Throwing the Ultimate Mid-Century Modern Party

Modernism Week is upon us and so we decided to offer up another way to dive right into this iconic Palm Springs event, a Mid Century Modern theme party.

Setting a Mid-Century Scene
If you or a friend has a period decorated Mid-Century modern home like those designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or Pierre Koening, it will easily take your guests back in time. Even if you don’t, there are a few simple things you can do to bring this era to your home. Borrow some vintage serving trays or pick some up at your local thrift store. Add a few other household items you would have commonly seen in the home, like rotary phones, bar carts, vintage LIFE magazines, or anything starburst.

Lastly, set the mood with the right music. For a 60s soundtrack to play throughout the night, go with musical artists of the time like Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine, and Ella Fitzgerald. Hopefully after a few drinks, your guests will be inclined to do a few dances of the 60s, such as the Twist or Mashed Potato.

Retro Hors D’oeuvres
For a retro cocktail party food menu, you will want to go with early 60s era classics. Finger foods were a popular party food during that time. Think chips and dip, mixed nuts, and deviled eggs. All items that can be easily eaten with one hand while carrying a drink in the other.

Passed hors d’oeuvres consisting of both small bites of warm and cold foods are exactly the simple kinds of foods you will want for your menu. Stuffed mushrooms were a cocktail party staple of the early 60s, and they will be just as popular with your guests today. Add some shrimp cocktail and an assortment of canapés to easily round out the menu.

Serve stuffed mushrooms, smoked salmon canapés, deviled eggs, cream cheese stuffed celery, onion dip and chips, mixed nuts, mini cheese balls, and Li’l Smokies wrapped in bacon.

Give everything a modern upgrade by using premium ingredients and adding little extras.

If you are going to add meat to something that normally does not contain meat, make half of them without. Remember, the vegetarian food always disappears the quickest since everyone eats it. Make sure there’s plenty for all.

With so many people having gluten sensitivities these days, take your menu a step further, making the whole menu gluten-free. The smoked salmon canapés were served on rounds of cucumber instead of bread. The traditional large cheese ball served with crackers was made into individual mini cheese balls served on picks. Keeping food sensitivities and preferences in mind always shows the signs of a gracious host.

When guests start to arrive, pass the hors d’oeuvres twice before setting them on the table to let your guests help themselves.

This is a great opportunity to say hello to everyone as you make your rounds and to make sure everyone knows where they can put their coats, hats, and purses.

Keep the Focus on the Booze
When it comes to the cocktails, keep them simple. Pick one or two to be your signature cocktails of the night, along with an alcoholic punch, or it will turn into a bartending nightmare. Fantastic classic drinks to serve are martinis, the Old Fashioned, or even the Mai Tai. For an extra kick, add a bottle or two of Scotch.

Set up a self-serve bar on a vintage cart. Add decanters of alcohol, instructions for making the signature drinks, double old-fashioned drink glasses, and plenty of ice in an ice bucket. Serve an alcoholic punch; not only are punches easy to make, and are easy to replenish, but they are also a true representative of that time. Once made, guests can help themselves to more, keeping you free to mingle.

Dress the Era
Almost as important as the cocktails and menu is the attire. Ask your guests to come dressed in Mid Century style to really get the party swinging in a 60s direction. A trip to the thrift store can supply you and your guests with all kinds of vintage clothing accessories. Dresses and suits on all of your party guests, including yourself.

From the décor to the dress and the food to the cocktails, you’ll be able to bring the 60s to your party through these fun planning tips. Your guests will appreciate how authentic you are with all the details.

Special Thank you to for their contribution to this article.