Lessons Learned Planning an 80’s Party


Theres a lot of firsts this summer. My familys first garden, my youngests first sleepover, my familys first time floating on a mountain river and our first time to host an 80s party.

A few summers ago, my oldest asked if we could have a party. Not just a regular old party with friends but a themed party where everyone dressed in costume. At the time he was really into Greek Mythology, thanks to Rick Riordans Percy Jackson novels. The date also happened to be the summer solstice, so essentially we had a family-friendly toga party.

Last year we decided to have our themed party on July 7. In case you didnt know, July 7  happens to be Ringo Starrs birthday, which is a great excuse for a summer-themed party, if you have a certain pre-teen Beatles fan in your home.

Unsurprisingly, when I asked my oldest what he wanted to do most this summer, his replya party. He wasnt sure on a theme though. I turned to the trusty old Google machine and looked up historic events on his proposed date, July 12th. There wasnt much that excited me or my son. In 1954 President Eisenhower put forward a plan for an interstate highway system – I mean thats pretty awesome if youve ever driven a family of five anywhere!  In 1976 the first “Family Feud” game show made its debut.  But none of these seemed to interest my 11-year-old son.

Then the light bulb went off – what about the day after, which would be Friday, July 13th?!

My immediate thought, having been his age during the 1980s, was Jason, Freddie, Chucky – how about an 80s party! Of course with younger children, we wouldnt make it scary. But the scary trio from the 1980s were my muses.

The five days leading up to the party, my son requested that we not listen to any music past 1989. That wasnt such a difficult task for us, but there are some B-side gems out there that weve all forgotten about, that will make you question your entire childhood. We also prepped by watching lots of music videos, which can only be found on YouTube. Remember music videos? Is there still a channel for that?

Theres a lot to a decade, ten years to be precise. Movies, music, cultural events, historic events – some I vividly remember – the Berlin Wall, Mary Lou Retton, unmarked white vans, the 1984 New Orleans World Fairso many uplifting moments. But as an adult, I know now some of the negative moments during that decade, that I was too young to comprehend, or were glossed over by childhood memories. I know my children will look back to the decade of their youth and learn of the negative and troublesome events – my oldest is already much too aware. As parents, at some point, we have to have those conversations about the world around us and do our best to let our children develop their own opinions and thoughts about current events. My husband and I are proud that our oldest son is not only tuned in but also shows compassion to what is happening in the world around us.

But you know, sometimes, with all the chaos in the world, and our own parental responsibilities, jobs, boards, PTOs, IEPs, bills, etcits nice to escape to our youth, with our own youth, and Fight for Your Right to Party.

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Growing up in North Mississippi, Heather often read of the Spanish moss that swayed in with the warm gulf breeze from enchanting live oaks, as well as the delectable seafood that described the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Having never visited the area, it was fate that she met a handsome co-ed from Biloxi while in college. Soon she not only fell in love with him but all things Gulf Coast. Graduating from the University of Mississippi with a degree in journalism, Heather and her husband briefly moved to Washington, D.C, before returning to Mississippi with stops in Oxford and Jackson. Eventually they settled in Ocean Springs where they raise their three children and two dogs. Heather began her journalism career designing and writing for the Daily Mississippian at the University of Mississippi. She worked professionally in media and public relations until her first son was born. While raising her three children, Heather has worked as a freelance writer and photographer for various publications and most recently began a food blog called The Southern Diner. As a southerner, there's nothing Heather loves more than feeding family and friends, all while telling a good story. Sometimes a certain dish will evoke a memory of her childhood, or a meal will reveal a humorous story from a friend. Bottom line, food is entertaining, and Heather likes to share her adventures in cooking and eating with loved ones. In addition to being a mom, Heather is also president of Pecan Park Elementary PTO, board secretary for the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, life member of Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi-Ocean Springs and member of Les Masquees.