Rockabilly Party Ideas

by Candi Canncel

A rockabilly party attendee enjoying festivities while sitting on a sofa.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Rockabilly movement started in the 1950s when rock 'n’ roll music fused with blues then later country and western. Artists such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison epitomized this era where the candy-colored '50s took a rebellious turn. Combining this eclectic style of music, all-American fare and vintage-inspired clothing with a retro atmosphere can create a magical affair to commemorate many types of events.

Distinctive Invites

Create an experience that transports your guests back to the 1950s. Black and red are classic rockabilly colors as is shiny chrome and polka-dot print. Invitations might feature vintage hot rods or motorcycles, flashy guitars, pin-up girls or retro tattoo-inspired artwork to evoke this whimsical time. In addition to noting the date, time and location of your soiree on the invite, give guests any special instructions. Requesting guests to dress up in theme adds to the event.

Music and Ambiance

Play vintage tunes from Elvis, Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. Later artists such as the Stray Cats evoked the same rockabilly spirit. If your budget allows, consider renting a jukebox full of rock 'n’ roll songs. Adorn your space to resemble a '50s diner with red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, shiny silver napkin holders and vintage bright-colored plastic condiment squirt bottles. Use record albums on tables as place settings instead of place mats. Tack up old 45s onto walls in your party space to include a musical element into the decor. Decorate tables with pairs of fuzzy dice. Use patterned napkins or serving trays to incorporate polka-dots.

Dress the Part

The rockabilly look brings elements of 1950s dress with a modern twist. In addition to wide poodle skirts, girls wore tight capris with peep-toe heels. Bettie-Page-style bangs were popular as was hair piled high and adored with a silk flower or a headband. Red lipstick and black cat's-eye make-up completed the look. Men wore hair slicked back or fashioned in pompadours. Two-toned “bowling” shirts worn with cuffed jeans and vintage saddle shoes were the look for men. Silk flowers for hair and black sunglasses make appropriate party favors.

Retro Food and Drink

When planning your menu, think 1950s diner food such as hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries. Cola in glass bottles and milkshakes served with red-and-white-striped straws pair with diner food. For dessert, serve miniature cupcakes decorated with tiny guitars or hot-rods. For a cocktail party, the Gibson was a popular drink in the '50s. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 2 parts vodka and a splash of vermouth. Shake vigorously and strain in a martini glass' garnish with a cocktail onion. Pair these martinis with retro appetizers such as pigs in a blanket, mini quiches, crab cakes, deviled eggs and baby meatballs speared with a toothpick and dressed with barbeque sauce.

Photo Credits

  • Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

About the Author

Candi Canncel is a writer covering food and drinks, travel and lifestyle. Her work has appeared on Food and Wine Travel, Craft Gossip, Belltown Local and other publications. She also teaches cooking classes and hosts food/wine seminars.