50s Theme Party: Everything You Need To Step Back in Time

When planning a 50s-themed party, the first thing to consider is what type of event you’re going for. Is it a dinner party, a casual get-together, or a milestone birthday party?

Will there be dancing? Are you aiming for a 1950s diner look or something more classic with leather jackets, cat-eye glasses, and bright colors?

Why plan a 50s Theme Party?

Parties are a wonderful way to get people together. Themed parties add an entirely new level to the experience for your guests. There are many party themes to choose from, but few have more inspiration to draw on than a 50’s theme party.

The 1950s were known for their vibrant culture, classic style, and nostalgic vibes making it the perfect theme to choose for any occasion. 

A 50s themed party can bring this atmosphere to life with vintage decorations, music, food and fashion. Whether it’s a birthday party, anniversary party or just an excuse to get together with friends and family, planning a 50s theme party is sure to be unforgettable.


For starters, the party decor is one of the best parts of planning any themed event and especially when it comes to the 50s. There are so many iconic elements from this era that make great decorations including diner signs, classic cars, neon lights, and more.

You want to create an atmosphere that evokes the era—something that will transport your guests right back to the 50s! 

Backdrop Ideas

A 50s backdrop can be the foundation of your party decor and set the scene. Think bubblegum machines, jukeboxes, and milkshake bars. 

A backdrop can transform any venue into a location that evokes feelings of nostalgia for your guests and transports your guests from the reality of day-to-day life and into the vibe of the 1950s.

Bubblegum machines, jukeboxes and milkshake bars are all iconic pieces from this decade and will instantly transport your guests back in time.

These items can be rented or purchased depending on your budget; look to vintage stores, flea markets or websites like Etsy for unique one-of-a-kind finds. Alternatively, modern versions of these classic pieces can often be found at home stores.

50s Style Color Scheme Ideas

The 1950s were known for bright, vibrant colors that could be seen everywhere from clothing to home decor. Think hot pink, turquoise blue, sunshine yellow, and red.

To really set the tone for your party, you should use these colors in your decorations and even as accents in your outfit. Consider adding a few touches of black or white to give your look an extra vintage vibe.

Milkshake Centerpieces

Milkshakes are the perfect centerpiece for a 50s theme and can be used to create a fun and inviting atmosphere.

I like to incorporate these centerpieces into my party decor by incorporating classic milkshake glasses with 50s inspired decore and accents. 

A jukebox is a perfect 1950s inspired item that will set the scene for your party.
Photo by Max Tcvetkov on Unsplash


The Jukebox is an iconic artifact from the 50s. You can go as far as renting a real jukebox for the party or use images of jukeboxes to evoke the nostalgia of the era. 

Food and Drinks

Don’t forget about the food! If you’re hosting a dinner party, opt for classic diner fare like burgers and fries served on paper plates with metal cutlery. For something more casual like a sock hop party, consider setting up a milkshake bar or soda shop with snacks like Twinkies and popcorn balls.

If your venue is themed after a 50s diner, enhance that diner vibe by recreating a diner menu full of iconic diner food. Think greasy spoon – cheeseburgers, fries, onion rings, hot dogs.

Burgers and fries are a perfect food for your 50s themed party.
Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

Milkshake Bar Options

A milkshake bar is an absolute must! Not only does it add to the fun atmosphere, but guests will love being able to customize their own milkshakes.

When setting up your milkshake bar, make sure to provide plenty of options for customization. Include different flavors of ice cream like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint.

But feel free to modernize those milkshakes too with some modern and familiar mixins and candies. 

Diner Food Options

Consider classic diner-style treats like burgers, fries, shakes, and sundaes for that authentic 1950s look. You can also consider incorporating retro soda flavors like cherry cola or root beer into your menu.

50s themed diners are a perfect venue for your 1950s inspired party.
Photo by Lorenzo Nafissi on Unsplash

50s Themed Party Candy

You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of delicious snacks and treats to enjoy. One of the best ways to add an authentic touch is to include classic candies from the 1950s.

Although some of these sweet treats are no longer available in stores, there are still a few classics that can be found with a bit of searching.

