The ‘roaring twenties’ saw intense growth in consumer goods and luxuries, alongside more fun and frivolous fashion prior to a decade of economic depression.
A 1920’s themed party is the ideal theme for any occasion such as birthday celebration or New Years Eve. This decade of jazz music, cocktails, ladies in shorter dresses with short hair, plus the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight, really was a time to party.
Young women pushing the stereotypical fashion norms were often referred to as ‘flappers’ with their shorter dresses and short hair worn in a bob. This playful style is ideal to recreate as an iconic 1920’s party look. A simple black dress with a fringed hem will work well. Accessorise with silk gloves, pearl strands and a feather headband for a classic 1920’s flapper look.
Alternatively channel the elegance of ‘Hollywood glamour’ in an eye catching sequinned dress with fringe edging for a playful finish (looks great on the dance floor) and a head chain worn in the hair. Keep warm with a glamorous fur coat while clutching a classy cigarette holder (faux cigarettes look the part).
For a more relaxed look try the casual golf ‘knickers’, knee high argyle patterned socks and knitted tank top with a blouse and tie. Another relaxed option is the longer length and slightly more reserved 1920’s drop waist dress with a looser fit, teamed with Mary Jane shoes and a cloche hat.
For the men its time to channel your inner 1920’s mobster - outwitting the prohibition laws in a suave pinstripe suit with moustache, scarf and obligatory cigar. Get the Gatsby look by sporting a dashing tuxedo, bow tie and cummerbund, again accessorised with braces and trilby hat or even a smart cane for the more distinguished gentleman.
Liven things up with some 1920’s themed party games. Defy the prohibition laws with some cocktail making. Try a cheeky ‘Bees Knees’, ‘Hanky Panky’ or even a ‘Sidecar’ cocktail, all of which were designed to disguise the harsh flavour of bathtub gin illegally produced during prohibition. Try asking guests to sample them and then guess the name of each cocktail.
Consider hosting a 1920’s themed games night with various games tables to entertain your guests. Many card games gained popularity during the roaring twenties, such as black jack or poker. A casino set up allows guests to take their chances and try to win some big bucks.
A good old 1920’s themed murder mystery evening is also a great party game to liven things up. Give each guest their character and a back-story to act out, with props to help them create some tension and intrigue. Hopefully by the end of the night, guests will have figured out ‘who done it!’.
The 1920’s were characterised by the elegant art deco style, largely featuring sharp lined geometric designs in black gold and silver. By using this as a theme with the decorations, your 1920’s party will look effortlessly stylish.
Simple hanging signs will set the tone for guests as they arrive, and you can add to this with a selection of posters, backdrops, ceiling streamers and bunting. Rather than single strand balloons why not add to the grandeur of the event with a balloon archway to greet guests as they arrive. Mix metallic silver and gold balloons in with plain black for a more luxurious finish.
Party invitations will also let your guests know what to expect at your 1920’s theme party. Some Gatsby style cut-out decorations also add to the party atmosphere, encouraging your guests to have a good time and really let themselves go.
Give your party venue a true 1920’s makeover with art deco styled column cutout decorations to give the appearance of grandeur. A little glitz and glamour can go a long way to decorate a venue fully.
The addition of some simple and affordable props will really bring your 1920's theme party together. These could include the use of fairy lights (raid those Christmas decorations) or delicate tea light candles/faux candles dropped into martini glasses. Re-use old champagne bottles with an elegant tall candle in the top, and consider temporarily borrowing family photo frames to showcase 1920’s art deco prints for the party.
Props for a 1920’s party might also include playing an old black and white silent film on a projector, or perhaps The Great Gatsby film itself. Add to this with a selection of 1920’s inspired music to get guests in the spirit. Think Gatsby soundtrack tunes for a modern vibe. Recreate the classic jazz sound of Louis Armstrong or get your guests up and dancing the Charleston to Scott Joplin’s infamous ragtime jazz.
For the perfect selfie opportunity add a decadent star fringe backdrop or a confetti hanging backdrop. Both provide some glitz and glamour for that perfect photo opportunity. Add a stand-in for guests to pose as 1920’s characters too. Take the prohibition era method of producing illicit alcohol as inspiration, by using a bathtub to store cold drinks for your guests to help themselves from.
Food and drink
A selection of appetisers and hors d’oeuvres were the party food of choice in a 1920’s speakeasy. Quick and easy to prepare eat and tidy up, these are ideal for a 1920’s theme party. Why not serve up a collection of mixed nuts, olives, meats and cheese platters for guests to nibble. Or there are always classic devilled eggs, a caesar salad and the waldorf salad.
Present your 1920s party food on stylish black or gold platters, with art deco styling to match. Try a black and gold tablecloth with matching plates. For some added glamour why not splash out on some gold or black cutlery giving a truly decadent finish.
Around the 1920’s food production and storage methods changed, with a greater reliance on canned and frozen goods. Mirror this with your 1920’s party food options offering popsicles, pretzels, canned fruit, and perhaps some sweet and sticky pineapple upside down cake. Popular drinks of the 1920’s included the Gin Rickey made of bathtub gin, seltzer and lime juice, a mint Julep, or the ever fashionable champagne.
A 1920’s theme party is a fabulous way to celebrate many events, leaving your 20’s and turning 30 perhaps, or even New Year. Remember first impressions count, so why not use a glamorous door cover to set the scene before guests enter the party. Add the finishing touches with some elegant gold or black table crystals to give a more lavish effect. Lastly give your guests Gatsby paper party bags to take away. Fill them with 1920’s chocolate goodies such as Flake, Fruit & Nut or a Crunchie, likely to be a roaring hit with guests.