40s Party Ideas

Fun And Fabulous 40s Party Ideas
To Help You Focus On Patriotism & Music Of This Era!

The 40s decade began in the throes of the Depression and WW2, but the world of entertainment brought about a very positive attitude in the USA which resulted in an explosion of films, performers, composers, bands, and musical theatre. This era was also known for the classic beauty and glamour that women portrayed and patriotism was at an all-time high.

To honor the 40s decade and enjoy a snippet of the good times that resulted during a very bleak period in history, you might consider recreating a bit of the 40's splendor and host a birthday party centered around the music, performers and fashion of this decade. In case you're a youngster and know nothing about the 40's, here are some ideas to get your 40s decade party started.

1940s hat image

To ensure a great 40s party you need a great invitation to capture your guests' attention and expectations. If you want to DIY, using the musical theme gives you several options. Card stock makes for a great foundation in which to create your invites with the addition of decorative scrapbook papers and glitter to jazz them up.

MUSICAL NOTE INVITES - Check out your clipart options and embellish your invite with a large musical note on the front, or perhaps a series of smaller notes, or maybe even a musical scale.

40'S PERFORMERS & SONG INVITES - Another idea would be to write the names of performers of that day on the front of the invite or you could write titles of the songs they sung. Write out Sinatra, Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, and/or In The Mood, If You Ever Fall In Love Again, My Baby Left Me, I’ll Never Smile Again, and any other nostalgic songs that you might like.

Possible wording on the front of the invite might be:

You're invited to a swinging 40's era birthday party for (Name)
Help us celebrate and dance the night away.

Then give your guests complete party details and request that they dress in 40's attire. Be sure to let them know the start and ending time of the party, provide directions to your home, and RSVP info.


1940s hat image
Women's clothing from that era included full skirts, high heel shoes, dresses with big puffy sleeves, broad shouldered coats (both courtesy of shoulder pads); and nylon stockings with a dark seam up the back of the leg. Women working in defense factories wore pants and it was in vogue to sew patches on the pant knees and elbows of their tops.

Teens of this day swooned over Frank Sinatra, the Justin Beaver of the 40's, and they were known as the Bobby Sockers. They earned this title with their style of dress which consisted of short cotton socks, flat soled brown and white oxford shoes, shorter skirts, and sloppy Joe sweaters.

The male guests may select from the armed forces uniforms, the gray flannel suit which became the symbol of the corporate world, or they might want to don the look of the 40's performers by wearing a tuxedo, top hat and tails.

Check your attic for clothes and 40’s memorabilia, along with thrift shops as they are a treasure trove for this era.

Here is an additional costume idea for one special guest. As the stage will be the hub of your party, recruit a likeable friend to serve as MC for the party. That person could even come dressed as Captain America from Marvel Comics. His initial appearance was in March of 1941.

Have him serve as MC for your games and dancing. He could even start the evening with some opening remarks concerning the adventures of Captain America. Perhaps this could be turned into a trivia game.


OUTSIDE - Places to consider are a large patio which would be great for an outdoor affair. You can rent small portable stages or if you have a talented friend or relative have them construct one for you.

GARAGE - A well-cleaned, two-car garage could also be used if it is sufficiently decorated and the garage-looking walls are appropriately masked.

INSIDE - Your home or a very good friend's home that has a large living/dining room might be the perfect option for a 40s party.

RENTAL - Last and certainly one of the best options to consider would be to rent a room at a community center, especially if you have a hefty guest list.

  • Your decorating should reflect the 40’s era with an emphasis on the music and the people who created the mood for the time. You'll also want to plan on having an area for a dance floor, photo booth, stage, and dining area for either a sit-down dinner or a buffet.

  • Should you choose to rent a commercial photo booth the company will provide all of the necessary props to make the area come alive. Otherwise, you can opt to create your own. You'll need a spot that can be curtained off from the rest of the room. Use butcher paper in a neutral shade and hang it on the back wall with two-sided tape. Attach pictures of the pin-up girls of that time like Betty Grable, Ava Gardner, Carol Landis, and Hedy Lamarr. For a glamorous accent piece, you could add a large vase of plume feathers.

