Help me throw a cool Ms. Pac-Man party for 30-something suburbanites!
February 27, 2013 10:38 AM   Subscribe

For a charity auction, my family "donated" a Ms. Pac-Man party for 16 people. The winners are 8 couples in their mid- to late 30s who each paid a decent bit of money to come to our house and be entertained for a night. We have an old-school Ms. Pac-Man cocktail table and a tournament will be the centerpiece, but I want to put on a great party and give these good people their money's worth. What great ideas - whether general grown-up party ideas or specific Ms. Pac-Man ones - will make that happen? My budget is not unlimited but assume it is large.

I recognize that I may be beanplating this, but I do not have much experience throwing a party for grown-ups (and particularly where the attendees have paid for an invite). Our attendees are all friends of ours but do not necessarily know each other. They are all fun people and I think will be up for the inherent silliness of the event. We all live in the same small community.

We are already planning to have pizza - we originally thought maybe Pizza Hut for nostalgic purposes but are thinking maybe quality trumps nostalgia - and to get trophies for each participant. Obviously we will have drinks and snacks. But I am hoping there are some "can't miss" things to include or some Pac-Man specific trinkets or touches that might make it fun. "Don't do this" ideas are welcome too.
posted by Duluth?! I Hardly Know Her! to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This sounds like so much fun!

Remove slices from each pizza pie to make it look like Pac-Man and arrange a topping at the top to make it look like Ms. Pac-Man's bow. Definitely choose "good pizza" over nostalgia. If you go with a small non-chain pizza parlor, they may even prepare them that way for you if you ask.

Have cherries, strawberries, oranges, pretzels, apples, pears and bananas in small bowls all over the place, with little signs with their appropriate point values.

Color-coordinate your family to dress like the ghosts (a full ghost costume may be a bit much.)
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on February 27, 2013 [13 favorites]

You gotta play "Pac Man Fever" (Buckner and Garcia) at some point, or many points, throughout the night.
posted by amicamentis at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can have a cookie, a cupcake, or even a small round cake -- appropriately decorated -- in a maze of yellow M&Ms.

Go for good pizza.
posted by jeather at 10:48 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

This sounds like so much fun!

Get good quality pizza. Anyone nostalgic for Pizza Hut can order it (yuk!)

Have salad and maybe an antipasto plate for those who are gluten intolerant (like me!)

Make it an 80's themed party, dress in 80's clothes (conveniently and hideously back in style), play 80's movies on a TV somewhere, and/or have the 80's channel playing on Sirrius/XM.

I'd do something cool for dessert, a sundae bar, a Ms. Pac-Man cake and ice cream, Cupcakes with all the characters.

Here are some neat buttons for favors.

Have some neat prizes for winners, I find gift cards to be the best.

Perhaps offer other prizes. Best cabbage-patch or electric slide, best outfit, etc.

Vintage cocktails can be fun, wine coolers, screwdrivers, etc.

I love this idea!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:49 AM on February 27, 2013

Try to keep in mind that it's a charity auction: people haven't really paid a lot of money so they can go to your party. People have donated a lot of money to charity and are going to a party as a fun way to celebrate it. You weren't selling tickets on the street, they're not going to be looking to get their money's worth or anything. It'll be fun. Relax.
posted by Jairus at 10:52 AM on February 27, 2013

It would be really cool if you could construct a kind of "Ms Pac Man Thunderdome" with disco lights / fog machine / PA System.
posted by hellojed at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

A while back some game designers in New York played a "real-life" version of Pac-man called Pac-Manhattan. Web site and video here. I don't know how game-y or athletic your gang is, but you could try it yourself! Or at least show the video at your party.
posted by Ollie at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2013

A friend of mine had her 30th birthday at a vintage arcade, and had one large round cake decorated to be Pac-Man, with white cupcakes to represent the dots. Then she had goodie bags for all of us that she'd mocked up to represent the ghosts.
posted by librarianamy at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2013

Show the Futurama episode (well, it's one segment in an enthology episode) where Fry asks what life would be like if it were more like a video game. Pac-Man features in it briefly, Ms. Pac-Man even more briefly, and the rest of the video game references are nicely retro.
posted by kindall at 10:59 AM on February 27, 2013

I thought of having custom arcade tokens made as memorabilia but it looks like you'd need to order 5000 and it would be upwards of $800 including the art charges.

But it turns out you can get custom chocolate coins (gelt) made for a much more reasonable price, e.g. 500 coins for $130. So you could create chocolate arcade tokens for your party that people could take home to remember it for a few days/weeks as they nibble on them.

