How to throw a 1920's themed party

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How to throw a 1920's themed party
(goblet glass with champaign image by Leonid Nyshko from

The roaring twenties were a time of wealth and prosperity,f clandestine excess and partying. This raucous decade's reputation for a gin-soaked good time makes it a perfect theme for any party. With a little research and some attention to a couple details, you too can Charleston like it's 1926, and imbibe in a little bathtub gin with some of your closest friends.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Get the music right. A number of different types of music were popular during the 1920s, but some of the most popular and enduring songs were those of the ragtime, jazz and Broadway musical tunes. These songs are not to be confused with the swing era dance songs that would be popular two decades later, however. If you are to play music that is true to the style of the era of the 1920s, your focus should be on ragtime and Dixieland-style jazz. A number of recordings that still exist of this type of music from the era, but there are also a handful of present day bands that specialise in it, as well.

  2. 2

    Serve authentic 1920s cocktails. The twenties were the era of prohibition. That didn't mean that people didn't drink, however. On the contrary, the 1920s were known as the original decade of excess. Bathtub gin and underground distilleries supplied people with rough and ready liquor, which were made into elaborate cocktails, in order to hide the alcohol's abrasiveness and impurities. If you pick up a copy of "Mr. Boston's Bar Guide," many of the traditional cocktail recipes included are from the original 1920s recipes. Cocktails calling for simple syrup (or bar syrup), maraschino cherry mash and sloe gin were popular. Gin itself was the liquor of the decade. Many cocktail recipes from the era use this liquor as the basis. With a little reading into the "Mr. Boston's" guide, you will soon start uncovering some of the authentic cocktails of the decade that you too can make easily (see Resources below).

  3. 3

    Get people dancing. Encourage period dancing at your party, which was the main attraction for many of the parties of the decade itself. The Charleston was one of the most popular dances of the time. Have a Charleston dance contest in place at your party and give away a door prize to the couple that dances the best and/or longest. Not only will this make the party more entertaining, it will get people involved in a way that they aren't at any other party they've attended.

  4. 4

    Decorate your house suggestively. Because antiques and items from the era of the 1920s can sometimes be very pricey, a good idea for decoration is going for the suggestive, rather than the actual. One idea is to dress your home up like it might be a speakeasy. Have one of the hosts at the door in a three-piece suit asking each of the guests for a password (you'll have to give the guests a password to give you when they arrive, perhaps something written on the invitations). Once inside, you can decorate the main party room with red fabric draped from the walls, and change one or two of the light bulbs to red or pink to intensify the "hush-hush" speakeasy atmosphere. If you can find some antiques to use, have them displayed throughout the room. An old Victrola player is a great touch, either authentic, a replica or a toy one.

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