25 Gnarly 80s Party Ideas for Adults

by | Feb 25, 2023

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Planning an 80s party for the adults in your life and need some ideas? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s some totally gnarly ideas for your 80s party decor, favors, music, and more. Plus 13 different unique 80s party themes that work for so many different adult occasions.

Whether you’re planning an 80s theme 40th birthday party (or any year, really) for someone who remembers the decade, or you just want a fun retro party idea, there’s something here for everyone.

While I can’t take you back to that golden age of pop culture, with these 80s party ideas you and your grown-up friends can at least be transported back in time for a little while. All while having some bodacious fun with your pals.

You might also like: Outfit Ideas For a 90s Party. And don’t forget to check out these Birthday Party Places For Your B-day Bash if you need venue inspiration.

Ideas and Decorations for an Adult 80s Themed Party

80s themed 40th birthday party invitation

Hand Out 80s Themed Party Invitations

You have to set the mood when it comes to adult party themes! Hand out 80s themed party invitations to your friends with enough time that they can find babysitters and clear their schedules.

Don’t forget to include any extras they need to know, like dress code, right on the invite.

80s Fashion: From Club to Catwalk

Dress in 80s Attire

This is probably the most fun must-have at any 80s themed party. Invite your guests to wear their best 80s fashion from their closet or what can be found at thrift stores or online. Think neon colors, shoulder pads, and tacky t-shirts!

If you’re in need of inspiration, look up iconic fashion trends of the decade and recreate some yourself.

80s Fashion Guide Book
80s 90s 50s Party Decorations 80's 90's 50's Party Bundle Includes Inflatable Radio Boombox and Mobile Phone, Back to 80s 90s 50s Backdrop, Tablecloth, 75 Pcs Balloons for Hip Hop Party (80s Style)

Decorate With 80s Inspired Party Decorations

You can’t go wrong with tacky party decor regardless of your age. Grab a pack of 80s themed decorations (like this back to the 80s pack) for an easy party idea.

This is one area where you can use kids’ 80s party ideas for adults too since party decorations are for anyone.

Back to the 80s Party Pack
Hits Album: 80'S Chart-Busters / Various

Plan an Ultimate 80s Playlist

You have to have music at a party! Make sure you plan your playlist in advance with popular hits and one hit wonders that graced the 80s. Don’t forget to mix it up with favorites across the decade, not just the most iconic hits.

Hits of the 80s CD
80s theme trivia for an adult party

Do Some Themed Trivia

This is fun as an adult party game without making it the whole party theme. Grab some printable 80s trivia and use this game as an ice breaker or activity while guests are still arriving.

You could also offer some fun 80s inspired prizes for the winners!

Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox with Cassette Player and AM/FM Radio, Wired and Wireless Streaming, Classic 80s Style with Modern Technology, Silver

Play Music From a Retro Boombox

This retro 80s style boombox is perfect for your modern 80s themed party! Not only can it play all the classics on cassette and pick up the most excellent radio signals, it’s equipped with bluetooth so you can stream your fav 80s tunes for a hassle-free party playlist.

Bluetooth Retro Boombox
80s throwback photobooth props

Plan a Retro Throwback Photo Booth

Photo booths are super in, but they were also in style back in the 80s too. Younger people may not remember, but it was the thing to jump into a mall photobooth and print out some pictures. I even still have some laying around.

Anyway, make a fun photobooth at home or at your party venue by hanging a backdrop and grabbing some cool 80s style props.

80s plastic party cups

Upgrade the Red Solo Cups With Retro Plastic Party Cups

You’re adults now, it’s time to move on from cheap solo cups to slightly more expensive plastic ups when you throw a party. You can also get other items from this seller on Etsy to fit the party theme, great if you want an easy way to coordinate decorations.

VINTAGE CANDY CO. 40th BIRTHDAY RETRO CANDY GIFT BASKET - 1984 Party Assortment Candy Variety - Unique Fun Care Package Gift Basket - Fortieth Birthday - PERFECT For Women and Men Turning 40 Years Old

Serve 80s Snacks

The 80s was the golden age of terrible for you junk. Let’s be honest, anyone who grew up in the 80s probably had access to a ridiculous amount of snacks.

