50s Party Theme Ideas

Fun And Fabulous 50s Party Theme
To Help You Create A Rockin' Good Time

The 50's was a wholesome era characterized by the perfect family as seen on TV shows like Happy Days, Ozzie and Harriett, and Father Knows Best. It was a time when malt shops, sock hops, juke boxes, Elvis, and rock-n’-roll were prevalent. If you're looking to throw a party where guests can dress up and get down and get funky, the a 50's retro party might be a perfect choice.


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Time to get creative with some fun invites. They'll instantly set the tone for your 50s party theme and get guests excited and thinking about rockin' out. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

VINYL RECORD INVITE - If you can get your hands on some 45 records then use them to create your invitation. Write out all your party info onto a decorative piece of scrapbook paper or a piece of card stock that is decorated with 1950's-related stickers. Attach to the 45 records and mail or hand-deliver.

JUKEBOX INVITES - Download a picture of a jukebox onto a piece of card stock. Then print out all your party info on the reverse side and mail accordingly.

1950'S CAR INVITES - Create your invitation on a piece of card stock, vellum or scrapbook paper and attach it to a toy Ford Thunderbird or other popular car of the 50's and hand-deliver.

BOWLING PIN INVITES - If you're planning on incorporating a little bowling into your 50s party theme, then you might want to create a bowling pin-shaped invite out of card stock.

BOBBY SOCK INVITES - Once again, prepare the invite out of decorative scrapbook paper and this time attach it to a pair of Bobby socks. You can invite guests to wear the sock to the party as it will be one that dictates a costume be worn.

Be sure to add some fun wording to entice guests to attend. Create a play on words or bring in slang from that time period for added silliness. Here's a few options to get you started:

-- It's all about the 50's and you're invited to rock around the clock

-- Break out the poodle skirts and slick back your hair

-- Calling all Cool Cats

-- Get rollin' with a night of bowlin'

-- Hop til you drop at our fun sock hop


50s PARTY THEME COSTUME OPTIONS FOR GUYS - When we think of the 50’s many of us remember “The Fonz” and his iconic look of slicked back hair and his black leather jacket. Guys can copy his look or change it up a bit with a pair of black pants, white t-shirt, black satin T-birds jacket and classy shades. Bowling shirts were also very popular and could easily be paired with a pair of black pants. Another option is to mimic the Blues Brothers' look and opt for a Fedora Hat, white shirt, dark suit, dark skinny tie and don’t forget the infamous shades to complete the look.

50s PARTY THEME COSTUME OPTIONS FOR GALS - Create authenticity with costumes by wearing the 50's look of a poodle skirt, white, short-sleeve button-up blouse, saddle oxfords, and Bobby socks. Dress as a car hop in the short flirty little skirt and white apron, along with a collared V-neck short-sleeve top and sailor hat or you can opt to wear a pair of pants with a stripe down the side. Another option would be to wear a polka dot dress and a Mary Jane pump. The Rizzo look consisted of a pair of very sexy skin tight black pants, an off-the-shoulder top, spike heels, and a satin T-Bird jacket in black or pink.

The ladies choice of accessories included a pearl necklace and wide matching bracelets, dangling earrings, and cat-eye glasses. The poodle crowd wore pony tails tied back with ribbons, while the Rizzo’s of the world opted for the more sophisticated bouffant hairstyle with no ribbons of course.

Before you run out to buy or rent a costume, be sure to check with friends and relatives as you'll probably find that someone out there has some of these very items stashed in the back of their closets or hidden away in their attic.


Start by assessing your various space options. Your main party room should be large enough to accommodate dancing and games with an adjacent area for the buffet table if the main room will not accommodate it. Perhaps hosting a portion of the party outside will provide the necessary space you need in order to create one cool cat 50's party theme.

You'll surely have a great time picking out your 50's party decorations as you have a plethora from which to select. A 50's retro party will have you counting down the days until you can starting transforming your home into that good old rock n' roll atmosphere. The colors that were popular during that decade were black, white, pink, and turquoise, so you might want to use these same colors to bring the 50's homeward bound. To help get you started, here are a few fabulous 50s party theme ideas for your decor:

  • Start displaying your festive decor with your front door. Hang a rock n' roll theme curtain at the entrance or perhaps enlist the assistance of some crafty helpers to cover the door with red butcher paper and decorate it with pictures of the iconic black records and guitars.

