Let’s Party Like Gatsby

So for my birthday this year, I really wanted to throw a party and have been wanting to do a Gatsby-themed murder mystery.  I love Baz Luhrmann’s film version of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCarpio and drew a lot of inspiration from the film for my party.  The parties that are featured in the film are outrageous and I can just imagine how much fun they would be to attend.

I was planning this party for a few months, gathering inspiration from not only the film but Pinterest as well.  For the murder mystery aspect of the party, I tried to find a free murder mystery kit online that was geared towards a Roaring 20s or Gatsby theme.  I was unsuccessful in finding one and most kits were starting at $45 or more, so I decided to go with a free plan and switch things around a bit to accommodate my theme.

My murder took place at JR’s speakeasy which I had set up in my basement and each one of my friends were a suspect.  Originally, I wanted to give each person their character description and the background to the murder before the party, but I didn’t have enough time so I gave each person their character and the back story when they arrived.  It worked out perfectly!

For the decor, I used a gold, black and silver color scheme which really worked out nice since we had just celebrated New Years and many stores had items on sale.  I used a lot of phrases from The Great Gatsby throughout and started with a sign for the front door which read ‘Let’s Misbehave’.


I made all the signs with black foam board that I cut with an Xacto knife to the appropriate size I wanted and used gold glitter craft duct tape and a gold paint marker.  They came out great!


When everyone arrived, I had a table set up that displayed the favors, the murder mystery information and one of my signs.  Since everyone was a suspect in the murder, each guest had to have their mugshot taken against the line-up backdrop and was given their character and the backstory to the murder.

The favors were glittered mini prosecco bottles from Cupcake Wines.  I found a tutorial on Pinterest on how to do an ombré glitter pattern on the bottles.  It’s pretty simple to do but to actually achieve the ombré pattern, I found that to be difficult.  After the glitter dried, I sprayed each bottle with a sealant.  They came out great!


The majority of the party was held downstairs in our basement, which I had turned into a speakeasy.  To add some detail to the feel of the Roaring 20s, I added a Prohibition sign to the basement door, which also indicated to my guests that the party was downstairs.


To give the feel that we were in an actual speakeasy during Prohibition, I covered a few walls with kraft paper and drew areas of brick to make it seem like there were brick walls. I hung strings of lights around the perimeter of the basement to give it more ambiance.  I had wrapped cardboard boxes in kraft paper and wrote the names of different alcohol on the outside.  I collected wine bottles over the course of several weeks and placed them in brown bags and also wrote alcohol names on them.  A pile of the boxes, bottles and two wood crates sat at the bottom of the stairs and several bottles I placed on the bar top.


I made these centerpieces from a tutorial I found on Oriental Trading’s website.  The jumbo plastic margarita glasses I bought from Party City and filled each with water beads that I was able to find at Dollar Tree.  I draped flapper beads over the rim of the glass and placed white ostrich feathers from eBay and black feathers from Michaels inside.  Not exactly what the picture looked like on Oriental Trading’s website, but they got the idea across.


To continue with the Prohibition theme, I offered several gin and vodka based cocktails at the bar.  I came up with a cocktail menu that reflected several popular mixers from the 20s.


Since all alcohol was banned during the Roaring 20s, it was very popular to hide alcohol in bathtubs, so I decided to make a bathtub gin or gin bucket.  It’s pretty simple to make – gin, Country Time lemonade mix, seltzer, lemon-lime soda and sliced lemons and limes.  I mixed all the wet ingredients first before putting the lemonade mix in and added a little bit at a time, I didn’t want it too sweet.  And I served it in a galvanized bucket, it was the perfect addition to the party!


Champagne was also quite popular during Prohibition.  If you remember during the movie, pretty much everyone had drank champagne at one point or another.  I thought it would be a nice touch to add a champagne tower with couplet champagne glasses and I used the ever delicious Verdi champagne.  It was the perfect detail!

