How does one actually make a bindlestick??
May 19, 2009 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Ideas for a Recession/Depression themed Birthday Party?

Was planning on having a big blowout this year since I never usually do much for my birthday, but with the economy being what it is and some of my friends landing on harder times I decided to go the opposite direction and do a Recession/Depression themed party at my place.

Some keywords/images I keep kicking around in my head but can't seem to make any kind of theme out of are:

*Tweed Jacket with elbo patches
*Opened cans of beans
*Crashing stock market
*Bindle - stiff / stick
*Hobos on a train
*Things being consumed out of Mason Jars
*Burn barrel

I'm in desperate need of costume, decoration, and food/drink ideas. Suggestions?
posted by Smarson to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could do some sort of They Shoot Horses, Don't They? dance marathon thing. Make everyone partner up, give them numbers to wear, play the soundtrack to the film on your stereo, etc. For the full effect, offer a large cash prize to the winner but subtract off numerous expenses to bring the actual net amount down to next to nothing.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:43 AM on May 19, 2009

Bread line!

Where a lunch board sign looking for work.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:46 AM on May 19, 2009

Offer apples and pencils to guests. They can then sell them.

But, really, some music from the flashy movies of the era would be good.
posted by jgirl at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2009

No cake and no drinks would be most appropriate.
posted by zerokey at 9:49 AM on May 19, 2009

All bottles must be wrapped in brown paper bags.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:50 AM on May 19, 2009

Burn barrel

If the party is going to be outside, you could have a fire in a trash can (instead of, say, a fire pit) and have people roast things like potatoes and sausages (and, of course, cans of beans, but I think that ideas better in theory than at a party) over the fire.

You could have party favors in bindles, which would be pretty easy/cheap to make. Get a bunch of bandanas for cheap at an army surplus store, collect some sticks at a nearby park. Drill a hole at the end of the stick. Wrap the goodies in a bandana, thread the ends through the hole, and tie (you don't have to drill the hole, but it makes it easier to keep the bundle attached to the stick).

Also, I seem to remember reading about "rent parties" in books about the 20s and 30s, so that could be the theme of your party. Play some big band type music, etc.

Things being consumed out of Mason Jars

My friend had a speakeasy-themed party a few years ago (more 20s than 30s, but still fun) where all the liquor was in enormous mason jars that were in large metal basins full of ice. It was fun to mix drinks out of mason jars, but sort of dangerous (way easy to overpour). You could also buy a bunch of smaller mason jars to use instead of glasses.

Oh, and socialism was the cool thing during the Depression, so you could find some old social realist art and put it up around the place.
posted by lunasol at 9:56 AM on May 19, 2009

If they are to bring presents - they have to be free, recycled, or homemade.

Also, if you can get your hands on some Good Old Days books (the art of thrift, we survived and thrived, etc.) they'd have some good "Depression Era" ideas you could use.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:01 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Burnmp3s - Oh man, we might some serious alcohol for that

dog food sugar - Yes! That is awesome.

jgirl - sell them for shots!!!

zerokey - I do want these people to still talk to me the next day. :)

Juliet - Perfect!

lunasol - Bindle party favors...that could get dangerous as the night progresses ("you'll poke your eye out!!11!")
posted by Smarson at 10:07 AM on May 19, 2009

My grandma said when she lived through the great depression that her mom made her and her sisters dresses out of potato bags. They also ate dandelion salad like twice a day during the spring summer and fall. Nothing really screams lets have a party like eating weeds. Here is a few ideas:

Drink cheap liquor... 40s and boones farm. Oh the lovely headaches in the morning! Drink out of random jars and bottles.

Um dress like a bum. ... most potato bags now a days are almost see through... >:?) if it's not that type of party wear wind breakers and a dirty tee. Also jog around the block once or twice to get that bumish smell. Maybe work in the yard a little.

To eat, have it pot luck. You can supply the bags to wrap their drinks around.

