11 ideas to impress your superfan friends.
Mad Men returns for its final episodes on Sunday, April 5, capping one of the most acclaimed series in television history. With Don, Peggy, Joan, and the rest of the gang poised to ride off into the sunset (or the 1970s, as the case may be), you're running out of time to plan your second-half-of-Season-7 premiere party—so you'd better pull out all the stops.
Anybody can turn on the TV, mix up some martinis, and enforce an era-appropriate dress code of skinny ties, plaid jackets, and A-line dresses. But for the true Mad Men superfan, the right conversation pieces can also show off the depth of your series knowledge and give your party that flawless, mythical 1960s housewife touch. Spoilers (but absolutely no fedoras) may follow.
1) Set a festive and inviting mood with a classic red gingham tablecloth, inspired by the Draper family picnic in "The Gold Violin." This summery spread ($2.99) works just as well indoors and makes for remarkably easy clean-up—just pull it off the table and shake all the contents onto the floor!
2) Lane Pryce's Mets pennant was a symbol of his love for New York City. Now it can be a symbol of your Mad Men mastery, a subtle way of telling your guests, "I know this show better than you." The pennant was tacked up in Lane's office when he took his own life in Season 5, and Don rediscovered it when he was exiled there in Season 7.
If you can't find the orange one from the Mets' 1967 season, you can make do with this "Traditions" design from the MLB shop ($24.99). RIP, Lane.
3) It wouldn't be a Mad Men party without copious amounts of alcohol. We'll leave the martinis, gimlets, and mint juleps to you, but if you're pouring a glass of whiskey on the rocks, consider this artfully crafted whiskey wedge. A silicone mold makes a slanted ice block that melts slower so it won't water down your bourbon. ($17.95)
4) Cigarette accounts have come and gone—with much blood, sweat, and tears spilled in the process—but the Zippo lighter has remained a fixture on Mad Men, seven seasons on.
Such sleek, timeless design is perfect for all your chain-smoking and/or secret-past-concealing needs. ($14.95 and up)
5) Good luck finding the lettuce-and-tomato chip 'n' dip the Campbells received as a wedding present in Season 1 (and which Pete famously exchanged for a .22-caliber bolt-action rifle). Failing that, eBay or Etsy are both good bets for scoring vintage versions, and Rachael Ray has an inexpensive stoneware set ($24.99) available in a variety of colors on Amazon:
If Melba toast and gourmet cheese balls aren't to your liking, fill the dish with Heinz ketchup, Utz potato chips, Hershey's bars, or any other Mad Men-themed goodies. "It's a chip 'n' dip," so you really can't go wrong.
6) For dessert, freeze a batch of ice pops in these twin molds by Tovolo. ($9.99)
As Peggy put it in her Season 2 campaign for Popsicle: Take it. Break it. Share it. Love it. (Might we suggest a boozy recipe?)
7) Why settle for Apples to Apples when you can find your soulmate in a game of Mystery Date? In the horror-tinged Season 5 episode of the same name, Don fantasized about killing a former lover and Sally split a sedative with her step-grandmother to forget about the brutal Richard Speck murders. Let's hope your party goes better. ($26.99)
8) Take this remote-controlled John Deere tractor for a spin around your living room. With such a friendly face built into the front end, this little "Johnny tractor" wouldn't hurt a fly ... but watch your toes just in case. ($29)
9) If you like your parties awkward and mandatory, break out the karaoke machine. Odds are you won't be able to pull off a rendition of "Zou Bisou Bisou" as well as Megan Draper, but a couple of old-fashioneds might persuade you to try. Other songs to consider: Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," from the episode "A Tale of Two Cities"; Frank Sinatra's "My Way," from "The Strategy"; and "Bye Bye Birdie," from "Love Among the Ruins."
10) The Kodak Carousel from the Season 1 finale has long since been discontinued, but you can still show off your overly nostalgic memories with Projecteo, a pocket slide projector for Instagram photos ($34.98). You pick nine images for your slideshow, and the company develops them into a single frame of 35mm film set in a "wheel." Just slip the wheel into the slot to start sharing your photos the old-fashioned way.
11) For a final flourish, place some issues of The Atlantic around your home. In the Season 1 episode "5G," account man Ken Cosgrove got his short story published in the magazine. Fifty years later, it's the coffee-table read that says, "I'm a hawk-eyed viewer and a discerning reader."
You can pick up the current issue of The Atlantic on newsstands now.
We can't promise that your Mad Men premiere party will be as raucous as any of Sterling Cooper's. But hopefully deploying just a few of our party ideas will prevent it from ending as badly as this one: