Host a Roaring Twenties Party

A 1920s party should have a  ‘20s ambiance with a ‘20s Jazz mix CD playing softly, ‘20s decor (i.e. ‘20s silent movie posters, etc.), and ‘20s movies without the audio (i.e. The Great Gatsby, etc.) if there is a television in the party room.

The twenties included prohibition where alcohol was illegal to possess and consume.  A speakeasy was a bar or nightclub where you could go to get a drink of low quality alcohol brought by the bootleggers.  The Great Gatsby was a very popular novel 
published by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925.

 

Roaring Twenties Themes


The colors should be black, white and gray.  You can have the setting in a Speakeasy, an illegal gaming room, a gangster's home (i.e. Al Capone), a silent movie premiere, or maybe even a Jazz Club!

If you choose a speakeasy theme, give your guests a 'password' on the invite and have someone greet them at the door and ask for the password before they can enter.  If you have the time and money, drape red (velvet) fabric on the walls and change a lamp or two to a soft red light.  

 

Women should dress in flapper couture. Women were in a period of change in this era, so their skirts got higher, and haircuts were shorter. Not to say you must cut your hair for your party – you can simply put in some finger waves and be in the spirit (search how to finger wave your hair on YouTube for instructional videos). Or, you can grab a short bob cut wig! Scope out some costume shops for a great flapper dress, equipped with fringe, of course, and don’t forget your sequin headband with feathers! Costume stores usually have fun accessories such as strands of pearls, fake cigarettes in holders, and feather boas to top off your look.

Men’s fashion for a party typically included a tuxedo with tails. The 1920s were a formal era and men always looked dapper. Top off the suit with gloves, a top hat, and black patent oxford shoes

 Invite your guests

 Keep things vintage, everything should remain authentic to the 1920’s if you are going to give your guests an experience from start to finish. Sending an email about a Roaring ‘20s party wouldn’t be a good start, so opt for a printed invitation and either hand deliver or use the snail mail. Use parchment paper for your invitations or you can age regular paper by soaking it in coffee and allowing it to dry. Do multiple soaks with drying in between until you are satisfied with the color. Print with fonts that emulate the 1920s such as the following – just Google them and download them, adding them to your existing fonts:

Atlas RegularAtlas SolidParisish by George WilliamsRoaring 20s by Thomas KadingConnie by Nymphont

 

Decorate

Colors: It is best to stick with a classy color palette of black and gold with accents of white and silver.

Balloons: Use assembled balloon pieces (metallic & pearled) to fill empty spaces or maybe even use helium and allow them to coat the ceiling. Balloons are great on the budget and make your space festive. You can ombre the balloons with metallic gold and silver paint for a fun effect by painting the bottoms of them. Use clear balloons with gold and silver glitter inside (insert with a funnel before blowing up).

Prohibition boxes (liquor crates): These can stack in any corner of the room. Have the bottom row closed and the top row can be opened with packing paper and bottles sticking out. Use any sized cardboard boxes – large enough to carry liquor bottles - and get a large stencil of a 1920’s style font such as Engebrechtre, Guanine, Popular Café NF Regular, or Milton Burlesque NF Regular. Using the stencil, write on the box with black Sharpie marker or paint the following phrases: 

Imported Irish Whiskey        Hand-Crafted Rye Whiskey           Canadian Bourbon              Old Jamaican Rum            M & P Brewing Company            Premium Bottled Lager              Beer Pabst Blue Ribbon            Red Tape Whiskey

 

Feather centerpieces:

 From any craft store, purchase the following:

 

In the wedding &/or Christmas aisles, look for:

  1. any kind of decorative rhinestone, crystal or pearl strands – especially ones that end in large pendants.

  2. Silver and gold wood paint

  3. Two thin circular disks – anywhere from 4” to 7” in diameter.

  4. 1-2” wooden dowel

  5. Two wood screws

  6. White single feathers

 

Paint the dowel with the silver paint and the underside of the top disk with gold paint and allow drying. Assemble the dowel in between the two disks and place a screw through the disk into the dowel until flattened and you create a barbell shape. Then, paint the top of the disk gold. Using E600 or hot glue, affix the pearl strands or rhinestone strands from the top disk and allow hanging down to the bottom disk. Cut shorter strands (with pendants) to hang midway and attach to the top of the disk. Glue the feathers in a cascade in the shape of a bouquet on top of the disk, hiding the glued tops of the strands

Decorated champagne bottles: 

From any craft store, purchase the following:

  1. Gold glitter

  2. Modpodge

  3. Strands of pearls

  4. Black feathers

  5. Gold paint

Using old champagne bottles (empty), paint the bottles with the gold paint and allow drying. Using the Modpodge, cover the mid to lower part of the bottles with the adhesive and roll in the glitter until thoroughly covered, allowing drying. Wrap the pearls around a few times and allow draping down. Assemble a bouquet of black feathers inside of the bottle, spewing out in a lovely arrangement.

Alternatively, you can decorate the bottom portion of unopened bottles and use at your party for a real splash of bling at the bar!

Table cards:

 If you are hosting a seated dinner, you’ll need to have some type of table cards to number your tables. Using the same paper and font as your invites, print out the table numbers and place inside of golden frames and set them out on each table. Take some strands of pearls and drape over the frames and surround with a sprinkle of gold confetti and rhinestones on the table.

 

Placecards: 

Keep it elegant and simple. Purchase plain white place cards and print according to the instructions in the packet using an elegant 20’s font. Add one black &/or white feather with a rhinestone on the side with hot glue.

Candles:

Candles set an elegant mood, so grab some mason jars, throw in a bunch of loose rhinestones, add an LED tealight and put it on top, with the rhinestones surrounding. Using the Modpodge from the glitter champagne bottles as described above, glitter the top of the Mason jar and tie a gold ribbon around the rim. Place the mason jars on circular mirrors around the room. You’ll be amazed at how the ambiance will feel classy and inviting.

Twinkle lights

Get battery powered light strands and wind around the buffet table for additional lighting and ambiance. Also, use these light strands at the bar.

Play Great Gatsby – if you have a television or other type of device in the room, stream/play the Great Gatsby movie (or a silent film from the 20’s) without the sound.

food

Our menu is part of the décor of the overall party, so your food must be elegant, and appetizing. If you are having a seated dinner, include a menu on each place setting – using the same parchment paper as your invite and the table numbers.

-Champagne: even though it was prohibition, people still had alcohol at most parties. Use the wide brimmed glasses, and not the modernized flutes. Set up a champagne glass pyramid on a table-clothed round table for a classic touch.

 

-Mint Juleps – must be served in a stainless steel mint julep high ball.

-Non-alcoholic libations – tea and lemonade were both served in the Great Gatsby novel.

-Spiced baked ham

-Poached Fresh Salmon with Hollandaise

-Ham Croquette

-Oyster Rockefeller

-Sweet Breads

-Salmon Mousse on toast

-Pastry pigs (pigs in a blanket)

-Mashed potato

-Mushrooms

-Lemon Cakes (pound cake)

-College Pudding with Vanilla Sauce


Click the links for recipes!

You can’t host a party without ambiance music! Keep tunes going the entire party from the 1920s. Types of Roaring Twenties music are: Jazz , Dance Bands, Blues, Broadway. Famous performers from this time are: 

  • Louis Armstrong

  • Paul Whiteman (aka: King of Jazz)

  • Mamie Smith

  • Eddie Cantor

  • Duke Ellington

  • Nat Shilkret

  • Bessie Smith

  • Sophie Tucker

  • King Oliver

  • Ben Bernie

  • Lemon Jefferson

  • Jelly Roll Morton

  • Ted Lewis

  • Sara Martin

music

party games

ICE-BREAKING TRIVIA CHALLENGE

Objective: to break the ice with the other guests by asking fun 1920’s trivia questions

Rules: Give each player a trivia slip along with their round one clue cards and tell them to break the ice with each other (i.e. start conversations) by posing fun trivia questions to each other.  This is a great way for the guests to get into the spirit of the Roaring Twenties and get the party started.

