Whether you’re a kid of the 80s or a great fan of retro video games, bright colors, and pop culture icons, an 80s theme could be a brilliant choice for your next party.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for an era of boomboxes and big hair, this post gives you some great ideas and inspiration to get you started on planning an epic 80s-themed party!
Decoration ideas for an 80s-themed party
The 80s were an iconic decade, with incredible music, fashion, and pop culture. Here are some ideas for decorations to bring an 80s vibe to life and create an amazing atmosphere at your party.
- Zebra and leopard print tablecloths: Animal prints were iconic in the 80s and a great addition to any themed party decor!
- Blacklight posters: Posters with sections that become luminescent under a blacklight. These are fantastic decor for a party and highly nostalgic of the times.
- Oversized cassette tapes as decorations: You can find giant cassette tapes online as decorations and background props for photo shoots. These will make a great talking point among guests.
- 80s movie posters (e.g., The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future): Retro movie posters will add a perfect ’80s street’ vibe to the room.
- Roller skate props: These are fun and colorful decorations, giving a cool and sporty vibe. Pair-up skates on pedestals or shelf-tops for maximum effect.
- Rubik’s Cube decorations: Get some Rubik’s Cube decor up and around the room. If you can, hire giant Rubik’s cube sculptures as centerpieces. Otherwise, get giant Rubix Cube posters to hang on the walls. There are loads of gimmick options out there: photo backdrops for photo booths, Rubix Cube dance floor mats… any of these would be perfect.
- Glitter disco balls: Glitter disco balls are a brilliant atmosphere creator because they shimmer and spin, adding dynamism to other static decorations. Although disco is commonly associated with the 70s era, the glitter ball is a great decoration for the post-disco years of the 80s, so still a great choice.
- Pac-Man wall decals: Get some retro arcade game posters, and if you can, find any with neon lights or a glowing backlight for an even better effect!
- Cassette tape table runners: Rather than streamers, decorate a table with old tape streams out of cassettes, it’ll have the same effect but be so charmingly 80s and nostalgic for the guests.
- DIY cardboard boomboxes: Giant boom boxes or cutouts. These can be DIY creations or can be bought online.
- Retro 80s music posters: Get some posters of iconic movies, concerts, or albums from the 80s as decoration on the walls or along the entrance hall into your party.
- Glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark decor: Have glow stick bracelets, glasses, and necklace sticks available as guests arrive for them to decorate themselves with. This will make the guests part of the decoration.
- Pop culture icons’ life-size cutouts (e.g., David Bowie, Madonna): These are great fun, they’re interactive – people will love using them as photo props. They are a brilliant talking point at the party
- Neon-colored streamers and balloons: Balloons are always festive and fun, and neon balloons are perfect for this 80s theme. See if you can find ones with LED lights inside for extra effect. If you can get helium balloons, weigh them so that they float at different heights around the room, creating different levels of decoration. If you don’t have helium balloons you can still hang big bunches at different heights!
- Rubik’s Cube-inspired cake: This will look fabulous on the food table and be a great interactive decoration to enjoy eating after as well.
Outfit Ideas for an 80s theme party
There are loads of fun outfit ideas for an 80s theme birthday party. In fact, it’s one of the best decades for iconic looks and amazing fashion.
- Acid-washed jeans: Luckily, these are still quite fashionable today and will probably be easy to find in thrift stores or vintage clothes markets.
- Leg warmers: The brighter the better! These go perfectly, in 80’s style, on top of tights, fishnets or any type of jeans or leggings.
- Oversized sweaters: Perfect for a valley-girl look, again these are in fashion today so should be easy to find. Opt for the brightest colors available for maximum 80s effect.
- Off-the-shoulder tops: A great compliment to an aerobics instructor look! Get inspiration from style icons like Jane Fonda and Olivia Newton-John to see this fashion in action!
- Neon colors: Essential. Hairbands, accessories, glasses…you name it.
- Shoulder pads: Shoulder pads and blazers in strong, bold colors.
- High-top sneakers: These should be possible to find online or in thrift shops. The 80s was during the early years of some of todays iconic sports brands and finding retro-style sneakers online should be possible for this outfit look.
- Fanny packs: A must. Also practical party-wear.
- Scrunchie hair ties: The bigger the better. If you can’t find these they are easy to make by tying or stapling fluorescent fabric around a regular hair elastic.
- Layered accessories: This was a great look in the 80s, think bold, clashing a big.
- Parachute pants: Iconic! One of my favorite 80s fashions.
- Fishnet stockings: Black or bright colors, anything goes.
- Ray-Ban sunglasses: Starting with the blues brothers, these glasses become famous through loads of classic movies of the 80’s including The Breakfast Club and Miami vice. Another classic was the style worn by Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
- Jelly shoes: Big yes! And comfortable for the dance floor. You might find these in the thrift store too.
- Spandex: Perfect for throwback 80s theme parties, anything spandex will be super evocative for the time period.
- Headbands with big bows: Look up 80s pop stars like Madonna and Steven Tyler for inspo.
- Big hair: Backcombs and plenty of hairspray. Get inspiration from some 80s movie-stars and classic tv shows.
