A Mad Men Dinner Party
Cynthia Bogart
A Mad Men Dinner Party
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Whenever I think about throwing a dinner party I always feel as though it might be too much work, I should save it for the holidays, or I am being too old fashioned. Well, actually, none of those are correct.

My mom was a 1960′s Mad Men housewife. She belonged to a gourmet club where five couples would rotate as hosts, the wives would pull out their best recipes, and each would contribute something to their elegant at-home dinner parties.  She was amazingly organized, and even had a party planner diary.  Things have changed, of course, but what she taught me remains true today.

Here are the top eight tips she taught me on how to throw a fabulous dinner party:

1. When:  Anytime you want

2. Guest List: Make up your guest list and get those invites out. Emailing them is not only perfectly acceptable, but will save you time, energy, money and is cutting edge ‘green’. Ask as many people as you can seat, and don’t be afraid to pull in more tables! Cozy is a good thing!

3. Hire the Staff:  Doesn’t that sound totally ostentatious? Well, it’s not as snobby as it sounds. If you want to have fun at your own party, stick a crowbar in your wallet and splurge for two people to help for that night. One in the kitchen and one to serve. YES, they can be high school or college kids for $8 to $10 an hour. You will have them for a whomping 4 hours – ummm $80. Not so unachievable now, is it?

4. The Music: Plan ahead on this one. Make sure your playlist has the right mood music for your theme –a little Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles or Mariachi tunes.  You chose.  It’s your party!

5. The Drinks Menu: Yes this is very, very, very important.  Greet your guests at the door with this drink,The Silver Dollar, created by The Daily Basics’ Mixologist, Warren Bobrow (recipe below).  Choose your wines to coordinate with your menu.  If you don’t know what to get, ask for suggestions from your local wine merchant.


(serves two)


3 shots of Milagro Silver tequila

½ shot of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth (or your choice)

¼ cup equal parts freshly squeezed (essential!) lime, grapefruit and lemon juices 

1 dash Bitter End Thai Bitters 


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled ½ with whole ice cubes.  Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass with one large ice cube- garnish w/a maraschino cherry and a sprig of crushed spearmint.

6. The Menu: It doesn’t have to be like the ’60s when everything was made with Bisquick or you served a cassarole – you can plan menu you’d like.  With all of the food blogs available, you can find virtually anything…or anything virtually.  The easiest, most practical, and most interesting meal to plan is to have everyone bring something – you know, a good ol’ pot luck supper.  Pick a theme: Italian, French, American, or how about Irish for the upcoming St. Patty’s Day?  You, the hostess, can set the table, supply the wine and prepare one dish.

7. Plan your table settings: If you have china, you know what to do.  If you don’t have china, go out and get plain white plates.  You can dress up the table around them.  Put a pretty table cloth or lovely place mats on your table. You can also use folding round tables that can easily be dressed with simple white tablecloths.  You can make your table look like a million bucks with some ribbon criss-crossed with a big low vase filled with one or two types of flowers (yes from the grocery store is JUST fine!) like this one that Martha Stewart did.
8. Plan your wardrobe: You can wear anything you want but if you are doing this is true Mad Men tradition, get dressed.  Boys, pull out a tie and jacket. Girls, put on your pretty party dress. You can go more casual or dress to the nines in formal attire.  Whatever you should decide to do, it is time to go to town…at home.


Start planning!

- Cynthia

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Leave Your Thoughts (2 Comments)

  1. Kate Smith ·

    Great ideas, Cynthia. I’m feeling like a party!

  2. eminem ·

    Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day.