Extreme Entertaining: Livin’ Large with 60s Better Homes and Gardens


"A party atmosphere, a gracious hostess-- entertaining at its best!" So says this 1960s Better Homes and Gardens book, the Guide to Entertaining. Hip, happening hostesses of the time knew, this book was chock-full of all the tips and tricks needed for crazy evenings of wild, whoopin'-it-up revelry...


Okay, maybe more like strained and pained yawnfests punctuated by somewhat mentally-unstable creative displays...

Or what would happen if the cast of the Lawrence Welk show were unknowingly slipped brownies made of some questionable ingredients.

So come with me today as we examine these x-treme table settings, international joie de vivre, creative onion-and-light displays, and parties so mad the guests might just try to eat the centerpieces--

Let the good times roll!

Like this rip-roaring evening of family fun...


Folks of all ages can enjoy an evening playing the party game that all the hep young kiddies are talking about-- Skittles!

Why, just look at Granddad on the left up there. He hasn't had this much fun since he got his first Social Security check. And everyone else up there looks...

Well, they look... um...


Like...

Okay, so maybe it's not the fun-fest you'd hope for. Grandma has apparently forgotten what this game is called, and who these people are. She thinks one of them might be her nephew, but she can't be sure.

Later, she will be looking for her purse and realize she brought her husband's bowling bag instead. He'll go through it when they get home, and find she's taken some Skittles pins with her, "in case they need them." There will also be the sugar from the sugar bowl off the dining table, rolling around at the bottom of the bag. She'll claim she was just borrowing a cup for later.

Yes, Grandpa will be making her a nice appointment with Dr. Brown for this coming week.

Here we see more unbridled festivities, at a Christmas tea...


Do you get the vague feeling that woman in green deeply dislikes that woman in red? Just look at that forced smile!


She's got that look like she promised to be nice to this woman for the sake of neighbor relations, or little Timmy's PTA group. And then the moment the guests leave, she'll be talking about how she had to put up with that insufferable Mrs. Todd from down the street...

And how that woman said she'd "never seen green party punch before" and how "unusual and unique" it was: a Toddism for "I hope you don't expect to be voted room-mother anytime soon."

And look all the big fun those women aren't having in the back... I think they're hiding because they never cared for Mrs. Todd much, either.

Of course, you can understand where some of these party-goers might wear expressions of confusion and concern when you see some of the suggested entrees. Like for this "party-time brunch"...


The yellow hedgehogs are apparently mutated butter pats. And that dripping ring o' goo they're sitting in the center of is a "coffee ring made from refrigerated breakfast rolls and Canadian-style bacon"... I wonder what that sauce is, then. Icing? Bacon grease? Gravy?

Mmmm.

Well, what do you do when one of your friends will be soon saying "Bon Voyage"?

Why, encourage them to leave that much quicker with a going away party punctuated by some... inspirational... centerpieces.


Going to Venice? How about rowing this handmade mini-canal boat onto the tablesetting?

"A night in Venice is a romantic setting. The flower laden gondola is made with strips of cardboard bent and taped together on the prow and stern. The cardboard canopy is trimmed with gummed labels and held with matchsticks."
Tape and matchsticks! You're guests will be singing "O Solo Mio" in no time!...

Or, maybe they're headed to Holland? This "delightful Dutch garden blooms with brilliance!"


"The windmill is made from a half-gallon milk carton with additional pieces cut from lightweight cardboard and sticks. Add color by covering parts of the mill with paper. Build a garden of narcissus around the windmill."
Nothing says a classy goodbye like miniature milk-carton adaptations of the place your guests will be visiting.

Or how about creating "a Viking atmosphere" for someone going to Sweden?...


"The quaint candelabra started out as a wool-winder to which have been added stubby candles and wooden gnomes nailed to the four corners. "

Because the Vikings did so love their lawn gnomes. The history section is simply filled with books about the Vikings and their proud wooden gnomes. You almost can't go to Barnes and Noble's ancient history shelves without tripping over some tale of Lief Eriksen and his lucky lawn gnome.

Or maybe you'd like to get your hula on and create your own luau, inviting all your friends and family...


Uncle Lloyd here isn't one to really know the finer things... But to his credit, he's willing to try virtually anything once. That's why he seems to be about to pile his plate with this stalk of the centerpiece flowers...


Someone please tell him bromelades are not for noshing. Remember the last time, when he ate the scented wax airfreshener? Not pretty.

Or perhaps someone you know is adventuring to see the wonders of Egypt!


"The primitive Egyptian allure of this setting is echoed by using ordinary building bricks (with ready-made holes) sprayed black and an inexpensive plaster statue. Completing the Nile scene is the place mat sprayed black to fit the scheme."

I never thought of the Nile being black before. Or Egyptian statuary. But did you know the sarcophagus of King Tut was all black once, and not the gold and red and blue we think of today? Er, yeah. Sure, it was.

And see, that is the terrific thing about these vintage decorating books-- we don't just learn about decorating... We get history, too.

And speaking of history, let's hearken back to the American South for this "Plantation Breakfast," the time where everyone wore British riding jackets, and let the hounds out, and put green plaster Staffordshire peacocks on the table...


