sometimes katie throws an 80s 30th birthday party…

So I turned 30 this week… I’ve been saying for a few years that I can’t wait to turn 30, because I feel like people will finally take me seriously… or that it’ll mean I’m finally a “real adult.” I just feel like I’m ready to be 30. I’m married, have a great house, a fantastic job, and we’re hoping to start having children soon. So 30 just feels right. (Plus, I’ve been told I still look like I’m about 21-25. Some of my patients don’t believe I’m old enough to be a Physical Therapist. I feel like if I say I’m 30, they might believe me more? I don’t know…) A couple years ago, someone on Facebook had posted pictures of a party they went to, and it was an 80s 30th Birthday Party, and my brain started stirring. I kinda forgot about it (since my 30th was >2 years away), but then this summer on a road trip, the idea popped back into my head. I wanted neon, bright, funky decor, with everyone dressed up, and as much throwbacks to 1984 as possible. I started searching Google/eBay for 80s toys (Light Bright, Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, Wuzzles, Little People, Popples, My Little Pony, Pound Puppies, Speak & Spell, etc…), but found they were pretty expensive, and hard to find. Then I realized, what would I do with these old toys when I find them anyway? (Still, it was fun to search and reminisce — now eat your heart out with these pics:) As March 2 approached (the big 3-0), I knew I had to get going to throw the most radical, tubular 80s party EVER. I got on Pinterest to look for ideas. Now, I think this party is what brought me (back) to Pinterest. I tried using it for my wedding, but I think because not a lot of people have thrown a polka dot/turquoise wedding, I didn’t find many ideas and thought Pinterest was useless. HOWEVER, many people have thrown 80s parties, and it gave me many great ideas. The first step was making an invitation that would sum up the feel of the party. After discussing with my sisters (I have 4 of ’em, they’re all amazing), we decided to throw a house party (to host all the decor), but also do something fun. We narrowed it down to bowling or roller skating, and skating won (because who has roller skated since 6th grade? I sure haven’t). I then got ideas from Pinterest for 80s birthday invitations, told my husband what I wanted, and he started playing around with ideas. (I married an amazing photographer, who is going back to school for graphic/web design. He’s my other creative half, and fills in the gaps that I can’t do myself). This is what we finally came up with:

Perfect, right?? Notice the Andy Warhol-like collage he made? That’s a pic of me when I was 4 years old (circa 1988), at Sullivan Lake (where my mom’s family has a lake cabin – my favorite place on earth).

My mom loved the collage so much that she asked him to blow it up into poster size so that she could re-decorate her bathroom around it:

The next step was figuring out the outfit. I’ve done the neon 80s theme before (see below – I’m on the right)

Halloween 2009, with my PT school classmates

So I wanted something bigger and better. Pinterest and Google Images gave me some ideas, and then I decided that late 80s Madonna is what I wanted. I got inspiration from these images:

Madonna CollageI looked on eBay for pre-made costumes, and found a couple that were promising. However, the sizes seemed like they would only fit a tiny person without a chest (and although I’ve lost a bunch of weight, I still have a chest, thankyou). Here’s what they looked like:

Madonna Costume Collage

From left to right: 80s Wild Child/Madonna Costume by LT Gray CostumesCloset, 80s Diva Costume by FunWirksMaterial Girl Costume by My Diva’s, Sexy 80s Madonna Costume by New Egg

So in the end, I decided not to go with a pre-made costume. (Plus they range from $30-$80, and I figured I could spend less by putting it together myself).  I ended up going to SEVERAL thrift stores, and even using Amazon to put the costume together.

As you can see, I pulled off the Madonna look, and my husband was Don Johnson aka Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice. When we were roller skating together, some guy passed us and yelled, “HEY! Madonna’s dancing with Don Johnson!” I yelled back, “NAILED IT! Thanks for noticing who we are!!”

Here’s more pictures of my costume. I found black 80s looking shoes at Value Village for $4.99, and a 80s iPhone cover here on Amazon. I already had a jean skirt (I couldn’t find a black tutu-like skirt, and ran out of time to do it myself), and my husband already had a turquoise tanktop (he refused to wear a v-neck pink t-shirt, even if I bought it for him). Other additions were bright turquoise eyeshadow (found on an eyeshadow pallet at the Dollar Store), and old black rubber bracelets (I had these from my “punk phase” in 2003).