I priced out coins at which I found using a Google search (I have no experience with them). They allow custom text and you can upload an image to be embossed on the reverse side, so you could do the MS PACMAN logo.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:02 AM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

You could make jello (or jello shots!) in the shape of Ms. Pacman and the ghosts.
posted by punchtothehead at 11:02 AM on February 27, 2013

Oh, if you want something to play in the background that won't distract people, here is footage of the Ms. Pac-Man factory you can play on loop.
posted by griphus at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would arrange mini-marshmallows on square paper plates in the patterns of the Ms. Pac-Man screens and let people eat them up. Maybe marshmallow Peep ghosts in the middle.
posted by xingcat at 11:06 AM on February 27, 2013

Get some yellow stickers "power dots!" and put them on the floor of your house to mark out the layout. This might be a funny way to show people where the restroom is too!
posted by Joh at 11:18 AM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Every 30 minutes or so, turn off the lights and shine a spotlight on a couple as they perform a short skit showing how they met, the chase, and when they had a baby.
posted by bondcliff at 11:19 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

You could encourage everyone to wear giant red hair bows like Ms. Pac Man.
posted by steinwald at 11:21 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have, for a birthday party, made a snack tray with the following:

- Baby Bel brand cheeses cut into Pac Man shapes
- Veggie "ghosts" (radishes, bell peppers, and something else I can't remember - use raisins for eyes)
- The maze edges were constructed out of carrots and celery
- the dots were a combination of raisins and olives.

Doing a Google image search for "pac man food" may yield some additional inspriation.
posted by anastasiav at 11:24 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pinterest search for pac-man yields some good stuff. Cupcakes, cookies, costumes, several different manicure designs, some art you could recreate on your walls with Post-it notes...
posted by clavicle at 11:41 AM on February 27, 2013

How about a signature drink ?

The Ms. Pac-Man:
3 parts pink lemonade
1 part vodka
1 frozen strawberry
posted by mikepop at 11:42 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Some good ideas on pinterest.
posted by haplesschild at 11:45 AM on February 27, 2013

Also set up a table with some art supplies and have a secondary contest for best artistic interpretation of the Pac-World (Ms. Pac-Man, ghost, mazes, fruit, etc.)
posted by mikepop at 11:45 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nothing says 80s like Shutter Shades. Bonus points if you make your players wear them while taking their turns at the Pac.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2013

Remove slices from each pizza pie to make it look like Pac-Man and arrange a topping at the top to make it look like Ms. Pac-Man's bow. Definitely choose "good pizza" over nostalgia. If you go with a small non-chain pizza parlor, they may even prepare them that way for you if you ask.

This is a great idea, but don't ask the pizza place to do it for you. Just ask them to deliver an empty box along with your order, take the slices out yourself, and build another one in the empty box using the pieces you remove.
posted by carsonb at 12:12 PM on February 27, 2013

Ms. Pac Man was introduced in 1982, so here's your playlist for that evening: The Billboard Hot 100 Year-End list for 1982.
posted by jquinby at 12:19 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

You could encourage everyone to wear giant red hair bows like Ms. Pac Man.

Or just make these for everyone as an easy DIY. Make big fabric or paper bows and glue or sew them to plastic headbands (cheap at the drugstore or dollar store).

And do a photo booth!
posted by mochapickle at 12:21 PM on February 27, 2013

...and don't forget the deely boppers.
posted by jquinby at 12:22 PM on February 27, 2013

Since you know everybody who is coming, why not get some feedback from them? Figure out what tastes they have in common before expending lots of energy. Send out a survey email or just call them up one at a time. Find out what they want to drink, eat, ask about any allergies, party games they prefer, music they like/hate etc. Sure beats guessing.

Going to play music? Have everybody send you 10 songs they would like on the playlist, mix em up, and let people harass each other about their music choices. Make it easy for guests to opt to skip a song should something come on they really don't like.

Have smokers and non-smokers coming? Get set up to accommodate both.

What's the prize for winning the tourney? It shouldn't be anything expensive - silly and fun works just as well, if not better. Something that can be worn and looks ridiculous is always fun. Set it out lavishly, as if it were priceless and hype it up. After a few drinks people can get damn competitive over something silly. Go peruse your local dollar store. Consider making a huge tournament elimination board.

Can you display the game on another screen as well? How many people can see the action on the table at once? If you have no way to output the action directly, a simple webcam mounted over the table could capture the action on screen, as well as the people playing.

Proper lighting can make a huge difference as well. If you make your pac (wo)man decorations out of florescent colors, a couple well placed black lights (black light CFL's work) can really make everything pop and look video gamey. Colored light bulbs are inexpensive. Florescent construction paper could be cut out into ghosts, ms pac man, pellets, fruit, etc and affixed to the walls and ceilings in entertaining ways. Different color florescent bands could be handed out to people to place on their glasses so they don't lose their drinks.

Invite a couple of extra people over to act as designated drivers in case some of your guests get a little too drunk.
posted by Th!nk at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2013

Another possible background video - Junior Kickstart by The Go! Team
posted by twoporedomain at 3:21 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could give out little bags of Pac-Man shaped cookies as party favors to take home.
posted by lakeroon at 4:32 PM on February 27, 2013

Take home baggies should include a box of white tick tacks.

Also this is a perfect opertunity to bake a whole bunch of cupcakes, arrange them in a grid and make the maze out of fondant toppers.
posted by fontophilic at 5:12 PM on February 27, 2013

I've always held that the lyrics of the Talking Heads song "Girlfriend Is Better" are actually in reference to Ms. Pac Man ("I got a girlfriend with bows in her hair") , so you might throw that into your playlist too.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:29 AM on February 28, 2013

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