Retro 80s Birthday Party Ideas and Decorations: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebration Success

Party Ideas

By Bruno Crnik

Are you feeling nostalgic for the 1980s and looking to throw a fantastically retro birthday party? Travel back to the decade of bright colors, bold patterns, and totally tubular tunes with our guide to 80s-themed birthday party ideas and decorations. Dive into creating an authentic vibe to set the stage for dancing, games, and all-around revelry!

To assist you in planning your rad celebration, we’ve compiled a list of essential party elements.

From setting the perfect 80s scene to capturing the memorable moments, our guide will walk you through everything you need to create an event that will have your guests feeling the groove all night long.

Get ready to embrace the era of synth-pop, neon fashion, and classic arcade games by transforming your party space into a nostalgia-filled wonderland.

Key Takeaways

  • Plan your celebration using our guide with essential party elements and decorations.
  • Set the perfect 80s scene with retro décor, music, and entertainment for an unforgettable experience.

Setting the 80s Scene

Decades and Decorations

When we’re planning an 80s-themed party, it’s important to transport our guests back in time through our scene-setting decorations. The first step is to choose a color palette that screams 80s: think bold neon colors like hot pink, electric blue, and lime green.

To create an authentic vibe, we suggest incorporating recognizable 80s memorabilia throughout the space. Here’s a quick list of ideas:

  • Cassette tapes mingled with table centerpieces
  • Rubik’s cubes and Atari game consoles as conversation starters
  • Posters of iconic 80s movies, bands, and celebrities

Don’t forget to encourage guests to come dressed in their best 80s gear, which might include leg warmers, high-waisted jeans, and oversized t-shirts. The more authentic the outfits, the easier it is to feel immersed in the decade.

Retro Lighting

One of the most crucial elements in setting the scene for an 80s party is getting the lighting just right. In the 80s, neon lighting was a popular trend that can help create the perfect atmosphere.

Neon signsLights in varied colors, perhaps spelling out “Party like it’s 1989!”
Glow sticksScatter an assortment of glow stick necklaces and bracelets for guests to wear and use as décor.
Black lightsReplace some of your regular bulbs with black lights to give the space a retro-club feel.


Another fun lighting option to consider is a disco ball, which will bring back memories of the 80s dance floor. With these decorations and a carefully curated playlist of 80s tunes, we’ll have our guests feeling like they’ve truly stepped back in time.


Getting the Look

Costume Party

In order to throw the ultimate retro 80s birthday party, we need to think about the iconic fashion trends of the era. Encourage your guests to dress up in costumes that represent this unforgettable decade. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Women’s Fashion: Think big hair, neon colors, and off-the-shoulder tops.
  • Men’s Fashion: Channel your inner Don Johnson with pastel suits and rolled up sleeves.
  • Accessories: Complete the look with leg warmers, Wayfarer sunglasses, and fingerless gloves.

The Madonna Look

The 80s wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the Queen of Pop, Madonna. For an authentic Madonna look, here are some must-have items:

  1. Lace gloves
  2. Layered necklaces
  3. Bustier tops or corsets
  4. Tulle skirts or tutus
  5. Chunky belts

Don’t forget the wild hair and bold makeup to complete this iconic look!

The Top Gun Vibe

For those who prefer a more macho look, why not go for a Top Gun inspired outfit? To nail the vibe, consider the following elements:

  • Bomber jackets: An essential piece for any Top Gun getup.
  • Aviator sunglasses: The perfect statement accessory.
  • Flight suits: For a more dedicated look, go for an all-in-one flight suit.
  • Military-style boots: Pair with your flight suit or jeans to complete the look.

Men’s Fashion

For a more general approach to men’s fashion in the 80s, consider these popular styles:

  • Pastel suits: Channel Don Johnson’s Miami Vice look with a pastel suit, T-shirt, and loafers.
  • Cosby sweaters: Colorful and patterned sweaters were a staple in the 80s men’s fashion.
  • Acid wash jeans: Pair with your favorite graphic T-shirt or Cosby sweater for a casual retro look.
  • Tracksuits: Grab a two-piece tracksuit for a laidback yet stylish 80s outfit.

By incorporating these styles into your retro 80s birthday party, you and your guests will truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time.


Retro Accessories

Glow Sticks and Wristbands

One key element of an 80s retro party is, undoubtedly, glow sticks and wristbands. They instantly add a pop of color and a fun vibe to your event. We suggest using a mix of the following:

  • Glow sticks: Available in various colors and sizes, you can scatter them across the venue or even use them to create a glowing centerpiece.
  • Bracelets: Encourage your guests to wear neon or glow-in-the-dark wristbands to give that authentic 80s feel.
  • Glasses: Bring out your classic 80s sunglasses or shutter shades to complete the retro look.

