How to Throw a Great Gatsby Themed Party Like Gatsby Himself

May 12, 2016

A while back, a friend and I talked about what our 1920’s names would be if we had been born in that decade. I’m sure it was a wine or beer infused conversation but I went to sleep that night as “Rubygail” and woke up knowing I couldn’t just leave it at that. I began mind-planning. I was going to  throw a Great Gatsby themed party – a roaring 20’s bash of time – and live out my inner flapper girl, Rubygail.

As my 36th birthday approached, Husband and I were having trouble finding a location for such a soirée. I wasn’t convinced that our apartment would be big enough but Husband, channeling his inner 1920’s highfalutin’ fella-ness, threw caution to the wind. In the end, with rearranging and the right touch, Husband was right (he knew his onions this time) and our apartment was the bees knees. (Yes, Husband. You were right this time.)  

So how do you throw a killer Great Gatsby themed party? Easy squeezy… and I’ll start with the most important detail…


T H E   G U E S T S

By far, the most important thing you will need – for any theme party – are guests that will play along. A theme party falls flat if people don’t come dressed up or aren’t willing to “show up,” as Husband and I like to call it, and play along. Luckily, we don’t have a problem finding guests that go all out.





S A M ‘ S   B A R   &   L I G H T S

The most significant touch for decor as far as I’m concerned were the cafe lights and “Sam’s Bar.” If you’ve got those two things, you’re more than half way there. The makeshift bar was a big hit and became a focal point of the party. Between that and our serious cafe lights, our apartment felt like a real speakeasy. Husband’s grown-special-for-the-party ‘stache didn’t hurt.

Rubygail and Sam the Bartender
Bartender Sam, himself
Cafe lights and flapper girls
Sam tending bar


T H E   L E A D   U P

Creating anticipation is as important as execution. People need to be excited and to build excitement you have to, well, build it. The week of the party, a daily email was sent written in 1920’s fashion with a new detail about the party. To preserve the speakeasy feel, the location and the password weren’t disclosed until the day of.

(I’ve saved all the lead up Gatsby Party emails here for you. Lemon squeezy, right?)

T H E    E N T R A N C E

First impressions, are everything… and we slayed this one. Our guests were greeted with a “name station” and then asked to come in through our “back door” where empty cardboard boxes were stacked and labeled with BOOTLEG and PROHIBITION signs, candles were burning, and lights were dimmed.

Gatsby Sign

A sign hung on the door asking them to knock and await further instructions. On the other side, Bartender Sam asked for their 1920’s name, password, and the name of who sent them. It was pretty funny to hear everyone add their own twist to the response.

Who is it?

Jasper, here.

What’s the password?

Barneymugging, see

Who sent ya, hey?

The blind pig sent me.



T H E   S M A L L   D E T A I L S

To bring it all together, we printed vintage posters, Prohibition signs, and Wanted flyers. We also took the 1920’s slang (links found in Gatsby Emails or just Google) and taped those on the wall. My favorite was that I got to repurpose our last year’s “Night at the Movies” party picture when we went as Bonnie and Clyde and use it as a Wanted sign.

Wanted Sign Gatsby Party

Vintage Poster Print Outs

A   L I T T L E   S U M P T I N ‘   S P E C I A L

Having a little something special planned is a neat little way to break up the evening so in the middle of the Gatsby Party, we had a Charleston dance contest. I found two videos on YouTube – both short, fun and informative – that showed basic dance moves for 1920’s style dancing. We told our guests they would watch the videos and then be on their own. When the contest and dancing started, Husband and I tapped people on the shoulder to let them know they were “out.” The prize was a bottle of rum and the outcome was spectacular. Again… the amazing guests are everything!


H A V E   F U N

The rest was pure enjoyment. Bartender Sam mixed up great cocktails and people danced, laughed, and mingled.




Got any other suggestions for a Great Gatsby themed party?

P.S. a legendary 80’s party and how Jenuary Jenanigans came to a close with Macklemore

W A N N A   H O S T   A   G A T S B Y   P A R T Y ?

Here is a quick guide:

  1. The Gatsby Party emails (links work)

  2. Google vintage posters, speakeasy, prohibition and similar words and find images you like. Save them, print them out, and hang them up. Here are a few vintage posters I liked.

  3. Lights, lights, lights.

  4. Be secretive and clandestine about the location and password; it adds to the mood.

  5. What “special” treat could you add to your Gatsby party? A dance-off, a champagne toast, some Burlesque dancers?



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