Plan a Retro Pool Birthday Party: A Splashback to the ’50s!

Pool parties always make a big splash in the sizzling summer months. But for a special milestone birthday, why not give the occasion a cool retro spin? That 1950’s look is definitely back in vogue. So here are some decorating, serving, and activity ideas for making your poolside bash extra high on fun and fashion—mid-century style! We’ve anticipated your questions, and provided our answers. Dive in!

How do we recreate a 1950’s poolside setting?

Retro pool birthday ideas! Bring back the 50s.

Of course, who wouldn’t love to host a party in a pool area that looks like a Palm Springs resort (1)? But no worries! Keep that look in mind, as you pull a few decorating tricks for your own venue. Key items to bring in would be:

– a garden/beach umbrella or two
– poolside lounge chairs
– fun kitschy signs that you can DIY (5) or download from the web
– an outdoor bar
– a bar cart (see below) or TV trays
– a vintage record player with actual vinyl records (Note: If these are no longer working, display them anyway. You can play retro tunes on your iPad hidden nearby!)

How do we get the party guests into the ‘50s mood?

As with any party, it starts with a fun themed invite (2). Luckily, there are great ready-to-use designs available online in a whole array of styles. Guests will get the idea—especially if you enclose a note about coming in retro pool party attire! Think full-skirted, tiny-waisted sundresses for the ladies and flower-print or plaid shirts for the men.

For those actually planning to take a dip in the water, how fab if they could bring along one-piece swimsuits (3) a la the Audrey Hepburn/Grace Kelly era. Then, for add-on accessories, prepare floppy-brimmed straw hats and head scarves, and those iconic 1950’s ‘cat’s eyes’ sunglasses (4). You might even give these as party favors!

Image credits:
1 – Palm Springs venue, Architectural Digest
2 – invitation, Zazzle
3 – swimsuit, Fig Leaves
4 – sunglasses, Bitter Root Vintage
5 – sign, Design Come True

What party games and activities would suit this theme?

Food and entertaining ideas for a retro pool birthday!

Considering the summer weather, guests will probably want to just laze around the pool and mingle. So games that allow little groups to pass the time while they chat and enjoy the refreshments would be best. We suggest bingo (2), backgammon, checkers, maybe a fun trivia guessing game about the birthday celebrant. And of course, you must have retro music playing in the background (3). Maybe Chubby Checker, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and The Everly Brothers for the early hours, then perhaps a mellower playlist featuring ‘50s icons Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, and Johnny Mathis for the evening.

Are recipes still available for 1950’s dishes, desserts, and drinks?

Oh yes, they are! It seems this era is such a ‘nostalgia trip’ that you will have no trouble at all finding recipes for anything and everything your mom used to serve at their parties. Fondues were a big hit at the time, as were appetizers like shrimp cocktail (4), deviled eggs, cheese and cold cuts platters. Then, for dessert, you have those unforgettable molded jello creations (5), lemon meringue pie, icebox cakes, and Baked Alaska. All sure sentimental treats for your guests!

The ‘50s were also known for their cocktails—so recipes are just a few clicks away. You have, of course, the classic Martini, the Champagne Cocktail, the Manhattan, and the Old Fashioned. But for an outdoor summer event, most fitting would be choices like the Piña Colada, the Margarita, the Daiquiri, and the Sea Breeze.

What serveware can help create the retro look?

Remember the bar cart (1) or trolley we mentioned above? Well, if there’s one mid-century piece that you might want to invest in—since it’s great for entertaining and such a cool home decor accent—it would be one of these! It would instantly set the tone of your pool party, along with retro store finds like classic highball glasses, patterned plastic trays, appetizer picks with those kitschy glass or ceramic handles, cocktail napkins and coasters with throwback designs, and other fun accessories you may stumble upon.

Just writing this post makes us want to invite ourselves to your retro pool birthday party! You are having one after reading all the fun details, aren’t you?

Image Credits:
1 – bar cart, Cup of Te
2 – bingo, Nicole Hill
3 – retro radio, One Kings Lane
4 – shrimp cocktail, Sarcastic Cooking
5 – rainbow ribbon jello, Brown Eyed Baker


  1. I have those red glasses and am willing to let go of them if anyone is interested.

  2. This is so clever retro seems to be making a splash in a few of my neighborhood pool parties as of late love it!

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