Let’s have a party with World of Kays!

Back in November when the festive season was imminent, finding inspiration for my first mini-exhibit for the University of Worcester’s Research Collections was simple. What better than to put together a glitzy party-themed display to help get people in the festive spirit!

Studying the many catalogues in the Kays’ Archive, it was a difficult to choose which pages, years and eras should be featured in the display. Inspired by the popularity of such retro TV shows as Mad Men, I settled on the 1960s and 1970s to provide a snapshot of party essentials from those colourful decades. Using catalogues from these decades I put together a display which covered all the essentials of a great party.

For a display in the University library, it was important to offer something for the fashion conscious students, so I chose some dapper 1960s suits for the boys and some super snug disco leggings for the girls from 1979. A party wouldn’t be a party without some catchy tunes, and a double page spread from the 1962 Autumn catalogue shows the latest hip sound system to get the party started – LPs at the ready!

A Kays Christmas - hampers, drinks and decorations from the 1960s and 1970s

A bright silver fake Christmas tree in the AW 1965-66 catalogue was an easy choice for party decorations, and the children’s board games from 1972 would provide hours of giggly party games. Once I had considered the aesthetics of a good party, I turned to the other oh-so-important essential: food and drink. There are pages showing some lovely luminous pink party hams and plenty of “Christmas Spirits”, the price of gin in 1969 compared to today serves for a good giggle.

The exhibition was displayed in the Peirson Library on the St. John’s Campus from the end of November 2011 until the end of January 2012.

Blog post contributed by Sarah Stretton, Graduate Trainee the University of Worcester Research Collections and The Hurd Library, Hartlebury Castle.

To follow Sarah’s progress throughout her traineeship, read her blog.


Let's Have a Party: a Kays' Christmas exhibition curated by Sarah Stretton, November 2011


Categories : Blog, Domesticity, Fashion, Image selection, Research resource.

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