Friday, May 22, 2009

Lisa's 40th Birthday Party--Totally 80s!

May 22, 2009

My sister turned 40 last Friday. She's not normally one for big celebrations, but she decided she'd like to make a little bit of a bigger deal out of this one, so we decided a party was in order. And since we went to high school in the 80's, I thought a little flashback to the days of legwarmers, neon, and big hair would be a perfect party atmosphere. Once I started kicking that idea around in my head, I got really excited about the big event. (I am a self-proclaimed 80s chick!)

Since Lisa has lived down in Southern California for many years now, she's made all kinds of friends through the years that I've never met. Mind you, I do know some of her friends, but I wouldn't begin to be able to put together a whole list of all the people she knows. She emailed me a list of names and email addresses, as well as a list of people I could contact via Facebook. Thank goodness for Facebook and evite, because within a relatively short time, I was able to get in contact with all kinds of people who know and love Lisa (but had no idea who I was!) who were thrilled to be able to help her celebrate her big day.

I spent some time on the website for Oriental Trading Company searching out trinkets and decorations reminiscent of our youth. (Okay, so the 80s were cheesy, but they were our years, and I was loving the time-warp.) First up, neon cat-eye classes. Sweet! (You know you had some like this back when you fit in those parachute pants.) I put those in my cart, and OTC suggested that I might like something called 'Streamline Hairband Glasses.' DEVO glasses! Perfect! Then, of course, there were jelly bracelets in bright neon colors--lots of them.
Then I got an even better idea. In addition to the traditional spread of party food, I decided to put out an array of candy from the 80s. Into my cart went the Fun Dip, the Pop Rocks, the Pixie Sticks. Into my cart went Candy Straws and Nik-L-Nips. Oh, I was on a virtual, vicarious sugar high, impulse nostalgia shopping. In the back of my head, while I was piling my imaginary on-line cart high with memories, I was wondering how I was going to keep my kids from digging into the goodies before we got down to Aunt Lisa's. I was also wondering how I was going to keep ME from jumping onto the 80s sugar train rush. I DO love Fun Dip! You remember those, right? The candy sticks that you dip into powdered goodness? Yup, it takes me right back to my band days in high school. That's the kind of 'nutritious snack' Mom used to pack for us on our over-night band reviews.

My next big idea was decorations. I started haunting thrift stores for old record albums from the eighties that I could use to transport us back in time. I wasn't actually planning on playing them; I have quite the 80s playlist on my iPod. I just wanted to display them around Lisa's house to set the mood. On one of my many trips to the local thrift stores, I was flipping through the collection of albums, pausing occasionally to determine the suitability of a particular record. My youngest, Danielle, said, "But Mommy, how do you KNOW if they're 80s or not?" Oh, Darlin', I just do. I was there. It's in my blood.

I found several--Thompson Twins, Linda Ronstadt, Sting, among them. I also found the ultimate--an album of the sound track to Flashdance, with Jennifer Beals in her ripped sweatshirt and all her pouty glory wistfully gazing out on the cover. Score! (Mind you, I have this album, and lots of other 80s vinyl--probably too many to mention without being too embarrassed. But I was going to damage these in the name of decoration, and well, I wasn't ready to sacrifice my own albums for the greater good.) On a side note, I was ecstatic to find, while scouring the record racks, a copy of an old album that very few people have ever heard of, but one that would have special meaning to my sister and me. Once, when she was maybe ten, she called into a radio station and won the new Starbuck album. None of us had ever heard of them before, but we were stoked that she won the contest. After Mom picked up her album, Lisa and I spent hours in her room, playing that record over and over again. No one else has any idea who they are, but Lisa and I can, to this day, sing all the songs on that album. I picked it up along with all the other records, one of my birthday gifts to her. (It was mystifying to everyone else, but she LOVED it!)

Next on the agenda was to put the albums to use. I scanned old pictures from Lisa's high school years, then printed and cut them out. I also tried to find old pictures of her with some of her friends who were going to be at the party, so they could remember themselves in all their 80s glory as well. Then I glued each photo to one side of a record to put around the house as decorations. I used the album art as another part of the decorations. I just loved how they all turned out!

Finally the weekend arrived, and I piled the kids into the car Friday night to head down south. Doug and our buddy Jim didn't come with us, but made the drive the next day. Saturday night, the party was on. We had 80s music videos playing on the TVs (on silent--think Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" and Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come On, Eileen") while the iPod was blaring. We had a pool full of kids and a house full of singing, dancing 30-40 year olds. Lisa had friends there from high school, college, and a variety of work places through the years. She also had family, of course, and moms she met through Girl Scouts, and neighbors. Some people already knew each other, but many did not. No matter, though, because nothing brings together a group of 40ish people together like food, beer, and 80s music!

I loved how some of the festive party guests totally got into the spirit by dressing the part--there were leg warmers and bangles and leggings and pegged pants and popped collars and lace socks with pumps. We did a party quiz called "How well do you know the 80s?" and one called "How well do you know Lisa?" Prizes for our winners, Michelle and Laura? A DVD of "Staying Alive" (gotta love Travolta!) for one, and a DVD of "Working Girl" for the other.

Every single one of Lisa's friends that I met that night was totally awesome and radical. Everyone had a great time, and as a matter of fact, lots of us crashed out there all night after staying up quite late. I, for one, am pretty sure Lisa had a great time, and I am thrilled that I was able to give her a rockin' 40th. Forty, my friends, is a fabulous age, and certainly a milestone to celebrate. You've lived long enough to develop fantastic bonds with a wonderful group of people, and yet you can see some pretty cool road stretched out in a long path in front of you as well. Happy birthday, Lisa, and here's to many, many more to come!


  1. Great birthday! I could have given you a stack of albums!!!

    And... outstanding that your daughter is learning to drive. Amazing how quick someone can learn from a person who teaches that subject for a living. The instructor just knew what to say.

  2. Hi! And, oh my god, I love this idea! I wore that Flashdance soundtrack down to nothing. Also funnily enough - my husband just put on "Thriller" while playing with the kids.

    Plus, 8 out of your ten movies you'd always watch would make my list. I know we just "met" and all, but I think I love you!

  3. What a great birthday! I love the pic of the leg warmers and high heels. That took me back! LOL!

  4. Okay, this party sounds AWESOME!

    I mean, neon glasses? Leg warmers? FUN DIP? I love fun dip.

  5. We had an 80s party in college - and I was able to break out a lot of my old outfits (which of course still resided in my huge closet at my parents' house....those were the days...) But now that I look back, I laugh because it was only 1993! I guess it was an "early 80s" party?

  6. What a great idea!! It looks like it was an awesome party!

  7. You did an awesome job! I love throwing themed parties...they are so much fun! I love to just get an idea and run with it! I love all of your party favors and decor...the 80's were so fun!

    Hope you had a great long weekend!