I am of the mind currently that hosting and attending parties is a capital way to get through the rest of this upside-down, messy year we call 2009. Parties may be my favorite form of stress relief. When all else fails; when things look like they can't get any worse - I say - Party! Since this "recession" seems either never ending or, on the other hand, winding down (it depends on which "expert" you follow), I believe there may still be quite a few parties in my future.
I've already celebrated all relevant birthdays, anniversaries, and engagements up to now, so I rifled through my any-excuse-to-throw-a-party file. Here's a timeless party idea that will be good for the rest of 2009: A Gone With the Wind's (GWTW) 70th anniversary bash. (This party celebrates the 1939 film; the book was published in 1936).
A GWTW party presents two thematic possibilities. 1) the Old South or, 2) the first Great Depression. Your choice! The Old South theme is the more obvious selection, of course, and also easier to pull together. The second choice - The Great Depression - is somewhat more esoteric as as a GWTW party theme - but since this blockbuster book and film were both created during the tough 1930s, this theme also works.
Here are some more GWTW party suggestions for both themes:
Decorating-wise, for the Old South theme,hook yourself up with some colorful paper flowers you can find at a thrift store. In the event you can't find any, real flowers also will do nicely (but they may cost more unless you grow your own). A reprinted GWTW film poster, prominently displayed, is almost enough to complete your theme (buy it reasonably on the internet). If you're hosting inside, you can run a rented DVD to complete the mood; if you're outside (as I recommend), you will want to skip the film and get straight to the food and drink. Food and Drink should reflect the Old South tradition. How about Southern Comfort, Mint Juleps and/or Lemonade? Serve fried chicken (bits, if you like), corn bread, and pecan pie. Why not invite friends and neighbors to pot-luck and bring a Southern dish, thereby cutting down on your costs and providing more variety.
Decorating for the Great Depression is simple - no decorations at all, unless you consider black crepe paper appropriate. If so, string it everywhere. As for Food and Drink, I suggest Rum & Coke or any of the Depression-era cocktails I listed elsewhere on Factoidz. Since part of the Depression coincided with Prohibition, you can serve bathtub gin if you and your bathtub are up to it (jk). Food can be minimal - crackers and cheese or even little jello molds. Again, you can put together a pot-luck. Let your imagination run wild!
As for music, if you go with the Old South theme, you can play the GWTW soundtrack, Billie Holiday, Satchmo (look him up) - even some banjo by Eddie Peabody. For the Great Depression theme, I'd be looking for renditions of "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" and "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" or any other "popular" 1930s songs that fit. The music is where you can really shine creatively -- because no one will expect to hear any of your choices (thank goodness for the internet).
Memorizing a few quotes from the book and/or movie is also a great idea for either party theme. If someone tell you they do not like your fried chicken or your watered-down bathtub gin, you can always retort, "Frankly, my dear, I do not give a damn."
Summing up: I firmly believe (underlined) parties are the way to go this year (and maybe next). There's no use in sitting around feeling bummed and down-hearted when you can gather up some friends and/or neighbors and celebrate momentous events, like Eclipses and Moon Landings, or longterm survivors, like Scarlett O'Hara and Gone With the Wind. This Summer and beyond, relieve your stress: Party Hearty.
A few GWTW film notes: Gone With the Wind won 10 Academy Awards. By the end of 1940, 25 million people had seen this film for a ticket price ranging between $.75-$1.00. It is considered by many film critics to be among the top 10 "epic" films of all time.