Some popular candy that was popular in the 50s are: Taffy, Charleston Chew, Atomic Fireball, and Pez.

50s Themed Music, Entertainment, and Games

To complete the 50s feel of your party, you need some classic tunes! Think Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and James Dean—all staples of the era! Make sure to have some danceable songs ready so your guests can really get into it. 

Songs to Play

Take it up a notch and rent a jukebox and hire a DJ to help get everyone on their feet and dancing the night away.

You can use this Spotify playlist to get you started in crafting your own:

Costume Contest

To add a bit of extra fun to your party, why not organize a costume contest? Encourage your guests to come dressed in their best retro threads.

Leather jackets, cat-eye glasses and bright colors are all great ideas. And don’t forget the most iconic celebrity of the 50s—Marilyn Monroe!

Everyone will have a blast dressing up. Don’t miss the opportunity to make it a costume party! It will be sure to enhance the vibe.

Sock Hop!

Ah, the classic 1950s sock hop! Nothing puts you in a nostalgic mood like an old-fashioned sock hop. It’s the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or just have some fun with your friends!

A sock hop party is a classic 1950s-themed event that is perfect for a 50s theme party. To plan a sock hop party, start by choosing a venue that fits the theme. A school gymnasium, community center, or recreation hall would be ideal for recreating the retro feel of a sock hop. 

You can also consider hiring a live band or a dance troupe to teach the kids classic dances from the 1950s, such as the Twist or the Hand Jive.

You’ll also want to plan some activities that fit the sock hop theme, such as a hula hoop contest, a bubble gum-blowing contest, or a dance competition. 

Fifties Music Singalong

Turn that Spotify playlist into a game and see how many of the classics your guests know. If you’re planning a party for kids, turn this into a learning activity.

Some of the music from the 1950s is iconic and recognizable by parents and adults.

Play a 50s Themed Party Game

When it comes to 50s themed games, you have a lot of options.

Try having everyone split into teams and give each team a list of questions about the era. The questions can range from popular music artists to landmark events that took place during the 1950s. 

Have each team try to answer as many as they can. Try adding an extra layer of fun by having a judge or panel of judges to select the best answers.

The team with the most points, wins!

50s Themed Party Supplies

Don’t go generic with your party supplies. Use the 50s theme inspiration to go above and beyond. The theme lends itself to bright colors and iconic symbols like cars, dresses, glasses, etc.

Over The Top 50s Party Theme Ideas

Are you that friend that is just… extra? Do you go over the top in your planning to throw the best parties? These over-the-top party ideas are just what you need.

Build a milkshake bar

If you’re planning a 50s themed party, a milkshake bar is an absolute must! It’s easy to set up and can be tons of fun. All you need are some delicious milkshakes, glass mason jars, and plenty of topping options.

Rent or build a bar with barstools and serve your friend’s hand made milkshakes made to order. 

Rent a parking lot and recreate a drive-in movie

Drive-in theaters were a favorite attraction in the mid to late 1950s. By 1958 there were over 4,000 drive-in movie theaters. 

Sadly most of those have closed as people have moved on to new and varied forms of entertainment. Perhaps because we can watch content any time any day on screens that live in our pockets. 

Alas, this gives us yet another over-the-top party idea to create nostalgia in your 1950s-themed party.

Find a parking lot large enough to hold enough cars and approach the owner about renting it out for an evening. Invite all your friends to drive their cars there, rent a big screen, and setup a concession stand filled with snacks and popcorn.

Build a retro-themed soda fountain

Source a vintage soda fountain from an old diner or restaurant and setup a soda bar and serve your guests with unlimited colas from the 1950s. 

Diet-rite, Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, Pepsi. This is your soda bar, mix and match!

Rent a local restaurant and transform it into a 50s Diner

A classic mental image from the 1950s is that of an old diner bar with barstools, milkshakes and soda. Rent an old diner or restaurant and recreate the scene as your venue. 


In conclusion, planning a 50s themed party can be both fun and rewarding. With the right decorations, activities, and music, you can create an unforgettable experience for your guests. From sock hops to milkshake bars and retro-themed soda fountains, the possibilities are endless. With a bit of creativity and imagination, you can step back in time for a night.

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