Monday, October 21, 2013

The Great Gatsby Party: Costumes

Now this may be the most essential thing to make your party feel like a real Gatsby party. Fashion in the Roaring '20's was incredible, with people pulling out all the stops in an effort to look glamorous. If your guests show up to your party in jeans and tee-shirts, then everything else you did to try and create a Great Gatsby ambience will be wasted. The only was to get the full effect of a Jay Gatsby party is if all of your guests fully commit to the idea and pull out all the stops.

Don't you just wish you could dress like this everyday? Its all just so grand. The bow ties, the pocket squares, the suits, the lace, the accessories, the sparkle. 

When you watch the clip below, make sure you are keeping an eye out for the different fashions that the characters are wearing (you might get distracted by the fabulousness of it all, so its alright if you have to watch it a couple times).

The goal is to get as luxurious and posh as possible. Ladies should try to find sleeveless dresses that have a waistline that hits at the hips and with a raised hem line. Sequins, beading, gems, tassels, ribbon, and fringe are all huge pluses. These can sometimes be found at thrift stores for a very reasonable price, or you can look at vintage shops or online at shops like to find a higher quality and maybe even authentic dress. Pair it with a fur jacket, some high heels, and piles of accessories like jewelry, pearls, cloches, head scarves, head bands, jeweled clutches, and anything else that reminds you of the era.

For men's costumes, all you need to do is channel Jay Gatsby, Tom Buchannan, or Nick Carroway. Try to look mysterious and dapper, and if you are using Jay Gatsby as your model, work on your smile.

"He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself."
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Men of the jazz era looked sophisticated, so make sure you wear clothes that fit this description. You should try to find a fitted suit if you don't already have one. You can find one at a thrift store or a mens clothing shop, and if you can afford it go ahead a buy a nice one. A fitted suit will never go out of style. Also, find some two tone Brogues and wear a statement watch. Pocket squares, cuff links, bow ties, fedoras or newsboy caps, suspenders, and slicked back hair will complete your outfit. 

The Great Gatsby Party: Entertainment

The Cirque du Soleil style performers, Kilpsinger (the descendant of Beethoven) playing the giant piano, a full jazz band, dancers, the fire works, and a crazy mc. I don't know how you could have a more over-the-top cast of entertainers, but if your budget and venue will allow for it, by all means try. There are more reasonable means of entertainment for us peasants though.

"There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you have the means to have a live band at your Great Gatsby party, make it happen. This will make your party as close to authentic as possible. It would be preferable to have a jazz band or at least a band that can play the music that you need for a Great Gatsby party. If a live band is not in the cards, create a playlist with the perfect music on it to have playing throughout the night. created this authentic playlist on Spotify of songs that could have actually been heard at a Jay Gatsby party. Play this playlist during earlier in the night and during dinner to set the mood and get people ready for dancing later.

They also recommend using the Pandora stations Early Jazz Radio and Roaring '20's Radio.
Later on in the night (or whenever people feel like the dancing needs to start) put on the soundtrack from The Great Gatsby movie! It is the perfect blend of 20's jazz and current hip hop and alternative music; it is impossible not to dance to. This is a link to the playlist on Youtube, and some of the songs even have music videos that you could also be showing during the party.

Gatsby generally included a fireworks show at this parties. If you can afford to have a fireworks show at yours, go for it! Not much will be able to top a real fireworks show. If the budget or venue does not allow for fireworks though, don't worry. There is a simple alternative. Give guests sparklers to light at the end of the night and create your own mini fireworks show!

If you want to have some games at your party, there are plenty of theme fitting options. If you have access to outdoors during the party, you could set up games like bocce ball, horse shoes, or croquet.

If your party is going to be taking place mainly indoors, you could play some games like charades or "Who am I?" during which you try to guess the name of the person who is written on the card on your forehead by asking other people questions. 

It would also be a good idea to have a photo area, since everyone will be dressed up and will want to remember the night. You could set up a camera at the station, or just have people take photos with their own camera or phone. But make sure that there is a back drop that fits the theme, such as these:

Krysti Kalkman created this mural backdrop inspired by "A Trip to the Moon" for her party.

You could also use the books cover art as inspirations for a mural.

Get inspired from this FOAM Magazine photo shoot, and hang a wall of tinsel as your back drop.

Here is another idea for a glittery backdrop, done by Princeton Club.

Or get creative with some balloons!

The Great Gatsby Party: Drinks

"In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another."
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Obviously alcohol is a very important part of both the 1920's and The Great Gatsby. During the 1920's, American was in prohibition, which meant that alcohol was the forbidden fruit. Both a combination of the culture of the time and the prohibition lead to people drinking a lot. Therefore, alcohol should play a big part in your Great Gatsby Party. Here are some alcoholic drinks that are practically mandatory at a Great Gatsby themed party:

Champaign will be the most important drink at your party. Every moment was for celebrating in the time of The Great Gatsby, and celebration called for bubbles. The most authentic champaign would be French, since this is where it was being imported from during the Prohibition Era, but really any champaign will do as long as there is a lot of it. It is also important to serve the champaign not in fluted glasses, but in champaign coupe.

Gin Rickey
The Gin Rickey is the middle drink in the photo below. This gin drink is very easy to make, and only requires a couple of ingredients.

Mint Juleps
Mint Juleps were Daisy Buchannans drink of choice in The Great Gatsby. This drink also requires very few ingredients, and the alcohol is whiskey.

