We all loved birthday parties in the 80s, both for their simple charm and for how similar they were year-on-year. We remember lots of things about the parties we used to go to – whether it was what we did, how we looked, what we ate, what we listened to or where the party was held.
Here are some of the things we remember fondly from our childhood parties, how many can you relate to?
Long before ‘clubbing’ became the preferred term, any party featuring loud music and a busy dancefloor was referred to as a disco by default.
A fun evening of music and dancing, usually with a finger buffet primarily filled with vol-au-vents for some reason!
11. The music
No matter what people say about what was wrong about the era, one thing they got very right in the 80s was the music. Madonna, Michael Jackson, Queen, Duran Duran: so many classics!
We could expect to hear most of these at 80s birthday parties, alongside such cringey party staples as The Chicken Dance and Agadoo!
10. Community Centres
If you were invited to a friend’s disco birthday party back in the 80s, it probably happened in one of these musty-smelling halls local village halls or community centres.
Parents looking for cheaper birthday party options still use such places today – and funnily enough, most of them look no different now than they did in the 80s!
9. Roller Discos
How do you take disco and make it even bigger and better? Rent the local roller-park and make it a roller disco of course – and this was proper roller skating, without a rollerblade in sight!
For us 80s kids, it is nice to see that roller skates have enjoyed a bit of resurgence in recent years, with sales going up massively during the Covid-19 lockdown.
8. The fashion
The 80s were unique in their fashion, and with shapes, fabrics and colour schemes that most of us would never consider donning today.
It seemed like people were either a lot braver back then or simply didn’t care what other people thought – definitely the right attitude to have!
7. Pass the Parcel
A kids’ party wasn’t a kids’ party without Pass the Parcel! If you were really lucky you went to someone’s house whose mum would put little prizes between each layer so that everyone was a winner at some point!
Of course, there was always at least one kid who practiced the art of the slow pass, so they could grab hold at the instant the music stopped. (Not that we ever did that, of course…)
6. Jelly and Ice Cream
Is there any other dessert that takes you back to birthday parties from your youth than jelly and ice cream? Such a simple combination, but you couldn’t help but wolf it down, even if the dreaded brain-freeze ensued.
Like trifle, this is a simple dish that parents sometimes want to present in a fancy way – but just slop a few good-sized dollops of each in any old bowl, and we’ll be happy!
5. The bumps
Back in the 80s, birthdays guaranteed one thing: the dreaded bumps! For anyone who needs this explaining, at least four of your ‘friends’ would pick you up by the arms and legs and bump you onto the ground (typically raw gravel) for as many counts as your years – usually with one more on the end, allegedly for good luck.
As you got older you dreaded this more each year as it meant one extra bump from your friends, who were now a year older and bigger so could drop you to the ground further and harder than before!
4. Fancy Dress
Getting invited to a fancy dress party was one of the most exciting things ever! Who to go as, He-Man? Lion-O? Inspector Gadget? One of the Ghostbusters? So many choices!
Fancy dress parties aren’t necessarily a thing of the past, but these days the costumes are more likely to come from Amazon than from the sewing machine at home.
3. Musical Chairs / Musical Statues / Musical Bumps
There were a few versions of this: sitting down, standing still or dropping like a rock to the floor when the music stopped.
We just wanted to win the little bag of sweets reserved for the victor. Nowadays, parents make sure such gifts go to every single kid playing!
2. Soft Play
Soft Play parties were great fun, with the oversized foam blocks, ball pools, nets to climb on, platforms to hurl yourself off and ropes to swing from. It let out the inner monster in all of us!
Such places are still popular nowadays, but you’re likely to see kids sat in the corner of the ball pool on their phones.
1. McDonald’s Parties
Do people still do this? When growing up, getting invited to a McDonald’s party meant you were in for a treat!
And if Ronald McDonald himself was going to appear carrying a huge tray of hamburgers for everyone, that just topped it off nicely!