When Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby opens Friday, we'll all want to live in the Roaring Twenties.
Just for a night, imagine you live in the Jazz Age and you're planning a dinner party even Jay Gatsby would envy.
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Ever since Jay Gatsby moved next door, you've watched his lavish parties from afar. You've seen guests wandering through his blue gardens and drinking champagne on his balconies; you've heard his massive orchestra play Jazz History of the World until 2 a.m. Nobody else on Long Island throws such lavish parties. Especially not you. You're a good girl, not one of those scandalous flappers who roll their stockings and reveal their knees. You wouldn't even think of cutting your hair into a bob. But just this once, you want to be the one throwing a decadent dinner party.
Start by inviting your eight closest friends. (Make sure Daisy Buchanan doesn't hear about it. That girl will do anything for attention.) There's no need to remodel your house so it looks like the Hotel de Ville in Normandy. Simply create an elegant atmosphere by spreading a crisp white cloth over your dining table. For a posh centerpiece, arrange Peruvian lilies in tall glass vases. String twinkle lights absolutely everywhere. You want your house to shine so brilliantly that Gatsby can't miss it. (He'll wonder why he didn't get an invitation.) Before guests arrive, get ready to play the most popular tunes — they'll want to dance to the rhythm of the Charleston and Louis Armstrong's trumpet.
Save yourself plenty of time to get ready. Remember, it's the '20s, and you're a modern girl. You won't be labeled a "loose woman" if you wear heavy makeup. Apply the blush in circles on your cheeks, line your eyes with kohl, and paint your lips a scandalous crimson. Slip on a drop-waist sheath dress and adorn your hair with a glittering headband. Tonight you'll outshine even Daisy Buchanan.
Once your guests arrive, follow Gatsby's example and serve them champagne in glasses the size of finger bowls. While your guests enjoy cocktail hour, let them wander around your marble pool. (What? No marble pool? Pour them enough champagne and they won't notice.)
For the hors d'oeuvres, offer your guests mushrooms stuffed with crab and Brie. You already know what you'll serve as the main course. That boy Nick Carraway told you all about Gatsby's dinners, with the pork pastries and spiced hams. Can your meal outshine his? Yes. His spiced hams do not have a cherry glaze. Yours will. The fruity glaze is the perfect complement to the exotic spices of cumin and cardamom. For an elegant side dish, serve a Waldorf salad.
When your guests are tired of dancing the Charleston (and gossiping about your extravagant neighbor), you can treat them to an opulent dessert. This frozen concoction is all the rage. Combine pineapple sherbet with rich chocolate ice cream and drizzle warm caramel sauce over the top. Your guests will gasp in admiration when you present them with this rich indulgence.
And maybe somewhere, looking out from a lonely balcony, Jay Gatsby will lift his glass to you.
Emily Young is a freelance writer based in St. Petersburg.