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Your Official Guide To A Vintage Italian Dinner Party Theme

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For my mom's birthday this year we chose a vintage italian dinner party theme - here's how to recreate it for your next celebration.

Italian dinner party theme.
updated on:
June 19, 2024

For birthdays in our family, everyone gets together and decides on a theme that is relevant for that year. It could be something the birthday boy or girl has been interested in or just a general vibe! The theme dictates the wrapping paper, decorations, food/beverage, and activities for the day. It's one of my most favorite traditions and I will definitely be passing it along to my kids someday.

Over the years, we've done so many fun themes and we kind of continued the tradition throughout out adult lives. We have even gotten our significant others involved as well. I think my parents always assumed that one day we would maybe chill out with the birthdays, but we never did! That means we've definitely had to get creative over the years for themes because you eventually start to run out of ideas.

Today, I thought I would share with you the birthday theme that we selected for my mom this year, and how you can recreate it for yourself!

This post is all about italian dinner party theme.

What is a vintage italian dinner party theme?

I'm not even really sure how to describe the theme itself. Some people have told me it's like a Bucca Di Beppo restaurant decor theme, which I think is totally true!

I wanted it to feel like the most popular Italian restaurant in the 1950s on Sunset Boulevard. Like if you were lucky you might catch a glimpse of Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield tucked away in their candle-lit corner booth, enjoying a romantic Friday night.

What decor did you use for the vintage italian dinner party theme?

For our birthday setups, we usually concentrate all the decor on our main kitchen table, including the food and the gifts! This makes for the greatest impact when the guest of honor steps into the room for the grand reveal.

That being said, you can always extend the use of these decor ideas to your entire hosting area or to a complete table setup. I hope some of these ideas inspire you to add your own creative flair to this theme!

I also think it can be tough to bring a theme to life these days without making it too literal! I searched a lot for "Italian party decorations" but I didn't want it to feel like a Jersey Shore party (which is one of the best shows ever created, but that's a story for another time). So I tried to make subtle choices that all together would make you feel like you've been transported to Italy on a sweet summer night.

Red and white tablecloth

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"Colors are vibrant and true. Fabric is substantial and flows softly over the table. I love this thing."

You definitely need a red checkered tablecloth somewhere in your setup. I bought this one and then ended up thrifting one that had cute little fruits on it that I just felt I had to use, but something like this is essential!

Embroidered handkerchiefs

Similar handkerchiefs

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"The product is delivered on time, very well-wrapped, has good designs, right size, soft and nice. I highly recommend this."

One of my favorite things to do before a setup is go thrifting for plate wear and linens that go with your theme. It's usually a fraction of the price of what you would spend at a hosting store or decor store. I found some darling handkerchiefs with an embroidered flower on them. I used to be hesitant to thrift things for hosting because I never know how much use I'm going to get out of them again, but I recently cleaned out my office closet (let me tell you, that was a few day-long project, phew) and decided to create a little hosting section for all my cool glassware and linens. I can do a separate post ofn that if you'd like as well!

Linked above are (dare I say) even cuter handkerchiefs than the ones I ended up using!

Red pillar candles

Red candles

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"Candles came nicely wrapped and smell good perfect for my living room decor."

Another relatively easy thing to thrift is candles! I have gotten lucky with unburned candles in the exact color scheme I need to complete a theme. But the good news is, if you can't find the right candle while thrifting, they're pretty inexpensive anyways.

Taper candles

White candles

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"These candles are available in every color you could possibly need, they are always in stock, shipping is quick, and they burn consistently at about 2 1/2 hours per chime candle."

I put some tapered candles I had lying around into some really fun candle holders.

Candle holders

Floral candlestick holders

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"These candlesticks fit right in with my fall decor. They are lightweight, and a rusted look."

The exact candle stick holders I used are vintage and were a gift from a friend. I think these are cool and give off the same petal effect.


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"I don't think I could ever light a taper candle without this stuff. It truly holds your candlestick in place and is so easy to use."

Every host/hostess needs this product! It helps candlesticks to stick up straight inside a candle holder.

Black candle holder

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"Works great for holding candles. Perfect size."

These are also super easy to thrift! If you can't find any metal ones, you can always pick out a cool glass plate from the plate wear section.

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Picture frames

Gold round bow

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"Super cute and high quality picture frame! Very on trend right now."

I am so obsessed with this frame! I found mine at my local Home Goods but this one is similar.

Gold elongated bow

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"So pretty, elegant, feminine looking. Great quality."

Another similar frame to the one I used in my setup.

Black frame

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"I love this company. I love their frames. I’ve bought many in several different sizes. They always come perfectly packaged is never been any damage that I’ve noticed easy to assemble."

You can't go wrong with a classic black frame with a mat. I like to replace the picture I have in this to go with any theme I do.

Black and white photos

I got my photos off of Pinterest! If you search "vintage pasta girl" and "vintage sophia loren" the photos I used should populate for you!

White paper lanterns

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"These were just amazing and I got so many compliments on them!"

