I’ve been a member of a Cooking Club for over 17 years now. For those of you who know me, you know I’m not much of a cook, but I love to throw a good party! I’m all about a good theme and setting a pretty table. And costumes. After the last year and a half, I was ready for an honest-to-goodness dinner party. I’m betting you might be, too!
Putting together an outfit for a 1950s style themed party isn’t difficult. One or two retro pieces set the vibe: an A-line shirt dress, cardigan, polka dots, kitchen apron, pearls, costume jewelry, gloves, cat-eye glasses, pumps, updos, pin curls . . .
This estate sale dress and red lipstick felt very “I Love Lucy!”
I had a few 1950s style costume props to share for anyone who felt underdressed!
The traditional table setting included a plain tablecloth, floral china, cloth napkins, vintage glasses, candles – and a few old black/white photos and vintage ashtrays.
Yep, I have several vintage ashtrays that I use to corral keys and coins. And no worries – those are bubblegum cigarettes!
I dug into some vintage cook books to find some 1950s style recipes for our dinner menu. Here are the recipes:
Susie’s Salmon Spread
8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
⅓ cup chopped red onion
4 ounces smoked salmon
¼ tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp dillweed
1 tbsp drained capers
Combine cheese and onion in food processor and pulse to mix well. Add salmon, lemon juice, dillweed, and capers. Pulse to mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to 24 hours, serve with crackers.
Harriet’s Hot Chicken Salad Casserole
4 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup halved seedless red grapes
8 oz pineapple tidbits, drained
8 oz (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup plain bread crumbs
1 tbsp butter, melted
½ sliced almonds
1 cup mayo
8 oz sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
In medium bowl, combine dressing ingredients, set aside, In large bowl, combine chicken, grapes, pineapple, and 1.5 cups of cheese, toss to mix. Pour dressing over, toss. Spoon into 13×9 dish. In small bowl combine 1.5 cup cheese, bread crumbs, butter, mix well. Sprinkle over chicken mixture, top with almonds. 325 degrees for 40 minutes.
Gidget’s Green Beans with Roquefort
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
4 (¼ inch thick) slices of bacon
4 ounces of Roquefort or feta cheese, crumbled
1.5 cups toasted walnut halves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Add green beans to a saucepan of boiling water and reduce heat. Simmer for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Rinse under cold water and drain.
Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat, 5-7 minutes or until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain and cool; crumble.
Add green beans to drippings in skillet and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cheese and toss for 30 seconds or just until cheese begins to melt. Spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle with walnuts, bacon, and pepper. Serve immediately. (You are welcome to cook this at my house.)
Sally’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 6 oz strawberry Jell-O
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 1/2 cups salted pretzels (measured before crushing)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 oz package cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz cool whip thawed in the fridge
- 1 lb fresh strawberries hulled and sliced
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Combine strawberry Jell-O with 2 cups boiling water and stir until completely dissolved. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Crush 2 1/2 cups pretzels in a sturdy ziploc bag, using a rolling pin.
In a medium sauce pan, melt 8 Tbsp butter then add 1/4 cup sugar and stir. Mix in crushed pretzels. Transfer to a 13×9 glass casserole dish, pressing the pretzel mix evenly over the bottom of the dish and bake for 10 min at 350°F, then cool to room temp. When pretzels have cooled, use an electric hand mixer to beat 8 oz cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar on med/high speed until fluffy and white. Fold in 8 oz Cool Whip until no streaks of cream cheese remain. Spread mixture over cooled pretzels, spreading to the edges of the dish to create a tight seal. Refrigerate 30 min.
Hull and slice 1 lb strawberries then stir into your room temperature jello. Pour and spread strawberry jello mixture evenly over your cooled cream cheese layer and refrigerate until jello is set (2-4 hours).
Peggy Sue’s Pink Squirrel
3/4 ounce crème de noyaux liqueur
3/4 ounce white crème de cacao liqueur
1 1/2 ounces heavy cream
Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake well. Strain into glasses and garnish with nutmeg.
Nancy’s Nilla Wafer Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp brown sugar
¾ cup chocolate chips
¾ cup powdered sugar
Cream together first 3 ingredients, then gradually add the next 3 ingredients. Put in refrigerator for 2+ hours or in freezer for 20 minutes. Form into 2 balls, put back in refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll balls in pecan chips and serve with vanilla wafers. (Serve on plates with wafers at either end of the table.)
And now for the 1950s style entertainment!
We first divided into two groups and played a few hands of Rummy, then moved on to the heated competition of 7-way Solitaire. I realize that there are many more appropriate card games from the 1950s, but I didn’t think we were all up for learning something complicated like Bridge!
