1950s Party Ideas
The 1950s was all about cool. Leather jackets, slick hair, tight jeans, and shiny cars with whitewall tires may be so last century, but the legend of the ’50s still lives on. Many associate the ’50s with swing music, James Dean, and West Side Story. Many things that are still considered “cool” today owe a lot to the first cool cats of the 1950s.
The 1950s is a perfect theme for retro parties. ’50s themed parties are not just for people who lived in the decade; they can also be enjoyed by young people who want to experience the thrill that made a generation. If you want to party back to a time of rebels without a cause, then you should consider a 1950s-themed party for your next gathering or get-together.
Rebels and Rollerskates: Dressing Up 50s Style
The best way to make your party feel like the 1950s all over again is if you get your friends and guests to dress up in retro fashion. Many casual fashion trends today are inspired by the clothing styles of the 1950s. You can announce this twist to your guests through the invitation or the RSVP. Here are some ideas for costumes and fashion themes for a 1950s-themed party:
Fifties Fashion for Men
- Slick, swept-back hair
- Tight v-neck muscle shirts
- Leather or suede jackets
- Blue denim jeans
- Biker boots or hiking boots
Blue Denim Pants
Fifties Fashion for Women
- Floral swing skirts
- A-line dresses
- Stockings and petticoats
- “Pencil-style” outfits with boleros
- Poodle cuts and perm waves
- Roller skates
Ladies wearing petticoats
Rockin’ and Groovin’ to the ’50s
Like many theme parties patterned after a particular decade, music is very important to give your party a true blue retro feel. The ’50s was famous for ushering in some of the most popular music acts of the century, many of whom are still very popular and influential today. Here are some songs and artists you can consider for background music for your retro theme party:
- Buddy Holly: “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be The Day,” “Words of Love”
- Bo Diddley: “Hey, Bo Diddley,” “Say Man,” “Who Do You Love”
- Elvis Presley: “That’s All Right, “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Heartbreak Hotel”
- Paul Anka: “Diana,” “Put Your Head On My Shoulder,” “You Are My Destiny”
- Ella Fitzgerald: “I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues,” “Take the A Train,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
- Johnny Cash: “Jackson,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Cry, Cry, Cry”
Buddy Holly Collection
Elvis Presly Collection
Paul Anka Collection
If you can get your hands on original vinyl LPs of singles from 1950s songwriters and performers, you should play the music on your party. If you can afford it, you can also hire a live big-band to play at the party venue. You can then join in the swingin’ and buggin’ taking place on the dance floor.
One way that you could make your ’50s themed party look like a page off the era is to decorate the party venue with items and memorabilia from the 1950s. Here are some things you can use to decorate the party venue:
- Pictures of ’50s movie idols. The ’50s were a time for popular movie stars that redefined the meaning of the entertainment industry for years to come. For male pop icons, you can add pictures of James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly. For female movie stars, the choices are endless: you can choose from Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Ava Gardner.
- Whitewall tires and chrome wheels. Nothing speaks of the 1950s more than whitewall tires and big shiny chrome wheels. You can place some hubcaps on the wall, and leave some whitewall tires stacked together or propped up against a wall.
- 50s classic car posters. Boys and girls back in the 1950s were obsessed with fast, shiny cars, and decorated their rooms and hangouts with posters of now-legendary automobiles. You can find posters in bookstores, or have them printed out at a print shop or small publisher.
- Vinyl records. To give your party venue a real ’50s theme, you can use vinyl records as a decorative element. Hang some old records like you would do pictures. (Want to know other uses of vinyl records, read Five ways to reuse old vinyl records)
- Patriotic memorabilia. The 1950s was a troubling time for the world, because of the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War. Many people in the 1950s proudly displayed American flags, bald eagle emblems, and other symbols of America. Whenever you’re using these symbols for your party, though, make sure that you’re not offending the political sensibilities of your guests.
Food of the Fifties
One thing no party can do without is food. You need to make sure that all your guests feel satisfied, and at the same time are reminded of the 1950s. You can hire a caterer for the job, but you can also prepare dishes to serve at the party from the comfort of your own kitchen. Here are some ideas on what to serve during a 50s-themed party:
You certainly can’t go wrong with pizza, because it’s easy to prepare and even easier to eat. You can call the pizza parlor for a delivery, or you can make your own pizzas in the kitchen. For that authentic ’50s feel, use thick-crust pizzas as opposed to thin-crust ones. (Learn how to make pasta pizza)
Roast Rib and Roast Chicken
Roasts are easy to cook; you simply marinate them, set them in the oven, set the oven timer, and leave them there. Use herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables to add an extra kick to your roast dishes.
Fifties-Style Milkshakes, Sodas, and Ice Cream
Back in the 1950s, milkshakes and ice cream were popular items served in soda shops. In the movie West Side Story, the lead character of Tony worked in a soda shop in the morning to earn money. You can add that very same appeal by serving up milkshakes and ice cream to your guests. If you have kids in the party, they’ll definitely appreciate the treats.
Another way to make the party venue look like a page from the 1950s is to add soda fountains. You can rent the equipment from party stores or from soda shops at a reasonable cost.
Cold ice cream
If there’s any food that speaks of the 1950s, it has to be fondue. Fondue pots are relatively affordable, and so are the cheeses and chocolates you can use to dip many bite-sized foods in. Here are some foodstuffs you can add to the fondue plates:
- Bread sticks
- Cherry tomatoes
Nobody should leave a party without a token memento to remember the occasion for years. Party favors don’t need to be extremely expensive. Here are some ideas for ’50s-style party favors:
- Monogrammed towels can be custom-made from specialty shops at malls or department stores. Plain white terrycloth towels are perfect for that 50s-style look.
- Sunglasses are affordable, especially aviator glasses with the ’50s look and finish. It’s better to buy sunglasses in bulk to save on costs.
- Wallet chains are the perfect fashion accessory that worked well in the 1950s, and still look great today. If you buy them from gift shops and specialty stores, they can add personalized plastic, steel, or imitation leather tags for you.
With a 1950s-themed party, cool takes a whole new level. With fast cars and swingin’ and rockin’ taking place from the music at the big bandstand, your party is something that won’t be forgotten for generations to come.
Check this out and listen. 70’s and 80’s old music video.