"A Plantation Breakfast says southern hospitality and all that phrase brings to mind."

As long as it brings to mind southern England...

Yoiks and tally ho!

Well, what if you want to do a table display but don't have a big theme party in mind? "Let imagination and a few simple accessories create an ingenious centerpiece..."


"Bunches of red onions surrounding matching red candles glow even more with the addition of tiny strands of Christmas tree lights entwined among them. "
And gosh, wasn't I glad that just happened to have had 40 onions on hand? Of course, who doesn't, right?

But now, I hear you asking-- what about the kiddies in these festivities? Well, we certainly haven't forgotten them! In fact-- guess who's cooking Christmas Eve dinner?


"Turn Christmas Eve supper over to your children. It's easy for the kids to make the sandwiches and the Tomato-Chicken-Rice Combo. All the soup recipe calls for is ready-made soup in cans and water. The youngsters will enjoy their active roll in the evening's festivities and learn how to be gracious hosts and hostesses."

Am I the only one here envisioning burnt grilled cheese and tomato soup on the chandeliers? Ho, ho, ho... holy heck!

Well, that's all we have for today.


Otherwise, I'll see you this coming Wednesday, perhaps, for something else that I hope will be equally entertaining...

But I'll probably hold the onions.

19 comments:

Chat Blanc said...

note to self: never ever go back in time to party. :)

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Chat Blanc- Well, if you do, just remember-- bring lots of onions, and your sense of humor. :)

Da Old Man said...

Once I saw the Skittles game, I had to know more. I mean, they were all so enthralled.

It is available from some old time game company, and the ad for it was hysterically funny.
Hope you don't mind a link. It is so worth it.
http://www.oldtimegames.com/Skittles.html?gclid=CN_RpL3-qpgCFQZeswod1DPsnA

Super funny post, as usual.

Down Comforter said...

Boy, excitement central! Nothing says 'part-ay' like bundt cake :)

Andrea said...

Those dresses and hairstyles bring back memories of my childhood, when my own mother dressed like that on special occasions. Double-knit at it's best!

Andrea said...

Do I recognize "Wheaties" layered in those parfait glasses? Dry cereal: a cheap filler for every home economist.

Lana Gramlich said...

...and to think, Martha Stewart might have been inspired by these kinds of things in her youth...

Thrift Shop Romantic said...

Da Old Man- I don't mind at all. I know my best friend's mom once got all excited about seeing an old Skittles game at an antique mall. I suspect she probably remembered having just as much fun as our family above. :)

Down Comforter- Darned tootin'! Bundt cake with MEAT in it, no less!

Andrea- Oh yes! Some old family photos definitely have this same sort of flair. And yes, those are either corn flakes or Wheaties-- either way, mm-mmm, what guest doesn't look forward to a nice evening out to eat breakfast cereal? :)

Lana- It's scary, isn't it? I still see some things in home magazines that I think fall along these lines. When budgets are slim and the lines of clever and bizarre cross just a little too closely... :)

Jean said...

I owned dinnerware like that in the 'Bon Voyage to Sweden' pic, except mine was aqua instead of yellow. Long since broken, thank goodness.

burning windmill said...

oh my golly I do adore these vintagey photos sooo much, the cheesy smiles, the forced, not quite right colour, the tim burton undertones...scrummy

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Jean- I couldn't even focus on the dinnerware given the wooden gnomes. Fear not! :)

Burning Windmill- You summed it up far better than I could! Ah, the horror. :)

rethoryke said...

Bundt cake with meat in it: WRONG.

Chocolate Bundt cake with that splash layer of coconut cake in the middle: Delicious! [or at least, in my memory it was...].

Melanie said...

I did not know that game was called Skittles, but we had one at our church that we often played at youth group meetings. A lot of fun actually.

Anyone notice the blue topiaries in the picture with Mrs. Todd? If I were Mrs. Todd I'd laugh all the way home about those blue "trees".

Rosemary said...

Hi Jenn,
Funny as always.
Been so busy, now I have time to catch up on the blogs.
Hope you have been well.
Missed reading your funny stuff.
Rosemary

...love Maegan said...

Fabulous! I love this!

chyna said...

Did anyone notice that Granny is holding a rope that looks alot like a garrote? Who knew that a game of Skittles could be so cut throat. Sorry couldn't resist that last part. :)

The Decorating Voice said...

This was a fun post to read. All of a sudden I feel old. I remember the Bh& G book. I want to be sure to mention there is a tablescape challenge in October that will be judged by Mary Carol Garrity. It will be held in KC, MO. This might be fun for you. Keep an eye out at www.thesdp.org details will be posted soon.

SueLovesCherries said...

This post was a genuine delight to read! I needed some humor to cheer me up after dh wouldn't let me watch Bruce during the Super Bowl half-time!

fresca said...

I bought the 1969 ed. of this book for a quarter at a garage sale today and was just posting about the "Tomorrow" theme party ideas, which includes the startling entertainment suggest to...

"Project the future of each guest or have each one write a story of what life will be like in the 21st century."

Oh, my.
Anyway, thanks for this fun post--I linked to it.