwold movie on a big TV screen. Later that same screen was used for a PacMan tournament. We made centerpieces out of cans of AquaNet and balloons (pink, of course). If you can get a few of your friends to donate pictures from the 80s, blow them up an set them around the party. The hairstyles alone spark hours of conversation.

It’s All About the Music

Between your friend’s music collections and an internet or cable radio 80s station, you should have no trouble getting a good selection of eighties music for your 80s theme party. For mine we hired a DJ, who had a great selection of Top 40. If you want anything at all alternative, you may need to provide your own music. If this is important to you, it’s a good idea to ensure the DJ’s system will accommodate your files before the party.

I hope you’ll add ideas to the comments. The 80s theme party idea’s time has come! Let’s party like it’s 1999—because that song TOTALLY came out in the eighties!\

Photo Credit: Lela Davidson

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3 comments

The Perfect Gift profile image

The Perfect Gift 6 years ago from www.theperfectgift.theaspenshops.com

I love theme parties too.. check out the party favors from www.theperfectgift.theaspenshops.com


Hendrika profile image

Hendrika 7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

I love theme parties, but the eighties sort of passed me by because of some reasons. Another problem I have with the "era" parties is that the decades seem to blur in my mind and I end up wondering is this the sixties or was it the seventies? as happened when my son went to a sixties party last week.


JustanotherGirl profile image

JustanotherGirl 7 years ago from Knoxville, Tennessee

I love theme parties. I'm definitely going to steal the AquaNet centrepiece idea.

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