Monday, March 1, 2010

BCD gone Mad (Men)!

by Xani

It's probably not news to many of you that EP and I LOVE a good theme party. It just makes a regular party that much more fun! Plus, it gives us an excuse to wear costumes. Over the weekend, we threw one of our best theme parties yet: a Mad Men Birthday Party!

If you aren't familiar with the award-winning show (which, I have to admit, I have only seen a few episodes of myself. But I have season 1 from Netflix! Which means I'll get around to watching it approximately... NEVER.), its set in the early 1960s, in New York City and the surrounding 'burbs. Thus, the inspiration for our party! Big hair, classic cocktails, and traditional party foods (with our signature spin).

We did a lot of research and found several links with advice on throwing your own Mad Men-themed party. This one, this one, and this one helped us get started. We also surveyed our parents for cocktail and menu ideas, and came up with a few creative elements on our own! Here is what we decided on for the menu:
  • Crudites w/green goddess dressing: classic and delicious (and garlicky!)
  • Union square bar nuts: always a hit-- guests who showed up on time got to have them warm out of the oven! Oh wait, NO ONE showed up on time.
  • Deviled eggs: another classic with a slight twist. We used Blue Smoke's version, which has a hint of curry powder. All of our guests loved these and I've already had several requests for the recipe.
  • Pigs in blankets with mustard picalilli sauce: store bought piggies with a fantastic sauce (which was a repeat from our Sausage and Beer party).
  • Mini-quiche: also store-bought, but very tasty, and quiche is SO retro.
  • Crostini with mushrooms, blue cheese, and proscuitto: we made this recipe for a party MANY years ago, pre-blog. But it was good enough to remember, and our guests gobbled them up.
  • Chips & french onion dip: if you think we would just stir a packet of onion dip into sour cream, you obviously don't read this blog regularly. This version by Ina Garten was 10,000 times tastier, even if the onions took most of the afternoon to caramelize.

But most of what we read online said that a true 1960s cocktail party would be all about the cocktails. So, we made sure to set up a fully stocked bar, and supplied a bar menu so our guests could mix up some classic creations.

While we had ingredients on hand for martinis, screwdrivers, tom collins, old fashioneds, white russians, etc., the real hit of the party was the Moscow Mule. A little vodka, a squeeze of lime, a splash of ginger beer (we used the fabulous Regatta Ginger Beer, which is unparalleled by anything else I've found in the states. If you're in Canada, that's a different story). They were out-of-this-world, the bee's knees, [insert period-appropriate exclamation here]! It was the party favorite and we went through a LOT of vodka and ginger beer. Also, almost an entire bottle of Maker's Mark. Even out of plastic cups, its goes down smooth. The beer we bought (Stroh's and Ballantine's Ale, both popular in the 60s) went untouched. Guess people were really feeling the cocktail vibe!

A few more entertaining notes:

Outfits: EP and I worked tirelessly to put together the perfect outfits, along with makeup and hairdos. In fact, we did TONS of research on hair, and ended up using these helpful videos from Strawberry Koi for instructions on how to create our bouffant and up-do styles. This involved putting our hair in pincurls the night before the party, sleeping in them, then taking them out and teasing the CRAP out of our hair to create "volume." Also, LOTS of hairspray and bobby pins. We were so happy with the final results, it was worth all the effort! And we weren't the only ones dressed up-- thanks to all our fabulous friends who came in pretty frocks, seamed stockings, and skinny ties.

Good shot of our hair, but with an anachronistic Blackberry in the pic!
Erin rocking the Breakfast at Tiffanys 'do

Another fab 'do-- ignore the bunny ears

To properly set the scene, we gave my already slightly "mod" house a few extra touches. We hid modern items (like remotes and laptops), and decorated with balloons and crepe paper, which have been around forever. Also, since everyone in Mad Men is constantly smoking, we put little ashtrays with fake cigarettes (from Party City, in the costume department) on every available surface. Yes, all those cigarettes in the pictures are FAKE-- I can't imagine letting all this people smoke in my house! Not that anyone smokes anymore, but still...ew. The fake ones were an awesome prop for our pictures, along with a pair of dark-rimmed glasses (also from the costume store).
But the BEST prop was the TV, which my boyfriend Dave transformed into a good old-fashioned "boob-tube", complete with rounded screen and rabbit-ear antenna! BCD Mom and Dad lent us their DVD of Julia Child's The French Chef (which originally aired in the early 60s) to complete the effect. It was awesome. A custom Pandora Radio station was the final A/V touch (I searched for a record player, but to no avail).

My swingin' pad
Julia as she was meant to be seen!

The other thing that was awesome about this party was that EP and I celebrated our birthdays together for the very first time! With my birthday in February, and hers in July, you can see why we haven't done this before. But since her birthday was RUINED by the bar exam, we postponed her party 8 months and decided to celebrate together-- what a treat! We really did it up this time, and it paid off big-time.

Thanks again to all our friends for playing along and making this such a fun event. Now we're just waiting for the next excuse to throw a party... anyone have a good idea for a THEME??

Happy birthdays to US!!


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