How to Throw a 1980s Theme Party
1980s Party Ideas
To start with, you'll need invitations. Sure, it would be easy to email them, but that just wasn't done in the 1980s.
To keep with your theme, you'll need to send them by mail. I suggest you make your own.
Big hair bands were popular at the time as well as singers like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
Michael Jackson was an icon and rap music burst onto the scene. Music was listened to on cassette tapes and MTV made its way into homes.
Video games were the rage like Pac-Man and popular movies included Et-The Extraterrestrial, Gremlins, Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back, Flashdance and Back to the Future.
You may want to incorporate all of these into your theme or pick something in particular like 80s music or movies. Whatever you choose, find a picture of it on the internet, print out copies and make it into your invitations.
1980s Party Decorations
Put up posters of popular music artists and movies of the time. Hang cassette tapes from the ceiling.
Boomboxes were quite popular. Try using one as the centerpiece for your table. Speaking of your table, if finances allow, place a Rubik's Cube for each guest. (You can find miniature versions of these that are inexpensive.)
Balloons are welcome at any kind of party, so have them on hand. I would recommend sticking with paper and plastic products as it make clean up so much easier.
Tri Color Pasta
1980s Food Trends
Let's start with some snacks. Cool Ranch Doritos became a hit when the came out in the 80s. Reeses Pieces became very popular when they were featured in the movie ET-the Extra-Terrestrial. Add to this some fruit roll ups and you have your junk food covered for the party.
Now, let's talk other food. Quiche was the rage with yuppie folks as was sushi. Tri-colored pasta also emerged in this decade so perhaps a pasta salad made with this. If making a green salad, be sure to have some Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.
Spinach dip in bread bowls and a 7 layer dip would certainly compliment your event. Add to this some baby back ribs, Sloppy Joes, mini meatballs, chicken wings and potato skins and your feast will be ready. Of course, pizza was also popular so if you want to keep it simple, just serve a variety of them. (Consider one vegetarian in case there are guests who don't eat mean.)
Jello Pudding Pops
Two of the biggest dessert fads of the 1980s were frozen yogurt and Jello Pudding Pops. Jello no longer sells these desserts popularized by Bill Cosby, but fortunately, they are quite easy to make. I have a recipe below in case you're interested.
Jello Pudding Pops Recipe
- JELL-O Creamy Chocolate Pudding Pops Recipe - Kraft Recipes
Why wait for the ice cream truck to roll around? You can make these popular JELL-O Creamy Chocolate Pudding Pops at home—and enjoy them whenever you want!
If you're planning a kids' party, the choice of drinks is easy. Capri Sun! These made their debut in the 80s. Snapples Lemon Iced Tea also hit the market.
Should you be looking for alcoholic beverages, think Bud Light, wine coolers and Boones Farm Strawberry Hill wine.
Prefer something stronger? How about Long Island Iced Teas?
Walk This Way Run DMC and Aerosmith
Music is in intricate part to throwing a successful party and the 1980s had a great assortment of artists and songs. Music can be played both as background music and for dancing.
Madonna had a wealth of hits such as Material Girl, Dress You Up and Like a Virgin. Cyndi Lauper won people's hearts over with hits like Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Time After Time.
With hit after hit, Michael Jackson dazzled fans with tunes like Bad and The Way you Make me Feel.
Hair bands were all over the music charts. Some of the tops groups and songs include:
- Jump-Van Halen
- Paradise City-Guns N Roses
- Nothin' But a Good Time-Poison
- We're Not Gonna Take It-Twisted Sister
- You Give Love A Bad Name-Bon Jovi
- Cum On Feel The Noise-Quiet Riot
- Pour Some Sugar On Me-Def Leppard
- Here I Go Again-Whitesnake
- Rock You Like A Hurricane-Scorpions
- Round And Round-Ratt
This is a mere sampling of great hair band music and should be enough to get you started.
Don't forget to include some of the most popular rap songs of this time including Push It, by Salt "N Pepa, Wild Thing, by Tone Loc, Bust A Move, by Young MC and U Can't Touch This, by MC Hammer.
Celebration by Kool & the Gang
1980s Dance Songs
It's time for guests to get dancing with some unforgettable dance songs from the 80s. I would stick with only fast songs for a kids' party, but would throw in some slow songs for an adult gathering. Consider some of these songs:
- Funkytown-Lipps Inc.
- Mickey-Toni Basil
- Let's Dance-David Bowie
- Flashdance-What A Feeling-Irene Cara
- Footloose-Kenny Loggins
- Wake Me Up Before You Go Go-Wham
- Lady-Kenny Rogers
- Call Me-Blondie
- Endless Love-Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
- Addicted To Love-Robert Palmer
- When I Think Of You_Janet Jackson
- La Bamba-Los Lobos
- (I've Had,) The Time of My Life-Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
- Wind Beneath My Wings-Bette Midler
Once again, just a sampling of music. Feel free to throw your favorites in.
Let's start with some of the popular ladies trends. Oversized shirts and legwarmers were in. (Think Flashdance.) Fun and flirty attire such as lace shirts over other shirts, mini skirts and bustiers were the fashion rage.
Add to this lots of jewelry including long chain necklaces and giant hoop earrings. Don't forget about the fingerless gloves as well, For a more casual look, leggings were the rage.
Prefer something fancier? Then think of the styles from the TV series Dynasty which made padded shoulders popular again.
For the guys, think rock and roll with torn jeans and T-shirts, along with bandannas. Parachute pants were also the rage thanks to M. C. Hammer. Let's not forget the great fashion trends set by Michael Jackson.
If you to be more upscale, consider pastel colored blazers over plain T-shirts with loafers and no socks. (Does Miami Vice ring a bell?)
Thanks to Magnum PI, Hawaiian shirts became popular all over the United States.
Remember, too, this was the era of big hair both for guys and gals.
1980s Party Games
How about a lip syncing contest? Any wanna be Milli Vanilli's out there? Have a bunch of songs ready with their names on pieces of paper. Guests can draw the papers to find out which songs they get to lip sync to.
Although predominantly popular in the 1970s, Name That Tune returned in 1984 with their $100,000 version, so how about a few rounds? Play a few notes of a song and whoever guesses correctly first gets a point. The person to answer 5 correct tunes first wins.
Got an old game system? You could play a few rounds of Pacman.
Prefer something quieter? Trivial Pursuit came out in the 1980s and if played in teams, up to 24 people can play at one time.
Want to get people up and moving? How about learning the Moonwalk? I have a video below that will teach you how. Then you can have a moonwalk contest.
How to Moonwalk
Have you ever tried to Moonwalk?
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