How to Throw an Old Fashioned/”Retro” Birthday Party
Recently, I have seen a lot of people throwing “Retro” Birthday parties. Being an arbitrary term, “Retro” can be something referring to a party in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s ,or 90’s…it just depends on the age of the person having the birthday (or in some cases, the age of their parents). The one thing that seems to be consistent is that “Retro” almost always means low-tech and homemade (which of course appeals to me).
My daughter is turning 4 in September and I have been busy planning her birthday party. September is the start of a new school year and since she only goes to school 2 days a week, we won’t have much of a chance to get to know her “friends” and their families prior to her birthday. So, I tried to come up with a party that facilitates talking, laughing, and playing with people you are just getting to know…sounds like the perfect opportunity for an old fashioned “retro” birthday party!
With this theme, the sky is the limit – my original idea was to have a sock hop with records, a soda fountain, poodle skirts, and dancing – there are a million cute ideas on Pinterest and I am kind of mourning not following through with it (stay tuned for future party posts – I may use this idea for another party in the future). In the end, I decided to focus on something I could easily set up at a park near my daughter’s school – something that didn’t take too much time to plan at the beginning of the busy school year and something laid back and fun – like a birthday party from my childhood.
Here’s what I decided to do:
Theme: Rainbows! my daughter would really like another Minion party. She has been obsessed with Minions since she was 18 months old but I am desperate for a change. I think Rainbows are cute and simple and perfect for preschoolers.
Invitations: I know “retro” does not usually mean online invitations but to make sure everyone gets the invitations and for attendance tracking, I think online invites are the way to go. The key here is simple and maybe a little old fashioned. I personally like this one from Punchbowl. It looks like it could be a homemade paper invite and is cute and simple. There are tons of others that you can choose from or make to fit your theme on evite, paperless post, etc.
- White 12×12 Pop-up Canopy Tent
- 6 foot Folding Table
- 12 Potato Sacks (you can request more for an additional fee)
- Tug of War Rope
- Giant Jenga
It’s such a great deal and renting the bundle means so much of the party is done for you!
To the bundle, I am adding:
Party Games: I love games, especially the old fashioned party games, so in addition to Tug-of-war, Jenga, Potato Sack Races, and Egg and Spoon Races, we are going to play:
- Hot Potato – who doesn’t love a game that only requires a potato to play?
- Duck Duck Goose – or a game that requires nothing but kids?
- Pin the tail on the donkey (or the cow, or cat, or … whatever) This was a favorite when I was a kid and my kids love it. For our party. we are going to Pin the Pot of Gold on the rainbow – like this. You can just as easily buy one if you don’t want to make it.
Piñata: In our house, “party” means “piñata” and we had pinatas at birthday party when I was a kid so they MUST be retro:) So, we will definitely have a piñata.
- Fruit Skewers organized in a rainbow
- Goldfish butterflies – you can fill these with anything but our kids love goldfish
- Fruit Loop Necklaces – this could even be a craft project if you needed extra activities
- Water bottles with rainbow labels – free printable labels included here
- CUPCAKES – this is a recipe for easy rainbow cupcakes. I am going to write each child’s name on them. This is a great way to create conversation and a great way for kids to learn their classmates names.
Decorations: I am going to go with really simple decorations because we are partying in the park. So, in addition to the piñata, I am sticking to:
- Tablecloth – you can get them on amazon here or at your local party store
- Balloons – I am going to pick up rainbow colored balloons at my local grocery store the day of the party.
Prizes: With all the games, you need some prizes for the winners. If you have ever been anywhere with a kids’ treasure chest, you know that they love cheap bracelets, plastic cameras, tops, slinkys, etc. – you can get any of that at oriental trading for very little money. I am going to go with a selection of rainbow candy – skittles, lifesavers, M&M’s, etc.
Party Favors: Personally, I like party favors you can eat so you aren’t collecting more little pieces of junk. My favorite favors are cookies from my friend Megan at Junebug & Moo. She can make anything, including cute rainbow cookies!
As you can see, throwing a Retro Birthday Party can be easy, inexpensive and a lot of fun. I would love to hear your ideas and see pictures of your parties as you put them together and create your own amazing party experiences. Happy Partying!