Classic Thrills for a More Adult Party
Jack the Ripper parties are a perfect themed party for something beyond the typical goblin and ghoul or Freddy Krueger horror fest. If you’re craving something dark, gruesome, but also classy, try a Jack the Ripper theme for your next Halloween party.
While too much insistence for authenticity can spoil a good time, some background information will make for a much more cohesive party. Jack the Ripper is the popular name given to a serial killer who killed four to six women, mostly prostitutes, in 1888. While there have been hundreds of letters purportedly written by Jack, most if not all, have been proven to be hoaxes. The police of the time had very little understanding of serial killers at the time, so the identity of Jack the Ripper has never been solved.
As with all Halloween parties, there are some necessary preparations to make it a success.
- Pick a day and time. Check with your likely guest list to make sure there are no conflicts with other parties, major sports events, etc.
- Make a budget. How much are you willing to spend on your shindig? You will most likely have to make some compromises to spend your cash for the best effect.
- Choose a location. Your home is the most likely locale, but don’t be afraid to look for other venues. If you don’t feel like doing the cooking or major cleaning up, many restaurants and hotels will rent out meeting rooms. Museums, zoos, and aquariums will many times also rent out their spaces after hours. A history or natural history museum would be perfect for the Jack the Ripper party.
- Get your help early. If you’re relying on friends, get them in on the planning early. If you’re hiring extra help or renting out a room, make your reservations early. October is right in the busy party time.
- Plan your food and drinks. When making your menu, keep in mind both your budget and your time commitments. Be cautious when serving alcohol – hosts may be liable for drunken guests, especially if they drive home.
- Let people know about the party. Give folks at least two weeks notice of your party. It’s best if you let your invitees know about the party at least a month in advance by word of mouth, then give them either a written or email invitation about two weeks before, and another verbal “check-in” a day or two before.
- Costume parties, such as Jack the Ripper, can pose some practical problems for your guests. Give them plenty of notice to put together a costume and see what local costume shops or party supply places can help. Online costume shops are also helpful, but make sure your guests have plenty of time to order.
Jack the Ripper Look and Feel
Apply the Jack the Ripper theme to all of your party preparations and accessories. Remember, part of the appeal of a Jack the Ripper party is the romantic, foggy, late Victorian London environment.
- Costumes are a must for the Jack the Ripper party. For gentlemen, the essentials include a black top hat and black long-tailed jacket with attached cape. Pants should be black or grey and well fitted, and the shirt should be classy and long-sleeved. Black gloves and walking stick will complete the outfit. Ladies should be in late Victorian garb, especially “lady of the evening,” style with dresses of long satin skirts and showing quite a bit of cleavage.
- For the proper London effect, buy or rent a fog machine.
- Background noises are a terrific finishing touch to any Halloween party. Find sound effects such as the clopping of horse hooves, the deep ringing of Big Ben, and maybe a feminine shriek.
- Food and drink should be undeniably British. If you serve alcohol, consider a good British beer. For an ironic contrast, have platters of cheese, beef, and cute little tea cakes.
- All accessories should be dark, and if possible, richly colored. Deep greens, burgundies, and grays were very popular at the time. Heavy satins and brocades and dark woods fit the era very well. Transform a living space by hanging yards of dark fabric on your walls and covering sofas and tables.
The key to a good Jack the Ripper party is to have fun with the contrast of the romantic and prudish Victorian era with the sordid and gruesome streets of Jack the Ripper. So be creative and have fun!