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How to Throw a 1940s-Themed Party

One of Kitty's dream jobs is to be a party planner. She finds joy in planning parties for children and adults alike!

The 1940s saw its fair share of wild shindigs. Learn how to plan your own!

The 1940s saw its fair share of wild shindigs. Learn how to plan your own!

Emerging out of the Great Depression and dealing with the Second World War, Americans living in the 1940s had a difficult time. That being said, we still knew how to party! The parties were wild because Americans were so tired of working hard and dealing with problems; they needed to let loose.

In addition to the amazingly fun parties, people of this decade knew how to act and how to dress. Many women and men today find themselves trying to mimic that same style and simplicity.

If you're throwing a 1940s-themed party, you've come to the right place. Let's talk about the decorations, costumes, and food that you can use for a rockin' good time!

Vintage Hawaiian Luau Theme

One extremely fun and easy theme is the vintage Hawaiian luau theme. In the 1940s, the Second World War was either occurring or had just occurred, and many men were stationed in Hawaii for military duty. Naturally, the Hawaiian luau theme became something that made its way into the fashion and décor scene of this time period.

Ideas:

  • brightly colored tiki cups
  • tiki poles and tiki huts
  • multi-colored stringed lights and lanterns
  • faux hibiscus flowers, garlands, and leis
  • drinks in coconuts and a bar lined with grass skirts
  • vintage Hawaiian postcards and posters

Soldiers and Pin-Up Girls

This could be really racy and fun, especially for a party that might have more singles than couples. Men in uniform and ladies in sexy vintage hairstyles and lingerie...what gets better than that? Posters of pin-up girls and items representing the military are perfect for this themed party.

Ideas:

  • Focus the party ambiance on the military and pin-up theme by decorating it like its the barracks (tents, camo, etc.).
  • Elvgren and Vargas girl posters should grace the walls of the party.
  • Food and drinks should be themed around ships, airplanes, and Humvees.

What to Wear for a 1940s Party

Now comes the really fun part. Both ladies and gentlemen will have a good time picking out their costumes. In the 1940s, women were very feminine and guys were dapper. They both dressed to the nines whenever they went out, including accessorizing to match their outfits.

For Women:

  • Women wore flattering dresses with matching hats, gloves, shoes, and purses. A true lady never left the house without a pair of gloves and a hat.
  • Her make-up was always done, usually with black mascara and red lips. Eyebrows were dark and dramatic. Here is a tutorial.
  • My suggestion for the ladies is to find a vintage 40s dress online (or in a thrift store/estate sale), and then add the accessories to match. Some awesome places to look include pinupgirlclothing.com, etsy.com, mybabyjo.com, and babygirlboutique.com. Modcloth also has some wonderful retro dresses and shoes that are unique and classy.
  • If you're going for a vintage Hawaiian luau look, find a dress in a red or tropical pattern.
  • Don't forget to do your hair in this decade's style. You can find hair tutorials on YouTube (I've posted one below as an example).

For the Guys:

You might already have your costume pieces in your closet, depending on what look you want to go for.

  • If you're going for a tough-guy look, wear a pair of Levi jeans with a white T-shirt and a pair of boots. Easy enough, right?
  • Or go with a more dressed-up approach and wear a suit with a vintage-style hat. Don't forget the vintage-style tie.
how-to-throw-a-1940s-themed-party

1940s Menu Ideas

The best way to create your 1940s menu is to use vintage cookbooks from the decade. You can purchase these online or at thrift stores. My suggestion is to keep the menu light by serving appetizers and cocktails rather than planning and cooking an entire meal.

Appetizer Ideas:

  • frozen fruit salad
  • endive salad
  • watercress and grape salad
  • clam chowder
  • canapes
  • stuffed olives
  • stuffed celery
  • caramel custard
  • deep-dish apple pie
  • lemon meringue pie
  • oatmeal cookies
  • gingerbread
  • icebox pie
  • sponge cake
  • scotch shortbread
  • Food in the 1940s
    It is my goal to bring back food from the 1940s to the new millenium's menus. So what did people eat in this decade? Let's have a look down memory lane.

© 2012 Kitty Fields

Comments

Esther87 on February 25, 2017:

A very interesting and useful article, especially the menu part. I will definitely try to prepare one of those 1940s appetizers. I think that those who are planning this kind of party and need some more information about music and decorations, might find interesting also this site here: http://1940sfashiondresses.com/1940s-themed-party/

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on September 22, 2012:

My grandparents actually! Hehe. Thanks again.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on September 22, 2012:

Could very well be kitty..from what i understand the normal in-between time is around 150 years, but with overpopulation it can happen much sooner.Is that by any chance you mom, pa, in the picture...well, its probably too far back for that suppose.

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on September 21, 2012:

AP - Thanks so much. I've always had an obsession for decades past, particularly the 40s and 50s. Not sure why...perhaps I lived in those decades in my past life? Thanks again.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on September 21, 2012:

Your era themed party hubs are really cool. Men in uniform and women in sexy vintage hairstyle and lingerie- now those descriptions are wicked cool. The 40's are an excellent period to recreate for a party- just look at some of those Hollywood color musicals from back then- Meet Me in Havana is an awesome one for example. Yea, I wanna be 'In Like Flynn.' Check that 40s phrase out ha ha. Up interest and useful Kitty!

Eiddwen from Wales on September 18, 2012:

What a great hub ;thanks for sharing.

Your hard work has certainly paid off.

Enjoy your day.

Eddy.

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on September 17, 2012:

Thanks, lucy! Maybe you should.

Bonny OBrien from Troy, N.Y. on September 17, 2012:

Wow sounds like great fun. Your hub makes me want to throw a party for my residents at the retirement home where I work.

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on September 17, 2012:

carol - It's possible that they had more fun, and you're right...I wasn't there so I did my research. :) Thanks so much!

carol stanley from Arizona on September 16, 2012:

what fun! Looks like you did the research as I know you were not there. I loved the menu. Do you think people had more fun in those days? We do know that life was much simpler. Great hub and voted up.

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