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1980s Party Ideas

1980s Clothing
Planning a 1980s-themed party is especially fun because this decade had a big cultural impact that still affects us today. It was the time of New Wave, the early days of hip hop, political upheaval, Madonna, Michael Jackson, spandex and frizzy hair. The ’80s have a very specific feel and look to them, so there’s no doubting what kind of party you’re throwing once you put that KC and the Sunshine Band song on!

Radical Invitation Ideas

CD invitation
Make sure your guests know exactly what kind of party you’re throwing from the invitation. Don’t forget to ask them to come in their best 80’s gear. Here are some ideas for your invites:

  • Use empty CD cases and print out vintage CD covers from the ’80s. Put the invitation inside with all the particulars.
  • Have a square-shaped invitation with a Rubiks Cube printed on one side, the invitation details on the other.
  • Get an invitation shaped like a hand (or a glove) and decorate it with silver glitter or silver sequins, ala-Michael Jackson.

Decorating for a Totally Tubular Look

MC Hammer pants
When you think of the ’80s, there’s a specific color palette and it’s mostly neon, metallics and black. Think of MC Hammer’s shiny gold pants in his video for U Can’t Touch This, Don Johnson’s bright shirts in Miami Vice, or Michael Jackson’s shiny single glove. Try to get solid neon colors for your tablecloths, and have checkered paper plates and cups to add a more ’80s feel. If it’s too much, you can also opt to have white tablecloths with neon lacing instead. Use old Pepsi or Coke bottles with flowers and beads as a centerpiece for your tables. Streamers and balloons can come in gold, silver and black. To round up everything, have a real neon sign saying, “It’s the ’80s!” or any similar message and hang it up at a viewable area. You can also replace normal lightbulbs with orange and green bulbs to achieve that neon look.

It also couldn’t hurt to have a giant disco ball in the middle of the dance floor to really pull everyone into the vintage feel of the ’80s.

You also have other design options to choose from. Why not take a page out of popular TV shows back in the day? Miami Vice, Dynasty, MacGuyver, The Golden Girls and The Cosby Show are some examples. You can also use popular videos like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth.” These have some very specific looks that you can adapt for your party.

You can also have a mishmash of all these and let your guests have fun guessing what influenced your design choices. Here are some good items to have on display to have your guests start talking about the good old days.

    Jukebox for design

  • Gumball machine
  • Old movies in betamax format
  • Foosball
  • Jukebox
  • 80s photo booths
  • Walkman
  • Old band posters
  • Old 80s toys
  • Handheld Casio keyboards

It’d also be great if you can find these that are still functional, or at least modern versions that retain the ’80s design.

Dressing for the ’80s

Here’s the fun part at any theme party: dressing up! Don’t know where to start? Here are some pointers to gain a genuine ’80s look. Warning: It may involve lots of hairspray.

Madonna dressing
Madonna. To create a Madonna look, you can use fishnet stockings, black corset, black tulle skirt and high-heeled boots. You can also use vests, leg warmers, giant sweaters, bangle bracelets, crosses and the like. You should layer lots of long, chunky necklaces, wear chandelier earrings and tease your hair into frizzy perfection.

Michael Jackson. Plastic surgery aside, Michael Jackson’s outfits can be relatively easy to copy. Thin, tight white shirts, a red leather jacket, high-waisted jeans and white sneakers/moon boots. Don’t forget his famous shiny, silver one-handed glove. For his more formal attire, you can always employ an all-white three piece suit that is slightly too large for you, a bow tie, and white leather shoes.

Flock of Seagulls. How to identify yourself as Mike Score from Flock of Seagulls? Imitate his hair. Part your hair into three sections: two to each side of your head, and one in the middle. Comb the middle section forward and set it with gel. Feather the sides of your head using a comb and hairspray. Wear a leather jacket or vest, chunky belt, gloves and denim pants.

Prince. Prince with his ruffled white shirt and flamboyantly purple suit is distinctive enough and bears no explanation. Good luck looking for a purple suit.

Miami Vice. Don Johnson was the epitome of cool back in the ’80s. Spark up conversation wearing an all-white suit and a bright solid-colored shirt underneath. Don’t forget your wayfarer shades.

Type of dressing for 1980s party! Check out this video.

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Music for Your Party

Much of the ’80s is defined by its music. There are a lot of ’80s compilation music out in the market, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make one of your own. Here are some popular songs that you and your friends can enjoy, sing, and reminisce to:

Flock of Seagulls: I Ran So Far Away, Who’s That Girl (She’s Got It), The More You Live, the More You Love

Duran Duran Songs
Duran Duran: Hungry Like the Wolf, Girls on Film, Rio

Madonna: Like a Virgin, Lucky Star, Borderline

Tiffany: Could’ve Been, I Think We’re Alone Now

Debbie Gibson: Lost in Your Eyes, Electric Youth

Cyndi Lauper: Time After Time, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Wham: Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)

Boy George: Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?, Time (Clock of the Heart)

Fun is Never Dated

Despite the lack of internet, Playstation and other modern games, the ’80s was still a fun time to live in. Relive some old-fashioned fun with these 80s games and activities.

Lipsynch game
Trivial Pursuit. Trivial Pursuit actually debuted in the 1980s, and it’s a good tribute to the game by playing it using trivia from the ’80s.

Charades. Guess popular music, actors, movies and other pop culture figures with charades. (Tips on how to play charades)

Lipsynch. Relive the magic of the ’80s, including the hair, the shoulder pads and the music videos! Lip-synch your heart away and reward the best performance of the night.

Video games. Play classic video games from your youth such as Donkey Kong, PacMan, Frogger, Tetris and Asteroids right in your living room. Your friends will certainly have a kick playing childhood games like these!

Foosball cup. Hold a Foosball cup that will put all world tournaments to shame.

Guitar Hero. Rock out to ’80s melodies and have a guitar showdown with your friends. (Learn the Five ways to become a True guitar hero)

Amp Up Your Party Food

You can have any kind of food preparation you want, but in keeping with the neon theme, you can make your drinks and gelatin glow by adding some non-toxic glow sticks. Put it at the bottom of the bowl and pile the drinks and gel in for that radioactive glow. You’re also encouraged to have different-colored drinks such as Vitamin Water, Mountain Dew and Gatorade. The most popular alcoholic drink back then was Beaujolais Nouveau and the most popular non-alcoholic drink was Perrier.

Chocolate fudge cake
Mountain Dew for drinks

You can also put Jelly Beans and Reese’s Pieces as a highlight of your buffet table—these candies debuted during the ’80s and are still very highly popular! Other ’80s comfort food include chili and jacket potatoes and chocolate fudge cake.

The ’80s was a great, fun era when people experimented with fashion, music and technology. This energetic lifestyle combined with enthusiastic nostalgia is a perfect mix for any era-themed party. So dress up, put your shoulder pads on, and prepare for an excellent time!

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