5 Time Period Birthday Party Themes and the Costumes That Go With Them

Time period birthday parties can really be for just about any age group.

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Time period birthday parties can really be for just about any age group. You can slick the hair of a child into a pompadour for that 1950s look just as easily as you can do it for yourself as an adult. True, adult time period parties tend to contain a little subtext that you won’t find at a party for an eight year old, but the overall idea is the same. And, while the eight-year-old dressed as John Travolta in Grease is going to be pretty darn cute, you could say the same for someone in their twenties, thirties, or even their sixties!

Here are five popular time period themes for parties and where to turn for costume ideas.

The Fifties

The 1950s party is always a favorite of those who like to get dressed up. Dresses and suits were everyday outfits back then, and so were hats – on both men and women! This was also a decade of iconic stars. Elvis was young and trim and Marilyn Monroe was a vision! Beyond the cast of the Gottfriend Helnwein’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams painting (featuring Elvis, Marilyn, Humphrey Bogart, and James Dean), where else should you turn? More ideas can be found in TV shows like Leave it to Beaver, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show, and movies such as Grease, Singin’ in the Rain, and High Noon.

The Sixties

One of the first things that might come to mind when you think about the 1960s is Woodstock, and there’s something to be said for a good, all-purpose Janis Joplin costume. However, the decade offers us far more in the way of theme ideas than hippies. In the U.K., the 1960s gave us two stylish subcultures that translate well into costumes: Mods and Rockers. And from Hollywood, you might find inspiration in films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Easy Rider, and Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns. 

The Seventies

Feather your hair and break out the polyester and bell bottoms. The 1970s was the decade that gave us Richard Nixon, and who among us hasn’t worn a Nixon mask at least once in our lives? This decade also gave us Rocky, Annie Hall, Saturday Night Fever, Star Wars, Dirty Harry, Animal House, Willie Wonka, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Deliverance. But that’s not all! Music gave us disco, soul, punk, country and western, R&B, hard rock, and pop. 

The Eighties

Here’s another decade rich with theme party ideas. Glam metal makes for great costumes, as does new wave. Madonna and Prince were huge. Boy George and New Kids on the Block hit the scene in the late 1980s. Movies gave us The Breakfast Club, E.T., Ghostbusters, the first Terminator, Arnold Schwartzenegger in general, Top Gun, The Princess Bride, Indiana Jones, Beetlejuice, and a seemingly endless parade of movies that would translate into amazing party themes. TV gave us Cheers, The A Team (and Mr. T), Knight Rider, Miami Vice, The Dukes of Hazzard, Alf, Roseanne, and Star Trek.

The Nineties

Popular culture in the 1990s doesn’t disappoint, either. This was the decade of Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, Home Improvement,The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Saved by the Bell. The world wore flannel and denim as grunge took over the popular music scene. The movies of the decade gave us The Big Lebowski, Edward Scissorhands, the second Terminator, Arnold Schwartzenegger in general (yet again), Rushmore, Army of Darkness, and Jim Carey at his silliest on the big screen.

Oh, and one last word of advice for your themed party: don’t forget to send out the invitations! Make your own, or send out online invitations using a platform like Paperless Post. The sooner you can get those invitations out to your friends, the sooner they can start planning their costumes, which – at least theoretically – should mean that they can devote more creative energy to what they wear to your party.

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