Are you ready to kick it old school?
And by old school, I mean the epic decade of Air Jordans, flannel, MTV, mom jeans, Lunchables, spiked and bleached hair, Discmans, mood rings, and overalls with one strap down. That’s right. I’m talking about the ’90s.
Even though I was but a wee child during this time, I vividly remember all of these things — I mean, how can you forget these neon windbreakers?
So because the Smoosh crew and most of our friends were born and raised in this era of slap bracelets and Fresh Prince — and because I’m obsessed with planning — we decided to bring the decade back and throw the ’90s party of the century. I teamed up with two of my friends (a quick shout-out to my homey Jon, who hosted the party at his crib, and Phillip, who put together the playlist) and came up with a ton of fun ideas to create an ambiance that was off the chain and SO ’90s. We had straight-up dank decor and dope food that celebrated the best of the decade. It really was the shiznit.
Because it turned out so amazing, I thought I’d share everything we did so you can throw your own bomb-diggity bash. As always, we tried to keep everything budget-friendly (dat cheddar doesn’t grow on trees), so I’ll share all of the shortcuts I took to keep everything low-cost.
Y’all ready for this?
What’s a ’90s party without a bangin’ invite? To commemorate the days of our youth, I decided to make an actual invite— which we then shared via texting and social media (just keepin’ it real). It actually turned out a lot better than I thought it would! I remember I’d always get so excited when I’d get paper invites to my classmates’ birthday parties in the mail. Those were the days. Now all I get is bills, bills, bills...
In the end, the invite wasn’t too hard to create and was super fun to make (I made mine on Microsoft Word, believe it or not). To reflect the times, I tried to make it really colorful, complete with neon zig zags and bold-colored shapes. I also included a cassette tape (what even is that?) and Will Smith because I personally cannot imagine the ’90s without the Fresh Prince.
With the invite done, it was time to come up with a menu. This was the easiest part of our party planning. We ended up serving chips and guacamole/salsa, Hot Pockets, Lunchables, and a few other appetizers from Costco. Jon also bought a bunch of Ring Pops that we scattered all over the table, which was super dope.
Aiight so, real talk, this party wasn’t geared toward the straight-edge. But, as you can see from my previous post about cocktails, I like to experiment and make delicious themed drinks. In the end, I think we came up with some bomb-ass cocktails that were absolutely perfect for our party.
The ’90s-themed cocktail menu we came up with:
- Pop Rock-arita: classic margarita rimmed with Pop Rocks
Blaze It: add blue curacao
Tweak It: add passion fruit
Get Jiggy With It: add mango
- Sour Apple Scrub: vodka, sour apple pucker, lime juice, Sprite
- Hurri-Can You Dig It: classic hurricane
- Tequilling Me Softly: tequila sunrise
- Capri-Sun Shiznit: Capri-Sun and tequila … nuff said
- Damn Skippy: shot of alcohol (bartender’s choice)
- Kickin It Old School: cold beer
Not to brag, but this was all that and a bag of chips.
The decorations for this party were really time-consuming, but that’s because I tried to save money by making everything from scratch with supplies I bought from Dollar Tree. I spent many nights painting and drawing and painting some more, and you know what? It was so worth it. I wouldn’t want to subject you to the same creative pain (though it really was fun for me), so I’m going to list out everything I did, organized by section. Feel free to jack one or all of these for your own parties!
The hallway is the first thing you see when you first enter Jon’s house. To utilize this space, and to help the guests disperse so they weren’t concentrated in one room, I put up poster boards (all from Dollar Tree) with questions about the ’90s like “Who was your ’90s celebrity crush?” or “What’s your fave ’90s TV show?” Each one had markers by them so people could answer questions throughout the night. It was actually super cool seeing what people wrote down. To add additional pops of color to the hallway, I also took mulitcolored CD cases I already had and taped them to the walls using painter’s tape. It was simple, interactive, and CHEAP.
The dining room, which is directly to the left of the front door, became our photo booth. After we moved the dining table and chairs to the side, Jon and Phillip (also one of our contributors) taped up gold-foil fringe curtains and plastic Dollar Tree tablecloths to create the backdrop. For props, Jon bought a bunch of ’90s photo-booth items from Amazon, and I made a Game Boy Color out of poster board and cut out a hole for people to stick their faces through. Last, we laid out a few fun things on the dining table alongside the photo-booth props, like MASH, Ring Pops, and slap bracelets (my favorite!).
