Entertaining History: Inspiration from the 1960s

Entertaining History: Inspiration from the 1960s

Anne Reagan
Nov 10, 2011

Movies and television shows with great party scenes like The Party, (1968), Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961), episodes of Bewitched (mid-late 1960's) and Mad Men are both entertaining and inspiring. Taking cues from another era can make holiday entertaining fun and fabulous for both you and your guests.

Decor in the 1960's encompassed both the conventionality of the 1950's and the freedom of the 1970's, the formality of antiques and the modernity of mod. There's Mid-Century Modern style (think Mad Men), Futuristic style (see 2001: A Space Odessy), Love-In style (did hippies throw dinner parties?), Beach Party (just Google "Annette Funicello"), Swinging Mod (but not the Austin Powers kind) and European Elegance (beautiful La Dolce Vita) just to name a few. There are so many sources of inspiration from the 1960's and whether or not you lived it the first time around, go ahead and You Tube, Google, IMDB all you want to find influence from some great classics. Of course, not many people want to walk into a theme party (unless it's Halloween) so think about how you'd like to incorporate particular looks into your current home.

The 1960's, as movies, tv shows and photos illustrate, were a mixture of saturated colors, bold geometric patterns and clean-lined modern furniture. It was a time when technological and space-age achievements inspired designers in a multitude of ways. You may already have vintage pieces in your home that you'd like to highlight or add to, or maybe a recent trip to a vintage market has got you thinking about the 1960's.

In order to escape the trappings of a theme party, think about one or two elements from that era that you find really inspiring and focus on that. For example, collected textiles like Merimekko, with it's wild patterns and colors, can be paired with minimalist dishware. Incorporate vintage tableware easily, just think about balance of color and patterns that fit your home and style. After the party, the bold colors and patterns look great as pieces of decor on your walls or in other rooms of your home. Vintage pieces can be picked up online at Etsy or Ebay.

Another way to incorporate the fabulousness of the 1960's is with your food and drink. Movies and tv shows from that era serve as evidence to the formality of entertaining. Whereas the 2000's are about simplifying entertaining, the 1960's had an over-the-top attitude about entertaining. Think full cocktail bars (don't forget the swizzle sticks and ice bucket), fondue parties, passed hors d'oeuvres and fancy desserts. This was an era when people still used asparagus forks and a different glass for each type of drink. Vintage cookbooks are great for getting recipe ideas or seeing real photos of food and drinks. Old cookbooks often have menu suggestions or cocktail party ideas. If it's a Christmas party, there are many online resources to gather vintage decorations. And many companies, like the Vermont Country Store, continues to sell newly made vintage decor.

The general atmosphere of your party can also reflect the spirit of the 1960's. Playing 1960's music, asking your guests to dress formally, encouraging spontaneous dancing can all lead to lively parties. Don't be afraid to take the best of what you like from that era and work it into your next party.

There are so many fantastic images from the 1960's, especially when it comes to entertaining. Here is just a small sampling.

1. 1960's Turkey
2. Swinging 60's Pink table
3. Mad Men Dinner Party
4. Robert Evans' Dinner Party
5. Breakfast At Tiffany's
6. Holiday office party
7. Image clip from The Party

Images: As credited above.

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