Countdown until Mad Men premieres: four days. You know you’re dying to bust out the three-piece suits, pearls, waist-cinching pencil skirts, and (fake) cigarettes for the premiere, so throw a Mad Men party that needs no advertising (get it??).
Mary Giuliani, celebrity party planner and the go-to for retro-modern entertaining, shared her ideas and inspiration for a Mad Men themed party (she’s hosting her own this Sunday). Giuliani says she feels the connection to the Mad Men characters and ’60s-era women because of her two grandmothers, Mary and Lucille (her namesakes). “Mary was the Betty Draper,” she says. “She cooked, she cleaned, she was a wonderful mother. Lucille was the Peggy; she was the modern businesswoman who owned hotels, which was unheard of in the ’50s and ’60s.”
Giuliani says her inspiration for the party is a “mixed cocktail” of both of these women. “Our company, and our food, is a great reflection of that modern, retro interpretation of that style of entertaining.”
To find your inner Betty Draper (Giuliani says everyone has “a little Betty in them”), check out her exclusive tips:
• Update the Classics: The 1960s menu for a party included deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, cheese puffs, mini meatloaf bites, and shrimp cocktails. Giuilani updates the classics with a modern twist. Instead of deviled eggs, she makes mini quail eggs with flavored sea salts; mini grilled cheeses instead of cheese puffs; and filet of beef on a potato crisp with ketchup instead of mini meatloaf. The one dish that should never be changed, she says? Pigs in a blanket — “It’s always going to be good.”
• Buffet Ideas: Need an easy buffet-style option? Two trendy dishes of the time make easy solutions for a buffet. A Warhol Tomato Soup bar is simple: Customize soup cans by wrapipng them in printed paper, and serve shots of roasted tomato soup with mini grilled cheeses. For the cooking-challenged, consider the retro Trader Vic’s Pu Pu Platter. “Trader Vic’s was the kind of high-end place you’d take your clients to dinner,” Giuliani says. The easiest way to recreate the experience is to grab some Chinese or Thai takeout (like spring rolls, spare rib tidbits, skewers, and sweet and sour sauce) and place them in mini bowls on a lazy Susan.
• More Booze, Please: Perhaps the only thing more important than the food? The drinks, says Giuliani. For her own party, she says she’ll be serving signature cocktails like the Side Car and Gin Fizz. For extra flair, serve on a white bar cart and stock up your home bar. Giuliani keeps clear liquors (gin, vodka, and tequila) on hand for her, and the traditional bourbon and whiskey for her husband. Bonus points for customized cocktail napkins, decanters, or old-school Coke bottles. For a nonalcholic option, try adding ginger to pomegranate juice for an extra kick, Giuliani says.
• 1960s Flair: The extras that add the finishing touch: colorful aprons (Giuliani’s favorite is from Anthropologie), and the proper ’60s attire. To truly impress partygoers, Giuliani is sending guests home with a “desktop mini bar” party favor. “We all know that Don Draper needed to have a drink at the office,” she says. Giuliani found mini ice buckets, tongs, and rocks glasses from The Container Store and Fishs Eddy, and added mini shooters for a true mini bar. (She used bottles of Grey Goose, Makers Mark, Patrón, and gin.) The “rocks” on the bottom aren’t ice, but clear rock candy for the same feel.
Now all that’s left is to let Don, Betty, Peggy, and Joan recreate the magic.