29 Festive 1940s Party Ideas

Throwing a 1940s Hollywood theme party is an original and fun way to get everyone feeling like a celebrity for the night! Hosting a 1940s Hollywood party is an easy idea that is sure to make for a fabulously glamorous time, and we have plenty of 1940s party ideas and tips for your ’40s party planning. All you need are black and white invitations, some hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and a few old Hollywood items to have everyone leaving feeling like a celebrity! Look below for more forties event tips to make your party perfect! 

1940s Party Ideas – Invitations

1940s Party Ideas - Invitations

1. Themed Invitations

If you’re looking for effortless yet elegant ’40s themed invites, these old-fashioned cards are the way to go. They will perfectly set up the mood of your old-timey Hollywood party while also being cost-efficient. To create these, all you need are classic black and white iconic photos of the Hollywood stars of the time. You can then just use a sparkling or metallic red marker to scrawl the party details onto the picture. Don’t forget to include the theme and any dress requirements inside the invitation.

1940s Party Ideas – Decor

1940s Party Ideas - Decor

2. Authentic Colors

For as long as we can remember, red, black, and gold have signified the colors of Hollywood. By decorating with these three colors, your guests will immediately feel as though they’re apart of this old, authentic glamour. 

3. Dine With Hollywood

To give your party a fun and festive feel, set up life-size cutouts of golden-era celebrities all over your event venue. Popular celebrities from the ’40s such as Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne will make your guests feel like their dining with the best and greatest of Hollywood. 

4. Red Carpet Décor

Allow your guests to feel like old Hollywood stars by rolling out a red carpet entrance. Have the carpet lead right into the party room, and designate photographers to snap pictures of your guests as they walk inside. 

5. Glamorous Tables

There’s no better way to give your party a glamorous feel than by decorating your tables with some old Hollywood style. Use red and black tablecloths to cover your tables, and throw on some silver confetti for extra impact. For centerpieces place either an old film reel or a bouquet of sharp red roses in black vases in the middle of each table. 

6. Vintage Decorations

Decorate your party area with items significant to the 1940s era. To represent the romanticism of the time, cover your walls and tables with silk and lace. Another way to bring your guests back to the ’40s is by embellishing your party area with Calla lilies.

7. Music of the Era

Old Hollywood music is one of the best ways to get your guests feeling part of the 1940s. Rent or buy soundtracks from famous ’40s movies and play some Frank Sinatra records to provide the most authentic atmosphere. 

8. World War II Décor

World World II was undeniably one of the biggest events happening throughout the 1940s, so try using that as your theme. You could put up Uncle Sam and propaganda posters, reutilize some old Fourth of July decorations, or get really creative and include Humvee and plane decorations. This is an easy theme that can be taken in many different directions.

9. Films

Since Hollywood was such an important part of the 1940s, consider setting up a projector and showing clips from movies or newsreels from the era. Many clips can be found on the internet, and they would pair very well with a 1940s Hollywood theme. You could even try projecting your montage onto a sheet to give it a more grainy authentic look.

10. Photo Booth

What’s a good party without a photo booth? Rent a photo booth from a party store and fill it with props that coincide with your theme. To make it even better you can make sure it prints off black and white pictures to be even more true to your theme.

1940s Party Ideas – Costumes

1940's Party Ideas - Costumes

11. Pin-up Girls & Soldiers

Pin-up girls played an important part in keeping soldiers’ morale up during World War II, and are still viewed as an iconic part of the 1940s to this day. A fun way to get guests even more involved in your 1940s party is to have the women dress up as pin-ups and the men as soldiers (or let them decide which one they want to come dressed as). Your pictures are sure to look like a blast from the past with this theme.

12. 1940s Luau Theme

Although many people don’t immediately think of Hawaii when they think of the 1940s, Hawaiian fashion, and culture where making a big debut in the U.S. at the time! During World War II many U.S. soldiers were stationed in Hawaii for duty, and naturally, the luau theme became a big hit for parties. If you want to do something a little different but still true to the era, have your guests come dressed in leis, flowers, and grass skirts for their 1940s attire!

