How to Throw an Era Party - Recreate The Guest of Honor's Youth

Executive Summary
Recreate the guest of honor's youth by throwing an Era Party. Recreate the decade when they were a child or teen to throw an unforgettable Over the Hill party.

Quick Facts
  • The Era Party
  • A themed party that will impress your guests

Page Description
A great way to celebrate the major milestone of entering a new decade of your life is to have a party recreating the decade you grew up in. If you’re looking for an idea for a friend’s 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, or even 70th birthday party, why not make them feel like they were 10 or 20 again?

Well, you might not be able to do that, exactly, but you can make them feel like they’re back in that year with an era birthday party. You can pick out decorations, music, costumes, food, and presents that represent the decade when they were a child or teenager. If you grew up at the same time as the birthday person you probably don’t need our help to remember what it was like, but here are some ideas to get you started.

1980s Party:
Decorations: The 80s were all about bright colors, so try to incorporate lots of neon colors into the decorations and dining ware. Plaster the walls with posters of popular 80s bands and movies - some examples include Michael Jackson, Madonna, Culture Club, Back to the Future, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, and ET.

Costumes: Like the decorations, outfits could also benefit from copious amounts of neon color. Some other indispensable fashions you could incorporate are crimped hair, leg warmers, shoulder pads, headbands, and Ray-Bans.

Food: Your youthful palate was probably characterized by fast food like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and McDonalds, so if your guests can still handle it, those would make good main courses. For snacks, you could eat the Jello that Bill Cosby’s commercials made so popular or the Reese’s Pieces famously eaten by ET. Good drink choices are Tab cola, Kool-Aid, and Capri Sun - you could even add some alcohol to the last two to make a spiked punch.

Presents: Rubik’s Cube, Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Transformers action figures, Nintendo games.

Music: Check out our Playlist of the 80s page!

1970s Party:
Decorations: If you can find them, shag rugs, disco balls, beaded curtains, and lava lamps will all make your house feel truly 70s. Decorations featuring the “flower power” smiley face would also represent the decade.

Costumes: See if these fashion suggestions spark any ideas: bell-bottom pants, platform shoes, long-haired or afro wigs, polyester suits, rayon dresses, gold medallions. Food: You can’t have a 70s party without serving fondue. Some 70s munchies still available include Laffy Taffy, Goobers and Bugles. Some drinks reminiscent of the 70s include Harvey Wallbangers, Chablis, and Old Milwaukee.

Presents: Rubik’s Cube, skateboard, Crissy and Velvet dolls, matchbox cars and slot car racers.

Music: Check out our Playlist of the 70s page!

1960s Party:
Decorations: Make sure there are peace symbols and other “flower power” symbols everywhere. Rainbow streamers, beaded curtains, and psychedelic-colored tablecloths are also good decorations. If you want to take it even further, you can have some incense burning, too.

Costumes: Make sure everyone wears sandals, tie-dye shirts, large glasses, mini skirts, bell bottoms, headbands, and anything else you can think of that screams “hippie”.

Food: If you guests can stomach it, serve veggie burgers and other vegetarian dishes, as the vegetarian movement gained popularity in this era. If you’re throwing a party for a bunch of meat-eaters, some popular dishes you could serve are swedish meatballs, shish kebobs, and buffalo wings. Pigs in a blanket, deviled eggs, and granola will make good snacks. Brownies are a must for desert. Characteristic 60s alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks would be whiskey sours and Tang, respectively.

Presents: Pet rock kits, Etch-a-Sketch, Easy Bake ovens, GI Joe action figures, and twister.

Music: Check out our Playlist of the 60s page!

1950s Party:
Decorations: It may be a bit of money, but look into renting a working jukebox for the party, as it will bring back memories of the 50s more than any other decoration. Besides that, the next best ways to decorate your party like the 50s are to have balloons everywhere and set up some life-size cutouts of celebrities like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

Costumes: Guests have a variety of styles to choose from. Guys could dress like the bad boy (black leather jackets and cuffed jeans), the prep (letter jackets and chinos), or the nerd (thick-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors). Girls can dress like the bad girl (capri pants and tight sweaters), the preppy girl (poodle skirt and cardigan), or a nerdy girl (same as the nerdy guy).

Food: Set your kitchen up like a 1950s diner. Serve burgers and fries, with a soda fountain for drinks. Set up a station where guests can make their own shakes and malts, or if you’ve got a friend who makes a particularly tasty shake, designate them as the soda jerk.

Presents: Mr. Potato Head, Hula Hoops, Barbie dolls, frisbees, and ant farms.

Music: Check out our Playlist of the 50s page!

1940s Party:
Decorations: Decorate the place using a military or patriotic theme, as support for America’s troops characterized the decade. Hang an American flag and propaganda posters. Use red, white, and blue colors for things like tablecloths and dining ware. Use simple decorations like balloons and paper streamers, also keeping this color scheme.

Costumes: Dress was much more formal in the 40s, so have your guests dress for the part. Guys should wear suits and slick their hair back. Girls should wear pencil cut skirts and long-sleeve blouses, putting their hair in up-dos.

Food: Serve a real traditional American meal. This could consist of something like meatloaf, potatoes, and green veggies. Hamburgers and hot dogs would also give the feel of a USO canteen and fit in with the military theme. The decade was dominated by cocktails like the martini and the Manhattan, so those would be great drinks to serve.

Presents: Silly Putty, Tonka Trunks, Slinkies, dolls, board games like Candy Land and Clue.

Music: Check out our Playlist of the 40s page!