Another fun idea is to dress in costume, here are some iconic 80s suggestions:
1. 80s Pop and rock icons: Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, Madonna, Tina Turner…
2. Iconic 80s movie characters: Marty McFly from Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, The A-Team, The Breakfast Club Characters, Miami Vice…
3. Classic 80s items: A giant cassette tape, a Rubix Cube…
4. A bold 80’s ‘look’: Valley girl, aerobics instructor, a new wave musician, a punk rocker…
5. Iconic 80’s video game characters: Mario, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong…
A great idea is to tell guest there will be prizes for the best costumes, this will get them to up their costume game, a fun way to add to the party vibe!
Game and Entertainment ideas for an 80s theme party
As well as epic 80s music and a pumping dancefloor, having some games and activities running throughout the night is a great way to keep the energy high and the fun rolling.
Here are our suggestions for fun games and activities to bring alive the 80s spirit.
- Pac-Man or Tetris video game tournament: You could hire a classic arcade game for the night, or run versions of these classic games off a newer games console or even a PC, perhaps with a cardboard, arcade-style mount cut out around it. Have a leaderboard and let the party guests have a great time playing and beating the top scorer all night.
- Lip-sync battle to 80s songs: This would be a super fun activity, get a crowd going and have an open-mic style lip-sync battle to classic 80’s tunes.
- Costume contest for the best 80s outfit: Present a prize for the best dressed at the party, this means people will put great effort into their costumes, making them walking decorations and theme-creators as well as guests! This is also a fun thing to present, and you can spotlight the top 3 positions to create tension for the announcement of the winner.
- Name that 80s tune music quiz: Form teams for a short music quiz, you can play a section of a song, or read out a portion of a lyric and get the group to guess the name of the song, the artist or the year it came out.
- Karaoke session featuring 80s hits: If you have a Karaoke Machine, set up a booth area where guests can take on an iconic 80s tune and battle for cheers from the crowd.
- “Guess the 80s Movie” movie trivia: Offer another fun quiz game with trivia, images or famous quotes from iconic movies, and have the guests form teams to guess the 80s movie!
- Pin the ‘Tail’ on 80s icons: A pin with a twist (try pin the Sunglasses on Madonna, Pin the Mohawn on Mr T, Pin the guitar on Prince)
- 80s-themed bingo: Rather than a traditional bingo game with numbers, have bingo cards with iconic 80s movie characters or pop stars and let guests cross off their bingo cards whenever you call out the name of the movie or song that matches the character on their card!
- “Name that 80s Commercial” challenge: Another trivia quiz but with iconic commercials from the decade. This will work best for guests who remember those years and is sure to be a great throwback!
- 80’s theme photo booth: Set up a photo booth for the guests to snap some great 80s costume pics. Have some glasses, crimped hair wigs and leg warmers available to add to their costumes! These will make great memorabilia for you as well as the guests!
Food and Drink Ideas for an 80s theme party
How to dress the food table
- Glitter and Metallic accents: Use confetti or a glitter disco ball for decoration.
- Neon Balloon centerpiece: Place LED lights inside neon balloons and have them floating above the good table for an epic effect.
- Printed Neon-food signage: Create neon food labels, in a glow style 80’s font to mark out food options and label any allergens.
- Use old vinyl’s as place settings under platters of food: These have an awesome effect and perfect for the theme.
Nostalgic 80s party food
Here are some ideas of what you could serve as classic 80s throwback party food.
- Mini quiches
- Deviled eggs
- Cheese and pineapple skewers
- Shrimp cocktail
- Cocktail meatballs
- Chex Party Mix
- Pigs in a blanket
- Chicken wings
- Mini sandwiches (e.g., ham and cheese)
- Beef sliders
- Potato skins
- Jelly and cream cheese finger sandwiches
- A retro 80s candy bar with classic 80s Pop Rocks, Nerds and Ring Pops
Ideas for 80s party favors
Sometimes, a little gift for the guests can be a very special addition to plans for the evening. If you’re looking for the perfect idea for party favors, here are some of our top suggestions:
- Miniature vinyl record coasters.
- Mini Rubik’s Cube puzzles.
- Classic 80s candies (e.g., Nerds, Ring Pops).
- Mixtape or cassette-shaped bookmarks.
- Pop Rocks candy.
- Vintage-style roller skate keychains.
- Pop culture-themed playing cards.
Top 80s music to play at your 80s theme party
There are some brilliant 80s theme playlists pre-prepared on Spotify or other music streaming platforms. Be sure to include all of these epic 80s artists in your playlists for the night:
- Whitney Houston
- Cyndi Lauper
- Bon Jovi
- George Michael
- Duran Duran
- David Bowie
- Guns N’ Roses
- The Police
- Tina Turner
- Depeche Mode
- The Cure
- Culture Club
Get a mix of pop hits with some iconic sounds from the 80s, such as synthesizers and early electronic dance music.
We hope some of these 80s party ideas have left you excited and pumped to start planning this awesome party!
This post was written by Zoe from partiesuniverse.com, who started her site after years of experience in the industry to share ideas and inspiration for creative, DIY parties.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.