Whether Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, or a Millennial, you can’t deny that the 60s was a decade to remember. I think we can all agree that there is no time like the present to celebrate the past – with a retro party featuring the most far-out decorations.
We’re going to cover 7 main decoration categories for a 1960s retro party:
- Color Schemes
- Table Decorations, Flowers and Centerpieces
- Wall Decor
- Photo Booth and Backdrops
- 60s Props
- Balloon Art
Some may remember the 60s like it was yesterday; others might need some design tips. Do you need some inspiration to make your guests feel like they’ve gone back in time? Here you’ll find decorating ideas for a party that will make everyone feel peace, love, and flower power.
Before you get busy making or buying your decorations, you’ll want to decide on a color scheme. Even though the 60s was a decade of psychedelic patterns and bright color schemes, using them all at once might not be the most appealing.
Whether you are hosting the party in your home or event space, you’ll want to consider the existing color-scheme to avoid decorations that will clash.
Here’s a list of popular colors in the 60s to get your creative juices flowing and help you brainstorm:
Let’s be honest; the snacks are where it’s at! Most people tend to gather in the kitchen, or around the food table. Making sure your table décor is top-notch will set the stage for how the rest of your decorations look in the eyes of your friends.
The decor of the 60s did not reflect minimalism. If you have a color scheme in mind, stick to that as much as possible when decorating tables. Of course, stepping out of the immediate color combo won’t be a total disaster. But do keep those colors in mind when you’re collecting table items.
Table Runners or Tablecloths
If you’d like to use a simple white tablecloth, a table runner would be a perfect way to integrate some color. Or, you may choose to use a full tablecloth. Tablecloths are the ideal place to add some tie-dye.
If you’re a DIY-er, you can measure the exact dimensions you’d like to use and get some plain cotton fabric cut precisely the size you’ll need. Then you can tie-dye using whatever colors you want. Here’s a great video with some Tips and Tricks for Tie Dying.
But, tie-dying can be messy and time-consuming. If you’d rather buy a tablecloth or table runner, try one of these:
There are tons of flowers out there, and whether you like real or faux, you’ll be able to find some to fit with the colors you’ve chosen. Visit your local florist, supermarket, or craft store to select your favorite blooms.
You can style your arrangements either down the middle of the table in a row or scatter them about. You can pre-arrange your flowers in their vases and put them on the table after you have all of the food out and set up.
These are always a great option, as you can use many of them in different sizes. Plus, they’re easy to find. I like to keep a collection of these on hand and use them for all parties. They’re so versatile! You can use clear vases that hold single blooms and arrangements with a few flowers.
Apothecary jars, milk bottles, and mason jars are also great to mix in with any clear vases. Mixing and matching different styles will bring that boho-chic ambiance of the 60s.
If you want to add a ‘lil something extra’ to the vases, ribbon around the tops is easy and adds plenty of color. If you’ve got time, painting just the lower half of the vases adds that extra pop of color and style.
If you’d rather keep the flowers simple and amp up the color in the vases, there are plenty of options available at all price points. This also might be a better option if colorful flowers aren’t in season. The colorful vases will replace the splash of color from the flowers.
Perhaps you’d like to add to your table and feel like flowers aren’t enough, you can add a centerpiece. You can also add any of these to a bar area or snack station; they’re easy to size up or size down.
Paper Lanterns and Tissue Pom Poms
If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can make a centerpiece. Gather some balloons (see below for style ideas) and paper lanterns. Inflate the balloons without helium and tie off at the ends; no string needed.
If you’ve never made tissue pom poms before, watch this How to Make Tissue Paper Pom Poms video.
You can make these in an assortment of colors and sizes. To get started, you’ll need:
- Tissue paper (to match your party colors, of course)
- String (fishing line works great)
Cluster the balloons, lanterns, and pom-poms together. Once you find a size and arrangement that you think fits your table, attach all the components using double-sided tape – and voila! You may want to use more tape to secure the centerpiece to the tablecloth or runner to keep everything in place throughout the event.
If you have a large table, you’ll want to use more materials. A smaller table won’t require a massive centerpiece, so just a couple of balloons and lanterns will do. Blow up the balloons to different sizes. Different sizes and colors for paper lanterns will also add variety.
There really can never be enough balloons at a party. You can rent a helium tank from a local party store or purchase a mini one. Your decision may depend on how many balloons you want to do per table, and if you’ll want to have extra to put in other places.
There are all kinds of balloons available, so finding one to go with your colors will be a piece of cake. You can try a pack that comes with all sorts of colors and mix in some patterned ones.
If plain balloons aren’t doing the trick for your party plan, you can make your flower power balloons after watching this Simple Balloon Flower Tutorial. These are bound to impress the guest list, and they aren’t all that hard to make. Use helium to fill them up, and they’ll add height and color to your table decor.
You’ll want to make sure that your balloons don’t fly away. You can try something simple such as a lava lamp prop. Or something else that makes you think of the 60s, like a Volkswagen Slug Bug or Van.
Wall décor is a great way to make even the most unadorned spaces match your retro theme. There are lots of DIY options available if you’d like to set aside a crafter-noon to make your decorations, or you can find just what you’re looking for to purchase.
