Grit, Grunge, and Good Times: Master the Art of Hosting a 90s Grunge Themed Party

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Last Updated on August 18, 2023

The 90s decade left us with many memorable things, didn’t it?

Some of my absolute favorite items from back in the day are flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and weathered t-shirts. Together with shaggy hair, bangs, and the always-ready black eyeliner, they were kind of my uniform for a while there.

Did you guess it already?

Ding, ding, ding! We got a winner! I was deep into grunge style back then. And for good reason, after all, nothing says the 90s like grunge style! Am I right?

So, if you’re looking to throw a most amazing reunion, why not go with a 90s grunge theme party? I have nothing against pop or other popular themes… In fact, you can check out other 90s party decoration ideas here. But, if you want a party like no other, that transports your pals back in time to the gritty sound of Nirvana… Get them ripping and burning their shirts to dress the part and prepare to enjoy a very chill party like you always wanted to!

Here’s my absolute guide of 90s grunge party ideas!

Decorations & Props: A little bit of destruction and a little bit of Picasso

Grunge style is all about things looking worn, weathered, and well, kinda ripped. So, my advice to you is to transform your lair into a grunge haven with a few well-placed decorations like torn curtains, band posters of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Soundgarden. Get your cover off your couch, and show it in all its worn-out glory. Grab a couple bean bags to throw on the corners for an authentic relaxed vibe.

For the best effect, place paper over your walls and get creative with graffiti and drawings. Better yet, leave paints, air sprays, crayons, or whatever you have lying around. I can guarantee your friends will get drawing before the night is done!

Who doesn’t want to scrawl all over the walls without fear of a reprimand? Some might even draw some amazing pics for you to hang on to.

Setting the Mood

Dim lighting is a must to break the ice, especially if you want things to get interesting and to get your friends “in the zone”. How can you achieve that? Lava lamps! They are beyond iconic and there’s a bunch of styles to choose from. Another great option is to hang string lights on the walls. Not Stranger Things style, please. Keep things small and dainty for a better effect.

The Right Attitude

The most important part of a theme party, no matter the inspiration behind it, is the ability to get your friends tuned into the right wavelength (by decorating, setting a great mood, choosing the right music, and so on). If people are not having fun and in the right mindset, there’s literally no chance of getting an amazing night out of it…

This is why among my 90s grunge party ideas, so many point towards putting everyone in the right mood. What do I even mean? Let me explain this a bit better… If you’re going to be throwing a grunge party, you can’t go about worrying that someone will spill beer on your white fluffy carpet or get a little paint on your super expensive couch. The spirit of grunge is precisely that, to not have a care in the world and to express yourself through your surroundings.

My advice? Remove troublesome items that can be damaged from the premises. Set up a safe place in your home, maybe a locked room, or just keep everyone contained in a basement or a large living room, veranda, or whatever. The important part of this is to not be worrying about damage to your home or things and to be able to enjoy painting over the cardboard walls without a care in the world. Maybe even painting over your friends’ clothing, who knows? Get drinking, and stop worrying! That’s the main thing!

Dress Code

Besides the mindset, dressing up for the party is key to getting psyched up! Before we even discuss the dress code, let’s get something straight. If you want your friends to dress the part, you need to let them know beforehand. Queue in the 90s grunge party flyer, a key component of a well-planned rendezvous.

I can almost hear you thinking you are not a graphic designer, so a text will do. Well, yeah. That might be enough, but you can also get a template in Canva done pretty quickly and it will look ten times better. It will only take a moment, and it’s bound to make a very different impression.

If you send a flyer, your friends will know that you are really prepping the s*** out of this party, leaving no stones unturned and all that jazz. Don’t forget to include the key information, apart from making it pretty.

True story, I recently sent out a flyer for my own birthday and forgot to write down the time for the party… When someone asked me about the time I facepalmed myself so hard! So, remember to include the venue, address, proper how-to-get-there instructions, the time, the dress code, and whatever else you feel everyone should know. Like to bring snacks, or a drink or whatever!

Now, let’s talk about what can be considered 90s grunge party fashion. For men, grunge is all about flannel shirts (preferably black and red), ripped jeans, and combat boots (like Doc Martens!), complemented by a beanie or a vintage cap. Extra points if it’s intervened, weathered, or drawn on.

Women can opt for a babydoll dress (cotton, satin or tartan prints are my own favorites), ripped tights (if it’s cold my favorite trick is to use skin-colored tights underneath and a black one ripped on top!), paired with platform shoes (platform combat boots are cool too!).

Remember to accessorize with chokers and dust off your favorite (and always a classic) leather jacket to complete the look. And if you’re lacking in the leather jacket department, stealing a leather jacket from your boyfriend, friend, or father is a great idea, plus the extra baggy look is super hot!

Playlist

What would a 90s grunge party be without its proper playlist? Get the perfect playlist by compiling a list of all your favorite classics and don’t forget to add your friends’ favorite tunes too.

The goal is to transport everyone straight back to the 90s and keep the hooked with sing along tunes that they all know. Don’t forget everyone’s favorites like “Smells like teen spirit” by Nirvana, “Black” by Pearl Jam, or “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog. The music will be key to the party, and rightfully so. Don’t try to upstage it, the energy of the party depends on it!

Games

Sometimes, if things are not getting kick-started fast enough, a great icebreaker is the only thing standing between a successful party and a total bust! Plus, no 90s grunge theme party is complete without a couple of games to keep your guests entertained and help break the ice of those awkward first moments when people are starting to arrive.

Karaoke is always a must, and a very easy game to align with the general theme. Some other 90s games that come to mind are Twister or Truth or Dare. If you are not feeling creative about it, you can always rely on the classic trivia game “90s Lyric Challenge”. A very easy to play card game that is all about remembering trivia about the music of the era, grunge included. This will get everyone thinking about the good old days and, most importantly about the music! Perfect to get them in the mood for some 90s dancing.

Food and Drinks

Last, but not least… Let’s talk about what you all will be drinking and eating. If you are thinking of the 90s, getting snacks from back in the day is pretty easy. Just check out this article for all the best snacks and place them all on a charcuterie board for your guests to enjoy. You can also do a free serving DIY burger bar with tons of toppings to choose from or offer varied pizza slices. I vote for the last one, just because it seems to be the absolute most chill option.

To sum it all up… Throwing a 90s grunge party is the perfect chance to relive an amazing era and spend all night chilling with your friends and enjoying the good music. Don’t forget to curate your decorations carefully to set the right mood and dress the part!

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Lorena Lombardo
Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!