Benchmark birthdays come along faster than we expect. A mere blink and we are looking at numbers that kind of shock us. So rather than fret we decided to celebrate. With a super fun, Sock Hop Birthday Party.
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My sweetheart and helper here at GPTHeart has now lived upon this earth for 70 years. Gulp! Our youngest daughter, Abbey came by to talk about a party for her dad. We did a little research about what was happening way back in 1949.
With the hard times of the depression behind and post World War II prosperity beginning, America began growing again by raising families, buying big cars, televisions, going to the movies, enjoying the newest fashion and their sport figures.
In 1949, the average cost of a new home was $7,450 and average wage per year was $2,950. A new car would cost you about $1,420 and you’d pay 17 cents per gallon to fill it with gas. Making a minimum wage of 70 cents per hour might go toward purchasing a pound of bacon for 50 cents.
You might be able to afford a self-defrosting refrigerator that was first offered for sale in 1949. Or watch The Betty Crocker TV show premier starring Adelaide Hawley Cumming as Betty Crocker.
A Sock Hop
Abbey thought a Sock Hop would be a great theme for a party. I thought Sock Hops were a thing of the 1950’s. We learned they were held as early as 1944 by the American Junior Red Cross to raise funds during the war.
Sock Hops became a fad among American teenagers in 1948 and were commonly held at high school gymnasiums. The term came about because dancers were required to remove their hard-soled shoes to protect the varnished floor of the gymnasium.
Sock Hop Birthday Party
We didn’t plan a dance party, but went with the Sock Hop theme that included food and a lot of fun. If you would like to re-create a Sock Hop Birthday Party for adults I am sharing all of the ideas we used and the how-to’s for you to make it happen. You will find a theme related menu, recipes, decorations, games, a music playlist, photo booth ideas, a root beer float bar and a printable planner to help keep you all organized and on top of things.
Almost all of the food and serving photos were taken during setup. I got way too busy interacting with guests to take pics once everyone began arriving. You will see gaps and empty bowls on the table but it will allow you to see lots of the setup.
Chili con Carne is both perfect for a cold winter day plus it was a popular food back in the day. A large slow cooker keeps it hot and ready.
Since diners were and remain a popular eating place, especially in our neck of the woods, we comprised a menu of food typically found on a diner menu of that era.
- Chili con Carne
- Sweet Honey Cornbread
- Baked Potatoes with sour cream, butter, fresh snipped chives (for those who like their chili served atop a baker)
- Hot dogs and buns with condiments
- Fruit tray with Creamy Orange Fruit Dip
- Veggie tray with Ranch Buttermilk Dressing for dipping
- Deviled eggs
- Macaroni salad
- Three bean salad
RETRO HOT DOGS AND POPCORN
Who would had thought… our guests wiped out the roasted hot dogs! I roasted them in a toaster oven in a couple of batches and they kept nice and warm in a slow cooker.
Desserts and Sweet Treats
- Birthday Cake (purchased)
- Additional desserts: Hostess Twinkies, cupcakes and baked treats
- Glazed Angel food cake with fresh strawberries
- Root Beer Floats
- 1949 era candy
Often, finding enough space on the serving table is hard. The use of tiered trays is a great solution. Multilevel arrangements also make the table more attractive. I used several to hold desserts, fruits and veggies and even the baked potatoes.
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Sugar Free Punch
Water garnished with fruit
Black Russian Cocktail (Abbey found several recipes online but they were strong so she adjusted and we added a lot of cream!)
The traditional cocktail known as a Black Russian, which first appeared in 1949, becomes a White Russian with the addition of cream. Neither drink is Russian in origin, but both are so named due to vodka being the primary ingredient. It is unclear which drink preceded the other.
Make/design your own invitations or use the one I created above. Add your invitation information then order invitations online or save to a flash drive and take to your local business supply store for printing. Don’t forget envelopes, if they don’t come with the printing, I ordered 5 x 7-inch cards that came with envelopes. Send invitations by mail or online. Note: There are instructions provided in the available planner below on how to fill out your party information if you use the one above.
SOCK HOP ATTIRE
In Abbey’s huge excitement about this party, she purchased an adorable dress online. If you are able, cute sock hop costumes can be purchased but you can probably find something in your closet that will work with just a few accessories to bring it all together.
A neck scarf in an iconic pink or red and a straight-legged pair of jeans or carpi pants is a super cute outfit. Polka dots were very popular as well. And don’t overlook those pointy eye glasses. They are inexpensive and so fun.
Guys can pull the look off with a white t-shirt, jeans and a black jacket.
1949-ish Hair styles
I wore my hair in a simple pony tail tied up with a scarf. Abbey had her oldest sister give her a realist style to go with the dress she bought. Though our tiniest guest hasn’t much hair yet, she was styling with a headband to match her itty-bitty poodle skirt.
For the guys… a slicked back look is perfect or maybe a handsome pompadour.
THE SERVING TABLE
A trick to feel less stressed and able to enjoy the guests and fun, have the serving table(s) prepared in advance. The day before, gather all serving pieces, bowls, utensils, decorations and everything else needed for the table. Take time to think through everything you will be serving so place appropriate bowls and items in a logical position for guests. I use lots of Post-it sticky notes for items that are in the refrigerator or elsewhere and have to wait to be placed on the table.
This is especially important when the table space is tight. I used just about every inch of the table space and at the time of serving it was easy to place food without fuss.
