80s Party Essentials

Milestone birthdays always seem like the perfect time to do a era-theme party. As a recent milestone celebrant, we had to throw our own throwback shindig, going as far back as the 80s (sounding like a dinosaur now). I listen to 80s music all the time, but it’s quite different and amazing to have all my favorites in heart-pumping surround sound and with my family and friends. Playing a mix of new wave and hip hop, with a smattering of pop, the music was my birthday focus. For the venue, I carefully chose a place that had a cozy dance club feel with a unique time period interior. Monroe, in the North Beach and Telegraph Hill area of San Francisco, was perfect with its plush booths, mood lighting, grand-scale bar and and lots of room to dance. For decor and music, here’s my list of must-haves for an 80s party.


Iconic Pieces
Adding 80s decor to the bar and booth side tables was all I really needed to do… which was a relief. For the tabletops, I had two dozen of cassette buckets filled with tons of  glow bracelets. The buckets were a bit deep for the bracelets so we stuffed them with some hot pink tissue for some height. Also on the tables were a few dozen mini Rubik’s-inspired cubes that many parents took home for their kids. We placed them around the tables as well as the bars where a few mixologists tried to solve the puzzle.


Retro Candy
I placed a large order of Pop Rocks and Now & Later candy from the Candy Crate for after-dinner snacks.


I Love 80s Edibles
In lieu of a cake, I found this wonderful cookie maker on Etsy who does, you guessed it, 80s theme cookies! Tricia, owner of Sweet Themes Sweets, did a beautiful job with the customizing her designs to fit the occasion. And, all the cookies arrived in tact and individually wrapped. Not one broken. My daughter was astounded, “How did she do that?” Platters of cookies were laid out towards the end of the evening and were delicious.


Birthday Cocktails
I always include a signature drink at our events. For the party, I did a spin on a popular 80s drink, Blue Lagoon, and changed the name to the more appropriate Blue Monday. Our gin and tonic also got a new look with elderflower. Be sure to make a sign for the bars!


I put together this 80s dance playlist for the DJ.

West End Girls / Pet Shop Boys
Opportunities / Pet Shop Boys
Billie Jean / Michael Jackson
Brass Monkey / Beastie Boys
Just Can’t Get Enough / Depeche Mode
The Magician / Secession
People Are People / Depeche Mode
Blue Monday / New Order
Bizarre Love Triangle / New Order
Everyday is Halloween / Ministry
It’s Tricky / Run DMC
Genius of Love / Tom Tom Club
Cities in Dust / Siouxsie and the Banshees
The Walk / The Cure
Goody Two Shoes / Adam Ant
Don’t Go / Yaz
I Ran / A Flock of Seagulls
Tainted Love / Soft Cell
The Perfect Kiss / New Order
New Year’s Day / U2
You Spin Me Round / Dead or Alive
One Nation Under a Groove / Funkadelic
Into the Groove / Madonna
Love Will Tear Us Apart / Joy Division
How Soon is Now / The Smiths
Boy / Book of Love
World Destruction / Time Zone
Tenderness / General Public
Go! / Tones on Tail
Modern Love / David Bowie
Why / Bronski Beat
Master and Servant / Depeche Mode
White Wedding / Billy Idol
I Want Candy / Bowwowow
Close to Me / The Cure
She Drives Me Crazy / Fine Young Cannibals
When Doves Cry / Prince
Don’t Change / INXS
Push It / Salt-n-Pepa
Relax / Frankie Goes to Hollywood
The Metro / Berlin
What’s On Your Mind / Information Society
Burning Down the House / Talking Heads
Paul Revere / Beastie Boys
Hungry Like The Wolf / Duran Duran
Girls on Film / Duran Duran
Planet Earth / Duran Duran
Whip It / Devo
Legal Tender / B52s
Always on My Mind / Pet Shop Boys
Look of Love / ABC
Need You Tonight / INXS
Smooth Operator / Sade
My Ever Changing Moods / Style Council
You’re the Best Thing / Style Council
Why / Bronski Beat
Small Town Boy / Bronski Beat
Wishing / A Flock of Seagulls
Love My Way / Psychedelic Furs
Sunday Bloody Sunday / U2
Everything Counts / Depeche Mode
Original Sin / INXS
The One Thing / INXS
Work for Love / Ministry
Holiday / Madonna
Everybody Wants to Rule the World / Tears for Fears
Sweetest Thing / U2
Don’t You Forget About Me / Simple Minds
State of the Nation / New Order
Age of Consent / New Order
Sweet Dreams / Eurythmics
Here Comes the Rain Again / Eurythmics
Pale Shelter / Tears for Fears
Strangelove / Depeche Mode
Gloria / U2
Rapture / Blondie
Under Pressure / David Bowie
Boys Don’t Cry / The Cure
Madame Butterfly / Malcolm McLaren
Genius of Love, Tom Tom Club
Our House / Madness
Bring on the Dancing Horses / Echo and the Bunnymen
Let Me Go / Heaven 17
Pictures of You / The Cure
Time / Culture Club
Red Red Wine / UB40
The Model / Kraftwerk
Saved By Zero / The Fixx
This Must Be the Place / Talking Heads
Slave to Love / Bryan Ferry
More Than This / Roxy Music
The Killing Moon / Echo and the Bunnymen
In Between Days / The Cure
I Will Follow / U2
Mirror in the Bathroom / English Beat
Cruel Summer / Bananarama

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