Props needed:  trivia slips (copy and paste the trivia slips below into any template you desire and print one for each player. 

Time needed: during round one

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: What was a ‘bell bottom’ in the ‘20s? 

Answer: A sailor

Question: In the ‘20s, if you said - ‘It’s the berries’ – what does ‘the berries’ mean?

Answer: Attractive or pleasing

Question: What was a ‘piker’ in the ‘20s? 

Answer: A cheapskate or a coward

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, if you said ‘It’s the bee’s knees’ – what does ‘bee’s knees’ mean? 

Answer: Something extraordinary

Question:  In the ‘20s, if you overheard a conversation about ‘the big cheese’ – what would they most likely be referring to? 

Answer: An important or influential person – a big shot

Question: What did it mean to be ‘ossified’ in the ‘20s? 

Answer: Drunk

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, if someone called you a ‘Bluenose’ – what would that mean? 

Answer: A puritanical person, a prude

Question: What was a ‘Bull Session’ in the ‘20s? 

Answer: A male gossip session- usually about women

Question: Other than a flower, in the ‘20s what was an ‘orchid’ referring to? 

Answer: An expensive item

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question:  What does ‘Bootleg’ refer to?

Answer: Illegal liquor

Question: In the ‘20s, what would it mean if you were ‘bumped off?’  

Answer: You were murdered 

Question: What was a ‘jitney’ in the ‘20s? 

Answer: A car employed as a private bus costing a fare of five cents, a cab

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, what would a ‘canary’ refer to – other than a bird?

Answer: A dame with a lovely singing voice

Question: What does it mean ‘to carry a torch’ other than literally carrying a torch? 

Answer: To have a crush

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘hoofer?’

 Answer:  A dancer

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: If someone gave you a Bronx cheer in the ‘20s, what would that be? 

Answer: A loud sputtering noise indicating disapproval – like a raspberry

Question: If someone said ‘Butt me’ in the ‘20s, what would you do? 

Answer: Give them a cigarette

Question: What is a ‘juice joint?’ 

Answer: A speakeasy (illegal club that served alcohol)

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: If someone asked you in the ‘20s ‘cash or check’ and you didn’t have to pay them money – what would they be referring to? 

Answer: They are asking if you kiss now or later

Question: In the ‘20s, what does the term ‘cheaters’ refer to other than unfaithful lovers or gamers with no integrity? Answer: Eyeglasses

Question: What does ‘hooch’ refer to? 

Answer: Bootleg liquor

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘darb?’ 

Answer: Something that was excellent

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘dead soldier’ other than a literal dead soldier? 

Answer: An empty beer bottle

Question: In the ‘20s, what did the term ‘hard boiled’ refer to other than a way to cook an egg? 

Answer: A tough and strong man

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: If someone asked you to ‘dry up’ in the ‘20s, what would they want you to do?  

Answer: Shut up or get lost

Question: If someone gave you the advice: ‘don’t take any wooden nickels’ in the ‘20s, what did they mean? 

Answer: Don’t do anything foolish

Question: What did ‘giggle water’ mean in the ‘20s? 

Answer: Alcohol

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the 20’s what was another term for a private investigator?

  Answer: A dick

Question: In the ‘20s, if you referred to your ‘dogs’ and you weren’t referring to animals, what did you mean?

 Answer: You were referring to your feet

Question: In the ‘20s, what did the phrase ‘Hair of the Dog’ mean?

Answer: A shot of alcohol

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, if you were called a ‘doll’, what did this mean? 

Answer: You were an attractive woman

Question:  In the ‘20s, if you were called a ‘flat tire or oilcan’, what did this mean? 

Answer: You were a disappointing date

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘flivver?’

