When you think of classic Christmas gatherings, images of ugly sweater parties, cookie swaps, and caroling likely come to mind. The holidays and nostalgia go hand-in-hand. Consider hosting an old-fashioned-themed Retro Holiday Party to recreate vintage holiday magic this year!
A party embracing retro flair transports guests back to the Christmas celebrations of yesteryear. From décor to activities to food and music, make merry in old-time style. Below, you’ll find tips and inspiration to throw a swinging holiday bash full of retro charm. Let’s rewind back to the holidays of the past!
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Set the Scene with Vintage Party Décor for Retro Holiday Party
First, set the ambiance by decking your party space in old-fashioned flair. Christmas décor of the 30s, 40s, and 50s featured classic colors, natural materials, and charm galore. Here’s how to recreate vintage holiday style:
Showcase a classic tree trimmed in colorful glass ornaments, pinecones, beads, tinsel garland, and angel toppers.
Hang plaid ribbons and wreaths made from holly and evergreen on doors and mantles. Include festive holly leaves.
Drape twinkle lights along the stair rail, windowsills, counters, and door frames. Go for large, clear C9 bulbs.
Display nutcrackers, carolers, sleighs, and Father Christmas figures. Folk art styles are perfect.
Include candles galore in holiday scents like pine, spice, and peppermint. Cluster votives and tea lights everywhere for a warm glow.
Use vintage holiday linens like red or green velvet tablecloths and napkins tied with jingle bells.
Craft a festive holiday centerpiece with pinecones, holly, berries, and evergreen sprigs in a vintage milk glass vase. Include retro bottle brush trees.
Trim out a buffet with pine garland and platters full of Christmas cookies, candy, nuts and fruit for guests to nibble.
You can transport guests back to Christmas past with just some vintage ornaments, natural greenery, candles, and charm. Get them in the holiday spirit right from the start.
Food and Drinks with Retro Flair
After setting the scene, keep the old-time feel flowing with festive retro recipes. Look to classic holiday flavors and presentations when planning your vintage menu:
Eggnog: The quintessential Christmas beverage, served from a glass punchbowl garnished with nutmeg. Offer a kids’ version too.
Hot buttered rum: Warm up with this colonial favorite ladled from a crockpot.
Hot cocoa bar: Let guests customize their mugs with marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, and flavored syrups.
Spiced cider: Simmer apple cider with oranges, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.
Fondue: For easy mingling, keep cheese, chocolate, or oil fondue pots going with bread and fruit for dipping.
Cheese and charcuterie: Assemble a vintage-inspired grazing board piled with cheeses, meats, mustard, nuts, pickled veggies, and jam.
Baked ham – A retro showstopper main with all the fixings like brown sugar glaze, pineapple rings, and cherries.
Jellied salad: Vibrant layered perfection salads were all the rage. Lime or lemon gelatin with cottage cheese, shredded veggies, or fruit astonished guests.
Ambrosia salad – A retro favorite – just pineapple, mini marshmallows, coconut, and Cool Whip. Garnish with maraschino cherries.
Cookie swap: Ask guests to bring a dozen of their favorite Christmas cookies to trade and sample.
Yule log: Impress guests with a frosted showpiece chocolate cake shaped and decorated like a miniature Yule log.
Lean into nostalgic recipes, displays, and dishes. Serve bite-sized finger foods that encourage mingling and fun.
Plan Old Fashioned Party Activities
It’s time for the fun once you’ve set the scene and the spread! Planning engaging retro activities gets guests in the vintage spirit:
Play classic Christmas tunes: Compile a playlist of festive hits from the 1940s-1960s. Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald set the tone.
Host a cookie decorating or ornament crafting station – Set out frosting tips, sprinkles, and materials to deck the halls.
Coordinate a themed gift swap: Hide fun gag gifts wrapped in newspaper and have guests pull numbers to swap.
Play throwback party games: Think gingerbread house-building contests, Christmas bingo, Santa trivia, or holiday versions of classic games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Organize caroling teams: Provide songbooks and split guests into groups to spread cheer door to door. Award a prize for the most creative rendition.
Hold an ugly Christmas sweater contest: Ask guests to don their gaudiest holiday apparel and vote on awards for ugliest, most creative, funniest, etc.
Screen a classic Christmas movie – Queue up nostalgic hits like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life. Pass out popcorn.
Tell Christmas stories: Have guests share favorite funny, sentimental, or embarrassing holiday memories from childhood.
Your chosen activities should align with the old-fashioned theme to delight guests and spark merry memories. Keep things lighthearted, interactive, and screen-free.
Give Guests Retro Party Favors
Send guests off with sweet, edible treats or handmade favors to remember the old-time evening. Ideas for vintage style party gifts:
Cookie tins – Fill vintage tins with an assortment of homemade holiday cookies
Spice mixes – Package custom blends like mulling spices in jars to keep warm all season.
Hot cocoa kits – Fill mugs with cocoa mix, mini marshmallows, a candy cane, and festive note
Candy buffet bags – Allow guests to fill silver tinsel bags with retro candies like ribbon candy and peppermint sticks.
Mini fruitcakes – Give everyone a taste of this holiday classic with bite-sized cakes wrapped in cellophane.
Handmade ornaments: Craft pine cone angels, clothespin reindeer, melty crayon ornaments, or other crafty favors guests can hang.
Holiday coasters: Decoupage festive scrapbook paper onto cork coasters and tie a bow around each set of 4.
Homemade peppermint bark: Wrap crunchy layers of peppermint and white chocolate to take home.
Personal, edible, or handmade gifts extend holiday warmth beyond the night. Choose party favors that align with the old-fashioned theme.
Snap Vintage Retro Holiday Party Photos
Lastly, document your swinging retro bash with some charming photo ops! Not only will you capture holiday memories in the making, but the photos become part of the vintage décor when displayed at the party.
Set up a DIY photo booth backdrop: Use tinsel garland, string lights, and plush velvet for a retro look. Provide silly props.
Take black and white candids – Capture guests mingling, playing games, and crafting. Print a few copies to display.
Pose friends in their ugly sweaters – Commemorate your contest winners.
Get a group shot under the mistletoe: Hang a sprig in a doorway and snap away as guests enjoy a holiday tradition.
Capture moments decorating and indulging at the dessert table – String lights overhead for glowing ambiance.
By embracing everything nostalgic in the food, décor, activities, and attire, your swinging holiday bash transports guests to the Christmas past. The merry memories made at your retro fete will have everyone eager for a rewind next year. Let me know your favorite ideas for throwing an old fashioned Christmas Retro Holiday Party in the comments below!