Throw an ‘80s Theme Party (How to Do It in 6 Simple Steps)

80s theme party - Robert Palmer girls Add an ‘80s theme party to your entertaining – and you’ll be guaranteed an epic night for an epic decade.

Big permed hair, neon leg warmers, Cyndi Lauper…

Rubik’s Cubes, Top Gun, the original Transformers toys…

The A-Team, Knight Rider, Miami Vice, breakdancing…

…are some of the many things associated with the 80s.

In particular, the music and over-the-top fashion.

It’s apt that the 1980s are back, in modern times – with sneakers, mullets and skinny jeans in vogue.

Give old friends and new the chance to time travel back to the ’80s with this theme party idea. In 6 simple steps.

Step 1, decide on your ’80s theme party invites

Let everyone know you’re all leaving behind the 2010s, by setting the scene with the following cards:

• You in the 1980s — Scan a photo of you or your friends, to be the backdrop of ’80s theme party invite. Print and glue onto white card.

• Spirit of the Times — What was your ’80s like? Write down 5-10 things you loved about the decade – then create a collage using images from the web. Ask your local print shop to make the collage into an invite.

Let everyone know they must come in fancy dress.

Also ask people to bring a photo of themselves from the ’80s. This will be used in a Guess the Photo game later on.

Step 2, let everyone know it’s a fancy dress night

Dressing up 1980s style for this ’80s theme party is A LOT OF FUN – and a must. You can’t throw an 80s party without this.

Think leg warmers in neon colors, fingerless gloves (a la Michael Jackson), jumpsuits, stonewashed denim, mini skirts, mullets…

Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, and Grace Jones were all the fashion icons at the time. As were many TV shows and movies.

Take inspiration from ’80s music videos. Robert Palmer’s famous video ‘Addicted to Love’ is the reason why the girls on the top are dressed that way.

To help your guests find what they need, don’t forget to enclose a list of thrift shops and costume hire in your invitations.

Step 3, decide on your ’80s theme party decorations

Everyone’s got their own take of the ’80s, so you may choose to decorate according your own experience. Alternatively, you may want to evoke a general feel of the decade, with these decoration ideas.

  • Dress your tabletops and walls in neon colors
  • Play music from the ’80s
  • Cover your walls in posters in ’80s icons. Think Bananarama, Prince, Beverly Hills Cop
  • Create an ’80s memorabilia table. Ask friends to bring their favorite 80s thing, be it photos, toys, fashion accessories. Be protective of what’s on display, especially if an item is rare (like, say, an original Care Bear)
  • Scatter Rubik’s cubes. These make great conversation starters.
Step 4, decide on your ’80s theme party activities

Get ’80s Dancing — Make your ’80s dancefloor the centerpiece of your party. If you’ve got the budget, bring a DJ, otherwise you can create your own playlists.

Keep everyone on their feet and cheering to familiar songs, by including tracks such as these:

  • Every Breathe You Take – The Police
  • Walk This Way – Run DMC
  • Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
  • Don’t You Want Me – Human League
  • The Look – Roxette

Do You Know Your ’80s Songs? — Find out with this ’80s music trivia quiz.

Set Up an ’80s Games Table — From Battleship to electronic Simon Says, Connect 4 to ’80s Trivial Pursuit.

What Was the 1980s to You — Encourage guests to share their ’80s nostalgia by creating a series of question cards.

Buy a pack of index cards and on each card write two questions. Here are a few examples:

  • What was your favorite ’80s song?
  • What kind of hair did you have?
  • Who did you most admire in the ’80s?
  • Share one favorite memory about the ’80s.

You can play this activity in a group.

These cards are also an excellent icebreaker. Leave a few scattered about the room for people to pick up and starting yapping about.

’80s Fancy Dress Contest – Who looks the most ’80s? Who’s wearing the best mullet? Have everyone vote each other, with the best dressed getting a prize.

Guess Whose Photo – Remember you asked everyone to bring a photo of their ’80s self? Make sure everyone hands theirs in to you as they arrive.

  • Then, hang these together on the wall, numbering each one, but leaving off who the number belongs to.
  • Leave it to your guests to try and work them out. The person with the most correct answers wins.
Step 5, decide on your ’80s theme party food

Serve up regular finger food, but why not name them after ’80s song titles, just for fun? For example:

  • Eternal Flame[d] Chicken (the Bangles)
  • Poppadum Preach (Madonna)
  • When Smokey [Bacon] Sings (ABC)
  • I Get Weak [for Potato Salad] (Belinda Carlisle)
  • [This Chilli’s] Hot in the City (Billy Idol)
  • [Milk]shake Your Love (Debbie Gibson)
  • [Chocolate] Pleasure Principle (Janet Jackson)

For drinks menu, you could serve – pink champagne, lemonade, shandy, beer and a neon-colored fruit punch.

Step 6, decide on your ’80s theme party favors

Send everyone back to present day, with a few reminders of the neon decade they’re leaving –

  • Rubik’s Cube key rings
  • CD compilation of 80s music
  • Neon-colored bangles
  • Cheap ray bands
  • Give everyone a DVD of an ’80s movie (buy from discount stores in advance).

Image: davidpbrown

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