  • Greet your arriving guests with background music playing of the 50’s era.

  • Decorate with rock era memorabilia and cutouts like musical notes and instruments, jukebox, vinyl records, etc. Also toss in some pictures of performers from that period like Elvis, Buddy Holly, James Dean, and popular movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren.

  • Create a welcoming banner out of colorful butcher paper that will accent your R&R party and hang it on your garage door. You can use a stencil to create the large bold letters and then accent the banner with some large clipart.

  • Create your Rock & Roll atmosphere by covering your walls with scene setters which will instantly bring the 50's to life. They come in forty foot rolls and depict many different 50s party theme scenes including a soda shop, a juke box scene, a scene from the movie Grease, etc.

  • If you can get your hands on some 45 records, tang them from the ceiling using fishing line. If not, then download some pictures of the records onto card stock and create your own.

  • If you want to really add to your atmosphere in a big 50's way, then rent a jukebox and let your guests participate in making their 1950's music selections. If you don't have access to a jukebox or don't want to shell out the moolah for this item, then opt for a life-size jukebox standee. Place it on the dance floor and create a photo-op so it can be used to its fullest and be one of the main focal points of the party.

  • The buffet table should be placed in front of a wall with a Happy Birthday banner hung over the table. Leave enough room between the wall and table to allow your guests to serve themselves from both sides.

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  • Another fun idea for decorating the wall would be to hang two hula hoops at different heights on a large wall and place pictures of the guest of honor in the center depicting different stages of that person's life. You could also hang a banner over the hoops. Decorate the hoops by gluing flowers around the edge.

  • Hang some signs on the walls that say things like Lover's Lane, Sunset Strip, Route 66, Dead's Man Curve, Inspiration Point, etc.

  • Hang some posters from the movie Grease or perhaps those of Marilyn Monroe's classic poses that participated in making her famous. Don't forget to throw in some pics and posters of those terrific classic 50's cars like the Thunderbird, Austin Healey, Cadillac Convertible, or the Desoto.

  • In addition to a buffet table you'll also want to set up a drink and snack table. Cover it with a white plastic tablecover and use 50s party theme tableware of dessert-sized plates and napkins for snacks.

  • Buffet dinners gained popularity in the 50’s as they blended into all varieties and styles of parties and the table became one of the party's focal points. Select 50s party theme tableware in a fun black and white block or rock n' roll theme, or opt for a solid of that popular candy pink and turquoise blue. Be sure to add a coordinating tablecover, perhaps black, white, or go bold with the black and white large check pattern. Conclude with a sprinkling of Bazooka bubble gum.

  • Be sure to create an eye-catching centerpiece. Start with a model of a 1950's car placed on a decorative piece of black and white checked paper. Attach a bouquet of theme balloons to the car, along with some streamers and finish it off with a sprinkling of rock n' roll confetti.

  • If you're short on time, opt for a simple but effective centerpiece by placing a large bouquet of rock n' roll balloons in the middle of the table. There are some great Mylar options that come in the shape of a colorful jukebox, saxophone, musical notes, just to name a few.

  • To accommodate your guests, be certain you have a sufficient number of folding chairs and TV trays. They were at the height of popularity in the 50’s when the living room became the dining room as the place to watch evening TV programs. The dance floor area may serve as an optional spot for dining if you're short on space. You can even play an episode of Leave It To Beaver while everyone "dines" on your 50's party food.

  • Be sure to recruit someone to take pictures throughout the night; perhaps a high school student who has taken some photography classes. You'll want to have pictures of each of your guests arriving in the 50's party costume, in action on the dance floor, and a final group shot at party’s end. You can display the photos on a table or wall throughout the night as pictures are taken. Copies could be sent home with your guests and considered to be one of your favors or subsequently mailed with a thank you for attending note.


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BUBBLE-BLOWING CONTEST - For an ice breaker when the party revelers arrive, handout some Bazooka bubble gum and have a contest to see who can blow the biggest bubble. Have your roving photographer snap a picture of the contestants in case of a dispute. To the winner award a box of Bazooka Bubble Gum.

COSTUME CONTEST - Have a contest to see who has come up with the best male and female costume of the 50's. Winners can be signified by applause or hidden ballot.

50'S TRIVIA - Test the knowledge of your guests to see who knows the most about the 50's movies, music, sports, celebrities, TV shows, news events, etc. All players can be rewarded with a small bag of Hershey’s Kisses.

