Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Throw a Dirty 1930's Party!

(This post was originally published as part of Campfire Chics Birthday Blog Party 
but I am re-posting it here for those of you that missed it)

So, you want to throw a themed birthday party? Well look no further because I am the QUEEN of all things themed, costumed, and party-licous! There is nothing I love more then throwing a kick-ass party with a theme. Not only does a good theme take a party to a whole new level, it can also really bring people out of their shells, get them socializing, and make for some fantastic photos. Today I am going to teach you how to throw a "Dirty 30's" party, based on my own 30th birthday party.

First things first: LOCATION! Of course this can be in your living room or backyard, but why not think outside of the box? Do you know anyone who runs their own business, has a creative space you can rent out? For example, my friend worked at a non-profit art gallery just for kids! In return for an anonymous donation (to a good cause) I was able to rent out an amazing TWO FLOOR space, with children's art work all over the walls, two bathrooms, and a kitchen! Can you think of any creative spaces you may have access too?

Props: now you need props to give the space that "dirty" 30's feel. I used lots of dark, rich fabrics such as red velvet. You could also use props such as old wine casks, and moonshine jugs. I dimmed all the lights so it was largely candlelit, and I had old silent films playing on various TV's throughout the space. Your public library will have all sorts of fun film gems like this (admittedly my theme tends to blur the 20/30's era):

Costumes: What is a theme party without costumes! I love this theme because guys will actually dress up for it! What guy doesn't want to put on a fedora, a fake gun, and a nice pair of slacks...maybe with a pocket watch? Trust me. Your male guests will be grateful for a costume theme that they can participate in. I was FLOORED by the effort the guys put in for my party.

In order to take the pressure of some of my shyer guests, I set up a tickle trunk full of props and costumes. I filled it with my vintage dresses, feather boas, long black gloves, pearls, beads, asian fans, you name it! Anything that I thought might be useful. I then set up a "photobooth" which was simply an area with a red velvet draped backdrop and a photo savy friend set up with her camera and tri-pod. We bloggers naturally love to take photos, or at least now someone who does. Ask around, I guarantee you will find a friend with a decent camera looking for a fun way to practice their shooting skills.

I also got a little crafty for this party. With some supplies from my local craft store and my trusty glue, gun I made the girls all a flapper head bands with feathers and sequins. This little touch made those that didn't come in costume feel welcomed and involved. Plus they all got to take home a memento of a fun night!

To complete the theme I downloaded a "flapper dictionary" to use for the evening. Flapper/gangster talk is like learning a whole new language, and a lot of fun to use. From this dictionary I choose a top secret password that was emailed out to all of the guests the night before. In order to get in you had to say "Chicago Overcoat" at the door, this is gangster speak for a coffin/grave. Bad ass eh? I handed out copies of the flapper dictionary at the door and left additional copies on the bar for people to read. As the drinks flowed freely, so to did the flapper speech. It was hilarious! Here are some gems for you to try out:

Dip the bill: have a drink
Getaway sticks: legs
Harlem sunset: fatal knife wound
Lead poisoning: gunshot wound
Meat wagon: ambulance
Spinach: money

And there you have it folks, all you need to know to throw a Dirty 1930's party! Now let's go "dip the bill!"


  1. an epic fabulously styled party. great tips!

  2. That looks like so much fun. If only my friends would get into it!