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The Retro-Chic Guide to Holiday Entertaining – Part 1

Maybe you’ve noticed or maybe you haven’t but there is currently an infatuation with the mid-1960s.  The era’s influence is everywhere from fashion to home décor to design and of course television with AMC’s Mad Men pretty much pioneering the movement.  With the holiday season naturally lending itself to decking out your home, sporting more dapper duds than normal and most importantly entertaining; it’s the perfect opportunity to throw yourself a holiday shindig that any Kennedy-era advertising exec would feel at home at!

Before we go any further you have to remember that the traditional social graces of the 1950s and earlier were only starting to mix with the beginnings of what would become the psychedelic, swinging, do your own thing late 1960s and 70s.  That means entertaining was still proper and even a get-together of friends at someone’s house before Christmas had a certain amount of formality to it.  If you really want to capture the authentic feel of a holiday house party circa 1965 keep formality and grace in mind when you are considering options for each of the following:


If you want an authentic Camelot-era experience you need to send actual printed party invitations.  No questions asked.  They didn’t have Facebook events, e-vites of even email back then and you just didn’t call people up on the telephone and tell them you were having a party and it would be cool if they came.  You sent invitations – that was part of the formality of the era.  Your invitations don’t have to be real fancy, a note card style invitation will do and you can even handwrite some of the details.  A slightly old fashioned design would be suitable – avoid over-the-top retro looking styles – that kind of look was more of a commercial style than an everyday or personal style.


People used to dress fancier more often than they do today.  Even young adults of the mid-1960s would have never considered showing up at someone’s house for a party in jeans and a t-shirt.  For a winter-time party in most parts of the country men would have at least worn a sport coat or sweater and a tie and women would have worn a dress.  I’m not going to get into exact styles, you can research that; but with the era’s influence on today’s styles finding something that doesn’t look like a parody shouldn’t be too difficult.  Convincing your guests that they should dress the part might be difficult but that’s up to you!

Food and Its Presentation

Tossing a couple of bags of chips and a tub or two of store-bought dip on the kitchen counter will not cut it for a proper Mad Men-esque Christmas shindig.  A more formal gathering of the period would have been a full soup-to-nuts dinner party, fine china, real silverware, crystal glassware, table linens and all.  That’s probably overkill for most folks today; but an hors d’oeuvre party, which would have been fairly informal for the period, would be fitting.  Choose three or four recipes that make more substantial dishes and then surround them with smaller, simpler offerings. The late 1950s through the early 1970’s was kind of the golden age of, well; let’s just call it creativity, in party foods and hors d’oeuvres.  If you want to go really authentic hit some used book stores, thrift shops or flea markets and look for some cookbooks of the era.  You can also search for vintage recipes online.  Photos that accompanied the recipes will give you an idea for how to garnish and present your creations too.  Just keep in mind that some foods like Jell-O molds with meat floating in them probably won’t go over too big today.  Actually, they probably didn’t go over too big back in the ‘60s either, so use discretion and keep in mind that chips and dips are not a no-no as long as they are presented nicely.

Well, that’s all the time we have for tonight folks!  Tune in again in two days – same time – same station – for the exciting conclusion where we’ll cover the all important beverages, music and décor that will make your retro-chic shindig a smash hit!

Go to Part 2

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    The Retro-Chic Guide to Holiday Entertaining – Part 2 | The 123Print Blog
    February 3, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    […] our last episode we covered invitations, attire and food for your retro-chic celebration.  In tonight’s […]

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