mad men party

Labor Day Tip: Pay Homage to Mad Men With An Old School Luau

Looking for something unique for your Labor Day soiree? Go retro with a Mad Men-inspired luau.

Mad Men’s sexy office manager Joan Harris not only tells it like it is with no apologies, she knows what makes a good party like the back of her perfectly manicured hand. Image: AMC

Like millions of fans across the country, we’ve been inspired by the new season of the insanely popular 1960s-set Mad Men. Specifically Über-sexy office manager Joan Holloway’s (now Mrs. Joan Harris) ability to put on her party dress and make the most of what she has to work with. Her impromptu luau for her husband in the third episode (just before he was shipped off to Vietnam for the holidays) had us thinking “What would Joan do?” when it came time to make Labor Day plans.

Here are some Joan-inspired suggestions to help you host your own throwback Labor Day luau.

Keep the decorations simple

With this theme, you don’t need to spend a fortune on elaborate decorations. You can get the 1960s Hawaiian vibe down with a few simple materials, a trip to the discount party store, and a little mood music.

  • Dig into a friends’ old record collection, or create a Pandora station with 60s era beach classics.
  • You can get Hawaiian leis in every color of the rainbow for about 99 cents at Party City.
  • It wouldn’t be a Mad Men party without some festive, tiki style ashtrays for guests who smoke.

Dress appropriately

Dress the part! Hit up your local thrift store, ask your older relatives to raid their closets, or create your own beach-chic look from colorful items in your closet.

  • Ask your guests to wear 60s inspired beachwear, like this.

Always have a drink handy

What would Joan serve at her luau? For something traditional, and something just for the ladies, try these classic cocktail recipes:

Don’t forget the Smirnoff vodka and colorful little paper umbrellas!

Set the mood with delicious island food

Regardless of any theme, the menu can make or break your outdoor party. We like to think Joan would be proud to serve these dishes at her luau.


Give your salsa a little South Pacific flair with this spicy sweet appetizer recipe from

Mango Salsa Dip

Don’t forget the Utz potato chips! They aren’t traditional salsa chips, but fellow Mad Men fans will know exactly why they’re on the menu.

Main Course:

This recipe works great, whether you use a gas grill or charcoal grill.

Teriyaki Shish Kebobs with Honolulu Lulu’s Marinade


Orange Jell-O Cottage Cheese Mandarin Dessert

You’re all set to make this Labor Day an island affair with a mid-century twist. Add your own ideas to these or find more here. Aloha, and enjoy.