The sixties were a time of transition from traditional conservatism to revolutionary thinking in fashion, politics and cuisine. Such significant changes in culture were reflected in celebrations and parties. While birthday parties were still a time to get together with friends and family, they were also the opportunity to try something new.
Birthday Party Decorations
The 1960s saw an influx of color in design, including tie-dyed fabrics, psychedelic neon and flower power graphics. These colors were reflected in birthday party decoration themes, such as banners displaying the British flag, pop art or yellow smiley faces. Party guests were offered flower garlands, strands of love beads and pins to attach to their clothing. Colored light bulbs, paper lanterns and lava lamps added some pizzazz to the party décor.
Birthday Gifts Ideas
Kids in the sixties looked forward to receiving their birthday presents, like a shiny red bicycle, board game or baseball glove. New, trendy gifts appeared at the top of the wish lists such as skateboards designed by surfers from California and slot cars. Dolls and action figures were well-loved birthday presents, including the still-famous Barbie, G.I. Joe and fuzzy-haired troll dolls.
While the music scene in the sixties still held on to artists such as Elvis Presley, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Darin, teenagers were eager to explore the new sounds emerging from England, beach culture, black rhythm and blues and folk music. Music set the tone for a birthday party, and the record on the turntable reflected the taste of the party hosts. New artists and musical groups included Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys and Peter, Paul and Mary. Other well-known groups that evolved from the growing drug scene were the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
Birthday party food in the sixties reflected the growing curiosity in new cuisine and serving styles. International fare would feature Mexican, Japanese or French foods and would be served hors d’oeuvres-style for a small birthday gathering or as a buffet for a large crowd. "The New York Times Menu Cookbook," printed in 1966 says, that a birthday party supper could include tomatoes stuffed with chicken livers, potato-cheese Charlotte, and avocado and grapefruit salad along with wine, cake and ice cream. Backyard barbecues were also very hip in the sixties.
- Food Timeline: FAQs: Popular 20th Century American Foods
- Evite: ‘60’s Party Ideas
- The New York Times Menu Cook Book; Craig Claiborne
Kimberly Dyke is a Spanish interpreter with a B.A. in language and international trade from Clemson University. She began writing professionally in 2010, specializing in education, parenting and culture. Currently residing in South Carolina, Dyke has received certificates in photography and medical interpretation.