You might have to ask to borrow some props from your grandparents for this jam, but setting the mood is easy as pie. Get guests in the right time period by having everyone dress in poodle skirts and leather jackets. And don’t forget the signature hair trends: ducktails and bouffants for everyone!
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Decor can be as simple or detailed as you like, and sticking to a colour scheme makes everything pop (we went with cherry red and powder blue). Make a paper sign with the birthday girl’s name and hang it on the door to welcome guests. Set up your space like a diner with checkered tablecloths, red-and-white striped straws, ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles and clear jars filled with old-fashioned candies like salt-water taffy and Tootsie Rolls. Cut out music notes from black construction paper and hang from the ceiling over the dance floor. Add in some blow-up musical instruments for an air guitar session to Elvis later on.
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Food for this fête is a snap: Just throw on a waitress uniform and serve up kid-friendly hot dogs, burgers and fries, with ice cream floats to wash it all down. And for dessert? This amazing burger cake (don’t worry, it’s easier to make than it looks).
Make cones out of cardstock and tape the sides together. Blow up colourful balloons and have guests try to catch the “scoops of ice cream” in their cones.
Get hula hoops from the dollar store and have a hula-hoop contest.
Set up two trays with plastic food and cutlery. Divide guests into two teams and have them carry the trays through an obstacle course, then pass the tray off to the next in line. If a tray is spilled, the racer must do a dance move.
Download our free printable customizable invitation here. Add your party details and cut out along the dotted lines. Trace a larger circle on black paper and cut out, then glue the circles together.
A version of this article appeared in our February 2014 issue with the headline “Malt shop party”, p. 20.