How to Throw a Retro 80s Throwback Party Full of Nostalgia

Are you looking to throw an 80s throwback party but aren’t sure how to put it together?

There’s no doubt that the 80s was one of the greatest decades of the 20th century. It was known for producing some of the greatest movies, music, TV shows, and toys of all time.

And of course, we can’t forget about the fashion. From acid wash jeans to velvet scrunchies to brightly-colored windbreakers, the 80s had it all. Throwing an 80s-themed party can be a lot of fun, whether you were alive during the decade or not.

What do you need to throw a great 80s party? Read on to find out how to throw the best 80s-themed party of the century.

Get the Right Decorations

A great 80s party starts with some great decorations. The 80s were all about excessiveness, so you should make your decorations as colorful and dramatic as you wish.

One thing that was really popular in the 80s was neon, so you can get neon-colored paper plates, silverware, and streamers. You can also plaster the walls of your place with quintessential posters of pop stars from the 80s such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and New Kids on the Block.

Costumes

As we mentioned earlier, the most iconic part of the 80s was probably the fashion. You can take your 80s costume one of two ways: you can either tell everyone to dress up in the typical fashion of the 80s, or you can tell them to dress up as iconic characters from the 80s.

If you want to go with an 80s character theme, here are some great ideas:

  • Strawberry Shortcake
  • Prince
  • David Bowie
  • The cast from The Breakfast Club
  • Teenage Mutan Ninja Turtles
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks
  • Carmen San Diego
  • Madonna
  • The Grady Twins from The Shining
  • Beetlejuice
  • Buttercup from The Princess Bride
  • Mario and Luigi
  • Princess Peach
  • Baby from Dirty Dancing
  • Goos and Maverick from Top Gun
  • Indiana Jones
  • Veronica Sawyer

If you want to make it a general 80s fashion party, here are some ways you can take your costume depending on your personal style:

Hair Band Rocker

This look just screams 80s. Bleached, acid-washed, and ripped jeans are the way to go. You can pair it with a spandex tank top or a tight shirt with ripped sleeves.

To finish off the look, add a long-haired wig.

Punk

Rocking the 80s punk look is all about the leather. Women can wear leather skirts or leather pants, and men can rock a leather vest.

To add fun pops of color to the outfit, add in some temporary hair color. You can also probably find a wig at a costume shop that fits the 80s punk style.

We also suggest wearing a nose ring, dark eye makeup, a choker necklace, and red lipstick to finish off the look.

Preppy

Preppy style was also pretty big during the 1980s, so you can also give that a go. To rock the preppy look, stick to khaki shorts and polo shirts.

You can also kick it up a notch by tying a sweater around your shoulders and wearing penny loafers.

80s Prom

If you have a parent or older relative who grew up in the 80s, you’ve probably seen some great 80s prom outfits in old photos.

A brightly-colored dress with puffy sleeves is is the perfect look for an 80s prom theme. Anyone who was trying to look fashionable for prom in the 80s also got matching shoes to go with their dress, so look for these as well.

You can top off the look with a wrist corsage and rhinestone jewelry.

Jazzercise/Workout Gear

Jazzercise and Jane Fonda are two phrases that were synonymous with working out in the 1980s.

For a spot-on and comfortable 80s costume, you can wear a brightly-colored leotard, a pair of nylons, white ankle socks, and white sneakers. You can top off the look by wearing a sweatband around your head and wrists.

Figure Out the Hairstyle

A big part of achieving the right 80s look is figuring out the right hairstyle. While men with short hair may have difficulty recreating some of the iconic hairstyles of the 80s, you can always find wigs or clip ins.

Some of the biggest hairstyles for men included mullets, rat tails, feathered hair, and long, layered rocker hair.

If you’re a woman with long, curly hair, you’re already half way there to having a great 80s hairdo. The 80s was all about volume and curls. You can also rock the high or side ponytail, or throw in some banana clips.

You can also try out the “Madonna wrap up” by tying a thick piece of fabric into your hair and wrapping it into a bow. Or, you can part your hair down the middle and feather it out like Farah Fawcett.

Dancing

Thanks to the arrival of MTV, the 1980s was largely defined by music. This means it’s time to put together an epic playlist.

