Everyone loves a good theme party, but decorating to keep it consistent can break the bank if you're not careful. You can throw a retro party without blowing your budget, using some no- to low-cost trimmings to bring 1950s charm to your party room. Transport your guests back to the good ol' days with some decorating ideas as simple as the era itself.
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Know Your Colors
You can create a fifties feel in your party room just by restricting the colour palette to a few select hues popular in the 1950s. Kids-birthday-party-guide.com suggests combining teal, pink and black. You can also add white to the mix and include checkerboard patterns, which were popular for diner decor in the 1950s and can help guests remember summer afternoons spent in the soda shop.
Print Your Own Wall Decorations and Make Your Own Streamers
The Internet offers a number of free resources great for hosts decorating on the cheap. You can use free clip art sites to find pictures of jukeboxes and girls in poodle skirts, print them off, and hang them up on the walls of your party room. It's easy to find pictures of popular fifties icons, including Elvis, Marylin Monroe and James Dean using Google Images. Hang these on your walls to make your guests feel like they're at an old-school retro diner. Print pictures on card stock to avoid curling, or take family portraits out of their frames for the evening and replace them with your fifties-inspired photos.
With just a bit of construction paper, you can make other homemade wall decorations. Try paper chains in your theme colours, or cut out music notes to hang on the walls around the party area.
Dust Off Your Old Records
Add a retro feel to your home by hanging records from the ceiling and making your own snack bowls from unwanted 33 1/3s. Scour your attic and ask friends and relatives for their old records. If you can't find any for free, garage sales and thrift stores have old records for sale, sometimes for only 25 cents apiece. To make a snack bowl out of an old record, ThemePartiesNMore.com says to start by setting your oven to 93.3 degrees C. Put the record in the oven on top of an upside down oven safe bowl placed on a baking tray. Wait 2-5 minutes, until the record has taken the shape of the bowl. Remove from the oven, and refine the shape of your record bowl using your hands and oven gloves. Wait a few more minutes until the record is cool to the touch to remove it from the outside of the oven safe bowl. The record will keep its new shape, making it perfect for holding snacks and candy.
Decorating the Table
Grab a few glass jars from your kitchen cupboards. You can use more decorative kitchen jars, or old glass food jars if you don't have any store bought ones. Fill them with candy and gum you might find at a 1950s corner store, like Double Bubble gum, black ball jaw breakers and small gummy candies. Tape homemade price tags on each jar (10 cents each, etc.) and line the jars up in the middle of the table as a centrepiece. If you have tall sundae glasses, give guests their drinks in those for the evening. If not, you can always pull out glasses in one of your theme's colours, or make black and white checkerboard cups by taping a strip of checkerboard paper to the outside of white, plastic cups. Find checkerboard prints for free on the Internet.
Setting the Mood
If you have a TV in the party room, play Grease or another movie set in the fifties on loop, keeping the volume low so guests can chatter. If you can't find any retro movies in your personal collection, you can download clips from YouTube using the free tool from SaveYouTube.com. Assemble the clips in a playlist using your favourite computer media player, hook your computer up to the TV and play the clips you have collected.
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