My novel is a 1920s romantic suspense complete with rumrunners and G-men, so we went with a speakeasy (but "dry") setting for the party.
|Our bouncer, Josh, and his favorite girl, Charity.|
Setting the Scene
We had our party at the Historic Flinn Block, a beautiful ballroom located on the second floor of a downtown building. The exposed brick walls and gorgeous wood floors set the perfect mood for stepping back in time.
I asked a friend to serve as the "bouncer" for the evening. Dressed as a 1920s gangster, Josh stood outside the building and hassled guests as they arrived. We'd chosen a secret password based on my novel (oysters--you have to read the first chapter of Mistaken to know why) and passed the word through Facebook. In order to gain entrance, they had to provide the code, or at least prove to our bouncer that they could be trusted.
We probably got more compliments on Josh's performance than any other aspect of the party!
I encouraged folks to raid their closets rather than rent costumes, but we saw some of both.
Here are a few of the suggestions I shared to help people plan their wardrobe for the evening:
Women/girls: Dresses with drop-waist or no-waist, the shorter the better (though glamorous, long, Hollywood-style works, too). Long strands of pearls or beads. Feathered hairpieces or bell-shaped cloche hats. For the flapper look, you can add fringe and feathers.
Men/boys: Suits or dress shirts/slacks. Add suspenders or pinstriped vests for extra style. Fedoras or newsboy caps are perfect!
Since we were intent on keeping the party alcohol-free, I decided to incorporate one of the aspects of my novel--the 1920s soda fountain. With the help of three friends who agreed to serve as "soda jerks," we offered typical fountain favorites like root beer floats, strawberry ice cream sodas, phosphates, and egg creams.
Since we couldn't locate a real soda tap, we simply mixed bottled soda water with Torani syrups, adding ice cream or phosphate as the recipes required. If you're interested in recipes, check out these blog posts: Brown Cow, Strawberry Ice Cream Soda, Egg Creams (coming soon), and Phosphate Drinks (coming soon). These were a huge hit and the fountain corner was hopping all evening.
We also served a variety of desserts (all purchased at Costco), including cheesecakes, apple pies, chocolate fudge cakes, etc. There was plenty of sugar for all.
EntertainmentSince this party was in celebration of the launch of my novel, Mistaken, we started the entertainment section by focusing on the book. I talked a little about the process of writing the novel, read a few selections from the opening chapters and did some book related giveaways, including prizes for the best costumes.
One of my favorite moments of the party was the Charleston demonstration. We invited a talented college student friend (who loves dance, choreography, and drama) to come and demonstrate some of the basic steps of the 1920s dance craze. We had a lot of kids at our party, so Laura invited up any kids that wanted to join in. The adults had a fantastic time watching all the flapper girls learn the crazy dance moves. I had downloaded plenty of 1920s jazz from iTunes and we kept the music playing all evening.
|Doing the Charleston|
Another huge hit at the party was the photo booth. We stocked the booth with fun dress-up props, including feather boas, fedoras, and silly glasses/mustaches and then let everyone go at it. We hired a couple of young photographers to take the pictures and they did a spectacular job, even converting all the photos to sepia tones and including the book title at the bottom of each print. We had recently purchased a laser printer, and it made beautiful prints on-the-spot. We had discussed sending everyone digital copies after the party, but I'm glad we splurged and did the prints on-site. Everyone had a fun time showing their photos to their friends and then going back for more.
|Our fearless photographers!|
Also, I had numerous friends and family members turn out to move tables, decorate, serve drinks and desserts, hand out raffle tickets, pack up, and clean. I was completely overwhelmed with everyone's dedication to this event. THANK YOU!
|My real-life hero!|
Now on to plan the next book release. Hmmm. My next novel, Out of the Ruins (releasing May 2014), is set during the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. There might be a lot of shaking going on at that party!
(Photographs courtesy of Bethany Haile Photography. Photo booth shots by John Eick).