Here are some songs we suggest putting on your 80s playlist to set the mood:

  • I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
  • Love Shack by the B-52s
  • Into the Groove by Madonna
  • Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • You Spin Me Round by Dead or Alive
  • Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran
  • Take On Me by A-ha
  • Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
  • Your Love by the Outfield
  • Livin’ On a Prayer by Bon Jovi
  • Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
  • Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
  • Material Girl by Madonna
  • What’s Love Got to Do With It by Tina Turna
  • Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard
  • Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

And the list goes on! Of course, you can’t have an epic 80s playlist without some 80s dance moves. Here are some of the biggest dance moves to come out of the 80s that we suggest learning before the party:

The Moonwalk

Also known as the Glide or the Backslide, the moonwalk was popularized by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

While the dance moves make it look like you’re just effortlessly gliding across the floor, it actually takes a lot of effort. We suggest you start by practicing the move in your socks, as it’s easier to do this way.

To perform the dance move, you need to slide the heel of one foot back and into the floor while keeping the heel of the other foot in the air. Put all of your weight into the lifted leg as you glide backward.

The Prep

The prep is a fairly simple dance move that involves stepping to one side and pointing your fingers as you lay your palms flat and upward to one side.

The move was first seen in 1984, and it has many different variations.

The Cabbage Patch

Not to be mistaken with the Cabbage Patch doll, the Cabbage Patch dance move is a lot like churning butter.

All you need to do is lift your arms out in front of you and make a fist with your hands. Then, circle your hands back and forth in either a clockwise or counterclockwise motion. The Cabbage Patch dance move is primarily done as a celebratory dance move or happy dance after a victory.

The Wop

If you’re looking for a really simple 80s dance move to master before your party, try the Wop. The Wop simply involves punching your arms in the air to opposite sides.

A musical group in the 80s named the B-fats created and popularized the dance move.

The Snake

If you’re a Guns N’ Roses fan, you need to try out the snake at your 80s party. This is another easy dance move that involves swaying your head and shoulders around from side to side.

It was the signature dance move of the Guns N’ Roses lead vocalist, Axl Rose. He would often grab the mic stand and perform this dance move. The dance move was also performed in the music video for the song Sweet Child O’ Mine.

You may need some calming gummies after performing this dance move!

The RoboCop

Not to be confused with the dance move The Robot, the RoboCop involves standing with your feet apart and slamming your fists and elbows in stiff movements from one side to the other.

The dance move is based on a 1987 movie by the same name.

The Worm

The Worm was a popular dance move that many people still do decades later. This dance move involves a little more work, as it involves laying on the ground and imitating the movements of a crawling worm.

The trick to this move is to push off the ground with your hands as you form a rippling motion with your body. While it’s unclear who invented the dance move, it was popularized in the 80s punk rock scene.

Games and Activities

Adding in some classic 80s games can really help take your party to the next level. If you have a video game system at your house, you can set up some classic games such as:

  • Pacman
  • Mario Kart
  • Donkey Kong
  • Frogger
  • Astroids

There were also many board games that became popular in the 1980s that could be fun to play. These include:

  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Monopoly
  • Trouble
  • Mouse Trap
  • Battlestar Galactica

And while it was invented in the 1970s, the Rubik’s cube soared in popularity in the 1980s. You can pick up a few of the cubes and lay them out at your party for people to try.

It can also be a lot of fun to set up a karaoke station if you have the space for it. There are a lot of 80s love ballads that are fun to belt at the top of your lungs, such as Faithfully by Journey, Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon, and With Or Without You by U2.

Food and Drink

With all of the dancing and game-playing, your party guests are definitely going to work up an appetite.

A lot of popular candies that we still eat today were introduced in the 1980s, including:

  • Runts
  • Skittles
  • Chupa Chups
  • Airheads
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Cow Tales
  • Nerds
  • Runts
  • Skor bars
  • Big League Chew

Lunchables and bagel bites also hit the shelves in the 1980s, so if you’re feeling nostalgic for some after-school snacks, these will make great treats at your party.

Here are some other foods that were made popular in the 1980s:

  • Potato skins
  • Seven layer dip
  • Ranch pasta salad
  • Nachos with cheese and jalapeno peppers
  • Jelly-glazed meatballs served in a CrockPot
  • Mini Quiches

If you plan to serve alcohol at the party, then we suggest stocking up on some White Zinfandel and wine coolers, as these were very popular in the 1980s.

If you want to try your hand at making cocktails, some good ones to try include the Long Island iced tea, the blue lagoon, the B-52, and the Alabama Slammer.

Are You Ready to Throw an 80s Throwback Party?

Now that you know what it takes to throw an 80s throwback party, it’s time to start planning. As you can see, there are a lot of different things you can do to plan the perfect party.

After you throw your 1980s party, you’ll likely want to start planning your next themed party. For more tips on throwing themed parties, check out more of our site.