The point of a tacky theme party is to be as tasteless as you dare and have a great time. Tacky parties are fun because they are so worry-free. Because you are trying to be deliberately tasteless, there aren’t too many things that can go wrong. Start planning a few weeks in advance so that you can hit the thrift shops for items you don’t already have.
Send out tacky invitations. Spend as little money on these as you can. Make them from artwork clipped from old greeting cards and printer paper that has been used on one side. Paste a greeting card picture onto the clean side of a piece of paper. Write the party invitation on the paper in pink ink pen. Request an RSVP and also write a note at the bottom requesting gifts for the host (you). Make it even more tasteless by specifying that cash is preferred.
Make a CD with the most tasteless music you can download. Stick with one genre if you prefer, but crossing over is even tackier. You may have your own cheesy favorites. But if you don’t, include recordings like “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon, “Take a Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves, “Get Outta My Dreams and Into My Car” by Billie Ocean, “You Be Illin’” by Run-DMC, “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett and anything by 60s bubblegum group the Archies.
Plan the menu. Purchase wine in a box, good, cheap beer and house brand soda. A sherbet punch spiked with cheap champagne is also an option. Tacky food is tricky because you want people to eat, particularly if they will be consuming alcohol. Buy pre-packaged foods that people love like cheese curls and M&Ms. Leave them in the bag to up the tacky factor or put them in crystal-like glass bowls. If cooking is your thing, include chili dogs using canned chili, cocktail wienies in barbecue sauce, or macaroni and cheese from a box. Throw in a few spray cans of "cheese" and a box of sugary cereal marketed to children. Make peanut butter and grape jelly finger sandwiches on cheap white bread.
Plan your wardrobe. Tacky, large Hawaiian prints fit the bill for guys. Unbutton the shirt down to mid chest and wear puka shell necklaces and chunky fake gold chains. Alternatively, you can purchase a short-sleeved dress shirt in the thrift shop. While you’re in the thrift shop, you may be able to find a pair of white shoes. If not, wear sneakers with black dress socks. Ladies can don anything that is too tight, too short, or too young. For example, knee socks can transform an otherwise respectable skirt into a tasteless travesty. Forget to remove a couple of large, pink sponge rollers from the back of your head and layer on bright blue eye shadow. Fuzzy slippers are perfect footwear.
Use childish decorations. Go crazy with crepe paper and tack multicolored balloons on every surface. Set up card tables and cover them with paper tablecloths. Styrofoam cups would be the epitome of tastelessness, but consider the environment. Instead, use jars, plastic giveaway cups and old chipped mugs you find at the thrift store. String multicolored holiday lights around the windows and doors. Buy a fluffy toilet seat lid and tank cover in pink or yellow.
- Recycle, repurpose or donate items you no longer need after the party is over.
- Use care when borrowing items for a tacky theme party. You want to make sure you do not offend friends and family members.
Pamela Fay has been a business writer for more than 15 years, with work appearing in publications such as "Legal Times." She has also worked in the consulting arena since the 1990s, specializing in leadership development, human resources, change management and diversity. Fay holds an M.B.A. from Dartmouth College.