How to Host a 1920s Party — Chrystina Noel (2024)


Written By Chrystina Cappello

How to Host a 1920s Party — Chrystina Noel (1)

If you’re interested in hosting a 1920s party, you’ve come to the right place. Links below may be affiliate.

My friend Miranda, who blogs at both The Good Groupie and Spooky Little Halloween, gives us some great insight into her 1920s party. In this post, she highlights:

  • The Basics

  • 1920s food

  • 1920s drinks

  • Music of the 1920s

  • Decor (with printables!)

  • Activities, and

  • Tips & tricks

Enjoy! And happy planning!

Halloween parties are my thing. In 2009, I held a small weenie roast in my backyard with just a few friends for Halloween, and the rest is history. It’s grown into an anticipated annual event attended by friends who cross not just city limits but state lines to attend. Each one has its own unique theme, and I have a blast coming up with new ways to surprise and dazzle my friends each year.

So as my 30th birthday drew closer, I found myself being asked, “What kind of party are you having?” Not if I was having one – what kind. I guess I’ve made an impression.

I had already contemplated hosting a game night party when friends started asking about a theme, so I decided celebrating the big 3-0 was the perfect chance to say goodbye to my roaring 20s and party like Gatsby. I upped the ante of my game night, combining my love of costume parties with a chance to use one of my favorite writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his most famous novel for inspiration for the perfect party theme: a 1920s game night.

Want to throw your own 1920s bash? This one actually came together much easier than some of my Halloween themes! Here’s my tips and tricks on the basics of hosting this theme, plus the food, drinks and music that will make you feel like you’re partying at Gatsby’s in West Egg. Now it’s time to get down to the details that will help set your party apart and make your party space feel like your guests were transported back to the 1920s.

The Basics: Colors & Theme

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I started planning my 1920s party by picking a color scheme. That might sound over-the-top, but I find that once I pick a theme and a few key colors for décor, everything else falls into place. Black and gold are a must for any 1920s party worth its salt gin – both are key in art deco designs. From there, white or red are great standard colors to add for accent. Because of some décor I found, I put a little spin on the colors and chose a pastel pink as my accent color.

You’ll also want to decide what aspect of the 1920s you wish to highlight for your party theme. The great thing about using this decade for a theme? It’s incredibly versatile.

  • Birthday: Celebrating the same milestone birthday as me? Say goodbye to your roaring 20s. (Or use it for a 21st birthday theme – hello to your roaring 20s now that you’re of legal drinking age!)

  • Game Night: Want to put a spin on game night? Play card games popular from the decade.

  • Tasting party: co*cktail aficionado? Use the 1920s as a theme for your guests to sample a variety of co*cktails featuring gin – the decade’s most popular spirit – or champagne. You might even consider sampling absinthe, if you’re brave!

  • New Year’s Eve: Looking to add a twist to your usual New Year’s Eve party? Invite everyone to your speakeasy!

  • Halloween: Need a clever Halloween theme? Make it a haunted speakeasy – complete with a murder mystery your guests have to solve. (Chrystina here: Murderly has a Halloween Murder Mystery kit you might enjoy!)

  • Wedding or baby showers: Hosting a spring-time bridal or baby shower or an engagement party? Host an afternoon garden party and play 1920s lawn games.

The possibilities are endless!

Because card games were popular in the 1920s and I was already thinking of a game night party, I combined the two and invited my family and friends to our speakeasy for a night of drinks, h’or d’oeuvres and games.

1920s Food

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Appetizers and h’or doeuvres were popular speakeasy fare in the 1920s – perfect party food! Bite-size foods give your guests the chance to sample lots of different things and easily munch on snacks throughout the night. Here are some items that were popular on speakeasy menus:

For my party, I opted to start with deviled eggs and shrimp co*cktail, then branched out to appetizers I love. Using some helpful Pinterest tutorials, I created a cheese platter featuring cubed cheddar and Monterey jack as well as Brie and goat cheeses, then added black grapes and an assortment of stuffed olives from a local Mediterranean market to complement them. I also made a charcuterie board with dry and hard salamis as well as prosciutto, also featuring stuffed olives and marinated artichoke hearts.

