Who doesn’t love a good 80’s party! I’m mean, the 80’s were like so totally awesome, ya know?! The music, the hair, the clothes, the shoulder pads, the movies, the horrendous home decor of sticks in a vase, black lacquer with pastels, and Nagel prints (wow, I just described my bedroom from 1986), and the ever present danger of nuclear war … good times.
A few years ago I planned an employee event with an 80’s theme and it was a blast! This is a party that almost decorates itself, just think back to those days (or ask your parents) and make decorations out of your memories. Need a little help? I got you covered. I’ll share ideas for decorating, music, dressing up, and so much more!
Setting up the room:
- Color! Color! Color! The 80’s were a very colorful and bright time, perhaps not always in a good way. Neon everything, lots of sparkle, and lots of mixed patterns. When picking out your decorations and linens for the room, keep it bright and busy!
- Props. Add lots of props that scream 80’s: Cardboard cutouts of 80’s characters, record albums, giant Rubik’s cubes, backdrops with lasers, accent lighting in pinks and electric blue.
- 80’s Candy and Toys. I set up a center table with bowls full of toys and candy from the 80’s, but more about that a bit later.
- Music videos. Nothing says the 80’s like MTV and music videos. If you can, play the music videos, not just the music, during the entire party. I was lucky enough to find a DJ that put together an entire night of 80’s videos to show on a large screen beside the dance floor and everyone loved it!
When setting up the dining tables, I used three colors for the linens to give the room variety: aqua, hot pink, and bright green.
At each place setting I had a program for the evening that alternated in colors between pink and green centers with a zebra print border.
The centerpiece was a mirror square (provided by the hotel), a black “lacquer” vase full of tall pink, purple, or aqua glittered sticks with a floral light in the center shining up. Surrounding the vase were framed photos of popular TV shows, movies, or albums from the 80’s. I put a votive at each corner of the mirror then circled the entire centerpiece with long glow sticks of varying colors.
80’s Center Table:
In the center of the room, near the dance floor, I made an 80’s table full of candy, games, props, and general nostalgia items from the 80’s. We displayed an old Atari console, joysticks, and games (would have been great if we could have actually played it!) I had bowls of candy with Nerds, Big League Chew, and Sour Patch Kids. The toys included inflatable electric guitars, mini Rubik’s cubes, 80’s style sunglasses, and glow bracelets.
For the table decorations:
- I found some cheap 80’s style fabric and made a tablecloth.
- I made a giant Rubik’s cube in the center of the table using a cardboard box, tempera paint, and black electrical tape.
- I made the MTV sign out of insulation board, tempera paint, and foam core board.
- The giant Pac Man is made of insulation board and tempera paint.
- I made an AT-AT from a model kit and used insulation board to create a base which was supposed to be the ice planet Hoth from “Empire Strikes Back”. The best part about this, during the night people kept moving the AT-AT and taking pictures of his evening, so later I was sent pics of him on the dance floor, having dinner, moving about the tables… I loved it!
- I also added a voting station for best 80’s costume with prizes for the winners.
Star Wars AT-AT (on the ice planet of Hoth):
Pac Man, Rubik’s Cube, and Voting Bowl:
Atari Console, Games, and Joysticks:
80’s Candy and Toys:
80’s Patterns and Colors:
We were giving out gifts to a number of the employees that night, so I wrapped them all in zebra pattern gift wrap with hot pink ribbon.
Cardboard Cutouts of Iconic 80’s Characters:
Music is possibly the most important part of an 80’s party! Whether you create a personal playlist song by song (as I would do to make sure my favorites were included) or choose an 80’s Pandora (or similar) station, don’t forget the music!
I actually polled the employees before the event for their favorite 80’s songs and made sure the most popular requests were on the playlist.
The 80’s Look:
Want to wear those pink zebra leggings, a lace trimmed denim skirt, and Bedazzeled shirt with shoulder pads? Of course you do! Here’s a few must do’s for dressing up for your 80’s party:
- Big hair. The bigger, the better. Get out the super, extra-hold Aqua Net and go crazy. Don’t forget the “wall o’ bangs” and side wings.
- Shoulder pads. Channel your inner Dynasty character and layer up!
- Make up (guys too!). The 80’s were not a time to try the natural look. Load up that pink blush and black eyeliner! Guys- need a role model? Check out Poison or The Cure.
- Too much jewelry. Layer those necklaces, bracelets, rings, and don’t forget a brooch! Is there still skin showing? More costume jewelry, please.
- Mix and Match your fabrics. Popular fabrics of the day were acid wash denim, lace, mesh, spandex, leather, and let’s not forget the parachute pants!
- Color and clothes. You can’t go wrong with neon or any combo of bright colors. Of course, you can always do the pastel Miami Vice look or mix white leggings with a neon green short stretchy dress with a jean jacket and spike heels with ruffle ankle socks…ugh. I prefer the shoulder padded blazer with sleeves pushed up over a button up gold lamé blouse and a brooch. Oh yeah.
This list can go on and on. Need inspiration? Watch some old videos or look at what artists were wearing on their album covers. Or you can do my favorite, watch some old John Hughes movies. Sixteen Candles is still one of my favorites.
Happy 80’s Party Planning!