Okay, so you’re wondering about the cone bra. I had an old black bra that when I bought it, I thought it could switch to strapless. Well, it couldn’t. It was in a random drawer and perfect for the party (a little too big, so it could go on the outside of my shirt). Bought a pack of Dollar Store party hats, spray panted them black, added strips of an old t-shirt to the inside of the hat to reinforce, and then hot glued the hats to the bra. SO EASY. And such a hit. I didn’t wear it roller skating, because I would’ve poked some kid in the eye with them.

Some of the “crew” on the roller skating rink. It was hilarious watching adults try to stay on their feet

I guess I’ve been doing this pose since I was actually IN the 80s.

My sister and I – she had this amazing one piece silky royal blue jumper that I found at Value Village for $2.99. I bought it, knowing one of my sisters would wear it. She accessorized with a skinny yellow belt, hot pink bow in her hair, and oversized 80s jewelry that used to belong to our paternal grandmother. She was a hit.

My friend Chrissy had one of my favorite outfits. It was like this purple prom dress was made for her. And she crimped her hair — double bonus.

(P.S. My friends/fam had some rockin’ 80s outfits. Here’s some more goodness):

Perfect combo for Isaiah and Carrie — blazer/leggings/neon goodness, and fanny pack/wig/trucker hat/holey jeans

Some of the non-skaters (except Blake in the back, he’s a hockey player, and was able to take pictures while skating backwards – I was impressed). Adam’s 80s rocker was one of my favorite combos, and Mark’s cutoff jeans and sweatshirt was a little creepy, but perf.

My brother (19) and sister (27.9) skating. They cracked me up. Isaac had a nasty mullet wig, neon sunglasses, and a polo shirt rolled up. Halley’s amazing blue jumper.

The costumed 80s bunch at the Roller Skating Rink. One outfit I haven’t talked about is Jill, in the blue/yellow matching jacket/pants set. She actually wore it back in the day. Also, her hair went SO 80s SO perfectly. I was impressed.

Can’t see their whole outfits, but I loved these two. Ashley (below) had a 1988 US Olympics jacket, zipper earrings, a side pony, and black/white paint splotched leggings. Alex (above) had the classic leggings/off the shoulder sweatshirt/neon mesh arm socks/neon 80s headband look.

Oh man, these two. Jen (on the left) had one of my favorite outfits, because it reminded me of what my mom used to wear to Nordstrom when she was in high-fashion in the 80s. Caitling had the classic leggings/neon socks/fanny pack/off the shoulder sweatshirt/crimped hair look.

Okay, next step: DECORATIONS.

Like I said before, I wanted neon, bright colors, and lots of 80s greatness involved. Found some inspiration on Pinterest, and Google, and just shopped around until I found what I was looking for.

My first project was making cake platters out of records. There were a lot of tutorials on Pinterest, and I ended up just doing my own thing. A nearby store called Northwest Christian Thrift had the cheapest records ($0.10 for big and medium sizes and $0.99 for the small ones) (and yes, I know they are not called big/medium/small, but I don’t know the size terms for them — I grew up on cassette tapes and CDs, ok?).

I bought a bunch of records, and then got clear candlestick holders from the dollar store, whipped out my hot glue gun, and began.

Pretty simple: take all these supplies and put it together. Hot glue the candlesticks to the records, make sure they’re centered, and arrange however you’d like. Such an easy project, and it only cost $3.20 (unless you don’t have a hot glue gun, and then it’ll be a little more)

Here’s the platter in action with the cupcakes my baker-extraordinaire sister Megan made.  They were vanilla, with a delectable buttercream frosting she makes, dyed neon colors. Half were even gluten free, because she loves me SO MUCH, and wanted me to be able to participate in the cupcake eating.

I loved how the presentation turned out.

