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Totally Lit Parties: SWEET VALLEY HIGH

Throw a back-to-school bash inspired by the Wakefield twins!

Totally Lit Parties: SWEET VALLEY HIGH

Welcome back to Totally Lit Parties, a feature in which Corrie shows you how to throw YA-themed parties!

It's back-to-school time, which means undergoing amazing transformations, selecting the perfect outfit, stringing along boys, and pretending to be your twin sister when you get arrested! Wait, that doesn't sound like my normal back-to-school. It must be time to go back to my favorite high school soap opera: Sweet Valley High!


For my invitations, I recreated the iconic covers of these books by finding an existing cover, slapping my face on top of the poor cover model, and then changing the title and tag line to better suit my needs. My party has a prom theme, so I made my title a cheesy take on that. I printed mine on cardstock with additional party details on the back, but they would also make great e-vites.

What to Wear

These books have lots of great options for clothes. Of course, with my prom theme, I wanted all the dated formal wear, but you might want something a little more casual. Here are some gems from the first 9 books alone: 

•  New tuxedo shirt with matching pants and little bow tie

•  Pink angora sweater

•  Ribbed burgundy sweater dress

•  Tight black velvet jeans, sparkly pink leg warmers, purple satin blouse

•  Bright blue, skin-hugging mini-dress and matching tights

•  Well-worn cords and sweater

•  Jeans, blue oxford shirt, and dark blue blazer

•  Black and white satin jumpsuit with spaghetti straps

•  “wet look” two-piece swimsuit

Feel free to modify all clothing tags to proclaim that you’re a “perfect size 6.” You can also spend the evening reminding everyone that you are “five foot six on the button.”


•  Soapy: The Sweet Valley High series is basically one giant soap opera. Get your fill of drama by enjoying a few episodes of your favorite soap. While classics like General Hospital are excellent choices, Riverdale and Degrassi will provide the teen angst that SVH captures.

•  Lip Gloss: The books are peppered with the girls putting on lip gloss, my personal favorite being Jessica’s Plum Passion. Keep your lips looking fabulous by making your own lip gloss. There are lots of DIY options out there, but if you collected all the Lip Smacker flavors you could like I did, you should check out this Nutella lip balm DIY tutorial.

•  I Knew Them Before...: The Droids are the hot band at SVH, playing all the parties and dances. Check your paper for local bands, and take in a show before they hit it big.

•  Bring it On: Jessica is co-captain of the cheer squad, which she takes very seriously. Pay homage to one of the few things she sticks with by learning and performing a cheer routine. (I suggest reenacting any of the ones from Bring It On.)

•  Dance-Off: Jessica is a fabulous dancer, but doesn’t know how to deal when her partner isn’t as good as her, or someone else is just as talented. Throw your own dance contest to see who has the best

•  Charming: Jessica and Elizabeth are constantly being confused for one another, which is something that often happens to drinks at parties. (I never remember which one is mine.) Combat this with a quick wine charm craft. Cut circles out of a plastic folder, and punch a hole near the endge of the circle. Use markers to design your personalized charm, and tie it to your glass with string.

•  Food Fight: Jessica breaks up with the controlling and cheating Bruce in a very public way; she throws pizza in his face and soda on his head at his birthday party. Hopefully, you’re not getting even with someone, but a food fight can be really satisfying. Set it up outside, preferably with a hose nearby for cleanup, with foods like instant mashed potatoes, icing, and soda, and settle in for a messy time!

•  Eyes and Ears: Elizabeth writes a weekly gossip column for the school paper. Have everyone submit juicy gossip about themselves without including their names. The group will then try to guess who each awesome tidbit belongs to.

•  Back to School: Elizabeth is always organized. And so can you, with your own stylish pencil box. Back-to-school sales mean you can pick one up cheaply (mine was $0.59). I used washi tape to decorate, but paint, collaging, and permanent marker are all great alternatives. Guests can also bring supplies to share for mixing and matching. Your boxes don’t need to be for school supplies, either; mine ended up as a first aid kit in the bathroom.

Tasty Business and Boozy Beverages

Dairi Burger is THE after-school destination for a bite and the latest gossip, so shakes, burgers, fries, and chili dogs (Elizabeth's favorite) are all excellent options. However, I would probably avoid recreating the hot clam special. Even Liz couldn’t figure out how to say something nice about it.

For the most part, SVH keeps the teen parties tame when it comes to drinking. However, in Book 1, Jessica goes out with Rick Anderson to a seedy bar, and he orders them boilermakers (beer with a shot of whiskey). You can also spice up your milkshakes with some alcohol; I love using cake vodka to add some punch.

Here's a special milkshake I made in honor of the Wakefield twins. Its layers represent all the important features we get told time and time again: perfectly tan (chai), blue-green eyes (vanilla with food coloring), and blonde hair (honey mango). If you’re terrible at layering (like I am), it’s okay! When it melts together, it looks like a beach, which is also totally appropriate.

Do you have any other Sweet Valley High-themed party ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Corrie Golando lives in Lafayette, IN, with her husband and two greyhounds.  She spent 10 years as a middle school/high school English teacher, and her students gave her a love for all things YA.  When she's not working at the high school library, she is writing fanfiction and doing something crafty.  She has a love of all things coated in glitter, much to her husband's horror.