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80s party ideas invitation

Flashback to 1982! Alanna Andes Events + Parties + Design threw a super RAD 80’s Themed 30th Birthday Party covered in DIY decorations that TOTALLY ROCK! From old school Ninenteno and Atari inspired details to Pac-Man garlands and slinky toy backdrops, read on to check out tons of fun 80s party ideas…

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Creative cassette tape garlands and centerpieces
  • Clever homemade VHS “cake stands” paired with slinky backdrops
  • A photo booth with amazing props and accessories (Just look at that jean vest!)
  • Neon colors and classic 80’s style fonts & patterns
  • Throwback decor like Rubix cubes, Jenga, Nintendo & crazy-haired Trolls

80s party ideas stellar photo booth with neon props

80s party ideas: make a neon casette garland

80s theme birthday party neon favors bags filled with candy

80s birthday party casette tape centerpiece

80s party decoration ideas with a slinky and rubix cube

80s vhs cake stand for a 30th birthday party

80s party ideas photo booth props

80s theme photo booth props and costumes

80s party ideas trolls as decoration

80s party ideas vhs tape cake stand

80s party games including jenga and nintendo

80s party ideas pacman garland

80s party ideas candy party favors


PARTY DETAILS, as told by Alanna

My sister-in-law, Emily Steffen, contacted me about decorating for her husband’s 30th birthday party inspired by 1982! She filled me in on all of the fun details she wanted to include, in order to make it the most radical, 80’s party ever! Emily had arranged and booked the venue – a party room at The Chatterbox in St. Paul, Minnesota and left the décor, details and setup to me. I had been to a Chatterbox once before and loved the old-school atmosphere with vintage styling, old couches, board games and original Nintendo and Atari systems available to play.

Emily and I discussed details and memorable elements to include – cassette tapes, Alvin in the Chipmunks, Zubaz, Go-bots and some fun 80’s candy we remembered from back in the day. She also wanted to include a self-take photobooth and trivia game about the birthday guy.

The theme was a retro birthday party inspired by 1982 and pretty much anything 80’s that would bring Aaron back to his childhood. Emily sent out invitations (designed by her friend, Dena Swenson) that looked just like an old Nintendo game cartridge with the cutest photo of Aaron when he was little! I wanted to use a big collection of prints and colors, acid wash denim and other elements that scream, “Totally bodacious, dude!” Music included an ipod playlist over a sound system including 5+ hours of the hottest 80’s hits. The guest list included about 50 people, with a casual/mingling atmosphere. Guests were encouraged to dress up, as well.

I used a pretty big variety of color – really amplifying pink, aqua, orange, green and black. I used a collection of fabric prints and denim found at Hancock fabrics, as well some fun animal and Zubaz-inspired paper prints found at Michael’s and JoAnn’s. I knew I wanted to incorporate Rubix Cubes and get creative with cassette tapes and the actual tape itself. I handmade 3 different types of garland. The first was a traditional pennant flag garland to pull my favorite 80’s-inspired colors, including the animal prints as well. I constructed a garland made with actual cassette tapes found at thrift stores and Goodwill. The tapes were painted fabulous neon colors – blue, pink and yellow – and strung on 4 strands covering the main area of the room. The third garland suspended over the food tables was inspired by Pacman – which I used my circle cutter and freehanded the monsters. It was a huge hit!

Other décor (including centerpieces and table elements):

  • An additional memory-garland hung clothesline-style with old 80’s photos of Aaron when he was little. Guests really enjoyed looking back at some old memories and style!
  • Rubix Cubes to hold the food labels
  • Neon Slinkies strung to hang vertically as a backdrop for the food
  • Pedestal stand bases made out of VHS tapes (My husband made these for me! He used tapes, caulk, and heavy cardboard cylinders.)
  • 3 slim, square vases which I wrapped with cassette tape. I used these to hold about 30 miniature dowels with strips of fabric tied to the top. Remaining fabric was made into tablecloths/runners for the collection of tables in the room
  • Stacks of popular 80’s VHS Tapes as a base for silverware/napkins
  • Old A-Track player and stacks of A-Tracks
  • A huge vintage Boombox Blaster that actually belonged to my grandfather, an old 80’s phone (Goodwill) and painted electric blue, a cassette tape recorder/player (Goodwill), a vintage troll (Goodwill) and a fiber-optic centerpiece that actually changed colors and vibrated (Goodwill)
  • LED light-up balloons

All of the food and drinks were provided by The Chatterbox. Food included appetizers and dips and pizza, dessert included cheesecakes and carrot cake. The Chatterbox also provided drink coupons for guests to order whatever they would like.

I kept coming back to 80’s-inspired candy for favors. I found some small, green, gusseted paper bags at Michael’s which I filled with Pop Rocks, Nerds, Razzles, Pixie Stix, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers and suckers. The bags were secured closed with cassette tape, multi-colored lightning bolts and tags that read, “Rock on, dudes! Thanks for celebrating Aaron’s big 30!”

I loved Emily’s idea of setting up a photobooth – since she’s a professional photographer, she set up a fantastic self-take remote with a camera to take shots of anyone in front of the backdrop. I found most of incredible (and incredibly gaudy!) props at Goodwill, including a dickey, scrunchies and hair clips, a handful of sunglasses and reading glasses, an old retro camera, a neon pink windbreaker jacket and a denim vest. My sister lent me some of her favorite 80’s clip-on earrings and jewelry (she actually wears!), which were all a huge hit! To rock the 80’s even more, I made some mouth and thought bubbles for people to hold up, printed with the following phrases: “Tubular!”, “Gnarly.”, “Far Out!”, “Totally radical, dude!”, “Like, whatever.” and “Bodacious!”.

Prizes (Pretty in Pink and Top Gun dvds) were given to the winners of Trivia and “Best Dressed”.

Vendor Credit
  • Party Design, construction and other paper goods: Alanna Andes
  • Photographer and Photobooth: Emily Steffen
  • Invitations/Design: Dena Swenson
  • Venue, Food & Drink: The Chatterbox, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Additional construction assistance and setup: Justin Andes, Bob & Sandy Adkins, Vanessa Sampson and Lanae Steffen
  • Paper & Fabric: Michael’s, JoAnn and Hancock Fabrics
  • Guesseted paper bags: Michael’s
  • Vintage props (including clothing, videos, tapes): Goodwill, Thrift Store
  • Rubix Cubes and Slinkies: The Dollar Tree
  • Balloons: Wal-Mart
  • Candy: Target and The Dollar Tree