1950s Milk Bar Themed Party

by Kent Page McGroarty
Make your own poodle skirt for a milk bar party.

Make your own poodle skirt for a milk bar party.

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Milk bars originated in Australia in the 1930s but didn't catch on in the United States till the 1950s. They generally featured a selection of ice cream, chocolate and other treats as well as jukeboxes, pinball machines and newspapers. Milk bars were a place kids could congregate without parental worry about alcohol consumption as only soda and non-alcoholic beverages were served at such establishments. Throw your own milk bar party, complete with lots of dessert options and plenty of '50s music.


Depending on your resources, you can transform an area of your home or event space into a '50s milk bar, which can include renting black and white checkered linoleum flooring, pinball machines and a jukebox filled with '50s tunes. Set up high metal chairs in front of a "bar," both of which can also be rented if necessary. Place images of '50s musicians, movies and actors on the walls, such as movie posters from "Rebel Without a Cause" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" as well as images of Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Bobby Darin and Lucille Ball.

Food and Drink

Set up a soda fountain station as well as a station for milkshakes and ice cream floats. Provide sodas that were available in the '50s, such as cola drinks and root beer as well as soda options from today. Candies, chocolate bars and more ice cream should also be readily available. Milk bars did occasionally sell fast food, so consider serving burgers, fries, hot dogs, onion rings and mozzarella sticks.


A selection of '50s music is key to any '50s-themed party. Make your own mixes or purchase '50s music collections to keep a variety of music playing as opposed to playing an album from one particular artist. Selections can include those from Elvis Presley, Ritchie Valens, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and his Comets, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, Patti Page, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Connie Francis.

Clothing, Makeup, Accessories

Guests can be encouraged to wear '50s-themed clothing to a milk bar party such as tweed jackets made famous by Buddy Holly, poodle skirts, fitted white T-shirts, leather jackets and blue jeans, and halter-style swing dresses. Such apparel can be found online through assorted shopping sites as well as vintage clothing stores. Hairstyle ideas include pompadours for men and swinging ponytails with short bangs for women. Guests who choose to reflect the makeup of the time can go for red lips paired with pancake makeup.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images