Create that '50s Feeling
In the 1950s, themes were the thing. Midcentury partiers were mad for Hawaiian -style luaus. And you will be, too -- if you're open to a liberal smattering of kitschy decor to set a tropical mood.
Set up a tiki bar and serve umbrella drinks in coconut containers. Hang reproduction posters from the 1950s that depict Hawaiian travel, and decorate tables with ukuleles, palm fronds and pineapples. If you're feeling really ambitious, the table centerpiece can double as the main dish: roasted pig. For a fitting soundtrack, play "Lovely Hula Hands" by Bill Campbell, "Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho and, of course, "Blue Hawaii" by Elvis.
To give your dinner party an elegant twist, head more toward "Mad Men" territory. For style inspiration, revisit "I Love Lucy" reruns or watch "To Catch a Thief," the 1955 film starring the iconic Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. Your Hollywoodesque menu might include duck a l'orange, French-style green beans and blini canapes (topped with caviar if you're dead set on extravagance). Play a big band soundtrack featuring a crooning Bing Crosby, and be sure to have a few Martin Denny tunes on hand. Yes, Denny was known as the king of the tiki hut, but he'll still provide the right vibe to set the 1950s mood, whatever theme you choose.