photographer: Dave Robbins Photography | planner & design: Little Miss Party | venue: INDUSTRIA
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Break Out Your Neon & Spandex for These 80s Theme Party Ideas

There’s no shortage of visual inspiration when it comes to an 80s theme party. The decade has become one of the most popular and recognizable party themes we’ve seen. After all, who wouldn’t want to bring back the era’s vivid patterns, neon fashion, and over-teased hair? (For one night only, that is.)

A decade that brought us so many staples (hello: Air Jordans, Bruce Springstein, and Pac Man) deserves an epic night of remembrance. In the words of Bowling for Soup, we’re still “preoccupied — with 1985,” and it’s time to bring it back to life.

There’s no shortage of visual inspiration when it comes to an 80s theme party.

So whether you’re looking to travel back for a nostalgic memory or a first time experience, we’re breaking down 15 of the best 80s theme party ideas we’ve seen on PartySlate. Grab your boombox, blast Bon Jovi, start scrolling (and enjoy the ride).  

1. Add Big Balloon Backdrops (& Bigger Hair)

photographer: Dave Robbins Photography

New York, NY

It’s time to flip your hair, whip out those shoulder pads, and gather your brightest accessories. That’s right, we’re taking you to the prom, circa 1980. Click into these party photos for the raddest décor (and outfit) inspiration, including old school photo ops and props, and bushels of bright balloons.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Dave Robbins Photography | planner: Little Miss Party | venue: INDUSTRIA | furniture rentals: Taylor Creative Inc. | photo booth: Studio Z Photo Booths | vinyl decals: Bombshell Graphics | caterer: Pinch Food Design | entertainment: Rubix Kube

2. Let 80s Arcades Inspire Your Ice Ice Baby

photographer: Janine Licare Photography

San Francisco, CA

This birthday bash paired some of our favorite 80s games with tinted pampas grass and boho California florals — as well as the chicest arcade we’ve ever seen. Our favorite part? The incredible attention to detail; including retro arcade lettering across napkins, ice cubes, and custom drink stirrers (all paying tribute to the 40th-birthday boy).

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Janine Licare Photography | planner & design: Kate Siegel Fine Events | floral: Loop Flowers & Event Arts | signage & installation: Underwood Letterpress | rentals: Hensley Event Resources | caterer: Jessica Lasky Catering


RELATED: 9 Neon Party Ideas that Have Us Aglow


3. Pop Culture Onto Your 80s Theme Party Desserts

Beach Scene With Wooden Pier With Pink Neon Lights and 80s Party Dessert Station | PartySlate
photographer: Show Ready Photo

Tiburon, CA

These 80s theme party photos are about to spark some bright ideas. We’re obsessed with the event’s signature cocktails, which were named after classic 80s hits including “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Bourbon Bohemian Rhapsody.” The celebration continued its tribute to 80s pop with poster-covered bars showcasing some of the era’s legendary artists. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Show Ready Photo | planner: All Set Events | rentals: Blueprint Studios; Bright Event Rentals | caterer: Melissa Teaff Catering | lighting: Got Light | cupcakes: Shibby’s Cupcakes | cake: Pretty Please Bake Shop | dj: Boutique DJs & Entertainment | bartender: Rye on the Road

4. Spark 80s Nostalgia From the Start

80s Themed Birthday Invitation Box with Pink Cassette Tape | PartySlate
photographer: Cavin Elizabeth

San Diego, CA

This party host handed out mixtapes before guests even arrived. We’re talking custom invitations that teased an unforgettable “pink 80s prom night” in retro-chic style. A tulle-wrapped birthday cake, hot pink satin table linen, and a tassel-filled balloon arch took older guests back to their high school dance (but this time, they didn’t have to spike the punch).

