The Great Gatsby party theme


Illustration – Club posters by Mads Berg, via Behance

The Great Gatsby theme is becoming one of the most popular for today’s parties, whether New Year, Sweet Sixteen or other memorable events the Great Gatsby theme seems to fit the bill. The appeal of the Great Gatsby theme is that it incorporates all the exciting elements of the roaring 20’s together with the decadence, elegance and decor of that bygone Art Deco period.  This period in history is looked upon as being filled with all night parties complete with flapper girls, jazz music, party streamers, gambling and cocktails: not to mention the gangsters and their ‘molls’ from this crime ridden prohibition era.

In order to recreate the atmosphere of the Gatsby era and the roaring 20’s, in a party, a number of elements are key but that said you do not need to live in the Hamptons or have a large budget in order to host your own memorable Great Gatsby themed party.

The following suggestions are taken from several accounts of successful Great Gatsby themed parties and convey the essential ingredients of what is needed to put on this, or the roaring 20’s, style of party

The Great Gatsby party theme decor

To begin with only a splash of the following decorations needs to be strategically placed around the room(s)or outside  in order to capture the essential ambiance of the period:-

Movie posters or photographs of 20’s movie stars, for example Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Gloria Swanson or Charlie Chaplin, can be placed on the walls and these need only be printed from the internet.

The lighting should be darkened to give the overall impression of either a moonlight terrace or a ‘speak easy’ style establishment. If you are lucky enough to be on an actual moonlight terrace then that is the perfect setting.

There should be candles providing much of the lighting, just place them in jars, as well as some old fashioned style lamps if you have them.

Large plumes of feathers should be used instead of flowers and if you have potted plants then place string lights around the base of them. This applies to both indoor and outdoor areas. Ferns and palm style plants typify the period floral arrangements.

If you can get large stick candles or candelabras, place these on the dinning or buffet table(s).

The Greta Gatsby party theme food and drink

There should be an area which represents a small Art Deco style bar, complete with large champagne or cocktail glasses, filled with marbles.  For the teen version of this party Ginger ale and root beer should be served together with other sodas. For adults then the famous ‘Mint Julip’ drink together with White Lady, Champagne and Cocktails should be served.

For refreshments both Italian and Chinese foods were ‘in vogue’ during the 20’s also salted nuts, popcorn, olives, shrimp cocktails and typical party food was also served. Deviled eggs, sandwiches (similar to a Victorian Tea Party) as well as fruits are also good choices, and in keeping, with this theme and period.

The Great Gatsby party activities

Set up some Casino party games

A dance area with informal lessons in the Charleston and Black Bottom (20’s dance). Find one or two of your party guests who can dance and ask them to be dance teachers for part of the event.

Hold an Auction party game


The Great Gatsby party dress code

Ladies: Either elegant gowns or flapper style outfits complete with a headband, feather and strings of long fake pearls.

Men: White shirts and bow tie (tuxedo optional).

Other considerations for a successful themed party

Have an area with some 20’s props, Art Deco ‘arch’ or banner (need not be expensive) where pictures can be taken. Have someone designated to take photographs of your guests.

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