We can’t ever forget the horrors of war on a home front, but nor should we ever forget the amazing sense of community that was bourne out of such hardship in 1940s Britain. Blighty without a party? Not bloody likely, Johnny Foreigner!
The 1940s were some tough economic times – rationing continued in the UK on after the war for almost a decade until 1954! The ingenuinty of the UK without an endless supply of everything you ever wanted was endless, and could teach our wasteful ways a thing or two in the current economic climate.
For example, exotic fruit was tough to get hold of during this period, so people started making cakes from carrots like in ye olden dayes of medieval yore. Resourcefulness + carrots = everyone’s favourite cake! Win! So, why not take a leaf from the ingenious book of our grandparents and throw yourselves a blitz party?! Here’s a few ideas you need to get you started on the road to retro-fabulous…
It’s unlikely Dame V* will be able to show up in person, but 1940s music is key to the ambience of the thing. We listen to “our” music every day and night, so don’t be afraid to go nuts and go back in time for one night. The truth is, this kind of music not only creates the perfect atmosphere at low, low (often in the bargain bin/pound shop) cost, but it’s better for chitchat at a party anyway!
The whole point of the exercise here is to channel our frugal forefathers, and not break the bank. Don’t go nuts on food, have everyone bring something home made. Guess what? If it wasn’t available in 1940, it’s not available at your party. Good, wholesome stuff made from good, wholesome rationed food. If anyone shows up with a banana, assume they’re a gerry and shoot on sight.
Black it out
To quote Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and reference one of the greatest penny pinchers of all time: “Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it”. Pretty much the only material you could get in abundance was black out material. Black cotton will do us now – you just make sure that the Luftwaffe can’t tell you’re having a good time from their recon planes. Good for the atmosphere in two ways – it’s authentic and it saves electricity!
And the rest, well, that’s just up to you! Be as creative as you can be, make do and mend! Decorations and wrappings from Newspaper, vintage clothing all the way, print-your-own propaganda, sandbags, tin hats, bunting, tins of spam, model planes, unexploded bombs, pipes, hats, waistcoats – ANYTHING! And everything. You’d be amazed how easily and cheaply this party can be themed. Just don’t get carried away…
* About Vera – apologies for referring to her as “the late” for a while. Vera Lynn is never late, especially as she is alive and kicking and whatnot. Whoops! Sorry!