Pin-Up Playtime: Throw a Retro Dinner Party

by - 9:32 AM

Once a staple of the social scene, dinner parties have been a lost art for the past few decades while, as more people favor fancy restaurant dinners and nightclubs to intimate home get-togethers, we've let chic, yet personable, in-home soirees fall to the way-side. 
Betty Grable would be horrified. 
While a fancy dinner party might seem like a hassle for today's busy working woman, we're offering a few tips to get you started on bringing the dinner party back this weekend. 
1. Do the work in advance
Dinner parties aren't about matching gold-rimmed porcelain and Michelin-worthy food. They’re about everyone having a good time—including you. And that means doing almost everything ahead from setting out the (occasionally mismatched) platters to preparing the food. This way, you'll wow your guests from the moment you take their coat, and you'll keep the party in the dining or living area, rather than having everyone socialize in the kitchen while helping you prepare the hors d'oevres. Another good pre-party touch? Mailing out invitations. Try making them with paper dolls or brown paper for a vintage look. 
2. Sweat the small stuff
This isn't a post-breakup movie & cookie dough night. This is an elegant dinner party. Setting out name cards, lighting candles, playing jazz music and incorporating vintage colors into the dining table will set the evening apart from other get-togethers. If you're feeling especially adorable, up the ante with glass Coke bottles or chocolate cigarettes, given everyone smoked like a chimney back then. 
3. Set the mood with food
A sit-down dinner is fine, but an easier way to enjoy a meal without risking a stuffy atmosphere is to serve heavy hors d'oevres. Deviled eggs, fruit kebobs and shrimp cocktail are classic dinner party dishes, but if you're too busy to prepare them, try frozen quiche, chips & dip, brioche with Gruyere and bowls of almonds and olives. For dessert, set out a candy bar with treats like life savers, M&Ms and Tootsie Rolls, or mini cheesecakes. And to drink, you can't go wrong with punch!
4. Entertainment
A dinner party should have no more than 10 people, and they're likely to all stay together throughout the evening. Therefore, it is sometimes fun to host games to keep the group from constantly having to think of conversational topics. Hula hoops or games such as charades or catch phrase are fun for after dinner, though a black and white movie or lively music can fill silences for less-competitive guests. 
5. Dress the part
It's time to bring out that frilly apron you've never used before and --just this once-- break the "no shoes in the house" rule. This is a party, so everyone, including your beat self, should look their best. Do your makeup with red lips and cat eyes, tease your hair and put on some kitten heels. And don't be afraid to ask your guests to put forth equal effort. Encourage them to feel comfortable wearing whatever they choose, but advise that jeans are not permitted. If you get questions from friends asking what to wear, well, you know where to send them for a retro glam look. 


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