I recently read an article about the art of the vintage cocktail party. They really did know how to have a good time back then! These parties almost always included lots of hard liquor, tons of smoking and questionable finger foods – sausages, anything in a mold or jello’d, cream cheese-based spreads galore and all things wrapped in bacon. And let’s not forget the cheese ball! I mean what’s not to love?! They were predictable and great.
Fast forward to today and if we have a night out with friends, it’s usually at a bar or restaurant; translation: loud, crowded, expensive and sometimes inconvenient. It seems these days that home entertaining is often centered around the holidays. It made me wonder why? Sure, we’ll have a GNI (girls night in) in comfy clothes every now and then, but we don’t usually include husbands and we definitely don’t count it as a “night on the town!” I love to entertain and I did so a lot more frequently before I had kids, so, I decided to throw my own 1950/60s cocktail party!
I remember my grandmother and her friends having parties like these (I even mixed vodka gimlets at the age of 10 for them, which, although undoubtedly frowned upon this day in age, made for some amazing memories!). I started doing some research on what these parties typically consisted of and how the hostess pulled everything together and I was surprised at how easy it seemed!
Here are a few simple guidelines:
- Lots of liquor – Make a few cocktails in pitchers or a punch prior to the party, but also offer an open self-serve bar. Think Tom Collins, Whiskey Sour, Olde Fashioned, etc. But also have several pitchers of water around the party so guests can stay hydrated!
- Lots of finger foods. Think easy to prepare and easy for your guests to eat. Once the party has started, the hostess’ job was done; she enjoyed spending time with friends, not in the kitchen! Rule of thumb is (2) hot appetizers and (4) cold appetizers -this is NOT a dinner party!
- Presentation –
- Pull out all the stuff you registered for and never use!
- Hit up a local thrift store and get some mismatched glasses in different shapes and sizes! Find trays, an ice bucket and cocktail shaker. You could even go to Marshalls or Homegoods to find these items inexpensively!
- Smoking was hugely popular back then (we don’t endorse it!) so get some old ash trays and matches to display around the party for decoration!
- Music- If you have any old vinyl and a record player, bust it out! If not, put on a 1950s or 60s channel on Pandora or make a playlist in advance
- Attire – Get into it! It’s fun! Get all glammed up for the night! Pull your hair into big curls or a chignon, wear a retro cocktail dress. Hit up a consignment or thrift store to find the perfect vintage outfit! I’m planning to wear a dress that actually belonged to my grandmother! Guys, think skinny ties (they are in fashion now too!), a short-sleeved oxford, jacket and pocket square and don’t forget the fedora!
- Purpose – Have fun! Enjoy time with friends and spending time together as couples. In this crazy world we live in, we don’t make enough time to sit and converse with the people we care about most. Life would be boring without friends, so make a reason to get a date on the calendar and do something different. Make memories that last a lifetime!
Our own party is in a few weeks and we will post pics so you can see how we brought it to life!
Watch the full segment of our Better CT appearance on the vintage cocktail party here