Drive In Diner Birthday Party – Part 1

Parties should be about creating an atmosphere. This could mean setting a simple tablescape to evoke a relaxed feel, using bright colored lights & lanterns to create a fun event or it could mean transporting the guests to a different time.

When my husband asked if I could throw a party for his friend Jeff (a month from when he asked), first I was shocked. Usually Mike (hubby) says, “How bout we wait 6 months to a year until we throw another party.” After getting over the shock I said, “Heck yes I will plan a party for your friend…but I’ll try & keep it real simple.”  HA!

The more I started thinking about it, the more detailed it became. Both my husband & Jeff are somewhat nostalgic. That’s why I threw Mike the Mad Men Party in May. The time period for the Mad Men bash was late 5os/early 60s. So I decided to throw Jeff a 50s Drive-In diner birthday party.

Drive In Diner 1950s birthday party

A little disclaimer: the lighting was horrible. We had the party a little earlier than usual & the sun was not cooperating. Mike & Jeff were trying to hold up this big piece of cardboard so the sun wasn’t so so bright but then we battled shadows. Bummer. Good thing Martha Stewart or Better Homes & Gardens aren’t knocking at my door to feature a party. See…there are some really positive things to being a tiny unknown blog. ;p I can make photo mistakes & learn from them without any pressure.

The best place to get meat at a good price for a crowd is at Costco (I’m sure Sams is good too but Costco is really close to us).

This broccoli slaw was really easy to make! I just got 3 bags of broccoli slaw (I could’ve just used 2 bags for the 15 people that came) & added Souper Jenny’s house dressing the night before. Her house dressing is made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, shallots, parsley, salt & pepper. It is soo delicious.


Route 66 French Fry pockets


These were my favorite part of the party (beside the Drive In sign). I just bought a big bag of frozen crinkle fries from the grocery store but I wanted a cute way to display them. I had some parchment paper in the kitchen & found a Route 66 map online. I just printed the Route 66 map onto the parchment paper, cut into rectangles & glued the sides.


DIY Drive In party license tag labels


The labels I made from plain ole Microsoft Publisher! I wanted them to look like license plates. You can create fun labels without purchasing any expensive software. These license plates were made layering different shapes in Publisher. Once you’re done creating, print out on cardstock & you’ve got your free labels.

While the food wasn’t free, we were able to keep to a budget of $50 to feed 15 people. ALTHOUGH…I did go a little overbudget due to a major Pinterest fail! It was so frustrating! The proof is in the photo & I’ll show you on Friday with the Drive In Diner Party Part 2, along with the cost breakdown & how I created the Drive In sign.

Hope you’re having a great week!

p.s. You can now LIKE Parties for Pennies on facebook! Click here.





  • Renee@ Living Laughing & Loving
    Posted at 17:27h, 12 July Reply

    Oh my goodness, this is the cutest! I can’t believe you MADE those fry bags! And all your food displays look so festive and inviting!! Can’t believe your $50 budget either! Wowsa!

    • heidi
      Posted at 18:28h, 12 July Reply

      Thanks Renee! Hope you’re doing well & have recovered from Haven!:-)

  • Kendra
    Posted at 13:57h, 20 August Reply

    Where did you get the polka dot food liners?? Looking everywhere!!! Can only gind red/black/blue/green gingham!! Ugh!! Super cute party!

    • Heidi Rew
      Posted at 03:36h, 21 August Reply

      Kendra…I got them from Pick Your Plum. You can click on the side button on this blog to find out more about Pick Your Plum. The only problem is you never know what they’ll be offering. Every day, they send you a different product that they’re offering at usually 60% or more off. I recently got some fun straws from Pick Your Plum for super cheap. Wait…Kendra…I think I just realized you were talking about the liners under the hamburgers & hot dogs not the polka-dotted little cups. I’m a little ditzy sometimes. ;p You’re gonna LOVE this! Those didn’t even take a whole pack (less than $2) of TISSUE paper. Yep, plain old tissue paper that I got at Party City. Less than $2 & I had enough left to make a fun new neighbor welcome gift basket. I just cut them into squares. Hope that helps! <3 Heidi Rew (ps...thanks so much for reading this really means a lot!)

  • Sassy Kay
    Posted at 15:03h, 17 March Reply

    Wow, this looks awesome! I adore the Diner sign. You did a great job and your budget for all this is amazing. Makes me want to have this party right now. Thanks for posting.

    • Heidi Rew
      Posted at 11:41h, 18 March Reply

      Thanks Sassy Kay! <3 Heidi Rew

  • Party Planning | 64 Cute Outdoor Adult Birthday Party Ideas
    Posted at 14:20h, 19 May Reply

    […] At The Drive In – No, not the band (though that is pretty rad). I’m talking about a Movie Drive in themed birthday party. Obviously, you’ll need to host this one in the evening following sunset. This could very well be one of the cheapest parties on the list. According to the theme’s creator, the party was able to feed 15 people for just $50!! We recommend a cute Audry Hepburn romance like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” […]

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