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Planning a Retro Birthday Party

Planning a birthday party? Go classic with these ideas from childhood for a retro birthday party. I received compensation from Hood in exchange for writing this post. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Retro Birthday Party
Summer of 1989. My 9th birthday party … complete with the fancy dress, streamers and balloons.

As the warmer months arrive, I can’t help but think back to childhood and the lazy days of summer, which were always kicked off with a birthday party. As a late June baby, my birthday party always happened right as school would end. There’d be invitations, streamers, games — the works.

And, of course, cake too. Those were the days before the cupcake revolution … when most birthday party cakes came with a little Hoodsie cup of ice cream. Good times.

How to Plan a Retro Birthday Party

Recently, as my son and I watched my daughter run and play with her friends at a birthday party held at a nearby farm, I started thinking about the birthday parties of my childhood. The one she was at held some of the same elements — though not all — of the ones I had. Music and dancing, playing outside, a few games.

But most parties these days that my kids go to are more choreographed and often hosted at bounce houses, indoor mini-golf courses and other fun places. They are awesome, and for parents they are easy since someone else handles the flow of the party, the activities, etc.

Still, those birthday parties of childhood were sweet fun — and there seems to be a quiet resurgence of that.

Planning a Retro Birthday Party

Games, Games Games: Forget about renting the bouncy thing and go for classic birthday party games. We’re talking musical chairs, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Hot Potato, clothes pin drops, Simon Says and more. Plan a bunch of games (and have some prizes at the ready!) and then play it by ear which ones — and how many — you do.

Be Flexible: Sure, you have all those games planned. And maybe even a craft too. But consider these things guidelines for keeping the party going. Instead of sticking to a hard and fast schedule, be flexible. If the kids are having a blast with their own version of tag, let them keep playing while you capture a few snapshots.

Turn up the Tunes: Create a special birthday party playlist to play in the background as the kids play, and perhaps the parents mingle (though, parents don’t have to stay). Consider it the mixed tape of 2015 with fun music the kids love.

Decorate a Little: If you want to go full-on retro, use paper streamers (bonus points if you twirl two colors together) to create a festive scene. But you can get the classic feel with a modern touch using balloons and fabric streamers or banners.

Don’t Forget the Food: Instead of a fancy spread, go basic. Fruit kabobs are always a hit. Pigs in a blanket, mini meatballs and chips and dip can be good too. Or make it a cookout with burgers, hot dogs, slaw and more.

Planning a Retro Birthday Party

End with Something Sweet: When the kids reach that tipping point, where the fun and games gets a little raucous, it’s time to pull out the cake (and subtly suggest the end of the party is near) and sing. And, don’t forget the Hoodsie cups: those little chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups (with itty bitty spoons!) too. Hood says they are “guaranteed to make any kid smile, no matter what happens.” But better yet, when you run into the kid who inevitably hates cake (or frosting or singing or whatever), those Hoodsie Cup are a day-saver.

Retro Birthday Party Planning

What’s your favorite childhood birthday party memory? Check out Hood’s Best Birthday Ever Pinterest Board for more ideas.


Wednesday 20th of May 2015

I totally remember those little ice cream cups. Theyhad them at school too.