Throw a Swanky 1920s Themed Party

When you think of a 1920s themed party, do your thoughts go right to the booze? Ours did. The Roaring 20s were a time of excess, and it's excess you'll have at your swanky bash.

Create Your Own Speakeasy!

Create your own decadent speakeasy right in your living room. 

  • hang 1920s era posters on your walls
  • dim your lights and place candles all around your room
  • string tiny white lights across the ceiling
  • play a soundtrack with jazz and ragtime
  • drape swaths of velvet over your furniture and/or your table
  • place bouquets of flowers in crystal bowls

Ask your guests for the secret password when they come to the door. (Put the password in each guest's party invitation.)

Set up a bar with all of the fixings for the popular cocktails of the 20s (more on those in a minute), and don't forget the swizzle sticks.

Find the largest metal tub you can (a nod to bathtub gin), fill it with ice and let your bottles chill in it. A smaller version could even serve double duty as a centerpiece.

Now Let's Talk Booze

Did you know that cocktails became very popular in the 1920s when people started adding fruit juices and other mixers to drinks to cover up the dreadful taste of homemade alcohol, and to make the drinks look non-alcoholic?

Some of the popular cocktails in the 20s were:

  • Mint Julep (mint, bourbon, sugar)
  • Old Fashioned (bourbon, sugar, water, bitters)
  • Champagne Punch (take a look at Unusual Historicals for a recipe for Champagne Punch, along with other historically accurate cocktail recipes of the 20s)
  • Mojito (mint, lime juice, white rum, club soda, sugar)
  • Planter's Punch (rum, lime juice, sugar, bitters)
  • Bronx (gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, orange juice)

You can also add current favorites to your beverage menu, such as Cosmopolitans and flavored Martinis.

Dance 'Til You Drop to 1920s Themed Party Music!

If you have the room, a dance floor would be a perfect addition to your 1920s party. Roll up the carpet and hire a local dance instructor to teach everyone how to do the Charleston, Tango, Varsity Drag, Lindy Hop, and the Peabody.

If hiring an instructor is out of the budget watch some YouTube videos and become the instructor yourself. After a couple of glasses of punch you won't mind the loss of dignity.

If you don't have the space for a dance floor, you can still enjoy the music of the decade. If you're going to make your own CDs, be sure to add some of these artists to your mix:

  • Jelly Roll Morton
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Bessie Smith
  • Bix Beiderbecke
  • Billie Holiday

Great find: There's a radio service called The 1920s Radio Network that plays nothing but music from the 1920s through the 1940s, 24 hours a day. How fabulous is that? You can find it streaming on iTunes.

Get Your Sparkle On

photo of a couple dressed for a 1920s themed party

Ladies, get out your short(-ish) dresses with dropped waists, fancy headbands —the glitzier the better (rhinestone-studded or feathered are our suggestions), long strands of pearls (remember...excess! wear several strands of different lengths), and long gloves.  

And let's not forget that this is the era of the boa. Every good flapper had one. You can search thrift stores for them, but you can also find brightly colored ones at your local craft store.

As for the men, the 20s were pre-zoot suit, but men's pants were getting higher-waisted and baggier. A bold vertical striped jacket, white pants, two-toned shoes and a boater (a straw flat-topped hat with a ribbon around it) would make the perfect 1920s outfit for guys. If it's cold outside, drag out grandma's old raccoon coat.

Ukeleles, fake guns, and cigarettes in long ebony holders make perfect props.

Don't Forget the Favors

At the end of the night, send your guests home with one of these:

  • mini bottle of gin or vodka (could attach it to a martini glass, or not)
  • copy of your music mix CD
  • mini Baby Ruth candy bars (introduced in 1920) in a martini glass
  • mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (they debuted in 1923) in a martini glass
  • several long strands of fake pearls
  • feather boa
  • pack of retro candy cigarettes and a cigarette holder