(Guest blog post by Jessica Andrews, author of Death on the Rocks.)
Ok, I’m just going to tell it like it is: hosting a 1930s party, murder mystery or otherwise, is not that easy. Twenties is obvious – just cover everything indiscriminately in feathers and strings of pearls – and for fifties you can just bust out some pineapples and stick c
ocktail umbrellas into everything.
But the 1930s were a little sleeker and a little subtler; that’s why it’s my favourite decade and why you should definitely give it a chance too.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you cannot host a vintage party without enough candles to potentially burn your house down. Of course, you don’t actually want to incinerate your home or anyone in it, so I would suggest a) keeping the candles away from arm level to protect them from the wild gesticulations of your guests and b) putting something non flammable underneath them.
A good tip to maximise the light from your candles is to place them where possible in front of mirrors.
I know, not necessarily something you would imagine a necessity for a 1930s soiree, but believe me it
makes all the difference. Every Agatha Christie I’ve ever read seems to contain a – significant or otherwise – bowl of chrysanthemums (how does that even work?), but to be honest anything will do. Interestingly, I find potted ferns just scream vintage, and a good arrangement of classic roses also really adds the edge.
Even if this is the only tip you incorporate, I cannot stress its importance enough. The right music will immediately set the scene and make your guests feel more in character and more relaxed. For 1930s, think jazzy or sentimental and, if possible, crackly. You want your guests to feel like they’re in an old movie.
If you happen to have a record player and any 1930s records, this would, of course, be perfect; if not, YouTube is awash with vintage playlists or you can buy 1930s CDs online.
#4 Glassware & china
A party suddenly seems so much more vintage when the glassware and the china are old fashioned. If you happen to find some art deco style china in your local charity shop, amazing; if not, I really find anything a bit chintzy will do. And as for glassware, I have literally seen the shyest people in the world become positively RADA when clutching a champagne bowl or martini glass. I don’t know why, but it just works.
It will also make your event photos at least marginally less awkward on account of people having something to do with their hands.
#5 Backdrops & props
Let’s be realistic: it’s hard to vintage-ise your whole house without making some serious lifestyle changes and spending at least a month anxiously bidding on Ebay, so focus on just one wall or corner. Cheap art deco posters can be found online, and a wall of these will really add a vintage feel. And you definitely can’t go wrong with an old-fashioned telephone or cigarette holder for people to pose with.
I can guarantee you’ll end the night with some wall-gallery worthy photos of your party and a lot of happy guests!
Jessica is the author of Death on the Rocks, our 1930s murder mystery set in an English village.