13. Celebrity Costume Party

The 1940s is referred to as the “Golden Age of Cinema” and many classic stars and starlets made their debut during this time. Instead of having your guests just dress up in costumes, try having them dress up as a specific celebrity of entertainment in the 1940s, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, or Vincent Price. You could even include a game where whoever looks the most like their character receives a prize.

1940s Party Ideas – Games

1940’s Party Ideas - Games

14. Hollywood Trivia

’40s Hollywood trivia is one of the best activities to bring out all sorts of personality. Trivia can take on many forms but the easiest is probably just a simple game of TV/movie trivia. This type of 1940s game consists of asking your guests a variety of questions about different movies and TV shows and then awarding points for the right answers. Another unique type of trivia involves giving each table a list of questions to fill out throughout the party. Towards the end of the night count up all the points and determine which table is the winner.

15. Swing Dance Contest

A great activity that involves all of your guests is a swing dance contest. It’s extremely simple to organize, fits a forties-themed party, and leaves everyone laughing for hours. (However you may want to let your guests know about the contest prior to the party – this way they’ll have some time to practice!) Designate a few judges to decide who’s out every round and have the contest go on for several stages. Have the last two couples compete in a dance-off for the rest of the party. Award the winning couple with a prize of your choice. 

16. Hollywood Charades

There’s no better way to bring fun to events than by playing a classic game of 1940s Charades. Give your charades a Hollywood theme and only allow topics that involve movies, TV, and Hollywood celebrities. Award points for right answers and take away points if someone is not being “Hollywood enough”. Continue playing until everyone has received a turn.

1940s Party Ideas – Menu

1940s Party Ideas - Menu

17. Cocktail Hour

Every great 1940s Hollywood theme party begins with a glamorous cocktail hour. Designate a few people to dress in tuxedos and walk around with trays of hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Some famous appetizers of the time were mini quiches, kabobs, and pineapple wrapped in bacon. The Martini and the Manhattan were also known as the cocktails of the 1940s. 

18. Appetizers

Appetizers of the forties consisted of fish and fruit cocktails. Add flair and originality to your theme by providing each guest with a cocktail glass filled with different appetizers. 

19. Entrée

Make sure your main course represents the glamour of the time period. Some 1940s food possibilities may be filet mignon, pan-fried oysters, and shrimp or chicken salad.

20. ‘40s Drinks

Drinks are one of the most important aspects of any event! Keep the 1940s theme prevalent by serving sparkling wines, champagne, and gin-based drinks. 

21. Desserts

When planning your event, don’t forget about dessert! Keep your desserts classy and delicious by serving guests different flavors of sherbet and ice cream.

1940s Party Ideas – Favors

1940s Party Ideas - Favors

22. Decorative Drinks

Send each guest home with a small bottle of wine or champagne. Represent the glamour of the ’40s by decorating each bottle with fake pearls and ribbon.

23. Martini Glass

Give your guests their very own martini glass and let them take some Hollywood glam home with them!

24. Antique Photo Frame

At the end of the night, give each guest an antique photo frame. Send each guest a photograph of them at the party and suggest they put that picture in the frame. 

25. 1940s Films

Send each guest home with a 1940s film on DVD to remind them of what a fabulous time they had at your party. 

26. Hollywood Garters

Add a little sexiness and fun to your party by sending each guest home with their very own Hollywood garters. 

27. ’40s Music

Type the lyrics of one of your favorite 1940s songs onto a decorative piece of paper. Roll up the paper and tie a black or red ribbon around it. Give one to each of your guests at the end of the party. 

28. Cigars

Cigars are a great party favor to give the adults of the group because they were extremely popular in the 1940s glam scene. 

29. Candy Cigarettes

Take all of your guests back to the old ways of Hollywood by providing them with decorative candy cigarettes at the end of the night.


With these 1940s party ideas, your event is guaranteed to be a blast! When hosting a ‘40s Hollywood party, provide your guests with fun party games and activities that will get everyone on their feet and laughing the night away in the beautifully decorated venue!  Whether you’re swing dancing, playing trivia, or sipping on champagne surrounded by the stars, everyone is sure to leave your party with some great memories they’ll never forget. For the forties-themed party, there is nothing better!

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