10 Epic Ideas for an 80s Theme Party

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Go all out with an 80s theme party that will be remembered in the history books for decades to come. These tried and tested 80s theme party ideas will delight your guests with nostalgic exuberance.

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Do you remember the 80s? For those of us in our forties and beyond, the 80s is a bygone era remembered fondly for its unforgettable fashion, innovative music, and iconic movies. There is a reason why 80s music is still trending and so many 80s movies are cult classics. It is arguably the best decade for pop-culture and a perfect theme for a party!

Whether you are throwing a 40th Birthday party, A Halloween 80s theme party, or just a fun party with your friends…these tips will ensure you leave your guests longing for more 80s nostalgia. So let’s get this party started!

1. Choose an epic 80s theme party niche

While you can focus on everything 80s, you may also want to consider picking a niche theme for your party. What is a niche theme? Something specific from the 80s that you can theme your party around. It should be something that you love or remember fondly. The cartoon “Jem and the Holograms” was the niche theme that I coordinated everything around.

80 theme party ideas

80s theme party niche ideas:

  • Your Birth Year. You can coordinate everything around what happened and what was popular that year, including food, toys, movies, and music.
  • Movies. Everyone likes 80s movies and there are so many classics to choose from. Pick your favorite (or a few favorites) and theme the party around that movie. Some great ideas would be E.T., The Goonies, Back to the Future, or Ghostbusters.
  • Toys. There are some memorable toys that we all remember from the 80s. Cabbage Patch Kids, Nintendo, My Little Pony, Care Bears. You can theme the party around one toy franchise or make the whole party about toys. Your guests will feel like a kid again.
  • Cartoons. Did you watch Saturday morning cartoons? Some of my favorites were Jem and the Holograms, He-man, Gi-Joe, and Smurfs. You can easily find cartoon-themed party accessories like paper plates from some of the most popular 80s cartoons.

2. Design 80s theme party invitations

Now that you’ve picked your theme, start designing your invitations.

Design your invitations around your theme colors. Be sure to download some fun 80s-themed fonts to use as well. I created my “Halfway to the 80s” logo using a free Back to the Future font and used my theme colors to tie it all together.

80 theme party ideas

My favorite design platform to use is Canva. They offer pre-made templates, hundreds of fonts, graphics, and stock images to create just about anything. They have some great 80s theme templates and fun neon fonts to use to bring it all together. It’s super easy to use and the free version is very robust.

3. Set your 80s theme party table

To match my Jem and the Holograms theme I scoured eBay for some vintage paper plates and party favor bags. You can find all sorts of ideas just by searching for vintage 80s party plates.

I used these party plates to establish my theme colors: Neon pink and blue with yellow accents.

Finding neon pink party accessories is relatively easy. These neon pink candy containers worked perfectly for my candy bar. I also used them to corral the neon pink and yellow cutlery.

I used coordinating plastic lunch trays as the anchor pieces for the tablescape and an added punch of color with some retro school lunch vibes.

With my custom logo, I printed up some inexpensive cocktail napkins to match the rest of the partyware.

4. 80s theme party decorations

I wanted to create an amazing focal point to grab my guests’ attention the moment they stepped inside, so I ordered a custom “1983” Neon sign in hot pink to hang above the candy and beverage table. You can easily customize your year or any word and the color to fit your theme. I was really happy with the quality of the sign and highly recommend it.

80 theme party ideas

To really make the pink neon sign pop I installed silver fringe curtains as a backdrop. This helped to reflect the light throughout the room.

PRO TIP: Use at least two layers of fringe for a fuller effect. I purchased fringe curtains with an adhesive backing for easy installation.

Then I added a neon pink and black balloon garland at the top for dimension. Metallic fringe and balloons always bring me back to the high school dance days!

To tie in more silver, I also used silver sequined tablecloths for all of the tables. This really fit the rock star “Jem” theme and helped to make the rest of the colors really pop.

5. Outrageous 80s theme food ideas

I chose to keep the food light and focus on a candy bar with iconic candy from the 80s, including candy featured in classic 80s movies. Who can forget Chunk sharing a Baby Ruth bar with Sloth in the Goonies? Or Elliot leaving a trail of Reese’s Pieces in E.T.?

Can you guess which 80s movie had a Twinkies cameo?

For a reprieve from all the candy, I procured an epic Cabbage Patch Doll veggie tower from my Mom. She did an amazing job dressing that little cabbage patch with lettuce and veggies!