Whether it’s candy (like in this box) or retro snacks like Bagel Bites, the 80s themed treats are going to be huge hit with the adults at your party.

Since you’re adults, you could also take 80s inspired food ideas and turn them into adult-friendly snacks for your party too.

Retro Candy Box
80s icons cupcake toppers

Add Little 80s Touches

Even if you don’t want to go all out, it’s easy to add little 80s touches to your party with inexpensive tricks like food picks. These ones are even a printable download so you can make as many as you need!

retro cassette tape party favor boxes

Give Out 80s Party Favor Boxes for Adults

You’re never too old for party favors! Send your guests home with a little something at the end of your 80s themed party, just like we did back in the 80s at the end of each birthday. These favor boxes look like blank cassette tapes and can be customized. Then fill with whatever you think your guests will like!

9 Pcs Vintage Horror Movie Posters Retro Creepy Classic Scary Movie Film Prints Posters Home Man Cave Movie Theater Wall Decor 8×10 Inches Unframed

Try Alternative 80s Ideas

80s might have been the era of tacky neon colors but it was also the decade that brought us punk icons like the Ramones, The Clash, and Misfits. If the 80s for you means less leaning to moonwalk and more sticking it to the man, throw some alt 80s vibes out instead.

Whether it’s punk, rebel, goth, hip hop, rock, horror, or any other alternative 80s style there’s a way to make it happen for a party theme.

Vintage Horror Movie Posters

80s Party Themes for Adults

Kedudes Neon Glow Party Supplies, Serves 32 - Hard Plastic Disposable Party Neon Plates, Napkins, Neon Cups Tumblers, Cutlery - Forks, Knives, Spoons - Neon Party Decorations - Fiesta Party Supplies

80s Style Neon Glow Party

Use black lights to host the coolest neon glow party ever! All adults, whether they experienced the 80s or not, will love this fun throwback party theme.

If you’re looking for a great 80s style adult party venue, try bringing these to a bowling alley for a night of neon bowling.

Neon Glow Party Supplies
Big Dot of Happiness 80's Retro - Selfie Scavenger Hunt - Totally 1980s Party Game - Set of 12

80s Selfie Scavenger Hunt

This would be a fun competition during a birthday party night out, bachelor or bachelorette party, or even to play with long distance friends. All I can say is a night trying to accomplish all these photo challenges, all inspired by the 80s, will be quite the adventure!

Selfie Scavenger Hunt Cards
10PCS Mini Troll Dolls, PVC Vintage Trolls Lucky Doll Mini Action Figures 1.2' Cake Toppers Chromatic Adorable Cute Little Guys Collection, School Project, Arts Crafts, Party Favors

Retro Childhood Toys Party

Have everyone bring a toy they enjoyed playing with back in the 80s. Then you can get together and talk about the nostalgia (remember He-Man or Puppy Surprise?). Bonus points if they’re toys that aren’t really around today.

If some or all guests didn’t grow up in the 80s, you can also throw a party where everyone brings one toy that’s from the 80s that you can still get today.

Retro Trolls Toy Pack
Buffalo Games Like Totally 80's - Pop Culture Trivia Game

“Like Totally 80s” Trivia Party

The good thing about trivia card games being so popular now is that there’s one for almost every topic. Host an easy adult party with this 80s theme trivia set for a fun night in with friends.

Trivia is probably one of the easiest 80s party ideas for adults because it’s not just fun, it’s usually something you can do all evening if you plan it right.

80s Trivia Card Game
80s themed bingo cards

80s Themed Bingo Party

Bingo is one of those games that seems pretty lame but is actually super fun. Grab a set of 80s themed bingo cards (make sure there’s enough for all your guests!), equip them with bingo dabbers, and serve drinks between games. Although it’s fun on its own, having some 80s themed prizes would make this party idea extra sweet.