While playing Solitaire (each with our own deck), we were able to play on each others’ cards in the middle of the table. It took a lot of focus and nerves of steel!
The night ended with full stomachs, full hearts, and I just may have won $4 for my card-playing skills . . .
If you have an idea for a dinner party theme, I am always looking for new ones. Be a dear, and please share with us all in the comments!
What a great way to connect with friends after spending so much time alone during the pandemic. Great ideas and the recipes brought back memories of parties that my mom
had in the ’50’s.
I remember my parents having card parties when I was very young – they were into Rook. I’d love to play that, but I can’t seem to find 3 people who are interested in reviving it!
I’ll play! 🙂 They have Rook tournaments at the Rec Center here in McMinnville.
Oh, how fun! 🙂
Ashtrays! They were everywhere when I was a kid. Almost every adult I knew smoked. But I’ve never owned one.
I’ve found several really interesting, sculptural ones at estate sales and antique malls!
I love this idea. What a fun party. I will definitely be making some of these great recipes! Thanks for sharing, you look adorable
Thank you, Trudy! The recipes were really good. 🙂
You all look adorable! What a fun idea!
Thanks so much, Briana! I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
This was a great read!! Reminded me of the dinner parties my mother would host.
Thanks, Diane. I think we should bring back the card parties!
Your dress and apron look divine on you with your hair up! Looks like a marvelous time was had by all!
Thanks, Dana! I put in one of those plastic “bump-its” in the top of my hair to achieve that backcombed look on the top, haha!
I love your outfit! I have several of my grandmother’s aprons that she made herself out of printed flour sacks during the Depression! I saw the beautiful portraits hanging on the walls behind you. Do you have a portrait artist in your family?
Thank you, Susan! No artists in the family – those are part of my collection of vintage ladies’ portraits. I have about a dozen!
They are wonderful! I have a small collection of pastel portraits of family members that I love. So, these aren’t members of your family?
These are not – but I do have portraits of my parents they had done on their honeymoon. They are elsewhere in this same room.
I love that you included ashtrays and “cigarettes” on the tables! That was an inspired touch – not to mention that every recipe had a ‘name’ – so 50’s!
Thanks, Audrey! If you and Tedd want to play cards with us sometime, I’m all for it! 🙂
What a fabulous and creative idea! Watching my daughter’s crowd get so into “thrifting” for clothes these days, I’m sure half the fun for your party was shopping and getting ready for it!! And your menu and card games…what fun! Did you play music too? Thank you for sharing. : )
Thank you, Carol! My girls are wayyyy into thrifted clothes – my younger buys things that are 4 sizes too large and then alters them to fit her perfectly. We did have music – it is actually a playlist my daughter found of modern songs, but reimagined and performed in big band style. Very cool!
Wowwwww! it so awesome reminded me my grandmother, her dressing and party looks, she look gorgeous in it, loved your dining table deco thanks
Thank you, Alina! It was so fun. 🙂
What fun – you are all adorable and the polka dots are a great touch. I’m a fan of vintage clothes too, from way-back, and only recently dispersed my collection when downsizing. (but this reminds me that there were few if any vegetarians in the’50s, when even the ‘salads’ had gelatin in them) How about a fiesta-ware party, with either 30’s colors or 50’s colors to choose from?
Sandy, I love Fiesta ware! I used to have a set – but not the originals, it was a lower-quality version they put out through Macy’s. Yellow and green – those have always been my favorites!
By now I should have had a book on the “Best Way to Entertain Women.” Instead there is a huge file of parties that were given, themes, ideas, photos and writeups. My sister was the one that told me to keep it all together and write a book about it. This was all done in the early stages of life while I was still young and full of spunk. Now it’s usually a tea in the spring or fall for friends and neighbors nearby. Halloween themes are the best and women do love to dress for this occasion along with holding a” Easter Egg Hunt” by renting a place at the Sam Davis Home. No matter what you do just do it. It’s nice to do for our lady friends and gives them a time to be together.
Oh Marcy, I would LOVE to read that book! I’m sure you’ve hosted some great parties. Please share a few of your favorites that could inspire us all! 🙂
How fun! We used to play 4 hand-solitaire. We put the piles in the center of the table and we all took turns playing on them. Once someone put down a card, it was a free-for-all for all players. If you couldn’t play, you drew cards. Way more fun than single solitaire!
I have lots of old cookbooks, and anything made in a mold or stuck with toothpicks works too!
Kathy, I wish you could have been there! Nothing like a good jello mold full of lettuce and fruit, haha!