The menu consisted of appetizers that I really enjoy, I am the birthday girl after all 😜  Everyone feasted on Triscuit crackers, assorted cheeses and salamis, Mac n’ Cheese bites, crockpot meatballs, mini pizza muffins with marinara, Andouille sausage bites, hummus dip with pita chips and a Waldorf salad that was a popular dish during the 20s.


I really wanted to have an appetizer that was popular during the 1920s and the Waldorf salad was just that.  It’s pretty simple to make as well.  The recipe that I found on Pinterest had the option to use yogurt instead of mayo and I decided to do that.  After chopping up the apples, celery, grapes and walnuts, I mixed the yogurt with salt and pepper and added a little bit of honey to give it a touch of sweetness.

After we munched on some of the delicious hor d’oeuvres, everyone toasted to my birthday with the champagne.  Didn’t we all look nice in our Roaring 20s fashion?

At this point in the night, it was time to play the murder mystery.  Everyone had enough time to get into their ‘character’ and read the backstory to the murder.  I instructed everyone to start mingling and use their ‘clues’ to figure out who the murderer was.  I decided to up the annie and play a gunshot special effect from YouTube.com and after, the victim laid dead, my best friend’s husband, Jason.

Soon after, the murderer was discovered and the game was over.  I was a little apprehensive about the murder mystery aspect of the party, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work since I had made my own game.  But it worked and everyone enjoyed it, so much so my friends would like to do another murder mystery, this time as a dinner.

Now it was time for dessert and I was looking forward to this. I had received a chocolate fountain for Christmas and thought this would be the perfect occasion to use it for the first time.  I decided to have Rice Krispie treats, pound cake and fresh strawberries to dip in the chocolate.  I made the Rice Krispie treats from scratch by following the recipe on the back of the cereal box.  I would have to say that homemade Rice Krispie treats are way better than store-bought ones.  I bought the pound cake to make life a little bit easier on me in preparation for the party.  To get the chocolate fountain working, I simply had to melt chocolate wafers in the microwave until smooth and creamy and then add a little bit of  Crisco shortening to make it even smoother.  I displayed the dippers in galvanized pails and the bamboo skewers in a mason jar.  The creamy smooth chocolate with each dipper was delicious!

I also decided that I wanted to have chocolate covered Oreo pops.  Now as some of you know, I love anything with peanut butter and chocolate, so a few of the Oreos were peanut butter stuffed and they were divine.  I dipped each Oreo in Wilton’s dark chocolate melting wafers and once hardened, I drizzled salted caramel over them and sprinkled with gold sugar crystals.  I wanted to continue with the black and gold themes.  I displayed these in galvanized pails as well filled with sand to give the pops support.  They came out great and the salted caramel flavoring gave that sweet and salty taste.

The main event for the dessert was my friend Joanna’s famous Reese’s peanut butter cupcakes.  They.are.the.best.cupcakes.ever.period.  I wish I had the recipe for these cupcakes but I know she found it on Pinterest.  Not only is there creamy peanut butter icing on top, but also inside the chocolate cupcake as well.  Yes, the cupcake is filled with the icing.  It is the perfect marriage of chocolate and peanut butter, sweet and salty.  And to add to it, there’s chopped up Reese’s on top.  Perfection!


The Art Deco-inspired cupcake toppers I made with black and gold glitter paper cut into triangles and secured with a toothpick.  They came out great!

As always, I set up a photobooth in the same spare room I always use.  I continued with the gold, black and silver themes here as well.  A few of the props were already made from previous parties I’ve had, however I had bought a cheap set of black and gold themed props from TJMaxx that worked perfectly with the theme!

And here’s a few photos from the photo booth:

After taking a few photos, we hung out for a bit before everyone decided to leave.  The party was definitely one for the books! Everyone looked so good in their Roaring 20s fashions and I’m so glad they went along with the theme!




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