For most people, the mere mention of 1920s America conjures up images of lavish parties, endless streams of champagne and all-around decadence, which is a somewhat ironic assumption considering the country was under Prohibition rules at the time. But despite the strict laws on the sale and consumption of alcohol, the decade more than earned its notorious nickname – The Roaring Twenties.

Film, literature and media have all contributed to our association of the 1920s with hedonism, and perhaps the most influential contribution is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby. Before Fitzgerald died, he’d only sold 25,000 copies of the novel yet things have certainly changed, with Gatsby spending 403 weeks on USA Today’s best-selling books list and 25 million copies sold worldwide.

Set in the fictional city of West Egg, the story centers around the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, a man famed for his wild parties. Over the years there have been several film adaptations of what’s considered to be Fitzgerald’s finest novel, but none have been quite so dazzling than Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version, which brought in $351 million at the box office.

Renowned for his grandiose style, Luhrmann didn’t disappoint with his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as the elusive Gatsby. Praised for its visual extravagance and spectacular costumes, the most memorable scenes of the movie were undoubtedly those of Gatsby’s grand parties, thrown in a bid to lure his lost love, Daisy Buchanan. Since its release in 2013, The Great Gatsby has inspired a huge trend for similarly decadent parties, so here’s our ultimate guide to throwing your very own Gatsby party!

The 1920s were an iconic era for women’s fashion and beauty, with skirt lengths rising, the abandonment of the corset, and movie stars such as Louise Brooks spurring the trend for new fashionable short bobbed hairstyles. Women were liberated by new loose-fitting fashions, which allowed them freedom to dance until the early hours – perfect for partying!

indexFringing, beading and feathers were all the rage in the 1920s, and with many costume shops stocking an abundance of flapper styles you’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re on a tight budget. For bigger budgets and partygoers who are after something more authentic, many vintage stores will hire or sell genuine 1920s pieces.

Hair and makeup trends of the time were all designed to accentuate a woman’s expression, including overstated red ‘cupid bow’ lips, highly arched eyebrows and excessive blusher. For a little inspiration, take a look at our guide to flapper make up.

The 20s celebrated hedonism, excess and enjoying oneself, so you’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of entertainment for your guests to indulge in at your party.

Along with parties and drinking, gambling was also very popular in the Roaring Twenties. Roulette and blackjack were both all the rage at parties in the decade, as they were quick, easy and fun to play. Therefore, casino games are the perfect way to get your guests in the party –and 20s – spirit. Use them as an icebreaker at the start of the night, to keep your guess entertained while they down glamorous cocktails of the era.

If you have the budget, you can find roulette tables and croupiers for hire online. You can, however, go for the more affordable option of choosing blackjack, as it’s easy to organize a professional-level game yourself, and you probably already have the playing cards. But do you know how to split, double down and surrender?

If you’re not sure of the card values, maybe the image below will help you, even if you think you already have it all down. Go all in by buying a glamorous retro card deck, a blackjack felt table cover and good quality casino chips for added effect.



Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Gatsby’s world was visually spectacular, featuring dazzling interiors, glittering lighting and opulence in every single shot. And whilst you might not have the Hollywood budget to deck out your party, it’s actually surprisingly easy to recreate the excess of the era at home. Pinterest – search for Art Deco – is a great source for inspiration but if you’re a bit stuck, you could easily download this Gatsby Art Deco inspired decoration pack from Etsy.

Also, ask your guests to hand in their smartphones at the entrance: apart from being an anachronism, you can’t have real fun when people around you are checking their Facebook messages.

“I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.”

This famous quote from The Great Gatsby perfectly sums up the excess of the era, and no Gatsby party would be complete without a Twenties invention: the cocktail.

Iconic drinks of the era included the Gin Rickey, Mint Julep, rosé wine and of course champagne, served in traditional champagne glasses rather than in flutes.


Food in the 1920s was just as decadent as the costumes, decor and drinks. Finger food was a popular option of the time, allowing more time for drinking, dancing and partying, and is a much more manageable option for your party.



Hors d’oeuvres are traditionally served before a meal, but if you’re opting for a lighter menu, they can be served on trays throughout the evening. If you’d like to offer your guests something a little more substantial (to soak up all those cocktails!), then buffets were also a popular option of that era. Baked hams, roast turkeys and salads were all popular at parties in the 1920s, with the famous Caesar salad actually being invented in the era. It was Italian restaurateur Caesar Cardini who came up with it in 1924, when he ran out of other food to serve late at night on the 4th of July.

You can find plenty of menu inspiration for your Great Gatsby party at Food In Literature, from orange and lemon centerpieces to oysters Rockefeller and salmon mousse.

The Roaring Twenties were the era of jazz, so you can certainly with Jazz Age classics. but if you’d like to add a modern twist to your party there are plenty of options when choosing the soundtrack to your Great Gatsby party.

You can find some fabulous electro-swing playlists online, which will give your party a modern take on the authentic 1920s sound. Moreover, this genre is very accessible and even guests unfamiliar with it are likely to let loose and enjoy it.

A Great Gatsby party is the ultimate way to celebrate, whether it’s a birthday, a wedding or New Year’s Eve party. Twenties cocktails, winning hands of blackjack and amazing music will certainly make it a night to remember for you and your guests. Remember one thing – in the words of Gatsby himself “A little party never killed nobody!”

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