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Keeping with the color theme of red, aqua and black we made the foyer festive as guests entered for the party. Spirals and paper decorations add much to liven areas throughout.
A wall photo collage is a fun and relatively inexpensive party decoration that provides many sweet memories. Print out photos of the guest of honor through the years in either sepia or black and white then attach them to a wall in the birthday number. We used small pieces of Removable Adhesive Putty on the back of each photo. It holds well and comes off easily with no marks left behind.
For ease and convenience, photos can be uploaded and ordered online. I used PicMonkey to make the change from color photos to black and white and then sent them to Walmart photo center to be ready in one-hour.
Party games are a great way for people to laugh and connect with one another. The following games are super fun and don’t require expensive supplies. It is pretty hysterical to watch the competitiveness and silliness come alive! I found some hilarious Minute to Win It challenges on the internet and settled on the following because they seemed good in a home environment.
Suck it up
In this game, the players use a straw and their sucking breath to grab an M&M candy and then deposit it atop another straw standing in a vertical position. I’d rate this game as mildly challenging and a good one to get guests warmed up for participating.
Using no hands and just your nose, the goal is to transfer as many cotton balls from one plate to another, being careful to gather up enough petroleum jelly to hold the ball but not so much that you can’t shake it off again. It is easier than it looks 🙂
Face the Cookie
I laugh out loud every time I see these photos. What a fun game! Using just the facial muscles, the player must move cookies from their forehead to their mouth. No need to eat the cookies just get them in!
Junk in the Trunk
This challenge begins with ping pong balls loaded inside empty tissue boxes attached with a belt or tie just above the player’s rump. The goal is to be the first to get all of the balls to exit the box by jumping, shaking, bending or wiggling. Quite an exhilarating time!
Party Game Prizes
It is amazing what competitive people will do for a small prize! We found some candy and toys reminiscent of the era to use as prizes calculated using a simple point method. Just about all participants received a prize. Local coffee and donut store gift cards make nice prizes too.
Did you know Silly Putty was first marketed as a toy back in 1949? And did you know that Swedish Fish are very popular among adults playing silly games and that some sock hop party-goers become most disappointed when they didn’t win them 😉
Who doesn’t love a photo booth! It brings out the silliness in all of us. Don a hat, a pair of glasses or a bubble sign and grab a friend for a lively pic. Abbey made a really cute vintage TV screen by duplicating something she saw on Pinterest.
Photo Booth Props
Provide signs, scarves, glasses and bow ties props for guests to be creative in their photos. Use a phone camera or digital for capturing the shots. We set up my DSLR camera with flash attachment on a tripod and a remote but any reliable camera will work.
If you don’t want to make a TV prop like Abbey did, a large empty frame looks nice or skip the frame all together.
ROOT BEER FLOAT BAR
Sharing a root beer float at the ice cream counter of a local drug store was a highlight back in the day. And root beer floats are just as yummy as ever! Guests can create their own floats for a delicious treat.
Place containers of Ice cream in a large basin of ice, provide scoops, cups, straws, Jimmies, maraschino cherries and whipped cream.
Jukebox Music Playlist
Because music sets the mood be sure to have it playing in the background. We downloaded, Sock Hop, a playlist by Brian Joseph Romano on Spotify and played it throughout the evening.
SOCK HOP PARTY PLANNER AND CHECKLIST
Are you excited to plan your own Sock Hop Party? I’ve got it ALL planned out for you in a FREE to subscribers, 30+ page complete planner with detailed checklists covering every aspect for a super fun event.
Have a blast with a themed food menu, recipes, decorations, super fun games, cute outfits and costumes, music playlist, sensational photo props and a Fantastic Root beer float bar. Fully detailed and helpful scheduling guide, shopping lists, buffet table setup and more to keep you on track and able to enjoy the celebration.
Keep from feeling frazzled knowing you have it all under control.
Here are some of the pages included in planner…
- Guest list and addresses
- Invitation ready to fill in your own specific party information
- Menu planning
- Party food and beverages with recipes
- Party Dessert suggestions
- Dessert recipes
- Photo booth how-to
- Photo booth, supply links to purchase online, for convenience
- Party games with supply list and printable directions
- Popcorn and Hot dog station with supply list
- Decorating inspiration
- Party theme Sock Hop clothing suggestions and ideas for hair styles and accessories
- Serving table/buffet layout, decorating and setup
- Reminders and suggestion for specific serving pieces to have ready
- Shopping List for party supplies and nonperishable items
- Grocery shopping list for food items
- Prep timetable for getting tasks done in advance, a few days before, the day before and the day of the party.
Subscribe to get your FREE
Sock Hop Party Planner!
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What fun! You pulled out all the stops and created a wonderful party! I’m sure it was great to combine creative forces with your daughter. Enthusiasm is contagious!
Happy Birthday to your Hubby!
You have so many great party ideas. Love the tiered trays for serving and post it notes are brilliant for organizing and steering helpers into knowing what gets placed where.
I love the photo collage arranged in the birthday age! I am using that idea.
Such a great party….good food, good people and loads of laughter. And that baby wearing the poodle skirt is t
he icing on the cake!
Ann Thompson says
What a fun theme for a party. You guys did a great job at putting everything together. You should be professional party planners 🙂
Happy Birthday to John
How fun! I love the baby with her poodle skirt, so adorable.
Everything was perfect! 🙂