To round out my appetizers, I included a vegetable plate with hummus, made a batch of The Pioneer Woman’s stuffed mushrooms and finally got to make caprese salad skewers. Since I used a game night theme, I bought a pub snack mix and set a bowl at all three game tables. And, because it was a birthday party, my mom was kind enough to make me cupcakes (she makes the best cakes) which we decorated to match the party décor.

1920s Drinks

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You will have no shortage of drink options with the 1920s as your theme! Keep things simple for afternoon parties or baby showers with iced tea and lemonade – two drinks you can easily customize with fun fruit or herb flavors. (Mint is always a good option!) For parties with a bit more “roar” to them, here are some popular 1920s co*cktails and drinks to choose from:

  • Gin fizz

  • Gin rickey

  • Mint julep

  • Planter’s punch

  • Bathtub punch

  • Absinthe

  • Moonshine

  • Champagne

This party turned me into a gin fan – gin fizz to be exact. I opted to have a gin fizz bar, giving my guests the option between blackberry or wild raspberry gin fizzes. Both were a big hit and equally delicious. (And one party leftover I’m happy to have still!) I have a few friends who don’t drink carbonated drinks, and since the fizz part of a gin fizz calls for club soda, I wanted to make sure they had a drink option too. Planter’s punch, a rum-based punch that was found on virtually every speakeasy menu in the 20s, was the perfect fit. Though some recipes I found called for optional club soda, I chose to leave that out.

Making bathtub alcohol became popular once prohibition took effect, so if it’s feasible, you might consider filled your actual bathtub with ice and offering canned or bottled drinks, like soda, beer or champagne to play on that detail. Since it wasn’t for me, I filled one side of the kitchen sink with ice for my beer and champagne.

Absinthe, also known as The Green Fairy, was a powerful hallucinogenic spirit that gained popularity with expatriate writers and artists in France in the 1920s. The effects of ingesting it were so powerful that the U.S. banned it well before the 1920s – 1915, to be exact – but the (greatly exaggerated) legend of its hallucinogenic properties lived on. The spirit experienced resurgence in popularity in the 1990s, and it can now be on liquor store shelves, though it won’t be the same recipe from the late 19th and early 20th century. Still, it’s a fun spirit to serve for friends who are adventurous co*cktail connoisseurs.

And if you’re a bit of a co*cktail groupie like me, you’ve probably noticed a resurgence in moonshine’s popularity in the past year. Though they are not for the faint of heart, serving your guests a hint of moonshine, straight up, at your 1920s speakeasy might lead to some fun stories later. (Firefly is my favorite of the ones I’ve tried.)

Music of the 1920s

Music is always the heart and soul of my parties. (As a music blogger, how could it not be?) And while I enjoy a wide variety of music and could listen to the likes of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Gershwin all day, I wasn’t sure my party guests would feel the same.

Using the hotly debated Great Gatsby soundtrack as a starting point, I compiled a playlist that mixed classic 1920s songs with electroswing (my new favorite genre!) and songs from the most recent cinematic incantation of Fitzgerald’s novel.

One party guest told me she could have listened to this all night, which thrilled me. My personal fave? “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie.

1920s Party Decor Ideas

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The details of your décor will depend on what type of 1920s party you’re hosting. Speakeasies were dim, smoky places with an intimate feel while garden parties lend themselves well to a light and airy atmosphere. No matter which direction your party theme goes, there are few essential décor items you can use to give your party space a healthy dose of the decade: candles, martini glasses, champagne coupes, mason jars, strings of pearls, peaco*ck feathers, empty champagne or gin bottles, and twinkle lights.

Candelabras or using empty wine and liquor bottles as candle holders will elevate the feel of the party space. String costume pearls over chandeliers or light fixtures for some extra shimmer or wrap them around the neck of an empty champagne bottle for a centerpiece. Place tealights in martini glasses and champagne coupes for extra ambiance and glitz. Using strings of twinkle lights will also add a beautiful touch of glamour to an outdoor garden party or an indoor speakeasy party.

For my party, I bought martini glasses from a dollar store and added tealights I already had. Using plastic champagne coupes I bought at Party City, my friend Katie made a beautiful champagne glass tower and draped it with some gold ribbon I had on hand. I also saved a few champagne bottles and oh-so-popular Mason jars to use for general decor. I bought two strings of pearl garlands at Hobby Lobby to drape over light fixtures, wrap around a champagne bottle neck and then drape in an over-sized martini glass I purchased (and shamefully returned the next day – because who actually has use for a plastic 64 oz martini glass besides martini drinkers?).

