Welcome to Totally Lit Parties, a new feature in which our new contributor Corrie shows you how to throw YA-themed parties!
Code Name Verity WRECKED me when I read it, so obviously I immediately told all my friends about it and demanded they read it and be just as emotionally compromised as I was. Now that we’re all a hot mess, it’s time to party!
Here’s what you need:
• Blank cards (and envelopes, if you want)
• "Top Secret" or "Confidential" stickers or stamp
• A pen
Front of card: Put the top secret sticker on the front of the card.
Inside of card: Put the party details in code, leaving space for the code to be solved on the card. I used a simple substitution cypher (where each letter is replaced by another), but made sure the format of the invite would help my friends decipher it.
Alternatively, write the message in invisible ink.
The solution can be found at the end of the post.
What to Wear
In 1940s England, clothing was rationed alongside many other products, so everyone was encouraged to "Make Do and Mend", as well as knit items from unpicked old clothing. Wool blankets were sometimes turned into jackets. For your Code Name Verity party, one obvious choice would be an orange wool sweater. Not all of us can pull off orange, though, so here are some other book appropriate options.
• Shirt dresses. Many women turned men’s clothing into something wearable for themselves while their husbands were off to war. Square shoulders were very chic.
• Short (ish) skirts. Because cloth was rationed, shorter skirts (hitting around the knee) were popular. A-line and pencil skirts were both practical and stylish.
• Seamed stockings. Silk was rationed, but women still wanted the look of seamed stockings. When their old stockings wore out, they improvised by drawing seams up their legs with eyebrow pencils and lightly colored their skin with household products to give the illusion of stockings.
• Hair in rolls and turbans. Keeping hair off their faces was not just fashionable, but also a safety matter for many women who worked in factories.
• Red lips. Lipstick might have been rationed, but it was seen as a way to boost morale, and everyone was about red lips!
Check out FYA's Code Name Verity stylebook post for further inspiration.
Mix and match any of these activities to meet the interest of your guests!
• Create t-shirts with a favorite quote or image from the book. My shirt was made with iron-on vinyl, but it would be just as easy to make it with puffy paint. For puffy paint, you can test out the idea before you use paint: sketch your design using a washable fabric pencil first, then trace over the sketch; anything not covered by paint will come out when the shirt is washed. Tote bags (for all your books!) or small zippered pouches are also fairly cheap and can be ordered in bulk.
• Learn to pick a lock. I’ve seen this in films and always wondered if that was just movie spycraft, but it’s not! You absolutely can pick a lock with a bobby pin with a little bit of know-how and practice. This YouTube tutorial explains the mechanics of locks and how a bobby pin can defeat them. Since you probably don’t want to play with your house door locks, you can pick open a padlock instead. Make sure that you use a larger padlock, as the bobby pin tension lever might not fit inside the smaller ones.
• Break out of an escape room. Spies need to be able to solve puzzles and maneuver out of situations they can’t control. An escape room is the perfect way to try that out for yourself. If you don’t live near one (or don’t want to go out), plan your own with the Puzzled Pint. They have themed puzzles with solutions posted online that could be adjusted for a party.
Spy vs. Spy
• Play Assassin. Traditional Assassin gives everyone the name of fellow player to eliminate. When you take out your target (in a party setting, putting a sticker on them is common), they give you their own target for your next victim. At a party where everyone already knows each other, you can add a level of difficulty by assigning code names. Then, participants must also figure out code names before they can take out their target.
• Play Two Rooms and a Boom. A detailed explanation of the rules can be found here, but basically there are two teams. To make the game Verity themed, one team is the French resistance and the other is the German occupiers. The French team has a spy that needs to get close enough to the German officer to poison him. Each team sends several players into a room. If the spy and officer end up together, the French win. If they never end up together after several rounds, the Germans win.
• Play Sardines. Sardines is a variation on hide-and-seek that relies your ability to keep quiet and contort yourself. One person hides and everyone else seeks. Once a seeker has found the hiding spot, they must hide there, too. The last one to find the hiding spot loses and is the first to hide next time.
• Have a paper airplane contest. Everyone creates paper airplanes to test their ability to land it on a target. Try different objectives, like which plane goes the furthest, which one is the fastest, and which plane comes closest to the target in the dark.
Tasty Business and Boozy Beverages
Coffee and tea are a must; Maddie and Queenie were constantly drinking both for comfort and caffeine. You could always opt for the classic spy drink of a martini, but straight whiskey, cognac, and beer would also be appropriate for the time period.
Wartime food rationing meant that cooks had to be more creative with their meals. When the girls treat themselves to iced buns after the air raid, Maddie supposes that someone must have been saving the sugar rations for a time when they could use a little bit of happiness in their food. Maddie and Queenie also end up at a farmhouse with some leftover shepherd's pie and apple crumble. Any of these items would be a fine addition to your party, but here are more wartime food rationing recipes that you could include.
What: A Spy & Mingle
Where: Stancey’s Hideout
When: Dusk; Next Full Moon
Do you have any other Code Name Verity-themed party ideas? Let us know in the comments!
Corrie Golando lives in Winslow, Arizona, with her husband and two greyhounds. She spent 10 years as a middle school/high school English teacher, and her students gave her a love for all things YA. When she's not working at the high school library, she is writing fanfiction and doing something crafty. She has a love of all things coated in glitter, much to her husband's horror.