Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby has certainly inspired a ton of trends this year, from retro flapper fashions to an art deco furniture renaissance. We expect many people will be hosting their very own Gatsby inspired parties now that the summer weather is on our side, so here’s how to throw a Great Gatsby party in style…
Send Invites to the Guests of Honour
Go ahead and make a Facebook invite for all the socialites you want to attend, but make sure the special guests know their presence is of the utmost importance. Jay Gatsby made sure Nick Carraway had his invitation hand-delivered. You don’t have to be as extravagant, but you can definitely swing by the Dollar Store and the post office to make some old-fashioned invites for the key players at your party. It’s such an antiquated concept that you’ll be surprisingly overwhelmed at how many of the special guests come, and when the socialites realize they didn’t get extra-special invites, they’ll kiss up like crazy just to make sure they’re VIP next time around.
Enforce a Strict Dress Code
There’s nothing worse than inviting people to a chic cocktail soiree only to have a few friends arrive wearing jeans and acting like it’s no big deal. They’re going to ruin the vibe and, worse, they’ll sabotage all your jealousy-inducing Facebook photos. Warn all your guests ahead of time that, if they don’t show up in appropriate cocktail attire, they will be asked to go home and change or will have to wear a toga made from your extra bed sheets. Sure, it’s not very ’20s, but if they refuse to get down with your retro party then you can give them the ancient history treatment.
Decorate, Decorate, Decorate
If you recall how Jay Gatsby even decorated Nick Carraway’s humble home when he made plans to “accidentally” meet Daisy there, then you know he’s a man that demands aesthetic perfection no matter what the circumstances. Obviously, you’ll be wanting to have most of your Gatsby party outside, whether it’s in a backyard or on a rooftop patio, so decorating doesn’t have to be too extravagant. Candles always create the illusion of extreme elegance, and you can grab a huge bag of tea candles for around $10. If you have the budget, we suggest getting some green lights for the backyard, just for a fun nod to good ol’ East Egg in the distance.
Sure, you can serve mint juleps, gin martinis and all that jazz, but in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway takes note at the first Gatsby party he attends that “champagne was served in glasses bigger than finger-bowls.” French champagne was a hot commodity at fancy parties during Prohibition, so opt for Veuve if budget is no option, or just pre-pour the cheap stuff in glasses when the guests aren’t looking and display it elegantly. If your guests were pre-drinking ’20s style before the party like they should have been, then they won’t even notice.
Have an Elaborate Buffet Table
There’s no need to serve a lot of food at your Gatsby party, but make sure you have a buffet set up for guests to nibble. No one did much eating at all in most of the book or movie, but food was definitely on display as another expression of opulence. You don’t have to have Gatsby’s budget to know that you can drape grapes over pretty much anything to make it look more elaborate, and cheese plates are always somehow sophisticated. At Gatsby’s first party, Nick observes “buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold.”
Pick Danceable Music
From paid performers to wild guests, Gatsby’s parties always turned into crazy dance fests. If you’re at a loss for what to play, start with the soundtrack from Luhrmann’s film adaptation, which includes songs by Jay-Z, for the perfect mix of ’20s flair with 2013 awesomeness. And when all else fails, make sure you’re the first one on the dance floor. Maybe Gatsby watched his own parties from a distance, but this is your party and you can dance if you want to.