To round out my party décor and make it a little more birthday festive, my mom and I went on a garland making spree courtesy of Pinterest. We made these tissue paper tassels and these tissue paper fringe banners in my party theme colors – both of which require a lot of patience if you’re not a regular crafter. I’m also a pennant junkie and love buying large books of scrapbook paper to use for pennants, so I was thrilled when I came across an art deco book in black, gold and white patterns. Finally, I bought a Happy Birthday banner on Etsy (the thing that inspired my colors) and made a “Goodbye to the roaring 20s” banner myself using InDesign.

The great thing about most of these items is they’re relatively cheap and easy to find – or they might be items you already have or can borrow from friends.

I also made a few quote prints, put them in picture frames from a dollar store and scattered them around the house. Quick, cheap and easy touches that made the party feel special – and all of which you can download right here!

1920s Party Games

So you’ve made your deviled eggs, poured your guests glasses of champagne, hit play on that 1920s playlist and they’re dazzled by your décor.

Now what?

Here’s a quick list of great party activities for your 1920s party:

  • Games: If you’re hosting a game night, like I did, set up a few tables around your party space with various games. Dominos, Yahtzee, and Bunco were all games that gained popularity in the 20s. Card games like poker, black jack or Canasta are perfect for this theme too.

  • Lawn games: Hosting an afternoon garden party? Enjoy a round of croquet or bocce ball in the back yard while you sip on your mint juleps.

  • Photobooth: I bought these cute 1920s photobooth props on Etsy, and with the help of my sister-in-law made them functional and durable with a little laminating and bamboo skewers! (To create my photobooth, I bought two gold metallic fringe curtains at Party City, strung them up in front of a window and then added one of the tassel banners I made – it was a huge hit!)

  • Murder Mystery Game: There are tons and tons of 1920s murder mystery games out there. I’d love to use this in a few years for my annual Halloween party! (Chrystina here: might I recommend Murderly‘s Murderly Manhattan kit, it says it’s for the 1960s, but we changed it to 1920s and had a blast! Here are my tips for hosting a murder mystery party.)

  • Costume party: I loved seeing all my friends show up at my house in their 1920s costumes! Some bought a flapper dress or gangster gear. Others used what they had in their closet. Turn it into a contest with a fun 1920s themed prize, like a bottle of champagne or gin!

Tips & Tricks to Make it Awesome

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You’re set! You’ve got everything you need to host an roaring 1920s themed party. But just to make sure it’s extra awesome, here’s a few more tips to make it awesome:

  • Silent movie: Find a silent movie on Netflix to play for background ambiance. Or, if you’re going to party Gatsby style, play the 1974 or 2013 version of the film on mute.

  • Secret entrance: Speakeasies often had a secret entrance to hide from the fuzz. If you’re hosting a party at home, create a secret entrance at your back door and placed a “closed” sign on the front door to redirect guests.

  • Speakeasy card, password: Many speakeasies also had secret membership cards. Make your party invitation your guest’s speakeasy membership card and be sure to include the secret password they need to get in!

  • Phonograph: This one is my dream party idea. Grab yourself an awesome phonograph speaker for your iPhone to play your killed 1920s playlist all night long.

  • Free printables: Need a little help with your décor? Here are printables of all the signs I created for my party, plus my “Goodbye to the Roaring 20s” banner and a blank drink menu for you to customize! All free for you to use at your 1920s party.

Hosting a 1920s party? I hope you’ve found some of my ideas helpful for your own party, and I’d love to see your photos! Tweet them to me – and don’t forget to have a roaring good time.

More From Miranda

Interested in hosting a killer Halloween party? Miranda also has you covered.

You can listen to her talk all about her planning the ultimate themed party on Episode 6 of Gatherings Podcast.

How to Host a 1920s Party — Chrystina Noel (11)

Miranda Enzor is a writer and blogger from Houston, TX. She writes a blog called Spooky Little Halloween, a blog for fellow Halloween junkies who believe in celebrating the magic of October 31st year-round.


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Chrystina Cappello

How to Host a 1920s Party — Chrystina Noel (2024)
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