I thought I would start this “war” party series (read the “prequel” here!) by sharing all of the decorations, ideas and products in one place so you can have easy access to links and inspiration, should you ever choose to host your own WWII party.
You know…cause lots of people have WWII parties.
Anyhow, let’s get started!
About an hour and a half before the party, Amy and I (but mostly Amy) painted this huge sign on the back porch at my parent’s house. We used brown craft paper, poster paint, and foam paint brushes. By the way, she free-handed this, my insanely talented sister-in-law.
Once it was dry, my Mom and I drove down to the party site by the creek to hang it up. There was only one problem: Oklahoma wind. Sweeeeeeepin’ down the plain. We couldn’t even hang this sign where we wanted to (it was so windy, we couldn’t even get it in the air, let alone fasten it!) and had to rearrange the entire pavilion area to accommodate it. Even then, it still tore (razzle frazzle…), but Amy saved the day with lots of tape and thumbtacks. She’s a genius, and my party sidekick for life.
Other than the torn poster, the “Mess Hall” was decorated with vintage-inspired patriotic elements, authentic WWII helmets and ammo boxes, our typical galvanized tubs and cake stands, old metal pans and colanders, and vintage recruiting posters. I will share links to many of the products we used at the end of this post.
We tried to keep things simple and to at least pay homage to the authentic. You could really go nuts and buy lots of disposable camo and/or army stuff for a party like this – but a roll of white paper towels, and some disposable baking pans from Wal-Mart absolutely did the trick. Our biggest conundrum, however, was HOW to hide Crock-pots. At our remote-ish location, Crock-pots were the only way to keep the food warm, but we just couldn’t bear the thought of them being on the serving table. Amy came up with the winning solution by wrapping diaper boxes in craft paper and cutting holes in the top – this is the stuff that just cracks me up about our parties…my Grandmother, visiting for the week, thought we were absolutely nuts! But I’m sure that Mess Halls in the ’40’s served ALL of their food out of paper-wrapped diaper boxes. Right? Right?…
Forks were kept handy in washed tin cans that had their labels removed…we were going to use these for drinking vessels, but my Mom kept cutting her fingers on them, so we scrapped that idea.
The menu was simple and easy and, again, at least payed homage to the authentic. We had to find a way to tip our caps to what a soldier might eat during WWII while still actually feeding our guests, many of whom were under the age of 6. We settled on little smokies, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, and a variety of cookies. And two days before the party, I discovered that there is such a thing as gummi army men – I had to throw them on the menu at the last minute (p.s. I love you Amazon Prime!). They looked like funny green beans in the colander I served them in, so I took one out to take a picture, just for you! (I just thought you should know that I’m thinking of you guys, even when I’m partying and windblown and frazzled).
Here are a few pictures of the other side of the “Mess Hall”. Gideon received this medic bag for Christmas, and it is such a nice bag for an extremely reasonable price. He stores all of his Nerf ammo in it on a normal day, but on WWII party day, it served as decor!
And these are some of the vintage recruiting posters I printed off from an image search online. I printed them on white cardstock and taped them to a red photo matte from Hobby Lobby. So cheap and easy, and now I’m not stuck with 5 red picture frames that I don’t need. Or 5 huge war posters, for that matter!
And…my personal favorite part of the entire party…the part that I dreamed of at night and squealed about when it became a reality…was the Red Cross station, where wounded soldiers (during our “war” game – I’ll share more on that later this week) came to get bandaged before returning to the front lines…
My husband and I (yes, he is a very selfless and amazing man) made the Red Cross backdrop the night before the party with a large canvas drop cloth, 2 yards of red felt fabric, and fabric adhesive. He used his math skills to perfectly measure and cut out the cross for me – I seriously could not have made this without him!
And an old white rolling cart from our pantry held all of our medical supplies, including a first aid kit full of gauze bandages and bandaids, and 3 jars that (eventually) held candy “pills”. This station was a huge, huge hit. The kids loved it! (Which you’ll see in the days to come – I have lots of pictures to share).
And here are some links to products that we used (all of which I highly endorse) for the party. Click on the pictures to be directed to these products at Amazon:
1. As our little guests first began to arrive, to fill in the time as we waited for everyone to get there, Amy painted faces for me with camo “make-up”. After doing a lot of research, this product seemed like the best choice, and I am SO glad we went with it. It went on so easily, dried fast (but not hard and crackly), stayed put, and was pretty easy to remove with wet wipes.
2. The gummy army men were too fun! Even the adults loved them and were happy to take some home. They are green apple flavored and very yummy. To purchase 5 lbs. of these at a local candy store, it would have cost me $45. When I bought them at Amazon, they cost less than $10.
3. The Red Cross medicine box I used for the “hospital” is one that we already owned and store all of our kids doctor toys and costumes in. I love it, and think it looks so cute in our nursery. I originally saw this at Land of Nod for $40, but did a little digging and found it at Amazon for about $25. Score!
4. We also used this metal First Aid kit for our field hospital, made by the same company as the Red Cross box – at home, it actually holds all of our medicine, kept pretty safe by the latches (the other box does not securely latch – that’s why we use it for toys!).
6. And here’s a link to that pretty awesome medic bag I showed you above (or you can purchase it here at our favorite boy’s adventure store). It’s crazy how thick and sturdy it is, and it only costs about $12:
And here are just a couple of gift ideas…
1. Can you believe that there is a sticker book ALL about World War II? I was shocked. My son LOVED it, but be prepared…it led to a lot of questions. But those led to some pretty great discussions about war and sin and “bad guys”…
2. Gideon received this Ammo box full of army men for his birthday and has played with it nonstop. This is an awesome toy for a little boy!
3. Just stop it with the cuteness already! I can’t handle anymore. Army men bookends. I don’t know what else to say.
If you have any questions about anything else you saw in the pictures, feel free to ask. I don’t get to respond to all my blog comments, but I do try to answer product questions, because I love to help you guys find what you are looking for!
One last thing! I’m still trying to figure out how to share a playlist on here, but until then, here is just a typed-out list of the “vintage” soldier songs we had playing in the Mess Hall. These will also come in handy on the 4th of July and in our future homeschool classes:
- “Over There” by Arthur Fields
- “When Johnny Come Marching Home” by The Folksingers
- “What Can You Do With a General?” by Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin
- “Marines’ Hymn” by Johnny Desmond
- “Yankee Doodle Dandy” by Gene Autry
- “(There’s Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” by Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra
- “Keep the Homefires Burning” by Buddy Clark
- “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by James Cagney, Walter Huston, Rosemary DeCamp and Jeanne Cagney
- “G.I. Jive” by Johnny Mercer
- “The Battle Cry of Freedom” by Tom Glazer
- “The Old Man/Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army” by Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, and Danny Kaye
- “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra
- “Song of Freedom” by Bing Crosby
- “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters
- “Comin’ In on a Wing and a Prayer” by The Song Spinners
- “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” by Johnny Desmond
Phew! I know that was a LOT to share, but I’ll be so happy if it helps any of you along in the planning stages of your future parties. Thanks for sticking with me! Stay tuned for more “war” party pictures!
(See Part Two here).