How to Throw a 1940s Themed Party
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 that 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.
- 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.
- 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
Get Inspired by Real 1940s Photos:Click thumbnail to view full-size
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.
- 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.
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.
- frozen fruit salad
- endive salad
- watercress and grape salad
- clam chowder
- stuffed olives
- stuffed celery
- caramel custard
- deep dish apple pie
- lemon meringue pie
- oatmeal cookies
- 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 Nicole Canfield