Close-up of the details

So if you’re wondering about those radical cupcake toppers, yes, I made them. You can buy access to files online to print these out, but I figured I could make them pretty easily. I Googled 80s images, cut and pasted them to a Microsoft Word document, figured out what size they needed to be, added a circle around the images so I knew where to cut, printed them out in color onto white card stock), cut them out (with a blank sheet of card stock behind them, and used a glue-stick to add a colored toothpick in-between the two sheets. Here’s what they looked like before I stuck ’em in the cupcakes:


(this step actually took longer than I thought, because I had 36 toppers. I had to recruit my husband to help. I wouldn’t say he enjoyed it as much as me)

I really wanted there to be a table that just screamed 1984, and so this was another mini-project. I went to Party Palace, where I found some awesome 80s tablecloth, 2 different styles of napkins, bright turquoise and pink plates, different colors of streamers, and metallic paper stars for decorations. This set a good base for the table.

Before the cupcakes were added. I blew up the invitation to use as a decoration. I also found 2 bottles of Aqua Net (they did not have it at the Dollar Store like I thought, so I eventually found them at Albertson’s). Also — I found as much 80s candy as possible. On the table here are Pixie Sticks, Pop Rocks, and Ring Pops. You can also see some mini-clackers — I freakin’ loved these things! However, the versions from the Dollar Store do not work very well.


Here’s a shot of the whole table. You can see new things: The bright plates, next to the 80s napkins, and some black cups (I wanted to get a silver pen to label the cups, but forgot). Also, there are some neon tapes on the table. What I did for those was find a Google Image of a blank tape, and then print it off on neon colored card stock. They were used as labels for food. Close up here:

Another fun thing I saw on Pinterest (the morning of the party, which meant it was crunch time for getting this done): Record Bowls. Again, I found many different tutorials, and figured out which one would work best.

Here’s what I did: I took an old record (the big size), and 2 glass bowls that are different sizes. I heated the oven to 200º F (I read that if you heat the records at a higher temperature, that it releases toxins, which is bad), and I placed the record on the bigger glass bowl, upside down. I set the timer for 5 minutes, and checked it at 5 minutes (a couple thicker records took up 8-12 minutes to heat). When you pull it out of the oven, make sure it’s beginning to melt/fold over the outside of the base of the bowl. Using oven mitts, quickly pull the bowl out, flip it upside down, and place the soft, pliable record inside of the bowl. Then, take the smaller glass bowl, and push it on top of the record, making sure everything is centered. This will make the edges ridge/wave, and it will stay like that. If you mess it up the first time, don’t worry — you can stick it back in the oven and try again! The bowls that come out of it aren’t huge, but if you make a bunch of small ones, you can fill them with whatever you want. I used them to put some Pop Rocks and Ring Pops in. When people noticed what it was, they were impressed! Thank you Pinterest!

Another thing you may see on the table is a glass vase full of slap bracelets. Yes, slap bracelets. I found a set of 50 here on Amazon for about $12, and they were so much fun. People grabbed 1-3, to match or not to match their costumes, and it even became a weapon to throw at each other at the end of the night. There were a ton of fun designs, and I’m so glad I bought them.

You can’t see to the sides of the table, but I bought some balloons from 50% Off Card Shop, in different neon and animal print designs. The lady loved the bouquet so much, she threw in a free Tie-Dye designed balloon. I did capture some of them here, by the collage I made.

 The collage had pictures of me in the 80s (from 1984-1989), and it was so fun to look back and reminisce my first 5-6 years of life. At the top you can see I created a fun title/theme for the party, and it kinda stuck.

My name is Katie, and “atie” sounds like “80”… you get it. It was fun. We even made a hashtag to use for anybody who uploaded pictures to social media. This poster was above the food table:

Speaking of posters, I made some mini posters for decoration. Not only did it fill up wall space, but it was good conversation, and good history. I looked up the top 10 songs and movies of 1984, and what happened in sports that year. It was fun to listen to people talk about these 3 things (and side-note: my dear husband added something in at the bottom of the sports list…)

More fun things…

I wanted to have some games/activities to do at the party. A family tradition is to have a container full of M&M’s or Skittles, and you have to guess how many are in there. I used Lemonheads (and the other flavors of Lemonheads), and put it into a plastic water bottle that looked like a Mason Jar. Another contest was for “Best Costume.” I made fun little signs with scrapbook paper that looked like it was from the 80s:

I know you’re wondering. The total was 333. As I was counting, I stopped there, because my OCD brain liked that number. The winner was my friend Chrissy, who guessed 323. And that awesome vase? Found it at the thrift store.