50'S CHARADES - Everyone likes to play charades and it will be even more fun when you make it all about the 50's. Incorporate movie titles from the 50's or use the movie Grease as a basis of your charades.

HULA HOOP CONTEST - No R & R party is complete without a Hula Hoop contest. The winner shall be the last person standing and still twirling. Award the Hula Hoop as the prize. For added fun, have your guests twirl multiple hoops at one time.

LIP SYNC TO THE OLDIES - Every party has potential performers so have those song birds do a lip sync contest to an Elvis number and provide them with a glitter mike to make it more authentic. Also be sure to give your contestants inflatable guitars so they can really ham it up and jam with their best air guitar. The table centerpiece is the prize and it is presented to the winner when the party folk head for home at evenings end. Mix up your game-playing with dancing to keep the party interesting.

DANCE CONTESTS - Now's the time to have your guests cut a rug and show each other how they can get down and get funky--50's style. If need be, teach your guests how to do the Jitterbug, the Twist, The Stroll, Hand Jive, etc.

BOARD GAMES - If any of your guests run out of steam, you can have a table filled with various board games from the 50's to entertain. Have available things like Parcheesi, checkers, Scrabble, pick-up sticks, and the infamous Mr. Potato Head, Silly Putty, and Play-Doh.

One of those subtle changes that took place in the 50’s was the upgrade in food that was served at home and parties; no more stretching the food budget. The good nourishing meals were replaced with delicacies of oysters on the half shell, sautéed chicken livers, lobster, Roquefort cheese, dates stuffed with pineapple and wrapped in bacon. The snack bar would have contained deviled eggs (which was new item for the 50’s), mini quiche and oysters Rockefeller. Not a single dip and chip was to be found.

Burgers and fries were okay for the malt shop crowd but not for the Rock and Roll followers. A typical buffet dinner would have choices of lobster, baked ham and veal for the main course. There would be Caesar or Waldorf salad, a tray of sliced tomatoes, stuffed celery with Roquefort cheese and an assortment of olives and pickles. Vegetables were always served in a cream sauce with the most popular being peas and string beans. Scalloped potatoes replaced mashed and hot Parker House rolls with butter also graced the table.

In the 50’s, in addition to the popular milkshake, Root Beer, Coca Cola, fruit smoothies, and Tang (the space drink of the 50’s) made their entrance onto the scene.


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45 RECORD CAKE - Make a round cake and cover it with chocolate frosting. Then run a cake decorating comb around the cake in a circular pattern to create the record groves. Lay a circular piece of turquoise fondant in the center and pipe out a birthday message.

3-LAYER 50S PARTY THEME CAKE - Make 3 round cakes of graduated sizes. Cover each with white fondant and stack them up. Accent the sides of the middle layer with large black and turquoise polka dots. Accent the sides of the top and bottom layers with a wide piece of turquoise fondant wrapped around the base. Create some 45 records and musical notes out of fondant black fondant and fill in the sides of the cake. Top it off with a birthday message and an ice cream sundae.

MADE TO ORDER - If baking isn't your thing, then find a picture of a cake that you like and take it to your favorite bakery and have it made to order. You can even have a photo of the birthday person imprinted on the cake. Another option would be to have the cake made into the same design as the invitation that you sent out. That would really tie your 50's party theme together from beginning to end.

FUN CANDLES TO MAKE - To add a special touch to your cake why not make some fun twisty candles; they're really easy to do. Dip long, skinny sparkly candles into hot water until soft and pliable. Then wrap each one around a pencil while keeping about an inch or two of the bottom straight. After they cool for about 15 minutes, remove the pencil and they're ready to insert into the cake.


Fortunately there are a lot of rock n' roll party favors from which to select that will tie into your 50s party theme. For the ladies strands of long faux pearls and bracelets, poodle earrings, headbands, hair ribbons and neck scarves, cat eye sunglasses and rock-n'-roll t-shirts. For the guys, a pair of Blues Brothers sunglasses, an inflatable guitar, fedora hat, rock-n' roll t-shirt, and bandana.


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When you're ready to call it a day and it's time for the party to end, you can dim the lights and play your closing song, “Good Night Ladies" so your guests will know the party is over and they need to head home.

YOUR Favorite 50's Party Theme Ideas, Cakes & Costumes

Now it's your turn. Share those creative ideas that you've come up with for a 50's party. Go ahead and blast us into the past!

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