  • As guests arrive, be sure they are greeted with the sound of the 40's music. Create a mix of swing and Big Band music. This will help to set the tone and mood of the 40's. Be sure to encourage everyone to take lots of photos as they will be a part of their favors and/or your party memories.

  • If you're able to purchase some life-size figures of musicians that could be placed on your stage facing the dance floor that would be a great 40s party add-on.

  • You'll need to collect a great deal of pictures and posters of the performers of that era to arrange on the walls of your party site. Look for posters of the Big Bands, vocalists, actors, dancers, and solo performers.

  • If you're able to find an old 78 record player, you could set it on a small table at the back of the stage with some albums from that time and display them with the record player. Drape the table with a white cloth and sprinkle confetti on it to add to the party atmosphere.

  • To give your 40s party real party pizazz, hang lots of red and white, or red, black and white streamers from the ceiling in the stage area, along with bouquets of balloons.

More 40s Party Decorations
  • Of course the party table is one of the main focal points of every birthday party, so you'll want to be sure yours is very festive and inviting. Here's an opportunity to recycle your 4th of July decorations that we all have packed away. The 40’s era was the most patriotic time of the century and our flag was always prominently displayed. So the more red, white and blue you have, all the better.

  • Cover your tables with white tablecloths and adorn them with red streamers down the center. Then tie large red bows to each of the corners of the cloth.

  • Place your serving dishes on both sides of the streamers so your guests may serve themselves from both sides of the table. Add a little bit of glitz to your table with a sprinkling of gold confetti.

  • As the 40s was a time of great patriotism, you might want to create a small patriotic centerpiece. Start by using a round 10-inch Styrofoam and cover the sides with red, white and blue striped ribbon. Then insert a bunch of American flags into the top. If possible, try and find flags that have only 48 stars as Hawaii and Alaska had yet to join the grand ole USA. If your table is large or you have multiple tables, you can alternate your flag centerpieces with small bowls of red, white and blue Jelly Belly's. At the end of the party you can give one of the flags to each of your guests as a little party favor.

  • Festoon the surrounding area of the party table with red, white and blue streamers and balloon bouquets. These decorations are some of the least expensive options out there and you can hardly go overboard with them. This is a case where more is better.

  • Be sure to keep the lights low and the music on the soft side during dinner. You could even opt for using some white Christmas lights to help set the mood.

  • Continue with your patriotism by serving up dinner on red, white and blue party ware or opt for a design that would be appropriate for the time.


1940s parcheesi image
Be sure to intersperse your game playing with dancing. This will give your guests a chance to cool down after some hot and furious Jitterbugging and enjoy a more subdued, energy-saving activity. Then once they catch their breath, you can send them back to the dance floor

The following game ideas are perfect options for a 40s party, in fact, some of these very games were played during that era.

WHO AM I - Have your MC lead a game of Who Am I? Place a sticker on the back of each of your guests that bears the name of a singer, actor, musician, or anyone else who was well-known during the 40's. Then turn everyone loose to mingle and ask one yes or no question of various guests. Whoever figures out the name on their back first is the winner. However, you can allow the game to continue until everyone has guessed the name on their back.

40s PARTY DANCE CONTEST - Teach everyone how to do swing, the Lindy Hop, and the Jitterbug. Then have everyone dance their hearts out and compete to win the grand prize for the best dancing couple.

NAME THAT TUNE - If you have a working 78 record player and records, you can put it to use for this game. Have your MC play a few notes of a song and everyone can either shout out the name of that tune or write it down. At game's end, whoever has correctly named the most tunes shall win a box of Twinkies; everyone else shall be given one Twinkie which was a very popular treat in the 40's. In the alternative, you could split your guests into teams and have them compete with one another.

40S PARTY TRIVIA - Create some 40's trivia questions concerning movies, music, history, fashion, food, and WW2. Pit the knowledge and wit of your guests against one another and see who ultimately prevails as having the most knowledge about the 40's. This is another game that would work well with teams.


