I haven’t had a birthday party in 20 years, but this year seemed like a good time to get friends together for a joint party to celebrate Steve and my birthdays. Really, it all came out of my recent discovery of Mad Men (yes, I am late to the game but twice as devoted to make up for it), and the party seemed like a perfect excuse to dress up in fun 50s and 60s garb while swilling yummy cocktails with our nearest and dearest.
Are you planning a 50s/60s-era Mad Men party? What do you have in mind? Here are some of the props and ideas I can’t wait to try out. (Update: check out the new posts on the Mad Men menu and party wrap-up!)
For guys, a suit with a skinny tie will look very dapper. Maybe a fedora?
Girls, the ideas are endless. You can go elegant late 50s or mod 60s. I see 50s- and 60s- inspired styles almost everywhere these days, but some specialty sources you’ll have fun browsing are ModCloth, Etsy, and eBay. Don’t forget your local thrift and consignment stores, too!
I’m still going through my closet for the perfect dress(es!) to accessorize with some pearls or this vintage rhinestone necklace:
Decor and atmosphere
I plan to set the scene with accessories like this old typewriter I found at an antiques store. I think it predates the 60s, but it still creates a great atmosphere. The typewriter needs a new ribbon – perhaps I can call UNderhill 3-2261 for service, as the sticker suggests?
And of course, a fabulous bar is a must. I’m putting together a little collection of Dorothy Thorpe silver-rimmed barware, including roly poly glasses that look like them came straight out of Don Draper’s office.
I considered getting a chip and dip dish, like the one Pete and Trudy Campbell got as a wedding gift, but I didn’t really want to spend money on something so specific, so I’m going to fake it with a bowl and platter.
If time permits, I’d like to make up some mock Lucky Strike cigarette boxes filled with something – chocolates, bread sticks, pretzels, candy cigarettes?
Music playlist – some Jazz and blues classics, Beatles, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Bob Dylan, Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel.
Since this is a big birthday for both of us, I’m also considering doing a slide show – inspired by the Kodak carousel – maybe including some “Instagram”s of recent pictures.
I’ve also started printing posters to frame for products that Sterling Cooper worked on, such as:
- Lucky Strike
- Right Guard – aerosol can
- Menken’s department store
- Secor laxative
- Liberty Capital – executive account
- Belle Jolie lipstick
- Mohawk Airlines
- Patio cola
- Heinz – baked beans
- Sugarberry hams
- Kodak carousel
- Pepsi snoball
This is a tough one. What are some retro dishes that people would actually want to eat? Waldorf salad, quiche, shrimp cocktail? We’re also thinking about some classic dishes to make for fun – I want to make a Jell-o salad, and Steve is talking about Beef Wellington.
For drinks, cocktails of all kinds, including Don Draper’s Old Fashioned, Betty’s Mint Juleps, martinis, and maybe a punch bowl. Another fun addition would be some Heinekens, which were also featured in the show.
We’ll have plenty of fun just hanging out together, but I’d also like to put out some vintage board games – Scrabble, Monopoly, Yahtzhee, Farkle and some games Steve picked up at the neighborhood rummage sale last year – and maybe set up a card table.
Send any more ideas our way. Can’t wait to show you what we put together!