Welcome Summer with a Mid-Century Modern Style BBQ

With summer almost here we’ve got barbecue on our minds. If you’re looking to host a bbq night with some panache, consider taking cues from the classically stylish 1950s. Whether it’s friends, neighbors, family or all of the above you’ll be sure to treat and impress them with your MCM-themed cook out!

1950s Backyard bbq short shorts

First off, you’ll need a barbecue. If you’ve got one then good, you’ve got the most essential part down. If you don’t have a barbecue, it’s time to get one! If you are one of those people who has always felt drawn to MCM style, then it may be a good opportunity to invest in a beautiful, antique barbecue grill. They do exist, though they can be a bit difficult to track down. Here’s a fun story about one couple stumbling across a very sweet near-mint condition barbecue from the 1950s.

Family with a Kettle BBQ MCM

If you can’t find a time-traveling grill, no worries, there are other options for achieving that mod flair. For instance, you can’t go wrong with a kettle charcoal grill! They are efficient, very mod, and available at most home goods stores. The invention of kettle grills in 1951 was an important contribution to the rise of the American outdoor barbecue as an activity in the ‘50s.

BBQ Baked Bean jell-o mold

Now on to the food! You and your guests are likely going to be outside most of the time, so if you don’t have a lot of shade outdoors pick appetizers that can safely handle a bit of sun before being consumed. Enjoy things like freshly cut or intact fruit – watermelon and grapes are classic. A festive bbq baked bean Jell-O mold with snacking veggies makes for a really fun retro side dish. It’s tastier than you think! If you’ve got a good amount of cool shade and hungry guests, a good old-fashioned cheese ball with crackers is always appreciated, especially if it looks like an olive-embellished pineapple! You can’t go wrong with a shrimp cocktail, either. Serve them in cups or glasses in a tray of ice for maximum freshness.

pineapple shaped cheese ball

Other appetizers and sides to consider are deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, barbecue mini franks, side salad, chips and dip, and a veggie platter (bonus points for creating little sputnik shapes with the food). Keep beverages simple with beer, lemonade and coke. A root beer float would suit the occasion as well. If you’re looking for some fancy cocktails, check out the recipes in our guide to hosting a retro cocktail hour.

Retro glamorous couples BBQ

For the main meal it’s perfectly fine to go with a classic hamburger and hotdog menu, especially if you have a DIY fixings station. Bacon-wrapped franks were particularly popular, if not expected, during the traditional 1950s barbecue.

MCM Backyard BBQ

If you’re looking for more variety, try Shish Kebobs – it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser and was also wildly popular in the 50’s. Alternate between your favorite veggies and meat, chicken or shrimp. If using wood skewers, soak them in warm water before skewering the food. Try Hawaiian Kebabs with chicken, red onion, peppers and pineapple to celebrate the 1950s obsession with Hawaiian cuisine. For more bbq food ideas, pick up a vintage bbq cookbook, such as this one on Etsy.

Family backyard bbq 1950s

Now that you know what food and drink to serve, it’s time to consider the atmosphere. Starting with attire, the ladies can enjoy flowy skirts or dresses, or a breezy blouse and shorts. Throw in a festive neck kerchief for extra flare. For men, shorts are also appropriate. The shorter the better! In fact, if you don’t own short shorts (mid-thigh… seriously), then some trousers with a plain or plaid collared shirt would be perfectly appropriate.


To entertain your guests, consider installing a horseshoe game, laying out a croquet set, or a game of corn hole. Some old timey music would be a wonderful addition as well, rounding out the theme.


If you also need a house to go along with that barbecue, we’re here to help you out. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to show you what tasty properties are available!

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