Tips for Throwing an 80s Theme Party

Published: 01st May 2009
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Recreating the social ambience of the 80s is a combination of the right lighting, snacks, music and attire. Having an emphasis on creativity and less on finances, you can rekindle the 80s glam with a few bags full of garage sale treasures and dollar store light bulbs. Magazines, websites, and the movie store will give you a pretty good idea of how people spoke, dressed and socialized back in the big hair days.


The 80s was a decade of glitz, glow-in-the-dark, neon and black light. Night clubs pulsated through a blur of white stripes on dark T-shirts, mirrored balls and overly made-up patrons with spiked hair. Whether you were male or female, black mascara, extra zippers and rhinestones defined you as cool. If you can only spend a little, replace your regular lights with dollar store black light bulbs and hang some disco balls. Send 'totally awesome' invitations that include some 'gnarly' 80s slang like totally!


As long as it was quick and easy, it had to be good. Processed squeezable cheese, Hamburger Helper, Jell-o pudding pops, and tacos were the marketed food treats. Microwave ovens joined the appliance corps with popcorn and mini pizza being the big deal.

If you don't want to alienate some of your more nutrition-conscious guests, you may want to opt for a healthier menu. Adorn your table with magenta-coloured paper, silver tinsel, and neon-coloured plastic cutlery. Adding glam will lend the same 80s feel to your meal without retro-fitting your insides to the extra 80s weight.


Choose from Madonna's early contributions, Blondie, Cyndi Lauper, The Cure, Wham!, Depeche Mode, Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, The Bangles, Martha and the Muffins or anyone with lots of hair. Add some music that starts with "F"; the theme from Flashdance, Footloose and Fame.


Turn off the sound and add movies to your television screen. Cut out a VHS face plate and put it over your DVD player. Scour your library for ET, Top Gun, Stand By Me, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Rain Man, Brainstorm, Mad Max, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Roadhouse, and Return of the Jedi. See if you can find any media or pictures of the television series, Baywatch, Knight Rider or the A-Team.


The bigger, the better is the 80s style for hair. Back-combing and tons of hairspray will produce a great party 'do. Outlining eyes with thick, black, eye-liner, clumpy black mascara and rhinestone accents will give you an authentic 80s flair.

Ideas for costumes could include:

- leg warmers

- suit jacket over top of a T-shirt (anything worn by Don Johnson from Miami Vice)

- wristbands

- jelly shoes

- leather jackets with rolled up jeans and sneakers

- leather pants and top with extra-wide shoulder pads

- cut-off denims and T-shirts with cut-out holes

- three belts hugging the hips


Party games that involve everyone in a turn or teams such as 80s Trivia with theme-based prizes (Rubik's cubes are still available from dollar stores) will start the party off with enthusiasm. Set up a relay style succession of board games such as Balderdash, Twister, Operation, Connect Four or Trouble can help to break the ice. If you are really keen, scour garage sales and your parents' basement for your old Atari or Sega for Pac Man or Donkey Kong. Anyone who doesn't wish to play board games? Cabbage Patch dolls are available for adoption!

Word to the wise: Karaoke tends to take the focus away from the group and emphasizes that one really drunk dude. Theme parties are a great way to entertain on a shoe-string and get together for some good clean fun. Enjoy! Costume Alibi is a leading online retailer of adult costumes and masks in the US. Visit online at today for their complete line and have some fun!

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