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To celebrate 50 years in business, we needed the courage to dream big and create a unique, vibrant theme that would appeal to both adults and children. The client wanted us to create an atmosphere where guests felt as if they were attending a barbecue on the beach in the year 1950 but there were so many restrictions.

On a sunny summer day in Vancouver, BC, 200 guests gathered at a venue by the beach to be transported back in time to the 1950’s. The client hosts this annual themed event that lends itself to interaction that encourages mingling and socializing. The client wanted a theme this year that would appeal to both the adults and children, and be interactive and fun. The event was successful because we were able to include activities, entertainment & food that were theme related and interactive.  

The planning for this event included a “Save the Date” Invitation that was emailed in advance to inform guests of the theme & date, encouraging them to dress in 1950’s costumes.  We really promoted the costume contest, as we realized that the more guests that got into the spirit of the event, the more successful the event would be. (Lucky for us about 75% of the guests did dress up). Approximately 6 weeks before the event, we mailed a hard copy invitation of a 45 Record to convey event details such as event timing, parking options, contests, etc. We even announced the theme menu – coloured Jell-O, Ice Cream Sundaes & Floats, Cheeseburgers, French Fries & Theme Candy.


This was a pinnacle station as it set the tone for the entire event.  When guests approached the registration tent, they immediately felt that they were at a 1950’s Rock N Roll event. The band was playing rock n roll songs in the background, as they were greeted by our female staff dressed in poodle skirt costumes, rhinestone sunglasses, red chiffon scarf tied in their hair and male staff in classic jeans, white T-Shirts with cigarettes in the sleeves, black sunglasses and hair comb to keep their greased hair in place. We even had a guessing jar where guests could guess how many Bazooka Bubble Gum were in the jar. The winner took home a whole lotta gum!


We choose a décor colour scheme of bubble gum pink, black, white and red and stayed within those colour parameters. All of the signs were created in bubble gum pink with black diner font. Our tablecloths alternated with white or black on the bottom, covered by either pink or a customized tablecloth illustrating joining images of 45 records.  We inflated giant Guitar (4.5’ long) and Jukebox (4’ tall) Mylar balloons and used them as table centerpieces under our dining tent.  A jukebox balloon weight held down the cluster surrounded by rock n’ roll confetti.  From the ceiling of the tent, we created a hanging mobile of black musical notes and 45 records.  It was a nice complement with all of the colour on the tables.

Under the performance tent we installed a black and white checkered dance floor and decorated the stage with customized pink signage that lit up behind the band.  Flanking each side of the stage we erected 1950 car flats on an upright.  We finished off the vignette with a 4’ record to cover the stand.

After we worked up the courage to seek approval to park vehicles on the manicured lawns, we approached an Antique Car Club and had 1950 antique cars owners attend and show off their cars.  They were so excited about our event theme that they offered to come and be hosts. It was such a plus to the overall event.


Activities were very important to this client, as she wanted to keep guests busy and entertained at all times.  So we had lots of creative 1950’s activity stations for them to enjoy.

  • Sunglasses Decorating: Colourful jewels, beads, gems, mini pom-poms & glitter adorned a variety of eyeglasses.  Most popular with the ladies were the Cat Eye Glasses and the men the Elvis Glasses and with the children the Octopus Glasses
  • Scarf Decorating: Black and pink poodles badges were ironed onto chiffon scarves.  Guests really loved that they could actually iron on the badge themselves 
  • Yo-Yo Decorating: This activity was popular with all ages, especially the guys.  Girls seemed to decorate them but didn’t use them.  The guys were serious about the Yo-Yo contest so they didn’t add too many decorations
  • Silly Putty: This activity was popular with the children who were amazed to discover that Silly Putty was such an old invention!

We thought that it would be fun to host some themed contests which were super popular! 

  • Hula Hoop Contest:  Men and women alike loved this contest.  We were surprised at how good the females could hula hoop! 
  • Yo-Yo Contest: After the guests had decorated their Yo-Yo they were encouraged to practice for the big Yo-Yo competition. We had quite a few males that did amazing tricks!
  • Costume Contest: This contest was by far the most well attended as about 75% of the guests dressed in costumes.  We awarded prizes for Best Female, Best Male and Best Children’s.  Each winner received a customized 1950’s candy Box filled with items like Candy Cigarettes, Bazooka Gum, Tootsie Pops & Boston Baked Beans


All of our entertainment was theme related and interactive. Elvis performed his classic hits on the stage for 30 minutes and then stayed for an hour to pose with guests by the Antique 1950’s cars.  Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to two of the guests celebrating birthdays, and posed for photos with guests.  The rock n’ roll band assisted in various contests which added to the ambience.  A popular station was a live Interactive Video Recording Booth where guests could record their own rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel” and immediately email it to all of their friends, post it on Twitter or their Facebook page.

Event Summary:

The event objectives were met through creative décor, activity and entertainment plans. Many guests commented that having guests in costumes encouraged conversation. People left with 1950’s souvenirs, photos with Marilyn, Elvis and 1950’s Cars, as well as personalized Cat Eye Glasses and Chiffon Scarves. 

The event surpassed all of the set objectives, as it transported guests into another time frame and allowed them to feel like they were actually at an event in the 1950’s!

Photos: https://brightideasevents.com/project/rock-n-roll-bbq/

Case Study: https://brightideasevents.com/news/case-studies/case-study-courage-to-dream-big/

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