 Answer: A Model T and after 1928, it was any old broken down car

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘drugstore cowboy?’

Answer: A man that hangs around street corners trying to pick up ladies

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘dumb Dora?’

Answer: A stupid female

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a ‘gin mill?’

Answer: A bar or establishment where liquor was sold

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: In the ‘20s, if you referred to something as ‘ducky’, what did that mean?

Answer: It was very good

Question: In the ‘20s, if someone called you ‘an egg’ – what did this mean?

Answer: That you were someone who lives the big life

Question: If you put on ‘glad rags’, what did you do?

Answer: You put on an outfit to go out on the town

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: What is a ‘fall guy?’

Answer: A victim of a frame (set up)

Question: In the ‘20s, if you were designated as the 'fire extinguisher,’ what was your job?

Answer: To chaperone

Question: If someone said ‘nice gams’ in the ‘20s, what were they referring to?

Answer: A woman’s legs

 

USE THE FOLLOWING ‘20s TRIVIA QUESTIONS AS AN ICE BREAKER

 

Question: Which was a twenties term for alcohol: A Twist, Turkey Trot, Giggle Water

Answer: Giggle Water

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a slang term for a wedding?

Answer: Manacle

Question: In the ‘20s, what was a slang term for tea?

Answer: noodle juice

FLAPPIN’ EVENT CHALLENGE

 

Objective:  To be the team that chooses the highest number of correct years of the 1920’s events! 

Rules: Pair the guests into groups of 3-4. Give the teams 15 minutes to fill in the correct year of the listed 1920s events using the ‘Flappin’ Event Challenge Answer Sheet’.  When the time is up and / or the guests are finished, collect the answer sheets and score them using the ‘Flappin’ Event Challenge Answer Key’

Props needed: Printed copies of ‘The Flappin’ Event Challenge’ Click here to download

Time needed: ~20 minutes

 

Flappin Event Challenge Answer Key

Black Tuesday …………………….……………..       1929

The ‘Great Miami Hurricane’ occurred………..      1926

‘The Great Gatsby’ is published….……………..       1925

Yankee Stadium opens in NYC…………….……       1923

Reader’s Digest is first published……………….       1922

First cartoon with sound (Mickey Mouse)………      1928

Summer Olympics in Paris, France……………..       1924

1st solo non-stop Trans-Atlantic flight ……….....      1927

Hitler begins to lead the Nazi Party……………..      1921

Prohibition begins…………………………………      1920

THE CAT’S MEOW ‘20S DANCE CONTEST

 

Objective:  to be the biggest cat’s meow ‘20s dancers at the party!

Rules:  Pair the guests into groups of 2. Give the teams 10 minutes (or more) to create a unique 30 second ‘20s dance routine to be performed to the song (i.e. Putting on the Ritz, or other ‘20s song of your choice.) Each team should show their best Charleston, Black Bottom and Shimmy as well as any unique ‘20s moves the teams can create!  No need to be a good or technically sound dancer - just be unique! Play the song repeatedly in the background so the teams have ample time to practice with the music.

When the time is up and / or the guests are finished creating their routines, one at a time, the guests are to perform their routines for the other guests. The host will judge or the guests will vote via a ballot for the best ‘20s dance routine. In the case of a tie, the host will be the tie-breaker.

Props needed: Any type of music playing source and a ‘20s song.

Time needed: approximately 30 minutes.

 

DARING TOMMY GUN CHALLENGE

 

Objective: to make the most creative Tommy gun out of toilet tissue!

Rules:  pair the guests into groups of 2-3.  Give the teams 10 minutes (or more) to create the most unique Tommy gun by using one (or more) roll(s) of toilet tissue.  Scotch tape is allowed and should be available to all teams, as they need it.  When the time is up and / or the guests are finished creating their Tommy gun, one at a time, the teams are to model their Tommy guns.  The host judges or the guests vote via a ballot for the best and most creative Tommy gun.  In the case of a tie via ballot, the host will be the tiebreaker.