Sounds like a fun time...
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:10 AM on May 19, 2009

Maybe some material from the original Monopoly board game. Looking at Wikipedia I don't see much of a Great Depression association, but the game was launched in the 1930s and has a nostalgic look from that era.
posted by crapmatic at 10:14 AM on May 19, 2009

Heh. You could play music by The Birthday Party. [1 2 3 4 5]
posted by koeselitz at 10:18 AM on May 19, 2009

I have a feeling, now that I'm previewing, that that's not the kind of “depression” you were going for, though.
posted by koeselitz at 10:20 AM on May 19, 2009

You could make the invitations look like overdue bills or ads for a soup kitchen.
posted by sarahj at 10:20 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The trash can (an oil drum is best) is essential, even if you have to fake it with some flickering red lights and a space heater indoors.

You can make some quickie throw-pillows (always helpful at parties where there's too many people and not enough sofa) with some burlap sacks and straw, two of the cheapest possible things to pick up at the craft store or bulk food market. Boxcar chic.

Similarly, old fruit crates make great short-term furniture. (Hose them off first or you'll have a fruit fly party next week.)

I'd also be sure to have a big cauldron of soup (or "soup") and a big ladle.

And oh, the music. Sound very fun.
posted by rokusan at 10:23 AM on May 19, 2009

What if the theme is "billionaires on hard times", and you serve whatever you would normally serve at a party. But now the beer Depression Champagne and the 7 layer dip Depression Foie Gras. The bathroom can be the Depression Beach-house, and the cat is now your Depression Maserati.
posted by ladypants at 10:23 AM on May 19, 2009

er.. insert the word "is" where appropriate above...
posted by ladypants at 10:24 AM on May 19, 2009

Response by poster: Seriously guys, this is great stuff.

Crapmatic - big props for the monopoly idea.
posted by Smarson at 10:24 AM on May 19, 2009

Bathtub gin out of tin cups (or tin cans) is great, as is stale bread (perhaps as a base for a pork & beans canape). Stone Soup is another good food gimmick, just make sure to wash the stones thoroughly before you put them in the soup.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:39 AM on May 19, 2009

Also! Get some cheap, preferably old, wooden boards and mount them vertically along your walls to get that authentic boxcar/shack ambiance
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:43 AM on May 19, 2009

Dumpster dive as much food for the party as possible. We threw an awesome party a while back with dumpstered Odwalla drinks and pizza. It really wasn't gross like you'd think.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:59 AM on May 19, 2009

Tin cans are probably better than jam jars, especially if you don't have them lying around. Every time I get a drink in a jam jar at some would-be rustic/just folks restaurant, I am reminded of this line about a would-be impoverished poetaster party from Muriel Spark's The Girls of Slender Means (link): "Beer was served in jam-jars, which was an affectation of the highest order, since jam-jars were at that time in shorter supply than glasses and mugs."
posted by felix grundy at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2009

Well, actually, Mastercheddaar, dandelion greens are a not-uncommonly eaten wild food, along the lines of fiddlehead ferns or ramps. If grandma had eaten grass from the yard, well, that'd be another story. There are some good recipes for all three of the above on the interwebs.

My great-aunt (b. 1894) made dandelion wine and had some every day until she died in 1975. It was good! Now, that'd be great for this party.
posted by jgirl at 12:16 PM on May 19, 2009

Play marbles. Flip quarters. And play kick the can.
posted by amanda at 12:35 PM on May 19, 2009

Harmonicas, kazoos, jaw harps, spoons, and shoebox ukeleles?
posted by aquafortis at 12:45 PM on May 19, 2009

Not sure if this is entirely applicable, but there were a few funny economic-downturn-related signs at Bay to Breakers this weekend, e.g., 1, 2.
posted by salvia at 11:09 PM on May 19, 2009

Serve "homemade moonshine" (your regular liquor) from a large glass jug, and slap on a vintage looking label similar to these Halloween ones, or just the traditional "X X X".
posted by pimli at 4:50 AM on May 29, 2009

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