Friday, January 20, 2012

Throw Down: Goldfinger

This past weekend, I threw myself a Goldfinger birthday party. For the past few years I've been renting out a venue - for parties like Flashdance Electric Boogaloo and Summer of Sam. My challenge this year: to take my ordinary apartment and make it feel every bit as cool as a rented venue, and to transport people to the 1960s - a world of mods and rockers, hippies and Mad Men, the Beatles and the Stones.
Click here for a playlist of great '60s tunes, and click here for a photo gallery of costume ideas. Now read on to take a little trip to my Goldfinger apartment.


I can't emphasize enough how important it is to stockpile images to use for your decorating scheme - my calendars for the past two years were chosen with this party in mind. I have a Mad Men wall calendar and a 60's fashion wall calendar that I mined for great images. I also cannot say enough good things about the Taschen line of weekly calendars. I have last year's Pin-Ups calendar by Gil Elvgren, and this year's Fashion of the 20th Century calendar. Not only do they have an eye for choosing arresting images, the pictures are printed back to back - which means that you can rip them out and your actual calendar entries will remain intact. I also recommend Buckaroo's Mercantile in Central Square, Cambridge for all your '50s and '60s shopping splurges. I got out of there with a '60s go-go postcard and some candy cigarettes, but the temptation to redecorate my entire house was strong!

Lanterns made of soda bottles
hang around the bar.
 In order the display the different crazes of the '60s, I divided my apartment into different areas devoted to each. Guests walked up the stairs to the third floor and enjoyed a series of gorgeous ladies in '60s fashions. I cleared everything off my landing and set up a photo shoot area - British flag on one side for the Bond afficionados, and a large hippie tapestry on the other.

My living room was completely transformed by first removing every stick of furniture, and then by hanging things with fishing wire. To the left of the door, I set up a full bar. Behind the bar were stills from Mad Men, and fashion ads from the 60's. The bar area was deliniated by a string of candle lanterns - these were bought at the JP Lantern Parade which happens in my neighborhood every October, but they can be replicated by cutting the top off a clear, 3-Liter bottle of soda, covering the outside in tissue paper, and lighting a candle inside. (Please note - it needs to be a 3-Liter, not a 2-Liter. Also, votive candles will NOT work. You want to use taper candles so they'll cast the right glow, and they'll need to be no more than 4" long. Shabbat candles - or plumbers candles - are the right size). Then punch 2 small holes and attach a segment of wire to the lantern as a handle. Et voila!

Immediately in front of the door was a table of props which people could grab before their photo shoots outside - more on that in our photo gallery article.

Beyond the prop table, I set up a hookah tent, which resembled a flying carpet. Using only a few nails, a few ceiling hooks, fishing line, six paper clips and four yards of gauzy red fabric I created an area where people could relax, smoke the hookah, and watch 60's movies like JFK, Goldfinger, and The Doors on mute. Underneath the tent I lined the floor with a large plush blanket and some floor pillows, and set a table with lava lamps and my hookah.

I cleared out my dining room furniture and moved in an old tv - which showed movies like West Side Story, Across the Universe, and Hair - and the large sofa from my living room. Most importantly, I (and my lovely assistants) lined the entire room in aluminum foil. It took a total of 5 hours to turn the room into what I referred to as "Andy Warhol's Factory." This was our dance floor.

The kitchen became the hippie area. I hung another hippie tapestry and a poster that comes with 3D glasses. Then I moved in the rest of my living room furniture.

I even decorated my bathroom - I went with a Beach Blanket Bingo theme. Shannon Daly gifted me a surfer shower curtain, and I found a box of Hawaiian leis in my office which I strung up around the room. I hung pictures of pin-up girls on the beach. And one of my all-time favorite finds was a Playboy from 1965. The cover story? Bond Girls. What a goldmine!

Party Feng Shui

It's taken me a long time, but I've finally created a masterpiece of party flow. For one thing, I set up four different food stations throughout the house to keep people on the hunt for their next snack. Secondly, I knew I was taking a big risk by creating space for a kitchen party. So often people cram themselves into the kitchen and the rest of the house feels a bit lonely. I knew that the only way I could invite people to hang out there was if I was completely finished with the cooking before guests arrived. Done! What I didn't anticipate is that people don't like to hover over people on sofas. While the couches saw a lot of action, most people didn't stay long if there wasn't a seat available. It was a great hangout space, but it didn't detract one bit from the rest of the party. Success!

The Menu

As I said, I had four different food stations throughout the house. On the bar table I served honey-roasted peanuts, clam dip, and Swedish meatballs in the slow-cooker. In the hookah tent, I served hummus & carrot sticks and brownies with sprayable frosting. In the Factory dance area we ate baked brie, pigs in blankets, and my roommate's gluten-free spanokopita. Finally in the kitchen I laid out Doritos (which were invented in the '60s), Joanie's award-winning mac & cheese, and I would have made Susan's peanut butter popcorn, but we were all stuffed!


  1. A super-fun fiesta, as always, Bashionista!

  2. Thanks, dude! And thanks for all your help!! You and Rob totally kept me sane.