Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Roaring 20's are Making a Comeback!

The Great Gatsby. Chicago. Thoroughly Modern Millie. Mobsters. The Princess and the Frog. 
Some Like It Hot. Midnight in Paris. Boardwalk Empire. Downton Abbey. 
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Guys and Dolls. The Sun Also Rises. 

What are you picturing? 
These well-known films, books, television series and musicals all take place in the decade known as the Roaring 20's and the images that they evoke are all at once glamorous, decadent, fancy-free, affluent, conflicted, risqué, productive, gorgeous, tough, fun, progressive, cool, action-packed and marvelous. 
These are some great ingredients for a party, which explains the popularity of 1920's-themed soirees and weddings today. Not to mention that the parties in The Great Gatsby just look like a blast!
Read on for ideas, then bring on the razzmatazz and the jazz and prepare to dazzle your guests.

Party Planning Tip: 
When planning any party, "enter" the party as if you're a guest. 
What do you want? What do you need? What (or who) will you be looking for? 
What will you see? Smell? Taste? Hear? What will you want to do? How will you feel?
Now step back into your Hosting role. Considering your guests' needs and desires from the "outside in" ahead of time can ensure a positively perfect party for each & every person involved, including you! As a Host, you are not only interested in how your guests feel- you're creating it.
What can you do to envelope them in the theme of the occasion a little bit more with each step?

Laurel House, based in Norristown, Pennsylvania, is a comprehensive agency serving individuals, families and communities throughout Montgomery County that are affected by domestic violence.  Its name was selected because of the beauty of the state flower, the Laurel, and all of its efforts are concentrated on creating and celebrating victories-- big and small-- for people who have taken the courageous first step to build a violence-free life for themselves and their children. Laurel House is a great organization and has events throughout the year to build awareness and raise funds for the operation of its shelter and the betterment of these families in need of support.

One of these events is the annual Gala, a dinner-and-dancing celebration as well as an informative opportunity for guests to learn and celebrate what Laurel House does.  This event is often held in the Spring in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and every year, the Gala planners put together a fantastic themed event, complete with Silent & Live Auction items, outstanding music, and great food and drinks! Guests catch the spirit and dress the part, and year after year, Gala after Gala, day after day, time and memories heal and lead to a better tomorrow.

This Spring, the Gala was held at Green Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill and the theme was the Roaring 20's. The decorating team of talented volunteers went all out and everything looked great!
I'm happy to share some inspiration from the event with you today, as well as other great 1920's ideas and inspiration from Pinterest and around the web! I hope that thinking through the senses of a 1920's party helps you in your planning, and makes your celebration a successful one, too!

By the way, Domestic Violence is a very real and serious problem for many people. It knows no race, age, class or boundary and nobody deserves to be a part of it. Laurel House's services are available to both male and female victims of abuse and their children. If you (or someone you know and love) are in an unsafe situation because of domestic violence or if you would like to speak with a counselor about available services, please call the Laurel House Hotline at 1-800-642-3150.

Want to help? Visit the website and click the 'How to Help' tab. Laurel House will happily accept monetary donations of any amount as well as donations of used cell phones and empty ink cartridges for a recycling program, gently worn clothing for consignment (for Marian's Attic, its consignment shop in King of Prussia) and any items on the shelter's Wish List.
There is an annual 5K Dash (on Sunday, 10/19 this year) in North Wales and registration is open
and a number of other events throughout the year.
Volunteers are always welcome, just knowing about--and fighting-- domestic violence is helpful,
and we would LOVE to have you and your friends, family & coworkers at the 2015 Gala!


1920's...What do you (as a guest) want and need?
First of all, you'll need an invitation and a request to come dressed 'to the nines'.   Consider a password for a speakeasy-style party and a combination of rich colors and geometric designs like the 2013 Gatsby film's opening and final credits.

What will you see? 
   The 1920's were full of eye candy- pearls, furs, feathers, fringes, ruffles, flowing fabrics, shiny accents, red on  a backdrop of white, gold, grey and black. Sparkles, feathers, light, balloons, confetti and fun.
   It was the first time that a majority of people lived in cities, so nightlife was bustling. The Stock Market was soaring, so some people (think thousands of millionaires, practically overnight) had more money than they knew what to do with, so there were more frivolous purchases and expenses. Cars and gasoline were available to the mainstream for an affordable price. The Ford Model T had been so efficiently produced by this time that anybody could buy one for only $260, so travel became easier and more widespread and Americans were on the move. It was a time of economic prosperity, general peace (this was post World War I), and affluence.

These great vintage cars came from Cruise One and were an amazing way to welcome guests outside!

Pretty welcome display for Place Card Table, Table Number Frames, and Place Card Table Setup
Place settings and sweet favor boxes. 

What will you hear?
  As people spread apart with their cars, the radio brought them closer together. Broadcasts went out across the country and kept everybody in tune with the same programs, jokes, songs and news. The first TV broadcast was in 1928, but it would be some time before a majority of American families had their own sets. In the early 1920's, many American towns had a movie theater and most Americans, regardless of age, social standing or gender went there at least once a week. They dreamed the same big dreams, looked up to the same movie stars, and had fun watching a story come to life on the big screen.
   Music changed, too. Jazz, Ragtime and Broadway Musicals all gained popularity and songs like these Favorites of the Roaring 20's were heard from Speakeasies to living room rugs around the radio.
   Due to a seaport closing in New Orleans, Jazz musicians were forced up the Mississippi to find work, and cities like Chicago and New York were forever changed for the better. Louis Armstrong, the 'father of the Jazz trumpet', brought songs like What a Wonderful World, La Vie en Rose, A Kiss to Build a Dream On, When You're Smiling, Mack the Knife, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, and countless others to the forefront of the music world.
   Jazz spread, and people loved to dance to it! Night clubs, parties and speakeasies were full of hip, young people, drinking (prohibited) alcohol, breaking rules, shaking their tail feathers and having an overall good time.