This was supposedly the drink of Al Capone and his men, according to This "prohibition gem" is very similar to the mint julep, but instead uses gin rather than whiskey.

This was a common drink ordered during the Prohibition Era. The recipe is very flexible, allowing for different alcohols to be subbed in (bourbon whiskey was the original alcohol in this drink), and anything from ginger beer to mineral water or club soda can be used.

You can also go to Food Republic, and they have a page of their 10 Favorite Prohibition Drinks. For non-alcoholic drinks, things such as Cocoa-Cola, ginger ale, lemonade, or tea could be served. 

The presentation of your bar is also very important to the theme of a Great Gatsby Party. As made obvious in the quote from the book, the bar was the center of the party. It was centrally located, fully stocked, and extravigantly decorated. Here are some ideas for how to present your bar:

Use a bar cart if your party is small enough. This will ensure that the bar stays at the center of the party, because it can be wheeled wherever the party moves. Also, considering putting your alcohols into fancier glass bottles (can easily be found at thrift stores for very reasonable prices). This will give the bar a more luxurious feel and will be reminiscent of a Jay Gatsby party.

Create a champaign tower! This will give the party a sense of celebration and lavishness.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Great Gatsby Party: Food

Food is one of the most important parts of a party. Whether you are doing a dinner party where food is the main focus of the night, or you are doing a cocktail party where only hors d'oeuvres will be served, food is essential to making sure that the night goes smoothly. I get crazy about food. Eating is one of my favorite things in the whole world, and if I get hungry I get really cranky. This is true for many people, so if you want happy guests, make sure they are not hungry. Also, if a party has good food I will usually consider it a good party, so it is a good idea to make sure your guests are full of good food.

The ideal situation when hosting your Great Gatsby Party would be to have your affair catered. Not only is this how Jay Gatsby hosted his parties, but it will allow you to focus on other aspects of the party and ensures you won't be stuck in the kitchen while all your friends are drinking and dancing the night away. But, I completely understand that not all of us have the funds for catering as Mr. Gatsby did. So I scoured the internet to find a few dishes and menus that perfectly fit the theme, and are sure to leave happy, full bellies.

"On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold."

-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald came up with a whole menu that is based off of the Great Gatsby theme as well as this specific passage in the book. The menu includes drinks, hors d'oeuvre recipes, as well as recipes for two dinners (one for earlier in the evening and another for later), and a recipe for cold fried chicken for the early morning. The recipes are a little more involved (e.g. Pigs in Sleeping Bags using handmade sausage rather than cocktail wieners), but the extra effort is sure to be well received by your guests.

You could also choose to do sides such as a Waldorf Salad or a Ceaser Salad (both wildly popular during the 1920's), Scalloped or Mashed Potatoes (these rich dishes were popular among the elite of the time), or any kind of salad in which something is encased in jello (also very popular during Gatsby's time).

Bryontaylor from also came up with a list of a few possible hors d'ouevres that could be used when hosting your party. These foods are:
Oysters Rockefeller
Deviled Eggs
Stuffed Mushrooms
Crudites with dip
Salmon Mousse on sliced bread
Roasted Nuts

The 20's were a time that were huge for desserts. Because of the prohibition, desserts were used in place of cocktails and drinks during parties (if they weren't hosted by a bootlegger, that is). Again, the desserts should be "hors d'ouevres" style, and by that I mean that they should be individually portioned and it is best if they are a finger food. 

The lemon curd cake is specifically mentioned in The Great Gatsby book, so it only seems right to have it as a dessert at your party. This is a recipe for a whole cake, but this can easily be cut into small, finger-food sized bites and arranged on a platter. has a couple more options for desserts. Red velvet was first created in the 1920's at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and cream cheese frosting was extremely popular during this time, therefore the perfect desserts are Red Velvet Cupcakes! Also, Pineapple Upside-down Cake was a very popular dessert because the canning process made fruits like pineapple readily available.

And of course, one of the most important desserts (and really the only food shown in the movie) are French Macarons. During the 20's anything French was seen as being "in the moment", and macarons were the epitome of French desserts. Martha Stewart has a recipe for French Macarons and various fillings.

All of the food should be displayed luxuriously using trays, platters, and stands preferably in the theme colors of black, white, gold, and silver. It would also be nice to include some arrangements on your food table, like the picture below does.

The Great Gatsby Party: Decorations

So hopefully you have already seen The Great Gatsby (maybe you have seen it 17 times already...), and if you haven't, watch the clip above. Jay Gatsby's parties were over the top extravagant. Throwing a party that has the same lavish feel is achievable, no matter what your budget or what the occasion is. It's all about the decorations.

After you watching this clip of the movie, some decorating themes become very clear. The colors used are mainly black, white, gold, silver, and champagne. Some of the decorations used are balloons, tinsel, streamers, flowers, confetti, lights, feathers, and basically anything shiny, sparkly, metallic, and luxurious.

"At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden."
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald


Balloons fill the house and are scattered all over the yard.



All that sparkles.

Gold and Silver tinsel everywhere you can hang it will make your party almost as sparkly as Jay Gatsby's.


Constant confetti is a must.
Give your guest confetti poppers and have confetti drop throughout the night.



Center pieces of flowers, pearls, feathers, and candles will make the party.


And not everyone is lucky enough to have the fabulous chandeliers that decorate Jay Gatsby's mansion, but never fear. There is an alternative. You can easily create a faux chandelier using tinsel. It will create the same effect as a chandelier would, but it will only cost you a couple dollars.