Event Decor Takes Guests Back to the 1980’s

Remember back in the 1980’s when times were simpler? Our biggest dilemma was trying to not get our freshly-permed hair wet or remembering to rewind the VHS tape before returning it to our local Blockbuster.

It’s hard not to miss those days right now!

A few weeks ago, I got to go back to the 1980’s for just one night and it was like, totally tubular, dude!

For those too young to know the lingo – that means “on fleek” or “cool.”

Frankly, I’m still slightly stuck in 1980’s mode after chairing the decorations committee for the annual dinner auction at my son’s school. The theme was “Back to the Future”  and I had the time of my life (see what I did there) putting all this together.

I mean really, did we even appreciate that decade while we were living it? The bright neon colors! The big hair! The amazing rock ballads! See, there I go again….it’s just more fun in the 1980’s!

My son is a kindergartener at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Belleville. We are a small private school with no government funding. We rely on donations from the parents, parishioners and community members. Every year we hold a variety of fundraisers but this is our biggest; a dinner and auction giving parents a night out, a reason to get dressed up and an opportunity to support our wonderful school.

Typically this event is hosted by the third and fourth grade parents but, well, when you’re an interior designer you MAY be asked to help beginning when your kid is in pre-k!

I was happy to join the decorations committee last year, then at the last minute the committee chair got called into work and I had to step up and pull off her vision. Everything turned out beautifully and I really enjoyed it, so here I am, committee chair.

I spent the last few months dreaming of all things 1980’s – collecting old cassette tapes and spray painting them bright colors and purchasing every piece of poster board from Dollar Tree in a 20-mile radius!

Then, the committee of nearly 15 people spent four days creating, decorating and living on a prayer (I just can’t stop!) to transform our school gym into something out of a John Hughes movie.

Since this is a school event, we enlisted the help of the fifth-eighth graders. They made Pac Man-shaped cut outs to cover two walls and constructed Rubik’s cube centerpieces. We were so happy to give the millenials a taste of this decade!

Paper plates were attached to the walls around the bathrooms to look like Tetris pieces, the mirrors in the bathrooms were framed in bright neon and movie posters from the 80’s hung on the walls.

We turned the bar into a giant boombox.

One area I knew would need extra attention is the cold air return with a big vent over the stage. This is where we held the live auction and I knew I had to make it look better. I enlisted a retired art teacher, got her some drop cloths and she made the most amazing graffiti piece!  But then we had to hang it.

I asked my dad for three 2x4s with eye bolts on the top to attach drop cloths. I climbed up the extension ladder, shaking the whole time but got it up! As far as I know it’s still there and I really kind of hope it stays for a while! It’s so cool!


Slinkies hung from the ceiling leading guests down the hallways to the silent auction. We made a spot for guests to snap a pic in their 1980’s attire…and they did not disappoint!

Attendees came dressed as everyone from Run DMC and the Goonies clan to Salt-N-Pepa and Robert Palmer with the “Addicted to Love” girls. The Karate Kid was there and even J.R. Ewing from Dallas made an appearance! Pretty much everyone dressed up, which just made the event even more fun.

The event was a great success. The 220 guests raised almost $70,000 for our school. With the event being held on Leap Day, we just couldn’t resist taking it back to the fun times of the 1980’s. And it sure was a blast!

As we were executing the event, we had no idea that our school would soon close for a few weeks. Looking back, I’m even more thankful for the evening spent socializing with other parents and friends. We are missing our school community which feels like family. We can’t wait to get back to normal!