How to Host a Totally Groovy 60s Theme Party

August 03, 2022 by Anna-Bet Stemmet

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As party themes go, the 60s theme party is a total classic. If you are just starting out hosting at home, and want to go with a forgiving theme to ease into things, we highly recommend going this route. Here’s why.  

Why 60s theme parties are always a gas

A 60s birthday party is one of those themes that can be adapted to reflect your favorite bit of the era. After all, there were countless layers to this particular decade. On the one hand, you have the John Draper Mad Men vibe with dapper suits, jaunty hats, and cinched waists. On the other hand, there is the Dirty Dancing-inspired summery teenage holiday feel. Not to mention the hippies, of course! There is so much fun to be had with bellbottoms, tie-dye, and John Lennon glasses. 

The short of the long is that you can 100% choose the bit of the 1960s you love best and turn it into a full-on party backdrop. You’re the one hosting, after all! So, whether you want to drape a cute twin set over your shoulders and rock horn-rim glasses, or want to braid your hair with daisies and get groovy, the 60s theme will work either way.  

How to decorate for 1960s themed parties

1960s party decor

There are a few ways to go when you set the scene for a party in this particular decade. See, 1960s party decorations can actually lean into various aspects of this popular era. For instance, you could choose to host a:  

  • Classy 60s themed party with a Jackie Kennedy cocktail party setup (think retro pastel colors, swivel chairs, cocktail party attire, tasteful flower arrangements in art deco containers) 
  • Hippy hangout with bean bags, lava lamps, dream catchers, and tie-dye backdrops (bonus points if you can fit a VW van in your yard!) 
  • Free-love outdoor music festival situation with peace signs, ‘make love not war’ posters, and daisy garlands 

The trick here is to decide on a direction and stick with it. Then make sure that your guests know which angle you are taking as well by making it clear on your invitations.  

Far-out grub to serve at a retro 60s theme party

1960s party food

Of course, no 60s party would be complete without some great food and drinks. You could do a sit-down do if you wanted to, but since this decade has a (mostly) relaxed vibe to it, we tend to lean towards cocktails and appetizers.  

Our favorite appetizers for a 60s party include:  

  • Devilled eggs in all its glorious forms  
  • Shrimp cocktail hanging from the edges of coupe glasses or little shot glasses  
  • Bites on sticks (cheese and pineapple; olives; cocktail sausages, etc.) 
  • Rolled sandwiches with vintage fillings like sandwich spread 
  • Gelatine salads and molded salmon mousse (if you’re feeling super retro!) 

Front view of Manhattan Cocktails garnished with fresh cherries

Our 6 go-to 1960s party cocktails include:  

  1. Manhattan. Made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, it’s a potent cocktail with complex flavors and a mellow finish.
  2. Grasshopper. Served in a frosted martini glass, it’s an iconic and sophisticated green drink.  
  3. Whiskey Sour. This foamy drink combines whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and raw egg white for a refreshing warm-weather drink.  
  4. Mint Julep. Served in a pewter cup for that extra frost factor, this Gatsby-era slow sipper is one of the prevailing bourbon-based summer cocktails for a reason – it’s a total classic.  
  5. Sidecar. The Sidecar is a delightful sour cocktail made with cognac, orange liqueur, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  
  6. Mai Tai. Made with rum, orange curaçao, fresh lime juice, and almond syrup, this tart cocktail is very rum-forward, with a gentle orange and lime finish.   

Groovy games to play at a 60s birthday party

1960s party games

One of the most important steps of learning how to plan a birthday party based on any era is realizing that you need an activity or two. Sure, you could play it fast and loose and leave people to do their own mingling, but when you have a diverse group of friends attending who don’t all know each other as well as you know them, an ice breaker or two is a fun way to set the scene for an easy vibe.  

Here are a few games that work well in a retro 60s theme party setting:  

  • Twister (great fun, awesome for a laugh) 
  • Making daisy chains and applying fake tattoos  
  • 1960s karaoke  
  • 1960s charades  

What to put in a 60s party favor bag

1960s party favors

Party favors are a cute, memorable way of rounding off an evening of celebratory shenanigans. Here are a few 60s party favors that will delight your guests on their way out the door:  

  • DIY tie-dye kits 
  • Incense  
  • Hippie-themed bumper stickers  
  • Mix CDs with 1960s tunes (next-level retro) 
  • Recipe booklet with classic 60s dishes + an ingredient or two 
  • Buff or headband in a 60s-inspired print 

There you have it – the five boxes you need to tick in order to host a totally groovy 60s theme party at home. Stay mellow and have a gas – you’re going to nail it! 


Choose the 1960s vibe you want to explore (hippy, JFK, Mad Men, etc.), then use this to inform your decor, food, drinks, ice-breaker games and party favors. The key lies in choosing your angle and having fun with it!

Choose an angle (e.g., hippy, music festival, Mad Men, Jackie Kennedy) and use this as your inspiration to set the scene. Keep it simple - choose a few hero pieces (e.g., lava lamps, tie-dye table cloths), and don't feel pressured to over-style your event. It's just the backdrop to your party after all!

It all depends on what type of 1960s party it is. If there is a Mad Men vibe, it's going to be sharp suits, cinched waists and red lips. If it's going the way of the hippy, you can lean into tie-dye, bellbottoms and daisy chains. Check the invite, and ask your host to get clarity before you commit.

The sixties had great music. Some of the most popular artists from this era include The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, The Supremes, Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Mamas & The Papas.

The sixties as a wonderfully complex era with plenty of layers. The free-love hippy scene is a favorite party direction because it's colorful and laid-back. However, there is also the horn-rimmed glasses retro JFK feeling that can be explored. It all comes down to the ambiance you want to set.

Twister, spin the bottle, and LP listening were all popular party pursuits in the 1960s.

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