I’m dating myself here, but I am ok with that! This weekend I attended the Mix Tape Tour and LOVED every moment of it! It took me back to my childhood and I was smiling from ear to ear from the start of the concert to the lights coming back up! You just can’t go wrong with New Kids On The Block breaking into their Right Stuff dance or getting the crowd waving their hands like they just don’t care during Hangin’ Tough. BUT then you add in Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty By Nature! Come on! That’s just AWESOME! So, this got me wanting to host an 80’s party and bring all that joy to my friends in my home. I’ve hosted 80’s parties before so this has to be different. I thought about it and realized I should make it an 80’s cocktail party.
Why an 1980’s Cocktail Party?
Because when you attend this concert in your early 40’s you look around and see that the majority of the attendees are now in their 30’s and 40’s, but we are still that same 10 year old screaming girl. Except, now we have a drink in our hand. Cheers NKOTB we still love you 30 years later!
While I haven’t hosted this party yet, I thought I would explain how I brainstorm for a new party. At the end, hopefully you’ll have some ideas to host your own throwback party.
I like to brainstorm out all aspects of a party first.
The biggest parts of the party to consider are:
I always like to decide on a theme before I get started. In this case, I have already decided to have an 80’s Cocktail Party. BUT I’m putting an additional spin on it. Since the movie Cocktail was so popular in the late 80’s I’m thinking a 1980’s Beach Cocktail Party. I don’t live anywhere close to an ocean, or any type of beach for that matter, therefore, I will need to bring the beach to us with decorations. Now that the theme is set, it’s time to move onto the menu ideas.
1980’s Beach Cocktail Party Menu Ideas
To come up with this list, I went to Google. I just searched for food from the 1980s. So many sites had great ideas to get my list started. I selected items I noticed on multiple sites.
Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl
This is still a favorite appetizer we have at a lot of get togethers. Sometimes it is served in a bread bowl, but often it’s just cubed bread next to a glass bowl with the dip.
For this party, I’m thinking it would be fun, time consuming but fun, to hollow out little hawaian rolls and make individual “bread bowls” for the guests.
7- Layer Dip
This made my mouth water. I haven’t had a dip like this for years. There is a nacho/taco flavored dip that I LOVED. It had cream cheese or sour cream mixed with a taco seasoning as the base, refried beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cheese, green onions and black olives. (I’m going to have to find the recipe or make my own now). This was served with nacho chips. For the party, I could make individual cups. I would buy clear plastic 5-7 oz cups and build the layered dip in each cup. (You want the cups to be wide but not tall.) Then put a couple chips into the cup.
Cocktail Weiners in Sauce
These are very simple to cook up in a crock-pot. I have always loved the chili/grape jelly sauce. If you haven’t tried that sauce, don’t knock it until you try it.
Pizza Rolls and Bagel Bites
It doesn’t get much simpler than that. You can buy these in the store. And, if you are having a large crowd you can purchase these in bulk at Costco. You can easily heat these up just before the guests arrive.
You can make little slider sandwiches for the guests. Just don’t overfill them. The word sloppy isn’t in the title for nothing! You can easily cook up the sloppy joe mix in a big pot or crock-pot.
These also came out in the 1980s. While you are NOT going to open up a bunch of lunchables, how about a cheese and meat tray? Try to find a yellow tray with sections that represents the lunchable box. Then in each section of the tray have a meat or cheese or cracker.
And have snacks around for the guests to enjoy. Some snacks that came out in the 1980’s were Cool Ranch Doritos and Planters Cheez Balls. You can also have little fruit snack bags around too.
For the dessert table you can include some fun sweet treats.
ET loved Reese’s Pieces and I’m sure your guests would too. You can put them out in a bowl for easy grab and go.
Sara Lee introduced us to their all butter pound cake in the 80s. You could get a pound cake and cut it into smaller squares then add a drizzle of chocolate, strawberries and a little whipped topping to make it a little more fancy for your guests. You could also make a skewer. Slide a slice of strawberry onto a toothpick, followed by a bite size piece of pound cake and then another strawberry slice. This will be easy for your guests to enjoy with their cocktails.
I’ll be totally honest, I can’t stand this salad. I honestly just don’t like coconut, except once a year I do enjoy those crazy good Girl Scout cookies!!! Back to the salad. While, I don’t like this salad it is something totally retro that other people DO enjoy! And you can easily serve it in those same cups I mentioned using for the 7-layer dip. It is a very pretty salad. I would include it in my menu. I would also put some additional flakes of coconut on top of the salad in each cup. It would be fun to color the coconut flakes for the top to dress up the presentation.
I remember being at parties in the 80’s and the dirt cake was actually presented in a sand pail. It was so cool! This would be a PERFECT addition to a beach themed cocktail party. You could have a couple sand pails on the dessert table with the dirt dessert. If you don’t know what a dirt cup dessert is, it is pretty much mixing together pudding, cool whip, and Oreo cookie crumbs. Then, on top you add more cookie crumbs and gummy worms. I will post a recipe for this.
This would be a lot of fun for your 1980’s Beach Cocktail Party.
You can also add fun candies that came out in the 80’s to your dessert table. Some classic 80’s candy includes: Nerds, Runts, Skittles, Push Pops, and AirHeads.
It’s a 1980’s Beach Cocktail Party – Drinks are a MUST!
Remember Tom Cruise spinnin’ around behind the bar? Bottles flying the air? Pouring all these awesome drinks in seconds while the music was cranked? If you can hire a bartender for your party to do all that, by all means, go for it!
