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The physical structure of mid-century home design is quite conducive to entertaining. The open, flowing spaces beg for a crowd, encouraging circulation and easy mixing. Throwing a party in a mid-century home can be an extraordinary experience by recalling what American society and culture were like as this design aesthetic took flight.

The period after World War II until the late ’60s was characterized by a more casual approach to just about every activity and when it came to home entertainment, an air of casual-formality reigned. Much like dressing up and going out on the town for dinner and a show, opening up one’s home to entertaining friends and neighbors was also a much anticipated and well-planned evening. And, while throwing a Mid-Mod era party doesn’t necessarily need to mimic a rollicking scene from Mad Men, there are several mid-century accoutrements that can lend your party an extra bit of verve.

Bar Carts

Bar carts evolved from Victorian-era tea tables. The elaborately carved wooden tables of the past were reimagined as sleek and movable brass, steel, or chrome serving stands, with one shelf for liquor and another for glassware. One bar cart example that exemplifies the era’s emphasis on functionality is the Cesare Lacca Bar Cart Cocktail Trolley, which also included a three-bottle wine rack.

With a simple Google search for ‘mid-century bar carts,’ the most ubiquitous bar cart of the era instantly appears: the Linon Gina bar cart. Almost always made from brass, the cart is still available from the original manufacturer – and they’re also easily found on Etsy and First Dibs. Big-box retailers, like Target and Home Depot, carry similar models and the carts are available in a wide range of price points.


Falling Leafs by Royal China

One of the many attributes of mid-century design is that it blends seamlessly with a wide range of contemporary dishes, glassware, and cutlery. However, one of the fixed traits of mid-century style entertaining was that everything matched. Luckily, entire sets of vintage china, including dishes, serving pieces, cups and saucers, and salad plates, with their highly distinctive period designs, are plentiful and affordable. They can often be obtained for next to nothing at most any thrift store, secondhand shop, or on Etsy.

The sets look a bit old-fashioned when viewed through modern eyes as they sit on a thrift store shelf, but aesthetically they are perfect in mid-century homes on dining tables and sideboards. A notable advantage of using vintage china is it is smaller than most tableware sold today, which makes it a near-perfect pairing for a buffet of appetizers or small bites.

Serving Pieces

A number of serving pieces stand out for their association with a specific time period, and few things shout out “Mid-Century!” quite like Lazy Susans, fondue pots, and chip and dip sets. These serving pieces are also an easy find online, at thrift stores, and at secondhand shops – and it is near impossible to find them in anything other than the colors that are so closely associated with the era – avocado, burnt orange, turquoise, pale yellow, and more.


Glassware of the era is characterized by highly stylized space-age graphics, often with metallic silver or gold highlights. Cocktail glasses exuded a jazzy party mood and often came in matching metal carriers.

Some of the popular drinks of the period, like martinis, daiquiris, Tom Collins, Old Fashioneds, and Mai Tais, even called for their own specific style of glasses. Having a complete set of Mid-Mod glassware for each type of cocktail is a nicety that may be asking a bit much of the modern host or hostess, but classic highball, martini, and Tiki glasses look quite at home in a mid-century living room. Another common item on the bar was ice buckets with matching glasses. Again, the internet and thrift stores are packed with options for most any style desired.

A period-perfect recreation of a 1950s or ’60s cocktail or dinner party may be a little formal compared to how most of us entertain today. But paying homage to the era is easy enough with a few select pieces – and they may just give your gathering an extra kick that delights guests to no end and seriously ups the swank factor.

Looking to buy, sell, or style your own mid-century modern home? Ashley Kendrick is Kansas City’s leading expert when it comes to mid-mod homes! For more information, just send her a message online!