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Cavin Elizabeth | event design: Haute Fetes | invitations: Whimsíque: Designer Invitations & Stationery | stationary design: Whimsique | desserts: Sweet Cheeks Baking


RELATED: Find a Party Planner Near Me


5. No Duh You Need an 80s Theme Party Bar

80s Theme Party Bar With PInk and Blue Lighting | PartySlate
photographer: Hart Studios

Southampton, NY

We bet you never thought you’d see a Hamptons country club turned into a high school gym. Nonetheless, this birthday party did just that, taking guests back in time for yet another 80s-style prom. Cocktail tables made of VHS tapes, 80s slang swag, and a funky bar backdrop are just a few reasons this celebration is the perfect source of fresh 80s theme party inspiration.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer & videographer: Hart Studios | planner & swag: M.Studio Events | production, décor & staging: Geo Events | venue: Sebonack Golf Club | tent: New York Tent | entertainment: Tom Kaufman Productions

6. Walk This Way (With Your Leg Warmers)

80s Themed New Years Even Party With Vibrant Blue Uplighting and Small Neon Cubed Stage | PartySlate
photographer: Mindful Photo

Oxon Hill, MD

Your favorite Halloween costume just turned into a party of its own. “Let’s Get Physical” on the dance floor with 80s workout-inspired dancers and matching neon platforms. We especially love the idea of ringing in a new year with décor from a past one — like this New Year’s Eve celebration did. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Mindful Photo | venue: MGM National Harbor DC | entertainment: EastCoast Entertainment; The Deloreans


RELATED: The 5 Most Popular Party Themes on PartySlate — Plus, Real Event Examples to Inspire Your Own


7. Solve Your Décor Dilemma With Rubik’s Cubes

Birthday Bar With Rubik's Cube Front Panel | PartySlate
photographer: Heather Kincaid

Culver City, CA

If you don’t know where to start in your 80s theme party planning, Rubik’s Cubes are always a fun idea. From bar designs to dance floor patterns, dessert inspiration, and more, we’ve seen them brought to life in every which way. However, this birthday party brought back more than just a decade of games. A neon-striped DJ booth, dance floor, and floral arrangements helped the guest of honor ring in 80 right. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Heather Kincaid | planner & design: JOWY Productions | floral & candles: CJ Matsumoto | venue: Smog Shoppe | props & décor: Studio D Decor | dance floor: Barker Decor Services | caterer: Carmelized Productions | invitations & print: La Artista | lighting: Images By Lighting | dj: DJ Best | band: DeBois Productions | arcade games: Party Pals | invitations & prints: La Artista

8. We Want to Dance With Somebody (Under a Slinky Ceiling)

photographer: Jeremy Lawson Photography

Chicago, IL

It’s true, slinkies originated well before the 1980s; however, they didn’t gain popularity until this beloved decade began to unfold. Thus, neon slinkies (with a side of disco balls) made for the perfect suspended dance floor décor at this 80s theme birthday party. We can just picture the neon toys bouncing above guests as they rocked out to U2. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Jeremy Lawson Photography | planner: LOLA Event Productions | décor: HMR Designs | venue: Mae District Event Venue | lighting: Frost Chicago | caterer: Food For Thought | arcade games: Big Tent Events | entertainment: BeatMix Music | photo booth: ShutterBooth | transportation: Windy City Limousine & Bus


RELATED: Find a Party Venue Near Me


9. Phone Home About This Tubular 80s Theme Party Décor

photographer: Nicole Leigh

Bedminster, NJ

It’s not everyday a tween Bat Mitzvah girl is keen on a retro party theme, and this event team loved every second of it. A kid-friendly version of the 80s included E.T.-inspired wall projections, Rubik’s Cube signage, and an old school MTV-inspired logo. Take one look at these party photos, and you’ll be trying to convince your little one that this theme is perfect for them, too. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Nicole Leigh | planner & invitations: Kraft Events | décor: Eggsotic Events | venue: Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club | dj: The Knowlton | lighting & a/v: Power Posse Productions | entertainment: Creative Games Inc; Manhattan Performing Arts Company | videographer: Jacklight Productions | rentals: Party Rental Ltd. | fireworks: Interstate Fireworks | swag: VGI Promotions

10. Scrunchies are an 80s Girl’s Best Friend

Two Friends Pose for an 80s-Themed Party Photo | PartySlate
photographer: Phillip Van Nostrand Photography

New York, NY

We love the vivid décor that comes with an 80s party. But in this case, we love the photo ops even more. Secure retro props for your guests to take on-theme photos, and encourage 80s theme party clothes in your dress code ( just like at this birthday bash). After all, is it really an 80s party if no one has a scrunchy in their hair?

