1940s USO

1940s USO party theme - thumbnail image

One year, the swing dance club I belong to threw a Christmas party to raise money and bring in new members. We decided we needed to choose a theme and someone came up with an idea that was a natural. Why not a 1940's United Service Organizations, or USO club Christmas party theme? Everyone liked the idea.

The first thing we had to do was find somewhere to hold the event. After comparing the prices of many different kinds of locations the hall of a local hotel was the over all best. The club officers spent many hours trying to decide how best to use the money budgeted for the party and they came to the conclusion it would be a good idea to have members of the club to help with the party decoration and set up in exchange for reduced or free tickets to the event. This idea was announced at a meeting and several people signed up.

I volunteered to pick up the fliers announcing the party from the print shop and deliver them to the club members who would be distributing them around town. The fliers had a silhouette of a saluting soldier with a B-52 airplane in the background. Our club name and the details of the party were listed below. I put some of the fliers up in the café where I work and at the student center at the college. I saw others in store windows of local merchants.

The volunteers showed up an hour before the party to decorate. The men were helping the guys from the prop rental house set up the art deco style stage façade and wooden airplane cutout. After they were done with those they set up the bar.

The women helped me set up and arrange the chairs and tables, and cover them with white linen. We arranged the food we picked up from a caterer on the buffet table and then wrapped napkins around sets of silverware making them easy to pick up with one hand.

I had made centerpieces from pine branches, red velvet ribbon bows I bought at the craft store. The band arrived as we were placing the centerpieces on the tables and began setting up on stage. Next, we filled red and white helium balloons and tied a green ribbon around each and let them float up to the ceiling. It took a while to get enough up there, but the festive effect was worth it. Once the USO banner was up on the wall, we were ready to get into our costumes.

When we returned the swing band had already started the music and I was eager to start dancing, but I was first in the rotation at the door and purchasing of raffle tickets. Guests began arriving a little before the hour in ones and twos, but soon became a crowd and I had to call over more volunteers to help. Most of them wore 1940's costume, but a few were in modern clothes.

After I had been relieved of door duty I went to the buffet to get something to eat. There was ham, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, peas and carrots, creamed spinach and rolls. I went over to the bar. The bartender asked me if I wanted white or red wine, but I asked for a beer, then went to sit with my friends in the club. As I ate we chatted about how great the party was going.

After dinner the swing dancing really got started and our club members had a blast showing off our moves. During the band's break I minged with the guests and noticed a crowd around a man in a white suit. I was amazed to see he looked exactly like Humphrey Bogart. A little while later the lights came up on the stage and a Judy Garland look-alike sang a few songs. A Bing Crosby look alike who sung White Christmas as well as a few other favorites followed her. A Jimmy Stewart look-alike came onstage and Emceed the raffle. The guests loved it; whether they won a prize or not they had a good time watching and were entertained.

The band returned and club members started teaching interested guests some swing dance moves. Soon the whole place was rocking! Later, I heard the party went on long after I left. Everyone couldn't believe how successful the party was. Our club was able to have fun, make some money and even pick up a few new members. Our club's president told me he wants to make it an annual club event.

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