Broke Girl's Guide: Throw an '80s Bash on a Budget!

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(Be a Party Smarty. Broke Girl's Guide bloggers Erin Bunch and Michelle Vick show you how!)

While it may be true that girls just want to have fun, it can be expensive to throw parties the way we like to throw parties. Luckily, we've spent a lot of time coming up with solutions for this particular dilemma, and today we'd like to impart our soiree savvy on aspiring (broke) hostesses everywhere.

To start with, we love themed parties, as it's easier to go cheap when you're actually aiming for a bit of cheesiness. Our favorite theme? The '80s, naturally.



Here are a few tips for throwing an '80s-themed bash that any Ridgemont High fan would be thrilled to attend:

1. Costumes: Requiring costumes is a totally free (to you) way to make the party instantly feel more fun and festive. You may also want to have a few props on hand for those non-joiners who don't dress up, as being around non-costumed people makes costumed people feel like idiots. We recommend hitting up your local thrift store in search of some fingerless gloves. You can also buy scrunchies for cheap or legwarmers from Target for under $10. If all else fails, we have two words for you: blue eyeshadow!

2. Invitations: Since we're no longer actually in the '80s, you can save a lot of money on postage by using email to send your invitations. We like this "Totally '80's" template from Evite, or this RayBan template from Paperless Post.

3. Ambiance: A little '80s music goes a long way in terms of getting people in the mood to party like it's the year they were born. Check out our '80's playlist for inspiration. You can also have popular '80s films playing silently on your TV(s) or, to go the extra mile, you can rent a projector for fairly cheap (under $75) and play films on the walls of your apartment/home. We're especially fond of The Breakfast Club, Raging Bull, Back to the Future, ET, Raiders of the Lost Arc, The Shining, The Princess Bride, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, When Harry Met Sally, etc.

4. Refreshments: The food you serve should be in keeping with the theme, which is great since the most memorable food fads generally revolve around cheap (and well-marketed!) snacks. For your '80s party, we suggest putting out things like Cool Ranch Doritos, Tab Cola, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Capri Sun. You can also serve baby quiche, which is cheap & easy to make and was popular in the '80s, Ramen Noodles (seriously!) with a twist, and/or anything involving ranch dressing. As far as cocktails go, wine coolers are cheap and era-appropriate, though we also suggest making signature cocktails with funny, '80s-era names. Take your cues from New York's Culture Club, which offers drinks with names such as "Ronald Reagan," "Ghostbuster," and "Madonna."

5. Decorations: Bright balloons are your friend. Go wild with them -- as demonstrated here -- for an '80s prom look. We also suggest grabbing some '80s movie posters and/or printing off some awesome '80s Tiger Beat Magazine covers, like this one. You should further accessorize using trinkets and toys from the '80s, which you can find at local flea markets and garage sales (or, if you're an '80s baby, your parents' house). Examples include Popples, Care Bears, Glo Worms, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Micro Machines. Another easy thing to throw on tables for added decor is '80s-era candy, which you can also use for party favors (as outlined below).

6. Activities: It might be fun to incorporate some activities that were popular in the '80s into your night. For example, if your party is in the summer time, why not grab a Slip 'n' Slide and let people go crazy, '80s style, on the front lawn? You could also offer throwback games such as Hungry Hungry Hippo, Twister, or a Ouija Board. Whenever possible, we suggest borrowing these or ferreting them away from your childhood home or the childhood home of your favorite '80s baby. Otherwise, try your local drugstore before somewhere like Toys 'R Us as they'll usually offer these types of toys at cheaper prices. Extra points for anyone who brings an Atari to their party.

7. Party Favors: You don't have to offer party favors, but they are a fun way to ensure that everyone remembers your party for years (okay, days) to come. For this particular party we suggest gifting something like Slinkys or Rubix Cube keychains. You could also set up an '80s candy bar featuring old favorites like Pop Rocks, Jawbreakers, Nerds, Bottle Caps, candy cigarettes, etc., and let your guests fill bags full of goodies as they go. The 99 Cent store usually has a pretty decent candy selection (Care Bear gummies!).

FOR MORE TIPS ON BEING FABULOUS AND TRENDY ON A TIGHT BUDGET, CHECK OUT BROKEGIRLSGUIDE.COM.

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