Wondering who won the contest? My brother in law, Mark. My sister created his costume the morning of the party. She went to Value Village, found him some clothes, and then just went to town with the scissors. He spiked the very short hair he has, and he just looked like a creepster from the 80s… it was hilarious.

His prize? A bag full of fun 80s treats. A clacker toy, some Razzles, a pink squishy weird toy, and some Fruit Stripe gum.

Another fun piece that was added by my sister (she’s the best host around): the chalkboard sign. Every time she hosts a party, she writes on this board, and it’s near the food & drinks. I thought it was perfect:

(We wanted to have everybody do a Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda workout at the party, but we were having so much fun that it never happened. Which was fine. We still danced to Michael Jackson, as usual).

We had random food and drinks. I wanted to find a bunch of 80s snacks, but there just wasn’t time, and it wasn’t that important to me. Chips and queso, cheese and crackers, a veggie tray, popcorn, and Trader Joe’s Joe Joe’s (like oreos). To add some color to the food/beverage area, I added 5 pitchers of Kool-Aid.

Did you know it calls to add ONE CUP OF SUGAR to each packet of Kool-Aid? I definitely didn’t do that. BUT… a couple of the preggo ladies drank the Kool-Aid! It was possibly added to some hard alcohol too, but I can’t confirm or deny.

Another fun activity was having a Trivia contest. I searched a lot of different websites and picked and chose some questions of different categories (movies, music, pop culture, historical events, etc.). I’ve attached the files if you want to download them for your party (it will save you time, trust me)

80s Trivia Questions

80s Trivia Answers

The winner of this contest was my co-worker, Jill. She got a prize pack with a glow in the dark toy, some Bubble Tape, Nerds, and a clacker toy.

LASTLY: Photobooth! 

I love setting up a photobooth at parties I throw. My husband has an extra camera, with a tripod, lights, and a clicker. He was so gracious to set up the booth in a little corner of my sister’s house we call “The Nook.” For the background, I used my streamers, some records and stars, the blown-up Andy Warhol-like picture of me when I was 4, and a giant poster of I ♥ 80s that I made.

This is what the photobooth looked like without anybody in it.

To add something special to the photobooth, I created some signs for people to hold up while they had their picture taken. First I researched “80s phrases,” and then I played around on Microsoft Word with funky backgrounds, bright colors, and fun shapes. I printed them off on card stock, cut them out with another equal piece of card stock, and hot glued a wooden dowel in-between the two sheets. Here’s what they looked like:

Here’s a free printout of the signs. I’m happy to share 🙂

Printable Photobooth Signs

So here are some of my favorite shots from the photobooth (I couldn’t just pick a couple, so there’s actually quite a few. But they’re super entertaining):

This is my fam. Just missing 2 of our sisters. I love them.

My husband and me : )


So there you have it. My dream 80s-themed 30th Birthday Party. It was SO much fun, I stayed up WAY too late, and I was SO happy to be surrounded by the family and friends who could make it to the party. So far, 30 feels great. And I’m wondering what I should plan for the big 4-0 in 10 years… And I’ve already had people ask me to help plan their next party. I’m so game. This kind of stuff makes me so happy, and it’s such a great creative break from everyday life, and the logical thinking of being a PT (but I really, truly love my job, don’t get me wrong).

Thanks for staying with me during this long post! Hope you enjoyed!

5 thoughts on “sometimes katie throws an 80s 30th birthday party…

  1. Pingback: sometimes katie counts rocks… | sometimeskatie

  2. This is the BEST THING EVER! I’m at work and we are doing an Ultimate Throwback day in our dining hall for students and I’m using every single bit of this to throw our day. Thank you for sharing all of this!

  3. Thank you SO much for sharing all of these awesome ideas! My friend, Katie, is having her 30th birthday party this weekend and it is 80s themed….if you don’t mind we are going to have to “borrow”(steal) so many of your awesome ideas! So creative! Thank you for sharing!

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