Props needed: as many rolls of toilet paper as you wish to have available but it should be an event amount for each team.  A suggestion would be 3 rolls per team.

Time needed: approximately 15 minutes.

 

1920’S GANGSTER RAP CONTEST

Objective: to be the most talented rapping duo at the party!       

Rules: pair the guests into groups of 2.  Give the teams 10 minutes (or more) to create a unique 30-second 1920’S GANGSTER RAP routine to be performed to the group.  The teams are to write lyrics and practice their performance.  Play any rap beats repeatedly in the background so the teams have ample time to practice with the music.

When the time is up and / or the guests are finished creating their routines, one at a time, the guests are to perform their rap routines for the other guests.  The host will judge or the guests will vote via a ballot for the best rap routine.  In the case of a tie, the host will be the tiebreaker.

Props needed: any type of rap beats and a music source to play them with.  (There are rap beat tracks (mp3s) available for purchase and instant download on mymysteryparty.com within the Mystery Prop Emporium section.)

Time needed: approximately 30 minutes.

 

POETIC JUSTICE:

Objective: to be the best poet at the party!

Rules: this is an individual challenge. Whatever your party theme is, you are to instruct your guests to create the best poem about the theme of the party. Give your guests a set time limit to write their poems and a pen/paper. When the time is up, each guest will recite his or her poem in front of the group. Play a low jazz beat in the background for ambiance. The host will judge the winner or the guests can vote via secret ballot. Get your video camera ready, as this will be awesome to watch later!

Props needed:  a pen and paper for each guest, optional low jazz style beat as ambiance.

Time needed: ~ 30 minutes.

 

MOVING DOWN THE LINE

Objective: to avoid pulling an Ace from the line of cards – or you have to suffer the penalty.

Rules: deal ten cards face down in a line in the center of the circle. Starting with the first player, they flip over the first card in line. If it is an Ace – they have to suffer the penalty (i.e. eating a gross bite of food, doing push-ups, etc.) If it is a Queen, they can choose another player to suffer the penalty. If it is a King, everybody in the game has to suffer the penalty besides the player that pulled the King. If it is 2-10 – they are safe and the next player gets to pull the next card in line. Play continues around the circle until all 10 cards have been revealed. If you’re having fun, deal again!

Props needed: a deck of cards

Time needed:~ until you get tired of playing

 

ROLL ‘EM LOW

Objective: not to have the highest score via dice rolls.

Rules: pick a starting player and they are to roll four dice. They keep the lowest number and slide it in front of them (or to the side so they don’t change it). They roll the remaining three dice and keep the lowest numbered one. They do this again for the next two rolls (obviously, the last one will stick). The score keeper will add up their score and write it down. The play passes to the next player in the circle and so forth until everybody has had a turn. The player with the lowest total is the winner. In the event of a tie, do a rock, paper tournament, best 2/3 will win.

Props needed: four dice

Time needed: ~ as long as you want

 

MONEY CHALLENGE

Objective: to have the most gold coins / money at the end of the mystery game when the murderer confesses.

Rules: Give each player the same denomination of bills/coins at the start of the game inside of their Round One envelope.  They are to use this money in any way during the game – such as to bribe the other players to tell them their secrets (i.e. conceal clues) and openly reveal general information about their character (i.e. reveal clues) during the game rounds 1 and 2.  They can do anything possible to get other player’s money (i.e. stealing, bribing, begging, etc.)  Skilled spies and negotiators won’t have to use money at all to find out their information!  You can give an optional prize to the winner of the money challenge. Immediately after the murderer confesses, have the guests count how much money they have.  In the event of a tie – they are to choose a number from 1-10 and the number 7 always wins!

Props needed: any kind of fake money (host supplied).  You can pick this up at a party store, or any toy store.  You can use coins, or paper money of any kind. 

Time needed: the game duration.  Call the time as soon as the murderer confesses.