Despite the fact that Don Draper is a potential sociopath and at the very least probably smells like someone tipped whiskey into an ashtray, "the Mad Men effect" shows no sign of loosening its grip on the party themes of 2013.
Yes, "dress Mad Men" has been and continues to be a popular theme for parties, even as we tick over into The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (aka the Christmas party gauntlet), even as the award-winning show's costumes look more and more like your great aunt Sheryl's muumuu collection and less the picture of early-'60s elegance they once were.
As fun as a vintage dress-code is, though, it's a shame that the aspiring party planners in our midst don't tend to go the extra mile: where are all the vintage Christmas party snacks?
(And no, smart aleck up the back, "vintage Christmas party snacks" doesn't mean "past their use-by date Black & Gold mince pies", thank you very much.)
After all, the weird cocktail snacks and hors d'oeuvres made out of white sliced bread are one of the best and most mystifying things about living it up '60s-style. Those ladies sure knew how to work magic with a tin of asparagus spears and a cocktail frank, that's for sure. And, let's face it, you've seen one tray of Christmas party catering company party pies and samosas, you've seen them all.
Start out easy: even if you're not attending a specifically vintage-themed Christmas party, nothing says "Merry Christmas, 1968!" like rocking up to a do with a plate full of White Christmas (here's a good recipe) that has the perfect ratio of green-to-red glace cherries.
You can get some inspiration courtesy of The Food Timeline's list of American Christmas menus from the 1700s onward; in 1963, Good Housekeeping magazine suggested "Cranberry-Crunch, with Soft Vanilla Ice Cream or Gouda Cheese or Heavenly Honey-Walnut Pumpkin Pie or Lemon Sherbet with Minted Pineapple" (and to finish off, "Coffee, of course"). If, however, you're feeling a little more game, why not go for a genuine retro recipe?
Sweet-toothed party guests will be dazzled by this 1962 recipe for Two-Tone Walnut Cookie Canes (courtesy of California Walnuts!) and these 1972 Merry Rice Krispies Treats (that's Rice Bubbles to us Antipodeans).
If you really want to make an impact, it's hard to go past a party loaf: a loaf of white bread jammed with a variety of fillings and then "iced" with cream cheese. This recipe - evidently "Susan's" - is sure to delight and horrify in equal measures. You could even make it in the shape of a snowman if you are a real glutton for punishment.
Those with a taste for things so "vintage" they become "antique" will enjoy The Old Foodie's collection of Christmas recipes; whip up some "War Christmas Pudding" (1915) or "New England Mince Pies" (1845).
For the liquid portion of the menu - particularly for those with designs on themselves as the office's Don Draper - even the cocktails got Christmassy back in the day. You could pour out some mulled wine or a tray of Kir Royales, or, given that Christmas here tends to be much hotter than our northern hemisphere neighbours', grind up some ice for a round of Madras cocktails; seven coloured liqueurs in the recipe makes it look positively festive.
Just don't do a real Don Draper and drink them all yourself.
Can we also suggest you try a conga line?
- Sydney Morning Herald