These added the perfect touch of ambiance to our setup. They are cordless and light from within. The pack comes with multiple different sizes as well.

Vintage linens

Lace tablecloth

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"Love, love, love this lace tablecloth. Ordered to use for my wedding reception which had a sort of romantic but vintage theme."

For covering our light fixture, I draped a vintage linen that I had thrifted on top. I thought it added a cool lighting effect.

A fun fact, a lot of thrift stores will have "grab bags" on the walls by the arts and crafts. Sometimes I find amazing vintage linens stuffed in these bags, and they're usually under $5!

PLEASE NOTE: Do not drape any type of fabric over a light fixture unattended. Our light fixture is a virtually heatless LED bulb and we were always in attendance when we had the light on. BEWARE that this could be flammable if there is too much heat applied near the fabric.

Vintage Hollywood book

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"Absolutely fabulous."

I thrifted this book and just knew I wanted to incorporate it into the decor. I flipped to a page with Sophia Loren and loved the black and white romance it added. Plus, it doubled as a gift!

It's a great idea for any fans of Old Hollywood.


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"The flowers were in very great shape. Great color. Would highly recommend."

The faux flowers gave me the most gorgeous pop of red color on my display. My mom even thought they were real at first glance!

Red vase

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"The color is perfect."

While I was at the thrift I picked up a cheap red vase to go with my faux flowers.

Bud vases

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"These are so pretty, well packaged. They are going to look great with my wedding decor."

I also picked up a bouquet of Trader Joe's flowers that I separated into these cute bud vases.

Blue dinner plate

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A blue/white serving platter was perfect to place my crostini on! I thrifted mine (I know, I'm sorry!!!) but here is a similar one.

Cake stand

Crystal stand

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"Extremely pleased and love the versatility of the cake plate. Excellent quality and price."

Everybody needs a cake stand on which to display their beautiful baked creations!

Vintage wine goblets

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"These arrived on time and packaged well with all glasses in great condition."

Once again, I thrifted my wine glasses, but these are almost exactly the same, and so affordable, too.

What food/drink did you use for the vintage italian dinner party theme?


Blood Orange Mocktail Spritz

This mocktail was SO GOOD. I literally crave it all the time. It's so fresh and so summer-y.


Red Lolea Sangria

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"Such a cute bottle and really great sangria, pour over lots of ice."

This is my absolute most favorite summer alcoholic beverage. This brand of sangria is so aesthetic and absolutely delicious, perfect for display and consumption. I also LOVE their white sangria as well. Needless to say, only 21+ can consume!


Pear and Prosciutto Crostini W/ Gorgonzola

These were the best little appetizers, savory and light. We ended up having pizza for dinner, but if you're in the mood, definitely go for homemade pasta - even better in my book!

Olive oil cake

I wanted to make something that had limoncello and that reminded me of an Italian summer. I found this olive oil cake on Pinterest and I knew I had to try it! It was DELISH especially with fresh raspberries on top. Will definitely be making again.

Olive Oil Cake W/ Limoncello Mascarpone Cream

Gift ideas

Sometimes I find it helpful to include some gift ideas here! My mom loved these...

Crystal lamp

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"Very cute and convenient cordless lamp for dark corners or shelves. The fact that it is compact and cordless, makes it easy to use anywhere. Good purchase."

I ended up keeping this "unwrapped" and just added a cute green bow to it. I pre-charged it and it was a total hint, while adding that extra glow to the table. It's wireless too so no messy wires!

Marilyn Monroe makeup

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"Beautiful products in beautiful box!"

This is just the coolest idea (IMHO), it's the entire Wet N' Wild PR package for their Marilyn Monroe line of makeup. How fun to receive some "PR", right?

If you like this post you may enjoy this post: How To Throw A Fabulous & Nostalgic Vintage Christmas Party

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Wrapping paper

An underrated part of setting any scene for a celebration is definitely themed wrapping paper! These were the perfect combination of Italian summer-inspired colors without being so literal.

Blue and white

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"Absolutely beautiful!"

I got so many compliments on this wrapping paper in particular! It's so beautiful in person.


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"The paper is very pretty and heavy weight making it easy to wrap packages. I purchased this paper to wrap small gifts. it's a really good value given the price, quality and length of the roll."

Red ribbon

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"Love the width and the quality of the fabric. Fast shipping, great price!"

Vine ribbon

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"As pictured. Good quality and sturdy. Love the color!"

This was a must to make my wrapping feel like it was straight from Tuscany.

What kind of party would work for a vintage italian dinner party?

Although we used this theme for my mom's birthday celebration, it also works great for a summer party, a wedding rehearsal dinner theme idea, a bachelorette theme, a graduation party theme, a baby shower theme, or any other party theme!

What playlist did you use for the vintage italian dinner party?

This is the playlist that worked perfectly for setting the mood during the celebration:


What do you think of my vintage Italian dinner party theme? I would love to see if you recreate it and put your own flair on it!

This post was all about italian themed dinner party.

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