7 Old-Fashioned Party Traditions We Should Bring Back

by Eva Taylor Grant
Hannah Burton/Bustle

Entertaining doesn't have to be reserved for special occasions or big-budget events. Even in an age where people are more connected than ever, there's still a special feeling when you gather a group of friends and making something of it. And if you're not sure where to start, looking at old-fashioned party traditions can help get you on the right track.

Throwing a party that includes some old-fashioned traditions doesn't mean you have to stick to old-fashioned themes or appear particularly out-of-sync with your normal social life. "Although it may look different than in years past, entertaining is still an important skill to master today," Bronwen Smith, owner and lead designer of B Floral Design & Production, tells Bustle. "Regardless of which generation you’re from, it’s always rewarding to host friends and create lasting memories." While it can always be fun to hang out at bars and restaurants, there's something special about hanging out at home, and feeling the particular joy of entertaining people.

Parties don't have to be high-stress either, they can be smaller-scale, too, and focused on connecting with the ones you love. "Entertaining at home brings us back to a simpler time, allows us to connect to tradition, and gives us that human connection that matters to us now more than ever," Anne Hyun, founder of Black Twine, based out of WeWork NYC, tell Bustle. A lot of it is about finding what kind of party works best for you.

Here are seven old-fashioned party traditions we should bring back, according to experts.


Playing Records

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While playing records at old-fashioned parties was simply a way of playing music, being in the digital age means that bringing records back into the mix may add a touch of color to your parties.

"Ask each guest to bring a favorite vinyl album to the party," "Mister Manners", Thomas P. Farley, a broadcast commentator etiquette speaker, tells Bustle. "Anyone can stream a [...] playlist. Your guests will remember you for being unconventional." Plus, this little ask will add a fun bonding moment to the beginning of the party if your guests don't yet know each other well.


Having A Dress Code

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Getting dressed up (whether it's a costume or just a nicer outfit) automatically elevates a party, since it requires guests to put extra thought into things.

"Kick things up a notch by asking your guests to arrive dressed in accordance with a specific theme, color scheme or mood," Farley says. "This immediately gives attendees something to discuss with one another and adds another layer to the event — not to mention making the Instagram and Snapchat posts look that much better." So while it may seem old-fashioned to ask guests to put on something fun, there are definitely benefits.


Having A Signature Cocktail (Or Two)

Being the host means getting to show off a little bit. One old-fashioned example of this is the signature cocktail: something totally doable that can blend in with almost any party, occasion, or theme.

Plus, you don't have to stop with just one. "For a truly convivial gathering, one your guests will long remember, seek out two or three vintage cocktail recipes, purchase the required ingredients and set up a station where guests can follow the recipe and prepare their own cocktails," Farley says. "This is guaranteed to inspire more spirited conversation than a cooler filled with six-packs." And if you get a little bit complicated with the bartending, you can even learn a new skill.


Sending A Paper Invitation

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Paper invites were more practical a few decades ago, but now they're a nice way to bring back an old tradition, and show friends that you're putting effort into entertaining them.

"Sure, options such as text, Facebook, Evite and Paperless Post are convenient, but a printed invite proves you're serious about a gathering," Farley says. Also, paper invites don't have a "maybe" or "interested" option, so you actually know how many people will show up.


Playing Charades

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Party games don't have to be lame or based around binge drinking. You can tap into the old-fashioned spirit of entertainment while having a blast with friends.

"When it comes to party activities, [I] believe that party games should be back in style," Smith says. "Charades may have been around for over 100 years, but it’s a classic game that can be played by a group of any size." This doesn't mean you can't pair the game with some wine, but playing an after-dinner game with friends is definitely a tradition worth tapping back into.


Setting The Table

While a casual party in the living room or on the roof can be just as fun, elevating the event by setting the table is a great way to add a touch of old-fashioned flair to an evening with friends.

"Even for a casual menu, sharing a meal around a table can make the occasion more memorable," Bold Catering & Design’s director of design, Bryan Worley, tells Bustle. "Setting the table also sets the tone — it's not about fine china, it's about thoughtful preparation. Not to mention, place cards are never a bad idea with a larger group." Your guests will be impressed, and if they're brought along food or drinks, will have a more exciting setting to share what they've chosen.


Sending Thank-You Notes


The responsibility of making a party a success doesn't fall solely on the host. Guests, too, should look to old-fashioned traditions to make sure they're really appreciating, and getting the most out of, these moments to connect with their loved ones.

"If you had a great time at your friend’s party, send a thank you note!" event designer Edward Perotti, tells Bustle. "Notice that I’m not recommending a thank you text or thank you DM. An actual, handwritten note, sent through the mail shows that you sincerely appreciate the time and energy your friend put into creating an evening for you to enjoy." The fact that the note took five minutes, rather than the five seconds a text might take, your friend will know immediately that you're showing your gratitude in a more concrete way. And five minutes really isn't that much, either.

Hosting and attending parties is fun on it's own, but elevating these occasions and infusing them with old-fashioned traditions can help them be moments to really break out of your routine and enjoy being around your loved ones. And whether or not you have a big budget, or anything in particular to celebrate, these decades-old tips can help you make the most of it.