DIY Accessories

If you’re on a budget or looking to personalize your party, we have a couple of simple DIY accessory ideas that will elevate your retro 80s theme:

  1. Fingerless Gloves: With some scissors and an old pair of gloves, you can create lace or fishnet fingerless gloves – perfect for that 80s rocker vibe.
  2. Table Decorations: Get creative with neon origami or colored paper to make eye-catching centerpieces or table scatterings.

By incorporating these retro accessories, you’ll ensure your 80s-themed birthday party will be a totally rad blast from the past!


Essential Party Elements

80s Themed Music

A Retro 80s birthday party isn’t complete without some fantastic tunes from the decade. We recommend creating a playlist with hits from iconic artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. Don’t forget to include classic album covers on your decorations, as they’ll serve as great conversation starters and add a nostalgic touch to your party.

Consider having a boom box or a Walkman on display, and maybe even provide guests with cassette tapes as party favors.

Here are a few must-have songs for your playlist:

  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
  • “Like a Virgin” by Madonna
  • “Purple Rain” by Prince
  • “Take on Me” by a-ha

Retro Games

No Retro 80s party is complete without some classic games to entertain your guests. Set up stations around your party area with favorites like Pac-Man, Tetris, and even Nintendo’s legendary Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario BrosNES


Feel free to include other 80s board games and trivia contests to keep the fun going!

Photo Booth Fun

Capture memories from your Retro 80s birthday party with a photo booth. This is an excellent way for guests to remember your event while embracing the decade’s style.

For a true 80s vibe, create a booth with props that represent the era, such as bright neon colors, large sunglasses, cassette tapes, and even a cardboard cutout of Michael Jackson. You can also DIY a backdrop using a collage of 80s posters, movie covers, and album artwork.

With these essential party elements, guests will have a blast traveling back in time and celebrating in true 80s fashion.


Party Invitations and Favors

Digital and Printable Invitations

One of the key elements of any successful 80s theme party is an eye-catching and nostalgic invitation. Whether you want digital or printable invitations, we suggest browsing platforms like Etsy to find the perfect design. Make sure to incorporate iconic 80s elements such as neon colors, bold patterns, and classic 80s font styles. Remember, your invitation sets the tone for your retro 80s birthday party, so do it right!

Here are some suggestions for creative 80s theme party invitations:

  • Cassette tapes: Design your invitation to look like a classic 80s cassette tape cover.
  • Boombox: Use a boombox image with party details printed on its speakers.
  • Arcade games: Feature elements of popular 80s arcade games like Pac-Man or Space Invaders.

Theme Party Favors

No party is complete without a fun assortment of party favors for your guests. To keep with the retro 80s birthday party theme, you’ll want to choose favors that evoke memories of the 80s. Here are some ideas for awesome 80s theme party favors:

  1. Mixtape CD: Burn a compilation of your favorite 80s hits onto a CD and design a custom label to match your invitation theme.
  2. Neon sunglasses: Available in various shapes and colors, these are a fun accessory for guests to wear during the party and take home as a keepsake.
  3. Rubik’s cubes: A classic 80s brain teaser, you can find miniature versions to include in your party favor bags.
  4. Candy: Include 80s favorite sweets like Pop Rocks, Ring Pops, and Nerds in your party favor bags.
Party FavorDescriptionWhy It’s Awesome
Mixtape CDCustom 80s music CDUnique & nostalgic
Neon sunglassesCool and colorful accessoryFun & stylish
Rubik’s cubesMiniature brain teasersChallenging & retro
CandyPopular 80s sweetsTasty & nostalgic

And remember, it’s always a good idea to add a personal touch to your party favors, like custom labels or packaging, to make your retro 80s birthday party unforgettable.


Food and Drinks That Scream 80s

Candy and Cupcakes

When it comes to 80s-themed goodies, nothing tops the list like iconic candies and cupcakes. Delight guests with a throwback candy table that includes nostalgic gems such as:

  • Pop Rocks
  • Hubba Bubba bubble gum
  • Nerds
  • Pixy Stix
  • Candy buttons

For an extra touch, serve these sweets in brightly colored or themed containers that transport guests back to the 80s.

As for cupcakes, we recommend embracing the 80s vibe with extravagantly decorated treats using bright colors, edible glitter, and 80s-themed toppers like cassette tapes or boom boxes. Think bold and vibrant when choosing your colors and decorations.

