How to Throw a 1940s Themed Party


The 1940s in a Party

Coming out of the Great Depression and dealing with a second World War, the 1940s was difficult for every American. That being said, we still knew how to party...and perhaps the parties were even more wild as Americans were so used to working hard and dealing with problems that when there was a party, that party was wild!

In addition to the amazingly fun parties in the 1940s, the people knew how to act and how to dress. Many women and men today find themselves trying to mimic the style and simplicity of the 1940s decade. In this article, we'll talk specifically about how to throw a 1940s themed party in modern times.

If you're throwing a 1940s themed party for a birthday, anniversary, etc., you've come to the right place. Let's talk about decorations, costumes, and food for a rockin' 1940s party.

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Tiki CupsRosie the Riveter PosterA 1940s Aquamarine Ice Bucket
Tiki Cups
Tiki Cups | Source
Rosie the Riveter Poster
Rosie the Riveter Poster
A 1940s Aquamarine Ice Bucket
A 1940s Aquamarine Ice Bucket | Source

Decorations for a 1940s Theme Party

There are a couple options for themes within the 1940s themed party. 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 in the 1940s. You can put together an awesomely tropical, vintage Hawaiian luau party that is reminiscent of the 40s and unique in and of itself.

  • 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

Another theme within the 1940s themed party could be 1940s 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 1940s themed party.

  • make the party ambiance focused on military and pin-up, decorate 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 hum-vee's

1940s Themed Party Decorations

Get Inspired by Real 1940s Photos:

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What to Wear to a 1940s Themed Party

So now comes the really fun part...what to wear to a 1940s themed party. Both ladies and gentlemen will have a good time picking out their 1940s costumes.

In the 1940s, women were very feminine and guys were dapper. They both dressed to the nines whenever they went out, which included 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 hat. Her make-up was always done, usually with black mascara and red lips. Eyebrows were dark and dramatic. My suggestion for the ladies to emulate a gorgeous 1940s look is to find a vintage 40s dress online (or in a thrift store/estate sale if you can), and then add the accessories to match. Some awesome places to look include,,, and Modcloth also has some wonderfully 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 a vintage 1940s style - you can find hair tutorials online at 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.

1940s Themed Party - Menu Ideas

You can't have a 1940s themed party without the perfect food and drinks. The best way to create your 1940s menu is to use vintage cookbooks from the 1940s. You can purchase these online or at thrift stores, etc. My suggestion is to keep the menu light and serve appetizers and cocktails instead of having to plan and cook an entire meal.

Here are some appetizer ideas for your 1940s themed party:

  • 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

© 2012 Author Nicole Canfield

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Comments 9 comments

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

My grandparents actually! Hehe. Thanks again.

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Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

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.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

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.

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Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

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 profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

What a great hub ;thanks for sharing.

Your hard work has certainly paid off.

Enjoy your day.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

Thanks, lucy! Maybe you should.

lucybell21 profile image

lucybell21 4 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

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

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

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!

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

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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    kittythedreamer profile image

    Author Nicole Canfield (kittythedreamer)1,897 Followers
    428 Articles

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

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