Ever since Leonardo DiCaprio wowed us in The Great Gatsby all the way back in 2013, a nostalgia for the 1920s has gripped Australia as people romanticise about the extravagant and opulent styles of the roaring twenties, and dream of a return to the time of flappers and spivs, if only for one night.
With such a strong desire for 1920s themed fancy dress parties, how do you ensure your guests feel they’ve just walked back in time, but without breaking the bank? Today we look at how to host your perfect 1920s themed event, from the first stages of planning to the moment you finally enter the door. Covering everything from decadent décor and fancy food, all way to finding the perfect music and fancy dress costume.
Stage 1 : Décor
A decent décor is a key component to any party, especially in the ultra-decedent world of the 1920s where over the top shows of wealth were essential for showing your guests your vast disposable income and maintaining your position in the upper echelons of elite society.
Now we obviously can’t expect every party organiser to work on an aristocrat’s budget, that would be silly! But we’ve discovered a few low-cost alternatives that work wonderfully to create a fantastic Gatsby-esque atmosphere without breaking the piggy bank.
GOLD GOLD AND MORE GOLD – Not the 24 Carrot type! But using Gold Shimmer Curtains, Balloons, Fabric, Tinsel and Streamers work wonderfully as a low-cost alternative that also looks amazingly authentic in any venue. Available to be picked up cheaply both online and at local discount shops, these can then be placed on walls, ceilings, curtain rails (pretty much anywhere) to totally transform your venue
Contrast this with black and white metallic style balloons and streamers, as well as strings or pearls (fake) for staircases and chairs to add some real depth to your décor. For those feeling confident, you can also hang shimmer curtains around your lights for a fantastic fake chandelier effect.
Once the basics are complete, you can now add the finishing touches to your venue with a selection of floral arrangements (we like white, peach, or pink) and large feather accents that can be placed both within flowers or as part or other arrangements around your venue. For the complete Gatsby glam, you can also print off Gatsby style name cards, signs and 1920s style posters that can then be placed around your venue in what is guaranteed to impress your guests.
Make the room dark and let the decorations catch the light for maximum glitz effect!
Stage 2: Food & Drink
Let’s face it, despite it being the era of prohibition, 1920s parties were anything but dry. With enough bootlegged alcohol and bottles of Champagne smuggled in to ensure every guest could, in Gatsby’s words – “Stay drunk for a week” it certainly wasn’t the aristocracy struggling to source alcohol. But what did they drink? Below we’ve placed some typical tipples from the roaring twenties, along with recipes for those little-known 1920s drinks to give your guests the full speakeasy effect.
- Gin fizz
- Gin rickey
- Mint julep
- Planter’s punch
Depending on budget you can have as many or as little drink options as you like, but for those on a budget Gin Fizz and Mint Julep are good low-costs options that give your guests a light and dark drink to choose from.
Food choices for your event are always difficult to decide, however, appetisers and h’or ‘d oeuvres are perfect for a party that’s more focused on drinking and dancing – and can be cheaper too! Choose elegant finger food that also won’t make a mess (The flappers don’t want food all over their dresses!), and serve simply on trays to allow your guests to graze the buffet as and when they like.
Here is our super speakeasy style food selection that’s fantastic for any 1920s fancy dress party.
- Deviled eggs
- Shrimp cocktail
- Oysters Rockefeller
- Cheese platters
- Olive platters
- Mixed nuts
Stage 3: Music
The décor is delightful, you’ve found your food and done your drink, now all you need is music to add the final piece of the puzzle for an amazing 1920s party. Now we’re going to break from tradition here, and focus on electro swing rather than the traditional variety, as although fantastic, it can often be tough to keep all your guests dancing all night without some more modern influences.
Electro-swing is a fantastic way to keep people up and dancing, whilst still staying loyal to the 1920s theme, as let’s be honest, although some people may love Will Osborne, Dorothy Rogers and all the other big band swing artists of the roaring 20s, it’s best to cater to your entire audience. Electro-swing lets you give a nod to the old, whilst combining with new style beats to ensure that people’s feet are still dancing through to the early morning.
Stage 4: Style
In the 1920s, fashion was vitally important for both men and women. Men styled themselves in sharp suits with smart hair to show power and importance whilst women dressing up glamorously to show off the wealth they had access too.
Here we look at a few 1920s fancy dress ideas that will work wonderfully for your prohibition party.
For men, the only 1920s costumes worth wearing are the vintage Spiv or Gangster styles that consist of a black vertical pinstripe suit, with waistcoat and tie and of course, a hat. At Smiffys, we have a wide range of men’s 1920s fancy dress available depending on the exact look you want to go for. Letting you choose from our Vintage Gangster Costume that’s fantastic for that traditional Al Capone look, or the more modern styles including the ever popular Zoot Suit or Gold Pinstripe gangster that are great for giving yourself more of a great Gatsby-esque outfit. Just don’t forget your hat!
Remember to also accessorise your outfit with a pair of White braces, white tie, and long white scarf that are excellent for adding an extra period style to 1920s fancy dress.
Women have a much bigger collection of 1920s costumes and styles to choose from, so making sure you have the best 1920s fancy dress has never been easier, you just need to decide what sort of look you want to go for!
For a more reserved style, an All that Jazz or Gatsby Girl costume come in neutral Black and Golds that are befitting of the time, and will show a timeless 1920s style that suits any type of 1920s event from casual meals all the way to roaring 20s parties.
If you know you’re going to dance the night away, a flapper fancy dress costume may just be the choice for you. Flapper fashion was all the rage in the 20s socialite scene, with short skirts that are suited to dancing and a smart but seductive style that the men going crazy. Thankfully, there is a wonderfully wide selection of flapper costumes to choose from, with outfits such as ; Flirty, Jazz, and Coco Flapper costumes that let you select from a wide range of different dress lengths and styles to ensure that no two outfits are the same.
Don’t forget to also accessorise with a feather boa, cigarette holder and faux pearls that are perfect for putting the finishing touches on to your 1920s fancy dress.
Well, there we have it, your complete guide to hosting your very own 1920s fancy dress party. We hope you enjoy your party as much as we’ve enjoyed writing this guide, and don’t forget to share your photos on the Smiffys Instagram or Facebook.