80s Cocktails

No 80s celebration is complete without a variety of groovy cocktails! We’ve compiled a list of popular drinks from the era that are sure to delight your guests’ taste buds:

Blue LagoonVodka, blue curaçao, lemonade
Tequila SunriseTequila, orange juice, grenadine
Fuzzy NavelPeach schnapps, orange juice
KamikazeVodka, triple sec, lime juice
Long Island Iced TeaVodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, sour mix, cola

These beverages don’t just taste great; they also perfectly represent the bold tastes and colors of the 80s. So, mix up some of these cocktails, and let the party begin!


Capturing the Moments

Polaroid Camera

To truly capture the essence of a retro 80s birthday party, we highly recommend incorporating a Polaroid camera to take instant, physical photos that transport us to this particular era. These iconic cameras are not only easy to use, but also help create tangible memories to cherish for a lifetime. You can set up a photo booth corner, complete with 80s-themed backdrops and props, where guests can pose and instantly receive their photos. As an added touch, provide a photo album or wall space where guests can display their pictures and reminisce throughout the celebration.

MTV Music Videos

A retro 80s party wouldn’t be complete without the vibrant and unforgettable world of the 80s MTV era. We suggest arranging a space to play a curated playlist of the most iconic 80s music videos specifically chosen for your party atmosphere. To make it even more engaging and interactive, try incorporating a karaoke or lip-sync battle station, encouraging guests to take part and let loose.

Here are some must-have music videos to include in your playlist:

  • “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
  • “Take on Me” by A-ha
  • “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics
  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
  • “Like a Virgin” by Madonna

Investing in these key elements and details – a Polaroid camera corner and a MTV music video extravaganza – will foster an authentic 80s celebration that guests will remember for years to come.


In Conclusion

Incorporating all these retro 80s elements into your birthday party will ensure that your guests are transported back in time, creating a truly memorable experience. Some key takeaways for your party planning include:

  • Theme: Choose a specific 80s theme, such as a movie, music, or fashion, to guide your party planning.
  • Invitation: Create invitations that reflect the 80s vibe and set the tone for your event.
  • Decorations: Utilize neon colors, geometric patterns, and iconic 80s items, like cassette tapes and Rubik’s cubes, to bring the decade to life.
  • Activities: Plan nostalgic games and activities to keep your guests entertained and engaged.
  • Music: Curate an authentic 80s playlist, highlighting hit songs and memorable tracks from the decade.
  • Snacks: Offer classic 80s treats and drinks to complement your theme and please your guests’ taste buds.

By following these steps, we are confident that your retro 80s birthday party will not only be a blast for your guests but also an unforgettable milestone in your own life. Enjoy the planning process, and have fun celebrating the awesome 80s!


Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular 80s party food ideas?

When it comes to 80s party food ideas, think about popular snacks and dishes from that era. Some ideas include mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, deviled eggs, and pizza bagels. You can also serve retro candies like Pop Rocks and candy necklaces. Remember to offer some classic 80s drinks like Tab cola, wine coolers, or even a signature cocktail with a colorful twist.

Which DIY 80s party decorations are easy to create?

There are countless 80s party decorations you can create with ease. A few simple ideas include making a DIY cassette tape garland, crafting colorful paper streamers or banners from neon cutouts, and incorporating vintage 80s toys like Rubik’s cubes or Atari game cartridges into your centerpieces. Don’t forget to use bold, bright colors and geometric patterns to enhance the retro vibe.

How can I set the mood with 80s themed music and activities?

To set the mood for your 80s themed birthday party, you’ll want a playlist of iconic tunes from the era. You can either compile your own playlist or use pre-existing ones on streaming platforms. For activities, consider a retro dance-off, an 80s movie marathon, or a classic arcade gaming area complete with vintage consoles and games.

What attire is appropriate for an 80s themed birthday party?

Encourage your guests to dress up in 80s fashion, which can include neon colors, off-the-shoulder shirts, leggings, oversized shirts, and high-top sneakers. You could also suggest iconic 80s pop culture outfits inspired by movies, TV shows, or music stars of the time. Provide some fun 80s accessories like sunglasses, gloves, and scrunchies for guests to wear throughout the party.

How can I incorporate 80s nostalgia into the party’s decor?

80s nostalgia can be incorporated into your party decor through vintage posters, movies, TV shows, and ads from that time. Hang album covers or concert posters on the walls, use old VHS tapes as part of your centerpieces, and don’t forget to include plenty of bright colors, geometric patterns, and vintage 80s toys to evoke memories and create an immersive experience.

Where can I find 80s themed party supplies online?

There are numerous online retailers that offer 80s themed party supplies, including Amazon, Etsy, and specialty party supply stores. Look for items like neon tableware, retro balloons, and 80s-inspired banners to transform your party space. Additionally, local thrift stores and consignment shops may carry authentic 80s decor and clothing that can add a unique flair to your event.