How to Throw a Roaring 1920s Party
Roaring 20s Party
To get started, first you will need invitations. I suggest finding a picture you like from the internet and print up your own invitations. This will make them original and give guests an idea about the upcoming fun they will have.
Suggestions for a picture include a flapper, gangster, still or famous celebrity from the era. Encourage guests to come in costumes, although I wouldn't make it mandatory as some people might not feel comfortable dressing up.
This was a time of the speak easy. Give guests a password they must use at the door in order to come in, just as people had to use in the 1920s.
Decorating depends on how simple or elaborate you want to get. You can keep to a simple black and white theme or focus on something the 1920s is known for.
Perhaps you want to turn the party area into your own speak easy. To do that, set up a bar or fill a tub with ice and drinks for your own bathtub gin.
You might want to go with a movie theme for this time era. Popular movies of the time included Metropolis, The Kid and Pandora's Box. To do this, get some movie posters from this time era to grace your walls, then have people come dressed as characters from the movie.
Like music? How about a cool jazz theme? Keep the lights dim and light candles to set the mood. Is dance your thing? Flapper dancing was quite popular during this time era. Of course, you could also go with a gangster theme.
Another idea is to host a Great Gatsby based on the book or the movie. As you can see, there are many directions you can take this.
Roaring 20s Food and Drinks
If you're throwing a children's party, I suggest sticking with a kid friendly menu. However, you could serve a beverage which was introduced in the 1920s such as Kool-Aid or A&W Root Beer.
Jello was also quite popular back then, so you could consider it for dessert.
Now, if this is for an adult party, liquor was quite appreciated in those days, especially because of prohibition. A couple of the most popular drinks of the time were Mint Julips and Martinis. Of course, champagne is always appreciated.
As far as food goes, suggestions included deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, Waldorf salad, finger sandwiches, turkey, spicy beans, potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, a pineapple upside down cake. (This kind of cake was new and very popular back then.)
Music is important to any party whether it is used for background or dancing. The 1920s had a wealth of great music. Irvin Berlin had such hits as All Alone and Blue Skies. New Orleans jazz was quite popular. Saint Luis Blues and Sweet Georgia Brown were top hits.
Other popular songs of the decade include:
- If You Knew Susie
- It Had to be You
- Toot Toot Tootsie
- Tea for Two
- When You're Smiling
- Ain't Misbehavin'
- Singin' in the Rain
- I Wanna be Loved by You
- Yes Sir, That's My Baby
- Baby Face
- Makin' Whoopie
- Bye Bye Blackbird
1920s Music CD
This fun music cd has many of the songs I listed above including Charleston, It Had to be You and Makin' Whoopie!
1920s Party Activities
If you choose to have your guests come in costumes, you can have a costume contest. Let each person strut their stuff and have party goers vote for their favorite.
If funds allow, you might consider hiring a barbershop quartet to perform live music.
Gambling was big in the 1920s. You could host a poker game. Instead of money, use chips and set a time for the amount of time the game will go. When time is up, the person with the most chips wins.
Will there be a lot of 1920s fans in attendance? If so, how about a trivia game? If you'll be having music lovers, try a bit of Name That Tune featuring songs from the decade.
Of course, if this is a kids' party, you wouldn't want to play poker. However, you could keep with the theme with a simple game. Place a man's hat, (preferably a style from the era,) on the floor with the open side up. Give kids poker chips and make a line on the floor for them to stand behind. Kids can try to toss the chips into the hat. Whoever gets the most in wins.
Hot Potato is a popular game for children. You can play this, only substitute the potato with a feather boa.
No matter what age group you're hosting, teach everyone the Charleston and have a dance contest. I have a video below which will give you step by step instructions. Within 5 minutes, you'll be able to learn the dance. Then, if you want, scroll back up and put on the Charleston video and give the dance a try.
Instructions on How to do the Charleston
Don't forget to give out beads to your guests. You can hand them out when they first arrive or toss them out on the dance floor.
If you have a dollar type store or a party store near you, you should be able to find them there. Otherwise, they are easy enough to order online.
What's your favorite part of this kind of party?
The Heart of Jazz
Where jazz got its start.
If you're looking for a quieter activity or a way to wind down the party, how about playing a movie? A silent movie that is from that time era.
Charlie Chaplin happens to be a particular favorite of mine. He made some funny movies during the 1920s. My favorite films are the ones he made when he portrayed The Tramp.
I have a video below for your enjoyment. This segment is from the 1928 film The Circus.
Charlie Chaplin Video
Charlie Chaplin DVD
To cut down on clean up, you might want to get some decorative paper plates. You can also get some nice plastic cups as well.
Send your invitations at least two weeks in advance to make sure people don't make other plans for your big event.
If alcohol is going to be served, make sure there are some designated drivers.
Learn some of the slang of the decade. Here's a few terms to get you started:
- Cut a rug-dance
- Hair of the dog-a shot of liquor
- Whoopie-boisterous celebration
- doll-a pretty woman
- Juice joint-speak easy
- Wet blanket-kiljoy
If money is tight, make it a potluck. Most people are more than happy to bring a dish. It also cuts down on your clean up afterwards.
If you're not too familiar with the 1920s, watch the movie The Great Gadsby. It might also give you some additional ideas for your party.
Take lots of pictures and be sure to post them so everybody can relive their fun moments from your part
Please use the checklist below to make sure you don't forget anything.
Learn the Charleston
The 1920s was a very colorful time in American history. With the music, clothing and the dancing, it makes for a great theme for a party.
You now have all of the tools you need to create a fantastic party. If you need any additional help, just leave me a comment and I'll try to help. Otherwise, be sure to save me a glass of champagne and happy partying!
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