Back in January, Ellie was sitting at dinner listening to her boyfriend Max fret about turning 30. Max, feeling as if the act of leaving your 20s behind immediately propels you straight to the frailty of old age (and therefore impending death), described how his life would be at age 30: “Life is basically over, I’ll be wearing my Hawaiian print shirts, drinking tropical drinks and doing the congo as long as my hips can stand it.” This absurd statement was the birth of our next Damn Good Shindig: The Vintage Tiki Party.
The kitchy tacky island experience that Tiki Bars still bring to everyday life has always been a personal favorite of ours. Tiki Bars first arrived on the scene in the early 1930s when Don the Beachcomber opened his very own island escape. The exotic decor, the fruity drinks and the laid back atmosphere was an instant success. Thus the Tiki trend was born. Inspired by Max’s vision of his future, we dived into the culture of Tiki to start planning his birthday party.
After compiling images of Tiki bars and parties across the world, one thing became evident; Tiki and vintage just go together. Out of all the images we found, the ones from the heyday of Tiki (1940’s-60s’) captured the tropical escape we were looking to immerse our guests in. Plus the vintage feel added a little more context for Max’s desire to dress as an old man version of himself.
There was a strong pull towards the vintage postcards & advertisements for topical places that we found online. We knew we wanted to incorporate this element into the decor and the party in a big way. Our stockpile of vintage ads became a great reference for us when purchasing other materials for the party. Its so easy to get carried away on the tacky train with cheap leis and novelty party supplies, but thinking of our inspiration helped reel us back towards the vintage & chic. These reference photos also played a role in our decision to use real glassware and natural materials whenever possible.
Inspiration: Tropical Decor
Speaking of natural materials, we loved the countless images we found that depicted the lush greenery & topical flowers of island living. We definitely wanted to bring as much of this island feel to our decor as possible. Bamboo, palm trees, banana leafs, and hibiscus flowers can instantly transport you to the island of your dreams. Natural materials might not be available depending on where you are located, but there are definitely some great synthetic choices out there that are better than the cheap plastic.
Inspiration: Beach Life
Other Tiki inspired pictures showed us the beach life we all wished we could live. Surfers, sand, sea shells, fishing nets, boat lanterns and even mermaids popped up to bring in the laid back island vibe. Our Shindig guests should feel as though they are at a Tiki bar on a sandy beach, serving up Mai Tais and some relaxation. To cap off the ultimate tiki vibe we compiled a playlist — can be found here on Spotify! It has relaxing lounge music, as well as some songs to get you moving those hips!
Inspiration: The Fashion
We knew from the very get go that there would be a dress code encouraged for our guests (as its one of our core party beliefs). Our research left us wanting a whole new wardrobe and an excuse to buy one. There is just too much great stuff out there. We decided for this vintage tiki party, that our guests would be able to choose what route they wanted to go in. Our fashion options we presented were: beach attire, the good old Hawaiian shirt/print, vintage topical wear & finally, as an older version of yourself.
Thrift stores are gold mines when it comes to old people clothing. You can easily find yourself some great tropical duds for a low price. Living in LA sure has its perks, and the bounty of vintage boutiques is one of them. Don’t worry if such boutiques are hard to find by you, the internet can help you out! Etsy has a lot of vendors who specialize in vintage finds. Or try some new brands that evoke the vintage style such as Pin Up Girl Clothing, Unique Vintage, Bettie Page and Modcloth. You’ll be looking fly in no time!
Inspiration: The Drinks
What’s tiki with out the drinks? Max definitely wanted to have fruity rum based cocktails available on demand for the party attendees. We did a lot of research on tiki drinks, “forcing” ourselves to go drinking at some of LA’s most famous (or most fun) Tiki Bars (Life is hard, you guys). We drank Mai Tais, Zombies, Passion fruit Mojitos and various other tropical flavors. Many of the bars had their own creations as well as the classics. We enjoyed the bounty of island taste we got from each drink, and all the tiny umbrellas we collected in the process. Our intense research lead us to decide that big batch punch bowl drinks were the route to go.
Of course you can’t forget the fun tiki mugs to drink out of! Tiki mugs are based on the fine Polynesian art of Tiki masks and statues. Each Tiki is mystifying and unique as they depict different Gods essential to ancient Polynesian mythology. Many Tiki bars carry special mugs unique to their bar, and many admirers have extensive collections. Start yours today! Make sure you find some that speak to you!
Hopefully this is all the inspiration you need to throw your own vintage tiki party. We could talk about this all day! Visit our Pinterest for even more inspiration here. Stay tuned for more tiki party talk – including DIYs & free printables! Go on now, it’s island time!