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How to Throw a 1950s Sock Hop Theme Party

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1950s Party Ideas

Start with a fun invitation that really reflects the era. As there was no internet back then, these should be mailed.

You an get creative and make your own, or if you prefer, there are invitations that can be printed online for free. Below I have a link for a free invitation that features a jukebox.

Free 1950s Party Invitations

1950s Party Decorations

Have any old 45 records laying around? You could use some to decorate the walls or attach them to some string and have them dangle from the ceiling.

Jukeboxes were huge in the 50s, but most people don't own one. Instead, you could get a cardboard cut out.

Fast cars were quite popular with the teen crowd. Consider putting up some posters of hot rods of the era.

You might also consider putting up some posters of popular entertainers of the time such as Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.

1950s Party Food

The big hangout place was the local diner and especially the soda fountain. Set up your own soda fountain and serve soda and milkshakes. If this party is for kids and you don't want them to have these sweets, you can substitute juice such as apple and orange juice.

Should the party is for adults and you wish to serve cocktails, I suggest martinis, whiskey sours and Tom Collins.

Planning a birthday party? You might want to bake and decorate a cake in the form of a 45 record.

If you want to keep the food simple, just make some hamburgers and french fries. If you want something more formal, I have a chart below with some of the popular party foods of the time.


1950s Dinner Food

AppetizersMain CourseDessert

canapes

tuna noodle casserole

German chocolate cake

deviled eggs

Swedish meatballs

baked Alaska cups

seafood cocktail

meatloaf

apple pie

1950s Costumes

For females, poodles skirts would work perfectly. The hair can be thrown back in a ponytail. Be sure to wear Bobbie socks.

For guys, the greaser look would work well. This would be jeans, a white T-shirt and leather jacket. They can also grease their hair back.

Now remember, this is a sock hop which means everyone takes off their shoes and dances in their socks, so make sure everyone is wearing socks.

Sock Hop Poll

Elvis Presley

1950s Music

Good music is the key to any good sock hop party and there are plenty of great songs to choose from. This was a time when males dominated the music scene, (sorry ladies,) and names like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard topped the charts. Some great songs you might like to include for your party include:

  • Great Balls of Fire-Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Hound Dog-Elvis Presley
  • Rock Around the Clock-Bill Haley and his Comets
  • Tutti Fruitti-Little Richard
  • Put Your Head on My Shoulder-Paul Anka
  • Johnny B. Goode-Chuck Berry
  • You Send Me-Sam Cooke
  • Rockin Robin-Bobby Day
  • I Only Have Eyes For You-The Flamingos
  • Blueberry Hill-Fats Domino
  • Shout-The Isley Brothers
  • Blue Suede Shoes-Carl Perkins
  • Only You-The Platters

There are certainly many more songs that would fit with this theme, but this is just meant to be a sampling of some of the great music from this decade that could work for dance music.

Live Version of Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry

1950s Party Activities

Having a hula hoop contest is a must! If you have any dollar store type stores nearby, you should be able to get some there. See who can keep their hoop going the longest.

A limbo competition would also fit the bill. Play some limbo music and see how low some people can go.

Up for a trivia game? Here are some questions and answers you can use:

  • Who was President in 1951?-Harry Truman
  • Who recorded Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?-Gene Autry
  • What year did Disneyland open?-1955
  • Which movie won best film in 1954-On the Waterfront
  • Who starred in I Love Lucy?-Lucille Ball
  • What game was introduced by Milton Bradley in 1956?-Yautzee
  • What doll was introduced in the 1950s?-Barbie
  • What American popular fast food restaurant originally opened in the 1950s?-McDonalds
  • What was a popular TV show based on the 1950s?-Happy Days
  • Who sang Johnny B. Goode?-Chuck Berry

1950s Dances

Several dance styles were popular at the time with the most common dances being the Jitterbug, the Stroll, Lindy and the Twist.

Here are a couple of fun party ideas. You could hold a twist contest. Whoever performs the best rendition of the Twist wins.

Another idea is to pair people up and teach them the Jitterbug. I have a video below with instructions to learn an easy basic Jitterbug dance.

How to Learn the Jitterbug

The Twist

The Twist was originally released in 1959 by Hank Ballard & The Midnighters. However, most people associate the song with Chubby Checker who actually released it in 1960.

Although technically this version makes it a song of the 1960s, most people associate the song as a 50s song and dance.

Just for fun, check out the video below of Chubby Checker performing it live on American Bandstand.

Name That Tune Game

The original Name That Tune TV series debuted in 1953. It was a huge success. You can create your own fun party game.

