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Mad Men, 1950s, and 1960s costume party ideas

Mad about ‘Mad Men?’

for The Brooklyn Paper

Photo gallery

Serve a kid-friendly mock-tini like an Atomic Cat.
Fondue is a fun nod to the 1950s.
A hula-hooping competition can be a totally hip contest.
We in no way endorse young kids smoking cigarettes, or cigarettes in general, but when this site’s editor was a little girl, it was her FAVORITE candy and she is proud to announce that she was never nor has ever had any desire to smoke. And this rare candy is a definite throw-back to the era and the show.
Vintage Barbies make great decorations or a rare giveaway.
Kosher pigs in a blanket are a crowd-pleaser.
Kids and adults will love these fun Mad Men photo props that can be purchased at Little Retreats (
Vintage ad posters are perfect for an authentic ambiance.
Pineapple upside down cake is a sweet slice of classic Americana.
Stuffed mushrooms were tres chic in the ’50s.
The Selectric II is the type of typewriter used in episodes of Mad Men.
Who wouldn’t love a Slinky as a party favor?
Have the bar or bat mitzvah boy or girl, perform in front of a live band, just like Megan Draper.

Welcome to Sterling Cooper Draper and Pearlman! A party-planning agency that will help you throw one wild bash, baby. Take a seat, have a … er, butterscotch, and let our Creatives show you our groovy, revolutionary work that is sure to win you the Emmy, or, gee whiz, we’re sorry, we meant, the envy, of all your guests!

We hear you have a child whose bar mitzvah is coming up and we’ve got the perfect pitch for you: celebrate today’s evolving culture with a Mad Men theme.

Dress code

The best thing about Mad Men is the fabulous fashions, so make it a costume party. If you’re a guy, don slicked-backed hair with a small flip at the front and draper yourself in a brown, blue, mustard, or grey suit and paisley tie in order to look as sleek and dapper as Don Draper. Also give a suit pocket a stylish handkerchief and clip on a tie pin.

Girls can sport hairstyles like a beehive, chignon, pompadour that Betty Francis would be proud of, or a ponytail with wispy bangs like a young Peggy Olson. And always make sure hair has a lot of volume further back in the crown. Ladies can also have fun with clothes by wearing cat-eye glasses, bold-colored dresses that cinch at your waist, gloves, pearl and retro drop earrings, dramatic A-line and pencil skirts, broaches, silk scarves, and pointy-toe heels.


Head secretary and partner Joan Harris has planned a menu full of wholesome slices of Americana. Start with yummy appetizers like homemade French onion dip, stuffed mushrooms, kosher pigs in a blanket, or crackers and cheese. Don’t forget to serve deviled eggs and crudités. We will also be sure to provide plenty of our clients’ Utz’s potato chips and Heinz baked beans. We can also serve some of Betty’s classic pot roast or crispy fried chicken with smashed potatoes. For extra kitsch, serve meals on plates that looks like frozen food trays and offer a vintage candy bar filled with Atomic Fire Balls, Wax Bottles, Jawbreakers, Charleston Chews, Tootsie Rolls, chocolate coins, and Pez dispensers that feature 1950s iconology.

Like most execs at Sterling Cooper Draper and Pearlman, we will also make sure you have a well-stocked bar for all your gusts to enjoy, even the kids. Minors will get a taste of adulthood, sans the hangover, with an array of mocktails like watermelon mint chillers, virgin lemon drops, and Grapefruit and pomegranate soda, as well as a fine selection scotches, bourbons, rum, and gin. For desert, serve your guests red velvet or pineapple upside down cake, lemon bars, Jell-O, or Rice Krispie Treats and vanilla wafers with a side of ambrosia fruit salad. And, of course, don’t forget about a ’60s favorite — chocolate fondue.


Peggy Olson, one of our most impressive Creatives, has designed the perfect ambiance for your party. We can name each of your tables after the characters on Mad Men — you can even place your guests at the tables best suited to their personalities. For example, send your wisecracking uncle to Roger Sterling’s table. Decorate the room with tokens of the time like records, astronaut and John F. Kennedy paraphernalia, pink flamingoes, vintage posters and Barbie dolls, rotary phones, card organizers, and typewriters. It may also be fun to add some linoleum, wood paneling, and AstroTurf to your decor as well as bubble gum pink, yellow, and mint green accents.

Entertainment and giveaways

Nothing says 1950s like a photo booth, especially when you have fun Mad Men-like photo props to make great keepsakes. For entertainment, a limbo or hula-hooping contest will get guests moving and shaking. Or if you want to get the creative juices flowing, like the characters in the show, find a product that became popular later in the 1960s, like a lava lamp, and ask guests to think of an ad or slogan for the product — and the winner gets a pogo stick! A hula lesson in honor of the trip Don and Megan took to Hawaii could be a seriously hip idea as well. Hire a Beatle’s cover band to play classic hits with dancers that can teach guests how to do the twist. You can even have the bar or bat mitzvah boy or girl perform with the band, just like Megan did at Don’s birthday party. For favors, give guests silly putty and slinkies — these, along with the photos and vintage candy will make guests feel like your party was like wow.

Thank you for your time, ladies and gentlemen, but we must be going — we have a meeting with Chevrolet in twenty minutes!

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