Monday, August 24, 2009

Mad Men Themed Event

Mad Men is AMC's runaway hit now in its 3rd season. The undertone is 60's swank. As Style Redux suggested (BIG thank you for the suggestion, Air kiss, Air kiss!) a Mad Men party would be awesome as a fund raiser or a screening marathon at your home. For the hipster who wants an old school cocktail party, just watch even one episode and you'll know what to do!
You'll want to concentrate on your cocktails and canapes. Long before the chips and salsa appetizer, housewives toiled on their hors d'oeuvres. A great source for recipes might be your mother/grandmothers' cookbooks. I'll post more Mad Men specifics later regarding food and drinks.
Meanwhile, find those spiral-bound ladies auxiliary compilations to get authentic period choices. No "ants on a log" here. Mad Men cuisine connotes dishes a woman has toiled over all afternoon, or entrees from a Manhattan restaurant with crisp white tablecloths. Think shrimp cocktails and little beef wellingtons. A cheese ball is mandatory. Don't you dare plop it on a plate. Garnish with grapes.
Get out the good silver; beg, borrow or buy vintage serving pieces that haven't seen the light of day since '71, when glamour went to hell in a macrame handbag. You know, totally superfluous cheese domes and pastry forks and small tiered platters. My mother's are still stored in their original boxes, circa '70.
As for your drinks, visit the official Mad Men website to check out 1960s cocktails. Even if your party is small, consider hiring a professional bartender so the drinks look fantastic while they do the job! Of course, said bartender should be in proper attire (Aside: have you seen the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry destroys yet another lovely evening at Ted Danson's house by demanding to know why Ted made the bartender wear a tux - hilarious!)

Some Visual Cues Evocative of the Mad Men World:

You're going to need plenty of proper barware, so if you don't have full sets of the glasses needed for a Mad Men cocktail party you might want to consider renting. I love a proper cocktail party because plastic cups and (kack!) acrylic champagne glasses (kack! pardon me - hairball)... give way to old fashioned glass or crystal, which gets washed and put back into the cupboard (ostensibly). Less post-party garbage goes to the landfill! Hooray!

I might leave out the little boxes, but these mini martini candles (below) are cute! A caveat about candles on tables, learned the hard way: people will light them and try to burn down the centerpiece. I've seen it done scores of times, in groups who are old enough to know better (like 40). If your Mad Men event is large scale, you might position these stacked attractively by the coat check or near exits.

All of my shin-digs, large and small, include plenty of chocolate for my guests. I leave elegant chocolates in the guest room, pile shallow dishes full of mini candy bars, and scatter them on tables at seated events. Nothing connotes Mad Men elegance like some vintage monograms. I channel my grandmother, and her raspy, waspy voice tells me to make sure things are gleaming silver in unexpected places like fancy chocolate labels:

Perfect for your arty couple or 21st birthday celebrant! Perhaps your Mad Men themed party celebrates an engagement or an anniversary. If so, consider this chic cake topper (below). Again, think monograms.

The bottle stopper above makes a perfect little gift for your hipster host or hostess!

I think the locket below is a sleek accessory that would fit the theme and make your bridesmaids/groomsmen/posse/peeps very happy.

A Mad Men party invitation possibility

How cool: a Mad Men New Year's Eve Party!

That's all for now. Watch this space for Pauline and Gloria's best cocktail and dinner party fare from the 60s. Thanks, Grammies! Update: 1-17-11 please click here to see the newest post in the Mad Men-theme series!


  1. Kitty-You are wonderful. This is fabulous. I knew you would do a swank, sophisticated, and elegant approach-shrimp, beef wellington, chocolate, silver, monograms, real cocktails-you are my kind of girl! Thankfully no pigs in a blanket anywhere. Another great idea on the cookbooks-my neighborhood which is right out of Mad Men puts out a cookbook every few years-I have them dating back to the 50s. The new one is about to come out-I have 2 gourmet deviled egg recipes and 3 cocktail recipes in it. It is full of great ideas. I am so excited to have a party like this-exactly my style. Thanks for such a wonderful post.

  2. SR2: you are too kind! i couldn't have done it without you!!!

  3. Incredibly clever Kitty. I would love to party Mad Men style with you. You are certainly quite the top notch hostess. I go nuts for themed parties & this idea is not short of fabulous. Link away my cocktail my friend. I am impressed too that you point out the lack of waste if we learn to use less plastic & paper at our parties and learn to re-visit washing our plates & glass ware! Great job Kitty ~ Deb

  4. Deb, thanks so much! Can you imagine how fun this could be? Style Redux suggested this idea; I've become so attached to it, I am going to keep adding to the theme, and I will possibly even style one of my holiday parties "Circa '62!" I'll do it in honor of all the Kennedys! Watch this space for further developments!