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Phillip Van Nostrand Photography | planner: Francesca Events | venue: The Glasshouse | caterer: Pinch Food Design


RELATED: 30 Disco Theme Party Ideas That Will Take You Back in Time


11. Spike Your 80s Theme Party Drinks Neon

Hand Wearing Flashy Ring Holds a Neon Blue Cocktail | PartySlate
photographer: Clean Plate Pictures

New York, NY

This cocktail party celebrated Pride month with an 80s theme. The celebration ensured each guest would experience 80s-inspired elements from start to finish, right down to the drinks. We know the decade after disco was all about color, and these beverages added just the right amount of on-theme detail. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Clean Plate Pictures | planner: Color Pop Events | floral: Mimosa Floral Design | venue & caterer: Dish Food & Events | rentals: Patina | dj: Rob Kelley | photo booth: Flux Photobooth Company | videographer: Elizabeth Mealey | doughnuts: Underwest Donuts | drag queen: Lauren Ordair

12. Let Them Eat 80s Theme Party Birthday Cake

photographer: JKP Studios

North Caldwell, NJ

If this party’s cake doesn’t say it all, the photos of the band wearing Ghostbusters costumes will. This birthday bash was authentically 80s from the totally tubular neon wall designs to the LED-lit furniture, arcade games, and of course, the perfectly-themed desserts. 

 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer & videographer: JKP Studios | planner & design: Events Custom Taylored | décor: Jersey Street Productions | vinyl graphics: Bombshell Graphics | band: Rubix Kube The Eighties Strike Back | dj: Pure Event Group | video walls, lighting & a/v: Fusion Productions


RELATED: See Real Party Albums on PartySlate


13. Serve After-School Specials

Tray of Mini Serving of Mac and Cheese | PartySlate

Chicago, IL

This 80s prom night hits different — and not just because it caters to some of our childhood taste buds. Click in to see massive balloon arch entrances, cheeky signage, and a company “yearbook.” Tassels, tinsel, and cheerleaders framed guests as they grabbed their corsages and entered the large-scale celebration. If you need us, we’ll be sending these party photos to our company’s holiday party planner. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Sheri Whitko Photography | planner: Paulette Wolf Events | décor: Kehoe Designs | venue: UIC PEB Building | caterer: J&L Catering | sound & lighting: Sound Investment AV | entertainment: FAB PHOTO; Fig Media- DJ; Priority One Jets

14. Swap Your Walkman for a Rad DJ

DJ Performs In Front of 1984 Chalk Signage | PartySlate
photographer: Rebecca Marie Photography

Chicago, IL

Board games, chalk boards, and the best of 80s fashion are just a few reasons why we love this party’s retro theme inspiration. If you’re not obsessed with neon, these photos offer toned-down 80s inspiration that will still strike a chord of nostalgia amongst you and your guests. 

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Rebecca Marie Photography | planner: Detaljer Events | décor: Matthew Morgan Designs | venue: Chicago Distilling Company | venue: Chicago Distilling Company | caterer: Entertaining Company | bakery: beLIGHTful | dj: Okyne Medialab


RELATED: 23 Great Gatsby Party Themes & Ideas That Will Take you Back in Time


15. Don’t Stop Believin’ in 80s Fashion

Four Friends Pose in 80s-Themed Attire | PartySlate
photographer: Madeline Shea Photography

Dallas, TX

There are so many reasons why we wish we could have attended this party, one being the arcade style “Pac Mac N’ Cheese.” We especially love the LED mixtape centerpieces, the epic Lite Brite wall, and floating Rubik’s Cubes throughout the sparkling scene. Trust us: You have to see it to believe it.

The vendors who made this event happen:

photographer: Madeline Shea Photography | planner & production: Pop Parties


What Do you Wear to an 80s Theme Party?

When it comes to attending an 80s theme party, the fun is in the fashion. There are so many routes you can take when deciding on your look. Think anything from shoulder pads and teased hair to off-the-shoulder tops and scrunchy side ponies. 

In terms of your outfit palette, the 80s were all about bright colors (specifically in neon shades), and don’t forget big accessories (including chunky jewelry, square-framed glasses, and slouchy leg warmers). 

How Do You Throw an 80s Party?

The first step to planning an epic 80s theme party is finding a venue. On PartySlate, you can browse event spaces by location, amenities, style, and venue type. 

Once you’ve found a venue, it’s time to pick your party planner. Discover the best planners in your city through PartySlate’s directory, then view their portfolio to make sure their work matches your style. 

The same goes for your caterer, band, DJ, florist, invitation designer, and any other vendor you need for your event. PartySlate is your one-stop-shop for finding, saving, and booking your dream event team.