1930s Hollywood Theme Party Ideas

Updated April 17, 2017

A 1930s Hollywood theme party, whether as a "just-because" party or a birthday, anniversary or New Years' theme, is an opportunity to indulge a type of glamour no longer associated with the movies. During the era of the Great Depression, moviegoers escaped into the world of big screen fantasy offered by big Golden Age studios like MGM and Paramount. Holding a swanky 1930s Hollywood theme party is not only great fun but also easy to do.


Guests will naturally want to dress up in costume for a 1930s Hollywood theme party. If your guests are not all Golden Age movie buffs, you might want to offer some reference points for costumes on the invitations. Some of the greatest movie icons of all time first appeared or flourished in this decade, including Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Fred Astaire and Bette Davis. Stars especially associated with the decade include Mae West, Jean Harlow and James Cagney. Fans of classic movie comedy could dress up as Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, Laurel and Hardy or The Marx Brothers. Include some suggestions in the different categories to get guests started. Mention a "best costume" contest to encourage creativity. Use Oscar-style categories for the contest, such as Best Gangster, Best Comedian and Best Movie Queen.


Since the 1930s as a whole are most strongly associated with black and white movies, you could decorate primarily with these elegant colours, along with some silver accents. Create a black and white "silver screen" atmosphere with helium balloons and streamers. For other decorations, go by the dominant genres and iconic figures of the era. Create silhouettes out of black construction paper of simple and recognisable shapes to put up on the walls, such as gangster movie tommy guns, Groucho Marx's moustache and cigar, Fred Astaire's top hat and cane and Laurel and Hardy's derby hats. In addition, party suppliers may offer party decorations in the form of film reels and cans, director's clapboards, chairs and megaphones. For music, you can stick to 1930s big band music or feature movie music.

Food and Drink

For a true decadent Golden Age Hollywood party, serve up fancy party drinks and snacks appropriate to the era. Rolled sandwiches with spreads, such as mock foie de gras, devilled olives and crabmeat or lobster were some of the popular cocktail party foods according to the Food Timeline website. Alternatively, invent your own themed party foods, such as "Jimmy Cagney Grapefruit Salad" to commemorate Cagney's infamous use of a grapefruit in "The Public Enemy" (1931) or "Marlene Dietrich Couscous" after Dietrich's appearance in "Morocco" (1930). Make cocktails with gin, brandy, rum or whiskey; vintage sites like Diamond Dame (see Resources) provide authentic recipes from the era.

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About the Author

Elise Moore has a master's degree in English. She enjoys writing about party planning and has greatly expanded her knowledge of the visual and plastic arts while researching articles for various websites.