Jazz Hott Orchestra filled the air with terrific tunes, led by Alan Paller

What will you smell?
   Think of an underground Speakeasy full of dancing, glamorous people. It probably smelled like gin, cigarettes, cigars, beer, perfume, cologne, black licorice (a popular treat), and the Charleston (a little sweaty, perhaps?) all at once!

What will you taste?
   New American foods in the 20's included Wonder Bread, Betty Crocker baking mixes, Land O' Lakes butter, Quaker Oats quick oats, Macoun apples, Welch's grape jelly, Caesar Salad, Wheaties cereal, Lender's Bagels,  homogenized milk, Rice Krispies cereal, Velveeta cheese, Peter Pan peanut butter, Oscar Meyer wieners, 7-up. Chains and companies started popping up and becoming more common, including White Castle food chain, Safeway and IGA supermarkets, Progresso brand foods, Clapp's Vegetable Soup (the first commercially prepared U.S. baby food) , and Gerber canned baby food. Of course, you probably will not serve most of these at your party, but it is fun to know! Just go with something classic, fine and delicious, and guests will be happy.

Treats included Eskimo Pies, Good Humor ice cream, Girl Scout Cookies, Popsicles, Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink, Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Kool-Aid, and lots of candy! Baby Ruth, Oh Henry! candy bars, Gummi Bears, Mounds, Charleston Chew, Clark Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Bit-o-Honey, fruit-flavored Life Savers, Mr. Goodbar, Milk Duds, Pez, Mike & Ike's, Butterfinger, Snickers, Twizzlers and more all came into existence and popularity in the 1920's, and people loved them! If you're not reading this and making notes for a Candy Buffet for your party (as Laurel House did in the photo below), you should definitely consider it!

Prohibition in the U.S. was a nationwide Constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages, and it lasted from 1920-1933, promoted by a "dry" crusaders movement and mandated under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
   Of course, with the onset of Prohibition, speakeasies sprang up overnight, sometimes in shabby sections of town, but often in the best neighborhoods, and many of these establishments were actually fine restaurants in their own right. New  York's "21" Club was a speakeasy during this period and had 2 bars, a dance floor, an orchestra and dining rooms on 2 floors. While the Prohibition hurt many restaurants across the country, people still had a love of fine dining and fine drinks, and found them where they could. Check out this post from Food Republic with recipes for 10 popular Roaring 20's-inspired drinks.

A guest table and the candy buffet in the background
A sign for the bar with the 2 signature drinks for the evening

What will you feel?
  In the 1920's, many city-dwelling Americans felt happy and entertained. Women had a sense of freedom with their time, as the recent inventions of home refrigeration, dishwashers, Air Conditioning, pop up toasters, washing machines and vacuum cleaners eliminated some of the drudgery of housework and gave them some extra play time they hadn't had before.
  There was relief at the end of World War I and major changes taking place in medicine, from band aids to insulin injections and the discovery of penicillin, that made people feel good and brought up the national morale.
  There was pride in our homeland heroes, from the military and those who served our country in the war, to Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth, to the faces, voices and familiar tunes of the radio and movies, and it made many people happy.  They ate, they drank, they socialized, they danced, and they felt a sense of freedom and love.

What should you do?
   As a party guest, your role is to relax and enjoy. If there's an opportunity to take part in an extra, delightfully fun activity, do it! See a Photo Booth? Strike a pose! Fireworks show starting? Be there! Another guest looking for a companion? Spend some time with him or her. Take in the sights and sounds, help out if you're so inclined and do your part to make the party a success. Come on time, stay awhile, bring a Host(ess) gift, and if you really want to prepare for a 20's party, learn the Charleston!

The night wasn't complete without a visit to the Photo Booth

What will you wear?
Not sure what to wear to fit into the 1920's theme? Think extravagant, decadent and carefree!
For women, drop waists, minimized bosom, dark lipstick and nails, big jewelry, hair cut into a bob or styled into a low updo, a side do, with bangs, curls, headbands and hats were in. Mary jane shoes with strap made it easy to dance!
For gentlemen, a three-piece suit was a winner, in any color of their choosing, and pinstripes and plaids were definitely in. Throw in a hat, a cane, a cigar, a mustache, a pair of spectacles and/or a pocket watch for good measure, and you're good to go! 

Now have fun, and remember to check out the Wediquette 1920's Themed Pinterest Board  for LOTS more ideas, for parties and weddings alike. Thanks to Laurel House for sharing your photos and ideas. Looking forward to the next Gala!

By the way...

Do you love Halloween? Get ideas and inspiration here

Are you or a friend planning an Engagement Photo Shoot? Click here for the popular 5 W's post and LOTS of great ideas! 

Want to amaze your dinner guests this holiday season? Check out this post about napkins, and learn some cool folds while you're at it!

Do you know a Proud Nittany Lion? Share this post  about throwing a great Penn State bash and bringing little pieces of Happy Valley into the happiest day of your life!
Want to check out some great wedding tunes? Check out this post, which is updated often!

Putting together bathroom baskets for a wedding or celebration? Click here for great tips and inspiration! 

Are you in a wedding party and not quite sure what to do next? Check out this post to get prepped and rock it! 

Changing your name post-wedding? Click here for the long and short of it. 

Check out the most popular posts along the sidebar (scroll up!), including Weddings Across the Board- a series devoted to the cultural & traditional awesomeness that goes into wedding celebrations around the world- with coordinating Pinterest boards, of course!

Don't forget to check out, follow & share the Wediquette Pinterest page!  

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