How to Throw a Gatsby-Themed Party
What do you get when you cross the most lavish literary scene of all time with the biggest party night of the year? A Gatsby-themed bash that’s sure to go down as your most epic New Year’s Eve yet! Just in time for the 2013 movie premiere starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan, transform your typical year-end bash into an extravagant 1920s soiree reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. (Minus the obsession, love triangles, and tragedy, okay?)
And for even more goodies, check out the rest of our Great Gatsby Guide:
All you need are mood-setting invites, decor, music, and refreshments, along with a dapper and flapper-esque dress code that’ll get everybody into character. Here’s our breakdown of all the essentials for an unforgettable Gatsby party:
As with any party, setting the scene and expectations for your Gatsby party starts with the invitations. Since it’s NYE, you want to keep the invitations looking sophisticated and fun, but with an old time feel. Invites in gold, champagne, black and white, or silver with vintage block fonts work best. Extra points for ’20s images or metallic and/or glittery details (guys, we understand — you can skip the sparkle). Or, you could use the book’s original cover and make your own invites instead.
The Dress Code
On your invites, be sure to tell your guests to get all gussied-up and Gatsby-fied. For the Jay Gatsbys, Tom Buchannans, and Nick Carraways out there, dress like a dapper gent in a black suit and bowtie, or dress pants, an old-fashioned blazer, and suspenders. Slick back the hair and grab a cigar for an authentic look.
For the Daisy Buchannans, Jordan Bakers, and Myrtle Wilsons out there, it’s all about retro waves, rouge lipstick, fur coats, and eye-catching dresses! The flapper look of the ’20s was all about clothing you could move and twirl in, with beading, gems, tassles, sequins, ribbon, or other flashy embellishments. Looking for a little inspiration? Try the look below!
When it comes to looking the part, accessories are key to pulling off Gatsby garb. For guys, it’s all about the fedora (and lucky for you, we know where to find ‘em). To pull off the high-scale Gatsby appeal, grab some cufflinks, a pocket watch, and a handkerchief for your coat pocket.
For the ladies, your go-to hat is the Daisy-like cloche. Be sure to don a headpiece underneath that topper, carry a hard-cased clutch, and don’t skimp on the pearls, velvet, rhinestones, jewels, and feathers — pile them on!
Although the book takes place during the summer, it’s easy to decorate using the rich colors, bold lights, and shimmery decor of the 1920s during the holidays, when there’s an overabundance of glitzy baubles lining the store shelves (most will be on sale right before and after Christmas, too).
For Gatsby theme decor, think lavish extravagance meets sleek, retro sophistication. For the tablescape, choose items in black, white, gold, silver, and jewel tones — and don’t forget the luxe contrast of white candles and flowers. The beverage area should be the center of attention in a 1920s themed party, so deck out a bar cart or side table in vintage-looking barware, swanky bottles, and chic touches like a cocktail menu, festive streamers, and retro straws. We love the idea of using vintage gold frames (you can find them at your local Goodwill) and painting the inside with chalkboard paint — the perfect ambiance-setting signage for your place. And last but not least: don’t forget the confetti. It’s a Gatsby and NYE must!
Gatsby threw over-the-top parties to impress Daisy; his parties were all about overindulging, especially when it came to food and drink. Let’s start with the drinks, because even though the story took place during the Prohibition era, that didn’t stop Gatsby’s free-flow of booze for his guests. Gin was a staple in the speakeasy era, but try to make a few authentic cocktails, too, like a Mint Julep, Southside, Sidecar, Highball, and French 75. And don’t forget the bubbly — it’s NYE, after all!
If you’re serving a few apps, try your hand at tea sandwiches, crab-stuffed mushrooms, pancetta-wrapped figs, baked brie with pecans, triple deviled eggs, and shrimp cocktail. Serve savory chocolate dipped brownie cookies, triple chocolate truffles, creme brulee donuts, or a simple angel food cake for dessert. To Gatsby-ify your hors d’oeuvres, use fedoras as serving bowls by lining them with aluminum foil (for protection), covering the foil with a cloth napkin, and filling them with your foods.
To top off your Gatsby bash, switch out your top hits for swing music. Bust out that old fashioned record player and play some vinyls, or load your phone with all sorts of Swing-era tunes. Early jazz artists like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cole Porter, Ben Pollack, Don Redman, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Red Allen, Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, and John Kirby are staples for your Spotify playlists (check out our collection of 1920’s hits here), or listen to stations like Early Jazz Radio or Roaring ’20s Radio on Pandora. Guests will surely get into the swing of things.
Image sources: hitfix.com, polkadotdesign.com, potterybarn.com, polyvore.com, dose.clubzone.com, theglitterguide.com, blog.hwtm.com, stylemepretty.com, pinterest.com/modeetmaison, marthastewart.com,
paleomg.com, loveandoliveoil.com, jazzbluesclub.com, hollywoodoutbreak.com, bennycarter.com