If you want to serve foods that were popular during this era you'll want to remember that food rationing occurred between 1942 and 1947 as an equitable way of distributing the diminishing food supplies. A buffet-style supper was common place; the food was simple and garnished with delicious sauces and flavorings. Here are a few of the popular items from that time:
  • Celery stuffed with Peter Pan peanut butter made its debut in the 40's.

  • Frito Lay corn chips also came on the scene at this time and were served with a black olive and pimento cheese sauce.

  • Assorted nuts and popcorn were always popular at parties during the 40's.

  • Favorite buffet foods of that time included cold sliced ham with Horseradish sauce, macaroni with tomatoes and mushrooms in a savory cream sauce, fresh string beans, crescent rolls, and rye bread.

  • For non-alcoholic drinks you could serve root beer, lemonade, and Coca-Cola as Coke made its debut in 1944.

  • If a birthday was being celebrated, the meal would then be topped off with a slice of birthday cake and a scoop of chocolate coffee ice cream.

  • If the fare of that day doesn't float your boat, you might want to venture into adding a few items of our current era like chicken wings, cream cheese wontons, cheese balls, deviled eggs, chips and salsa, and the list goes on.


Baking a cake is easy; frosting and decorating is the time-consumer. Allowing sufficient time to complete this task is the key to success. A great shortcut that goes with the 40's party theme is to use a Betty Crocker cake mix since the 40’s is the first time that Miss Betty was introduced to the public. Remember, this was a simpler time and most cakes didn't have wow-factor, just yum-factor, but of course it's your party and you can do whatever you like.

MUSICAL CAKE THEME - Make a rectangular white cake and frost it with pink strawberry frosting. Decorate the cake with musical notes made out of fondant. Pipe out a birthday greeting and you're good to go.

FLAG CAKE - Make a rectangular cake and cover it with red, white and blue frosting or fondants to ultimately make the entire top look like a flag.

PATRIOTIC CAKE #1 - Make a rectangular cake and cover it with white frosting or fondant. Place a blue fondant rectangle and red fondant stripes on the cake top to create the look of a flag. Pipe out some white stars onto the blue rectangle and add a birthday message.

PATRIOTIC CAKE #2 - Make a two-layer round cake and frost it white. Top it off with red and blue stars cut out of fondant. Add a few sparklers to the center to give it a little patriotic pizzazz.

Regardless of which patriotic cake you select, be sure to use red, white and blue candles. For the musical cake theme you'll want to use black and white candles. Let your cake make a grand entrance by placing it on a white linen cloth covered tea cart or small table on wheels. Wheel it into the party room while guests sing out Happy Birthday.


You can focus on something that is music related like a CD of 40's music or opt to go the patriotic route. Either way, you'll soon discover there are lots of favors from which to select.

Appropriate 40s party favors for women might be a high-heel shaped keychain, a rose-shaped box, or perhaps a coffee mug. For the guys you might want to select a sports-related mug or keychain.

Chocolate truffles are always a welcomed gift for anyone or perhaps a nice picture frame that contains one of the photos taken during the night. If you want to stay more with the 40's party theme, you could go with a personalized mug that has the look of the 40's or perhaps some black and white photo coasters.


As your evening draws to a close, be sure to gather everyone around for a final group picture. A nice way to clear out your balloon bouquets is to hand them out to your guests as they leave. Be sure to mail out your thank you notes and complete your scrapbook so you can remember your 40's party for years to come.

Share Your Favorite 40's Party Ideas With The World

If you have come up with some creative party ideas for a 40's party please give a share. I know it will take a piece of your life away, eat up a bit of your time, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you paid it forward and helped someone out today!

Return To Top Of 40s Party
Return To Decades Party For More Fun Decade Theme Party Ideas
Return To Home Page - Birthday Party Ideas

New! Comments

Join in with your party ideas and questions! Leave your comments in the box below.
party blog

New Birthday Party Ideas

1940s car image
Hi Sugar, Are You Rationed? If Not Cruise On Over.

record album image
Don't Be A Dead Hoofer, Crank Up The Music And Jitterbug Your Way Across The Dance Floor

1940s telephone image
Why Not Ring Up Some Good Old-Fashioned 1940's Fun