For the rest of us, take a minute to think back to the 80’s (if you are old enough to remember that time) and the types of drinks that were available to us as kids or what our parents may have been sipping on at parties.
The 1980’s were FILLED with sugary drinks! Capri Sun, Hi-C, KoolAid, Squeeze Its…. Times have changed and A LOT of those items have been removed from the shelves or just aren’t as popular.
Turn those colorful kids drinks into cocktails!
However, you can still find Capri Sun and Orange Hi-C (Pretty much Ecto Cooler Hi-C) . As adults you could mix these drinks with an alcohol such as vodka. Or you could make an electric green drink using different liquors. There are so many liquors out there, you can easily find one that will also produce a neon colored drink. How fitting for the 80’s! I will let you decide on recipes that you think your guests will enjoy. Maybe you already have a certain liquor in the house that you can use for some fun mixed drinks and you don’t need to stock the bar.
But make the drinks colorful, tasty and memorable. This is after all, an 80’s cocktail party!
Don’t forget the classics like Long Island Iced Tea, Tequila Sunrise, Screwdriver and Sex on the Beach. These are bright colorful drinks and were very popular in the 80’s.
Also VERY popular in the 80’s were Bartyl’s and Jaymes Wine Coolers. Now it seems you can more easily find malt beverages. So fill a kid size pool with ice and make it into your cooler. Fill your cooler with wine cooler like beverages and beers for your guests to grab easily. You could even throw in some Hi-C boxes and Capri Sun pouches for fun and decoration!
Are your friends shot drinkers? Then make some Alabama Slammers or Buttery Nipples.
Sweet Treat in a Glass!
Want a great drink for dessert? The Mudslide! I still enjoy a good Mudslide! On our honeymoon 2 years ago, I decided to enjoy one while my husband was playing pool volleyball.
We were enjoying ourselves at an all inclusive resort so when the drink was ready the waiter brought me over 2 glasses. He said they made a bit too much and to enjoy. And I DID! Once those were gone, he brought me another one and my husband also thought of me as he grabbed a beer and brought back a mudslide for me. So, in less than an hour I two fisted Mudslides twice! It was fun!
While you may not be Tom Cruise mixing up the drinks you can still crank the music and have some great beverages for your guests to enjoy at their 80’s beach cocktail party.
Don’t Forget to Decorate!
To decorate for a 1980’s Beach Cocktail Party, I would try to combine the class of a cocktail party into a beach bonfire gathering with fun neon colors. HOW do you do this?
80’s Style Decor
First, get all sorts of colorful serving ware. If you have containers of party plates and serving ware from previous parties, now is a great time to recycle your party leftovers for budget friendly decor. Use bright neon colors for your table covers, serving spoons, bowls and plastic ware. Bright pinks, oranges, greens and yellows for the 80’s party. You can include silver, gold and or black drink napkins, napkins and plates to incorporate the feel of a cocktail party.
Bring the Beach to Your Backyard
Then add in fun beach items, like beach balls, set up the volleyball net, use a kids blow up pool as your cooler for bottled drinks and put down bright colorful beach towels in your lawn for people to sit on or drape them on the back of chairs as decorations. I have a container full of luau decorations from a previous party that I would look through to see what fun beach items I had on hand before I went shopping for more items.
Next, put up some tiki torches around your lawn. These not only add to the ambiance, they will also help keep the mosquitoes away. The tiki torches bring in the idea of a beach bonfire.
Add the Class of a Cocktail Party
Then, to add in the classiness of a cocktail party, string white twinkle lights around your patio. You can also place small lanterns and candles to your table tops.
Since you are serving cocktail style food, use nice trays to present your finger foods. You can dress up any area you want to make this as fancy of a party as you want or as casual of a party as you want.
1980’s Beach Cocktail Party Soundtrack
To make any party complete, you need to have the right playlist. Now remember, this whole party idea came to me because I was enjoying the Mix Tape Tour concert. So I would need to include NKOTB, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Salt-N-Pepa and Naughty By Nature. But the list goes on and on. When I decided to combine an 80’s cocktail party theme with the beach theme, because of the movie Cocktail, I immediately had the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” playing in my head. I looked up the Cocktail soundtrack and was reminded of the songs, “The Hippy Hippy Shake” and “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Those have to be added to the playlist! Then you can add in other summer songs of the 1980s. I also think of Cruel Summer from the Karate Kid. Your guests will be transported back to summer in the 80s at your Beach Cocktail Party.
Now that the brainstorming has been completed you can decide on a date, finalize your guest list and start to bring these ideas to life. Please feel free to use this Party Brainstorming printable to brainstorm your party ideas. This will get the ideas flowing and make it easier to prepare for your party once you set the date.
Planning and doing a little research can really make everything come together for your party. It will also make party preparations and hosting easier for you. And you guests will have a very memorable experience.
80’s Beach Cocktail Party Tips to Dazzle Your Guests:
- Provide awesome, fun, bright drinks that brings everyone back to the 80s. Check out these ideas from Cosmpololotin’s article “5 Sexy Cocktails for Your Summer BBQ”
- Create a tasty menu for your guests to indulge in at the party. Researching the foods of the 80’s brought a great menu together. The guests will remember their family or friends serving these items decades ago.
- Decorate and play the soundtrack of the 80s. Bright colors and rad jams will get everyone dancing, singing along and having fun at the party. Check out Billboard’s “Summer Songs 1958-2018: The Top 10 Tunes of Each Summer” for some great song choices.
- Invite the guests to dress in 80’s beach theme. If you plan to have lawn games, like volleyball, encourage them to dress more beach theme than cocktail theme.