These might be the easiest of all party projects, but they look fantastic. And, they require very little knowledge of anything artsy and craftsy. I like to make a whole bunch of garland and just hang it anywhere that needs a little something extra.
- 2”-3” hole punch
- 10-15 sheets of scrapbook paper in colors and patterns coordinating with your palette
- Sewing machine (very, very optional)
- Cut as many holes from the paper as possible. Depending on the size of the hole punch you’re using, you can probably fit nine-ish circles on each sheet.
- Stack the circles as you’ll want them to be on the string. You can make a pattern, or just choose them at random.
- Trim the string to match the length of the area where you’ll be hanging the garland. You can also just make it as long as you have enough circles for, that way you’ll have extra.
- Tape the circles onto the string. You’ll want to attach them a little above the middle, so the tape doesn’t weigh it down and causes the circles to flip over while hanging (it’ll show the tape side, not pretty).
- Or… you can run the circles through the sewing machine. If you can sew a straight stitch, this is the easiest and quickest way to go.
If making your own garland is just too much, there are plenty of pre-made options out there that will fit your party vision.
Nothing screams the 1960s quite like the peace symbol. You’ll want to include these anywhere you’ve got room. Try some of these and hang them on any wall that needs decorating:
But of course, you can also make custom peace signs in as many sizes as you want, to fit perfectly in the space you’ve got in mind. Try the light-up version in this Hippie Inspired Peace Sign Wall Decor tutorial video.
If you want something more natural-looking, this DIY Peace Sign Wreath video might help you create just what you had in mind.
Sometimes lighting is neglected in the party planning process, but they’re such a vital part of the overall feeling of the party. Nobody likes to go to a party that has every light in the joint turned on full blast. It’s just too much.
But, on the other side, it’s just weird to sit around in the dark. Why not find a happy medium, by turning down the overhead lights and adding some decorative ones? String lights are ideal for any party, and they’re perfect wall decor. You can also try combining a few different designs to fit your style, space, and budget. These would be perfect for your 60s shindig:
- 10-Light Multicolored Peace Sign Set
- Waterproof Fairy Copper String Lights (USB Powered)
- Window Curtain String Light
Even though you’re having a throwback party, you can still include some trendy elements to tie in today’s latest and greatest. If the party is all about peace and love, why not have some neon signs that remind all of the guests?! Here are a few other groovy designs that any hippie would appreciate:
No party is complete without a photo booth. Let’s be honest – we live in a “pics or it didn’t happen” society. Everyone is always taking pictures and posting them everywhere. Give your guests a proper place to take photos; that way, you can make sure everyone gets at least one good snap.
You’ll need a backdrop for your photos, but you don’t need any additional fancy photog equipment; unless you want it. An empty wall with good lighting will do the trick. You’ll just need enough room to set up your backdrop and allow space for prop storage.
For background, you could go with a simple white blank space or just a plain colored backdrop. Kraft paper gives a beautiful blank canvas look, especially if you’re going for a more boho-chic appearance. You can also use kraft paper in lots of other applications, so it’s an affordable, multi-use option.
For a simple, clean backdrop, these options will provide the perfect context for your guests’ photos and post:
But, if simple just isn’t your thing, this curtain would also work as an excellent backdrop for your photo booth:
If you want to go the route of actual props, you can search costume stores, flea markets, and thrift stores for anything that reminds you of the 60s:
- Headbands and scarves
- Sunglasses with colored lenses
- Flower crowns
- Long necklaces
- Fringe vests
- Big, floppy hats
- Lava lamps
- Guitars, Drums, Tambourine
- Chalkboard or letterboard for custom wording
If you’re not in the mood to venture out and commit to finding all of these, you could also get this set of photo booth props:
We’re not talking about the long balloons that clowns can twist and squeeze to make into your favorite circus animal (although, check out our article on balloon modellers).
We’re talking balloon arches and the like. Big, bold, and colorful. These guys get their special segment because they’re just so versatile and can jazz up any party room. Use balloons to:
- Greet guests at the party entrance
- Frame a doorway
- Designate a separate area, such as the dance floor
- Frame your photo booth
You can make them big or small, with any color combo you want. If you’ve got extra time, make a balloon arch, you won’t be sorry. Balloon arches are super simple, and although they take time to create, you can do this while binge-watching your favorite shows.
Before you get started, sit back and watch this How to Make a Fancy Balloon Arch help you get an idea of what you’re getting into. They’re especially easy if you have a friend or two willing to help. You’ll need:
- Balloon Arch Kit
- Balloons (see above recommendations)
- Helium tank (optional – if you’re planning on doing a full arch)
- Balloon pump (optional – to save time and hyperventilation)
Similar to a balloon arch, you’ll be able to use these as frames or space separators. These work well in smaller spaces. Also, balloon garlands are typically hung up on a wall, so they don’t require any helium.
You’ll need the same supplies listed above, or you can skip the balloon strip and just use string. This video is a step by step guide for exactly how it’s done: DIY Balloon Garland Tutorial.
Enjoy the process and hope your party is nothing short of being FAR-OUT!