Iconic Movies of the 80s and 90s 20-Movie Collection

80s Movie Party

There’s a couple ways you can do this. First is to just host a normal adult party with an 80s movie theme. That could be one movie (like Ferris Bueller’s Day off or Revenge of the Nerds) or a general 80s movie theme.

Second, you could also get all your friends together for a nostalgic 80s movie marathon. Grab your favourites or a collection of iconic 80s movies you haven’t see, grab some 80s inspired snacks, and enjoy!

Iconic Films of the 80s Box Set
7 Pcs 80s Workout Costume 80s Accessories Set 80s 90s Leotard Legging Headband Wristbands Leg Warmers Earrings Fanny Pack (Neon Style, Medium)

80s Fitness Party

I don’t think there’s anything more iconic than the 80s workout leotard. For this party, have everyone come dressed embodied as 80s fitness icons like Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda.

You could even have everyone get around the TV to try out one of these iconic workout videos yourselves!

80s Workout Costume Set
Kaneles Mullet Wigs for Men 80s Costumes Fancy Party Accessory Cosplay Wig (Light Brown)

80s Big Hair Party

Most decades can be identified by the hairstyles, but the 80s really stands out thanks to it being the era of big hair. Have everyone come with their real hair or a wig in an iconic 80s style.

You could also collect some hairspray and combs (for back combing, of course) and do an 80s makeover party instead. I dare you to hit the bar after!

80s Style Mullet Wig
JYX Karaoke Machine with Two Wireless Microphones, Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Bass/Treble Adjustment, PA System with Remote Control, LED Lights,Supports TF Card/USB, AUX IN, FM, REC,TWS for Party

80s Karaoke Night

How many iconic 80s songs can you sing? We’re going to find out! Restrict the playlist to 80s music only and relive all the one hit wonders of this iconic music decade.

Make sure you have some way to show the lyrics so you can include younger millennials, gen z adults, and older folks who partied their way through (and therefore don’t remember) the 80s in the fun.

Karaoke Machine With Two Mics
WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the '80s

Golden Era Wrestling Party

Remember when Hulk Hogan was the most popular wrestler? Still base your masculinity on the attitude of Macho Man Randy Savage? Whether you were there in the 80s for the golden era of wrestling or you’re just a big fan, this is a super fun throwback party theme.

You could have guests dress up as an iconic 80s wrestler and make it your party theme. For something to do, maybe watch some highlights of that era!

Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s DVD
Arcade1Up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Machine w/ Riser

Retro Arcade Party

It’s super depressing that the golden age of arcades was back in the 80s, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting in on the fun for parties as an adult.

Either host one at home with an arcade theme or your home arcade/retro video games, or consider booking an arcade venue that serves alcohol. Most cities have them and cater to adult parties!

Retro Arcade Machine
I Want My MTV t-shirt

I Want My MTV Party Theme

Remember this ad campaign? MTV came and went, but anyone from the 80s remembers it part of what makes them who they are. Whatever their genre, MTV was the place to discover new music and see music videos; something we just don’t do much anymore.

Whether you combine this with other 80s music party themes or go all out with an MTV theme, there’s so many options. Don’t forget MTV aired shows back then too!

Find an 80s music video playlist on YouTube and put it on the TV or projector all night long.

80s mall murder madness throwback murder mystery game

80s Themed Murder Mystery Party

I’m truly saving one of the best for last here with this 80s themed murder mystery game. If you’ve never been a murder mystery party they are SO much fun.

Get together 4-20 of your closest friends, assign everyone their character ahead of time, and strap yourself in for a very nostalgic evening of fun.

This kit exceptionally well made and even works over Zoom!

Hope you found some inspiration with these 80s party ideas for adults! Let me know what your favorite bit of nostalgia is in the comments. Personally I think we should bring back the hair… Should I get a mullet?

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Everett Franchuk

Everett Franchuk

Everett loves to plan parties and events, decorate, and make crafts/DIY projects. As a parent of 5 in his early 30s, he decided to start The Best Nest to offer practical tips and ideas.

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