Cocktail parties were a huge trend in the 40s and 50s, many women knew and studied the art of hosting a fine and fabulous cocktail party, and often tried to outdo each other with creative hors d’oeuvres and colorful jell-o molds.
In order to really get the mood and anticipation going you need to set the soundtrack! What kind of feel do you want to go for?
Find some retro bossa nova music to keep a light and mysterious-yet-festive mood, it will also not be too chaotic and make chit chat difficult. Or for a different kind of vibe, a Pat Boone album will surely set the record straight!
Healthy foods were definitely not the trend back then. When searching for recipes expect to see lots of mayonnaise and odd canned food concoctions creating unique flavor sensations. Strange Jello molds containing unique pickled ingredients created an alien and colorful presence at cocktail parties in suburban households throughout the USA.
A 50s party is just not complete without a jello mold… let your creativity fly! It’s best if you can find a bundt cake pan or something similar to show off any submerged fruit or other floaty things that may be in your recipe. Many creative jello molds can also be found online. Keep searching at tag sales, or be creative when looking at cooking pans to find your jello mold soulmate, there’s sure to be a mold for every personality out there! Novelty molds can also be found for special holidays.
This Website has a great style, and lots of easy to make authentic savory dips and festive fruit punches from the 50s. You might also be inspired by the great vintage pictures.
If you’re worried about your waistline, stick to a tiki theme with kabobs topped with maraschino cherries and plates of pineapple rings. This Website has a range of ideas and recipes for a Tiki themed party.
Fondue parties were all the rage, but if you’d rather not eat mounds of cheese, a chocolate fondue with lush strawberries, melon, or star fruit can be just as fun and decadant.
Retro blue and green fondue set with mushroom print by REdesignkc on Etsy.
Healthy appetizers with grilled fish like tuna or mahi mahi can also fit the 50s Tiki theme. Have plenty of mango salsa and guacamole on hand to serve with the fish for a burst of tropical flavor.
One fun yet cost effective iconic 50s hors d’oeuvres, are little pinwheel bread rolls. All you do is get some white wonder bread, cut off the crust, and roll it down with a rolling pin. Press firmly, but not too hard. Spread cream cheese, a touch of mustard, and develled ham onto the flattened bread. If you don’t like develled ham, use tuna fish with finely chopped onions and a bit of mayonnaise + the cream cheese. Roll up the bread into a log shape. Cut the log like you are cutting sushi, into small 1/2″ wide rounds.
Finally, spear each one from side to side with a tooth pick and either a green olive, or a pineapple chunk. Voila! You can also toast them a bit in the oven after they are all rolled up and toothpicked. Just set the oven to 350 degrees and pop in for about 5-10 minutes, maybe a bit more. Watch to make sure they do not burn.
Your pinwheels may end up looking something like the picture above. Click the picture for a less healthy, but probably more authentic version of the recipe.
Make sure bowls of snacks like cheese bread sticks are stuck around the house, so guests can mingle and graze and snack at their leisure. It also helps to keep your guests from getting too intoxicated!
Cocktail attire is surely a must. Think beehives, blown out bobs, or updos tightly secured with no single hair out of place. A pearl choker and clip on button earrings seal the deal. For dresses, try a sleeveless sheath that hits about knee length, in black, white, or powder pastel colors. If it’s chilly out, add a matching cardigan and a scarf secured with a circle pin or just simply tied in a knot. Keep shoes simple with rounded toe pumps in either flesh tones, black, or the same color as your dress. 50s style was often very matchy, a hostess’s dress may even match the napkins at dinner! Also keep an eye out for tortoise shell accessories like hair clips, head bands, or glasses, as they were also very popular and classy at that time.
Most importantly, have a wonderful time! I hope you enjoyed these tips for having a fabulous and perfectly 50s cocktail party.