How to Plan a Birthday Party With a 1940s Hollywood Glamor Theme

Updated February 21, 2017

Celebrate a birthday with a glamorous return to the era of old Hollywood in the 1940s. Famous actors and actresses of that era included Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman; use these film stars' iconic styles as inspiration when planning your birthday party with a 1940s Hollywood glamour theme. This type of birthday party will not only please any film buff or glamour fanatic but is exciting for the guests to attend, too.

Plan your venue. Consider choices that will evoke a 1940s glam feeling, such as ballrooms and vintage theatres. If you are holding the birthday party at home, cover furniture in makeshift silky slipcovers and adorn the tops of your tables with a votive candle and a single flower, preferably a calla lily, in a small vase. Use mirrors wherever you can and keep the lighting low.

Purchase birthday party staples such as balloons but put a 1940s Hollywood twist on your selection by favouring shiny silver balloons to mimic the silver design elements popular in Hollywood Regency style design.

Select music to play during your party. Big bands held sway during the '40s, such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Cab Calloway and the Dorsey brothers.

Send out gilded or silver invitations detailing the time, location and theme of the party. Ask your guests to wear period dress and give them plenty of ideas to work with; for example, you could tell the men to dress in army fatigues or pinstripe suits, fedoras and wide ties and the women to wear dresses with shoulder pads, kitten or peep toe heels and elbow-length gloves.

Arrange some of your friends to help you "up" the glam Hollywood factor of your event by acting like paparazzi or waiters with a catering service. Ask a few to dress in waiter garb to pass around silver platters loaded with hors d'oeuvres and glasses of champagne. Ask another friend or two with expensive, large cameras to bring their equipment and snap a few photos of unsuspecting guests as they walk into the party or mingle with guests.

Order a 1940s Hollywood theme birthday cake, such as a cake with an image imposed onto it from your guest of honor's favourite 1940s film.

Hang up a giant white sheet across one of the venue's or room's large, empty walls. Use the sheet as a makeshift projector screen. Hook up your projector to your laptop and load a DVD into your laptop. When you go to play the DVD during the party, remember to leave the sound off. This way, the movie adds to the party's 1940s Hollywood ambience without interrupting conversation or enticing too many people to watch instead of interacting with others.

Things You'll Need

  • Silk fabric slip covers
  • Silver or gilded invitations
  • Votive candles
  • Calla lilies
  • Small vases
  • Decorative mirrors
  • Mylar balloons, silver
  • Stereo
  • Big band CDs or MP3s
  • Giant white sheet
  • Digital movie projector
  • Laptop
  • DVDs of 1940s films
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About the Author

Katherine Harder kicked off her writing career in 1999 in the San Antonio magazine "Xeriscapes." She's since worked many freelance gigs. Harder also ghostwrites for blogs and websites. She is the proud owner of a (surprisingly useful) Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University.