Some other great food options to serve that are crowd-pleasers and easy to eat would be:

  • Hot Pockets (1983)
  • Bagel Bites (1985)
  • Cool Ranch Doritos (1986)
  • Lunchables (1988)
  • Burger King French Toast sticks (1985) for a fun sweet snack.

6. Totally Tubular 80s theme drinks

No party is complete without fun party drinks. Since I was born in the 80s I was just a kid when the fun colorful 80s drink concoctions were being made, but I wasted no time trying several of them to find the perfect compliment to my niche theme.

And the winner is: The Blue Lagoon cocktail. Stunningly electric blue and oh-so refreshing. While this wasn’t invented in the 80’s…it was popularized in the 80s partly due to the movie of the same name. Be sure to check out my Blue Lagoon recipe for details, and don’t forget the hurricane glasses!

And of course, we couldn’t have an 80s theme party without Squeezits! One of my favorite childhood summer treats. Unfortunately, the original Squeezit was discontinued in 2001, but there is a pretty good alternative from Kool-Aid.

I also found a throwback water jug from Igloo to satisfy the water customers, which was a “barrel of fun”!

For a fun drink accessory, I commissioned a custom swizzle stick from Etsy featuring my logo in neon pink. This paired perfectly with the Blue Lagoon cocktail to keep within my color scheme.

7. The little details you don’t want to miss

To flush out the space with some 80s theming I used vintage and replica 80s toys, games, and movies. You can pick up cheap vintage VHS tapes and cassette tapes at garage sales and thrift stores. If you are doing an arcade theme, the replica Missile Command and Dig Dug mini arcades are perfect for decor and entertainment.

80 theme party ideas

My husband’s collection of vintage TVs lent itself perfectly as an 80s prop and a little nod to Poltergeist. We connected a phone to the TVs to run vintage 80s commercials via YouTube for some fun entertainment.

Posters. This is one of the easiest ways to fill up your wall space with your 80s theme. I picked some of favorite 80s movies: E.T., The Goonies, Dirty Dancing, and Back to The Future. Hang them at various angles for a dynamic effect.

Lighting. This detail cannot be overlooked and is arguably one of the most important aspects of a party atmosphere. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some great color effects either.

These RGB color strips are very affordable and easy to install. I used them behind bookshelves to give a blue glow to the space.

80 theme party ideas

Another easy trick is a Bluetooth RGB light bulb. I like the Govee RGB light bulbs as they have a full spectrum of colors and can easily be controlled on your phone individually or together.

8. Entertainment for your 80s theme party

I created a playlist on YouTube of my favorite 80s music videos and had this running on the TV in the background. Not only was the music great, but guests loved being able to watch the old music videos as well.

You can also use a retro 80s-inspired Boombox to rock your favorite tunes. The Studebaker is a solid choice and features a multi-colored LED equalizer to add an exciting visual to your music.

80 theme party ideas

Games…it wouldn’t be an 80s party without games. We had a collection of retro kids games to play with as well as 80s trivia cards. We displayed these on a table covered with a yellow plastic tablecloth that guests could “graffiti” retro 80s doodles and quotes on.

If budget allows, a full-size cocktail arcade table will provide ultimate 80s fun. This arcade table boasts 3500 games and has provided hours and hours of retro entertainment for our family. Galaga is my personal favorite! Creative Arcades also offers a fun “Barrel” style arcade which I absolutely love. Reminds me of the ones they used to have at pizza parlors.

What are some other popular 80s theme party games?

9. Dress to impress with 80s theme party outfits

Dressing up isn’t for everyone, but it sure does make the 80s theme feel complete. Encourage your guests to wear 80s clothing…any style they are comfortable with. We saw everything from New Wave to 80s Mom chic.

80 theme party ideas

I settled on a vintage hot pink sweater embellished with leather, studded details, and of course shoulder pads…one of the most iconic fashion staples of the 80s! I also found some vintage Jordache acid-wash jeans with ankle bows on eBay.

What are some other 80s theme party outfit ideas?

Some other classic 80s outfit staples that you can pick up pretty easily are:

10. Don’t forget the 80s Loot Bags!

Be sure to thank your guests for coming with a souvenir party loot bag. I stuffed my Jem bags with Big League Chew, Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Tape, Pop Rocks, scrunchies for the girls, and retro Coin Slot Keychains for the guys.

I also had fun pinbacks with 80s quotes dispersed throughout the party for guests to grab and stick on.

Shop the 80s theme party:

I hope I have given you some fun and inspiring ideas for your next 80s theme party.

Happy partying!

-Jessica

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