Whenever my birthday rolls around, I tend to get a little nostalgic. I find myself thinking back to the good old days, to parties of yesteryear, from childhood and teenhood in the late 70s and 80s. Is it me or do some parents today go reeeeallly over the top in planning parties for their kids?
Semi-trucks pull up to their houses full of video games, artsy (read: CRAZY expensive) cakes from bakeries, and theme parties where every little detail matches and matters (I’m looking at you princess tea party with the sterling silver spoons, Wedgwood china, and real linen napkins). What happened to the simple pleasures of free cake, ice cream, and a chance to run around with your friends. There was only one theme to any party I had growing up, regardless of age or venue): pizza.
Here are some 80s birthday party memories that remain, like, totally cool.
What is more 80s than flying around the roller rink in your Jordache jeans while your ribbon barrettes fly in the wind as you round the corner? NOTHING. I had several roller skating birthday parties. I love the memory of speed skating to “Separate Ways” and a slow skate to “Open Arms.” I will always think of roller skating when I hear Journey and Eddy Grant. And “The Stroke” by Billy Squier. Sure, there are a few roller rinks left, and they still do birthday parties, but the hokey pokey just isn’t the same these days. And, they are on roller blades . . .
Here’s the deal with the house party: people would come over to your house to celebrate your birthday. That’s it. Maybe they would dress up a little bit, put on a nice blouse or their shiny shoes. The catering consisted of bowls of Cheetos, cheese pizza, and a cake that your mom made. To keep it festive, you might have balloons and crepe paper- maybe even some pointy hats and paper plates with The Smurfs on them. Happy Birthday! No special entertainment required.
You deserve a break today . . . and you deserve a birthday party too. At McDonald’s! They had the greatest party games – how many Styrofoam burger boxes can you stack before they fall over? Now that’s how you celebrate a birthday.
Do they even do this anymore? Burgers, fries, McDonaldland characters atop your cake? The Grimace creeping you out? A free Happy Meal and a sundae. Then you got to let loose and run around the belly of the Hamburgler or climb up into Officer Big Mac at the PlayPlace (when it looked like this below)? Happy birthday indeed!
Four words: Wonder. Woman. Doll. Cake.
Everything included in the plain ‘ole house party (see above) PLUS a sleepover in the living room! Put on your Garfield nightshirt, grab your stuffed unicorn and lay out your sleeping bag next to your B/F/F. Prepare to watch scary movies on HBO followed by endless MTV all night long. Also prepare to ceremoniously kiss the television whenever you see Joe Elliott sing “Photograph.”
On my 15th birthday, I took a more mature approach to my party. My girlfriends and I were dropped off at the Mission Bell strip mall to go to the movie theatre to see Top Gun. We were kicked out following the infamous volleyball scene for being too loud with all of our catcalling, whistles and general excitement. The Iceman with no shirt on? Happy Birthday, Lori.
Thank you, 80s birthday parties, for the music, the sleepless nights, and the endless supply of puffy Cheetos. And the doll cakes. Thank you most of all for the doll cakes.