How to Throw a Killer Retro Garden Party


If you are looking for something a little more influential for your next outdoor gathering why not throw a retro garden party? Mad Men-influenced ’60s garden parties are the perfect balance of sophistication and fun. Here are some tips on how to throw a killer retro garden party complete with jelly moulds and retro music.

How to Throw a Killer Retro Garden Party


For a romantic, festive feel think patio lanterns. You can find many styles of patio lanterns which can create a very groovy vibe with a number of different vibrant colours, or a more elegant feeling with plain white. You can also look for items from the ’60s and ’70s to decorate your table. Get creative and buy some old vinyl record albums you can use for serving trays for cheese and crackers or chargers underneath your plates. You can also use clever items such as old copper jelly moulds to serve salads and side dishes. Look for classic items such as cocktail shakers and martini glasses as well as groovier things such as a tie dye table cloth you can make yourself. Consider the atmosphere you want to create and build from there.

If you want something more laid back, go for happy faces and tie dye and if you want something more sophisticated think of items such as lava lamps, pink lawn flamingos, and bead curtains hanging over your sliding glass doors, gazebo, or garden tent. Gingham is ideal for runners, curtains, and tablecloths and you can choose an elegant colour such as black or pink or go for more of a picnic feel with red or yellow.


No doubt cocktails and martinis are a must for the perfect retro party. Look up popular drinks of the time such as the Whiskey Sour, Vodka Gimlet, Manhattan, Tom Collins, Brandy Alexander, and Singapore Sling. Consider hiring a bartender to mix up authentic cocktails or do some experimenting and choose a selection you think your guests will enjoy the most. Search for retro glasses and barware at places like Value Village as well as serving dishes and other retro items to serve up your drinks and appetizers.


Look for cocktail playlists or make your own killer mix. You can even buy Mad Men soundtracks if you want to really get an authentic cocktail hour vibe going. Search under “Supper Club” to find the ultimate soundtrack for your retro garden party or flip to SiriusXM’s Siriusly Sinatra channel for music from Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.


You can plan a typical ’60s meal or use old ideas with a modern twist. For example classic celery with Cheese Whiz could be elevated to endive with goat cheese and chives. You can also serve classic retro cognac pates served with rustic artisan breads that are charred on the barbecue. Grilled tandoori chicken on naan or Korean beef wrapped in crisp lettuce are an elegant update on ’60s finger sandwiches. Classic hors d’oeuvres such as cucumber and Gouda on toothpicks can be updated with cherry tomatoes, bocconcini cheese balls, and fresh basil leaves or lovely salty feta with cool cubes of watermelon. Serve crudités in tall glasses with dip on the bottom and stalks of celery, carrot sticks, lightly grilled asparagus spears and red pepper strips standing in each glass so guests can feel free to double dip and mingle while they munch.

Timeless favourites such as devilled eggs or shrimp cocktail served with old fashioned cocktail sauce are timeless finger foods people love. Shish kebab is the perfect main and you can elect to do a number of meat and seafood using a variety of marinades. Another option is classic fondue either cheese or thinly sliced beef, lamb or cocktail shrimp. You can even serve up retro Jello salads guests can dare to sample or simply use them as a retro centrepiece.

A retro garden party is the perfect way to add a touch of sophisticated fun to your next get together and if guests are up to it ask them to dress up in retro cocktail dresses and summer attire. Chances are they’ll jump at the chance to dress up and get back out there!


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