The bar became a focal point of sorts, as it was the divider between the kitchen and the dance floor. Jon’s kitchen has a cut-out window with a marbled counter jutting out of the wall, which served as the perfect bar counter. There, we set up a giant cocktail menu so people could order drinks at the window while Shannon and I played bartender. To decorate the bar, I cut up Dollar Tree tablecloths in neon colors and taped them to the window frame to create a curtain. I then got wooden B A R letters from Michaels and painted them gold before securing them to the top of the window with painter’s tape. To finish, I took old CD roms and taped them on the wall in rows, shiny side out. It turned out HELLA sweet. The CDs really transformed the space, and they reflected the lights from the dance floor, which was an awesome effect.
Plus, to make the party a little more legit, I bought those hard plastic cups with the straw built into the side. They were at Dollar Tree and came in packs of 3-4, which was incredible! Because they were so inexpensive, we had everyone write their names on their cups in Sharpies, so they could just reuse the same cup all night. They came in bright colors of hot pink, orange, lime green, and blue — perfect for our theme.
We transformed Jon’s living room into the dance floor, which is fairly spacious and made of tile, so it was easy to clean up. To decorate one wall, I wrote out iconic lyrics from various ’90s songs on strips of paper and taped them up along with brightly colored cutouts that I got from — you guessed it — Dollar Tree. On the opposite wall, I taped up the remaining CD cases to make it more colorful. So, basically, the wall decor cost me $1.
Because this was the main room, we took some far-out ’90s props and placed them around the room to connect with the theme. The first prop was a ’90s cassette tape that I painted on a piece of black poster board. I secured a piece of string to the back and hung it askew over the fireplace, which looked great against the brick. Second, I took a large moving box from Home Depot ($2.38) and made it into a giant Rubik’s Cube that we threw into the corner. To do that, I painted the box black and cut out squares from construction paper from Dollar Tree, which Phillip glued onto the sides. Last, Jon found this inflatable boom box on Amazon that really completed the look we were going for — and it’s reusable!
I basically made the bathroom into a giant Game Boy. I started by making the door look like the Game Boy itself. To do that, I cut out a screen and controls — like the arrows and the A and B buttons — out of poster board and construction paper and taped those onto the door. Inside the bathroom, I taped up printouts of various Nintendo characters that I had colored in, like Mario, Princess Peach, and Donkey Kong. I also printed out a sheet of ’90s slang and pasted it on the walls so guests could educate themselves on proper vocabulary while they, uh, sat on the can. And, for the pièce de résistance, I put a speaker in the cabinet underneath the sink that was synced to my phone’s Nintendo theme-song playlist. That way, people could feel as if they were really inside a video game.
Our last section was the Battle Arena aka the garage. I called it that to go with the video-game/Nintendo theme, as the Game Boy bathroom was located right next to it. Since this was a three-car garage, there was plenty of room to spread out the activities. We were able to set up two long tables for two different games of Beer Pong or Gauchoball (yes, GAUCHOBALL — none of this “Rage Cage” business), and on the other side, we set up a game of Twister. We also dimmed the lights and set up rotating party balls that lit up the room with color, amping up the game atmosphere even more. To finish, we set out another speaker so gamers didn’t have to be left out of the party in the living room.
Finally, the factor that actually defines a ’90s party: the music. Phillip, our contributing photographer, became DJ2White for the night and spent a lot of time curating songs that were released from 1990-1999 (with one or two exceptions). He ended up making two Spotify playlists: 1) the Intro, for when people arrive and are too busy meeting, talking, and taking pictures to dance, and 2) the Dance Party, for when the Capri-Sun Shiznits kick in. He made great selections, and the music really completed the immersive ’90s experience we were going for. If you feel like throwing back, give them a listen.
Whoomp, there it is! In the end, this party was a lot — like A LOT — of work, but I think it’s one of the best (if not the best) party we’ve ever thrown. Everything was on point, from the music and decorations to the menu and ’90s attire (I went as Sporty Spice, and Shannon went as Ginger Spice!). Even though it was hard work, it was totally worth it, and I think everyone had a great time. I can’t wait until our next ’90s party, especially since I already have all the decorations. You know it’s gonna be whack!
What’s your favorite thing from the ’90s? Comment below! If not...
Talk to the hand,