Record 10 seconds of some of the best known, (and to make it more challenging,) some of the lesser known songs of the decade.

Play the music and the first person to call out the correct title wins that round. If two people tie, play another song and whoever guesses the correct title first wins the round.

Predetermine how many rounds of play you would like to have and whoever wins the most rounds in that time frame wins the game.

I would suggest using different music than you would be choosing for dancing or background music. Here's a sampling of songs you could use.:

  • Mack the Knife
  • Love is a Many Splendored Thing
  • To Know Him Is To Love Him
  • Standing on the Corner
  • Donna
  • Witch Doctor
  • Once Upon a Dream
  • Top Cat
  • Sixteen Tons
  • Tammy
  • The Purple People Eater
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus


1950s Slang

Learn some of the slang from this decade. If sending invitations, you might want to include some of these so your guests will be prepared when they arrive. Here are some for you to learn:

  • Square-someone who doesn't break the rules and follows instructions.
  • Pad-one's home.
  • Chick-girl.
  • Split-leave.
  • Wet rag-A boring person.
  • Heat-the police
  • Big daddy-A person who is older.
  • Made in the shade-successful

Sock Hop Party Ideas

Need some help to get into the mood for this party? Try watching American Graffiti or Grease. Another option is an episode of the TV series Happy Days.

On a budget and buying enough food is a problem? Let everyone bring a dish to share. Just be sure it's a dish that was popular during the decade.

Don't have a floor for dancing? Check with your local party rental store. Many have portable dance floors you can rent that come in a variety of sizes.

Be sure to take lots of fun pictures. You can relive these moments again and again.


Decade Party Ideas

Looking for more decade party ideas? Check out the links below.

  • How to Throw a Roaring 1920s Party
    Invitation, food, games, activities and more ideas to help you throw the perfect 1920s party. I have music suggestions as well as a step by step instructional video to help you learn the Charleston.
  • How To Throw A 1980s Theme Party
    1980s party ideas including decorations, food, beverages, music, games and contests. Enjoy some music while you're here and you can even learn how to do the Moonwalk.
  • How to Throw a 1940s Big Band Party
    Find everything you need here to throw a great 1940s theme party including invitation ideas, music, food and activities. Listen to some Big Band music and learn how to swing dance.
  • How to Throw a 1960s Hippie Theme Party
    Hippie theme party ideas including decorations, costumes, food, activities and music to throw the perfect 1960s party. I also have some sixties slanb you can learn as well.

What is your favorite thing about the 1950s?

Eiddwen from Wales on November 14, 2014:

What a great idea and I vote up plus share. Wishing you a great day.

Eddy.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

teaches,

That must be such a fond memory to have.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

AliciaC,

I'm so glad you let me know this. Thank you.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

Faith Reaper,

It is a theme that can appeal to all ages.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

MsDora,

Oh I love the challenge of Name That Tune.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

DDE,

Thanks!

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

Suzanne,

Poodle skirts flared out and were very popular in the 1950s.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

favored,

I've always found food to be a very important part of a party.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

DeborahDiane,

I'm glad you think so. I love theme parties.

Janis (author) from California on September 27, 2014:

Karen,

That would really be a problem if people couldn't find their shoes!

Dianna Mendez on September 24, 2014:

I remember my sister wearing a pink poodle skirt, what fun! I would love to attend one of these sock-partys. You have listed all the ideas that will make the party rock!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 24, 2014:

Your party hubs are a lot of fun, WriterJanis. The suggestions in this article should help people create a great party to celebrate the 1950s!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 23, 2014:

Oh, what a fun party theme. I love sock hops! You have a lot of great ideas for loads of fun to be had by all at any age.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 23, 2014:

Excellent! It sounds fun already. I love the Name That Tune game and all the 50s stuff. Thanks for another look at the jitterbug and the twist.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 23, 2014:

Fun time and so interesting!

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on September 22, 2014:

This sounds like a very interesting party idea. Time to dust off the soda fountain and serve up some diner food! I haven't heard of poodle skirts, but there's a first time for everything ;) Voted interesting!

Fay Favored from USA on September 22, 2014:

You have thought about everything for a fun party. Even the food. My sister and brother would love a party like this. They like themed parties.

Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on September 22, 2014:

What a fun idea! I think a sock hop would be a fun party theme for any generation!

Karen Ray from Oklahoma on September 22, 2014:

Great hub - Brings back memories. We had sock hops in the school gym when I was a teenager. They wouldn't let us on the gym floor with shoes on, so sock hops were what we came up with. The hardest thing about a sock hop is making sure there is a system for checking in and finding ones shoes afterward.