How to Throw a Literary Themed Party in a Speakeasy

Book themed parties are great for so many occasions and they work for both kids and adults. It’s a great theme for birthday parties, book launch celebrations, writing organization anniversaries, English degree graduation parties and so much more!

Cake layout for a literary themed party with two book shaped cakes, a candelabra, a globe and other vintage library decor.

A couple of weekends ago we celebrated one of the oldest writing organizations in the US with a book themed 1920’s Gatsby speakeasy party. The writing organization, THPW, was organized in April 1920 by two women and their first official meeting was in a hotel lobby. It only seemed fitting to celebrate the Centennial Anniversary (plus 2) in a 1920’s hotel and what better place in the hotel than their secret speakeasy with its very own hidden bookcase door.

The hotel, with its book-filled lobby, has its own literary ties which fit even more perfectly with the theme. It was built in 1927 by a woman who was instrumental in organizing the first public library in town.

Inside a remodeled hidden speakeasy in a 1927 hotel during a bookish 1920's party.

Below are some ideas for how to throw a literary themed party meets 1920’s Gatsby:


I chose the speakeasy since in the 1920’s many literary types frequented them. Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eugene O’Neill, John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were all said to be regular patrons of a speakeasy named Chumley’s in the West Village in NYC.

Books really fit anywhere though so the option for a venue is limitless. A library or book store would be cool, or you could easily turn your house into a book-filled wonderland, if it isn’t already!

Book-filled lobby in a remodeled 1927 hotel in downtown on historic route 66.
The bar in a secret speakeasy in the basement of a hotel from 1927.


Well the most important bookish decorations are books & lots of them!  Other bookish party décor ideas that can up the vintage library literary feel are candelabras, an author’s bust, a globe, and a typewriter. You can pick up a candelabra and some real or battery-operated candles online along with a writer’s bust (I found one of Mark Twain on Etsy).

Bookish decorations to use for a literary themed party such as a typewriter, a writer's bust, a candelabra and book cakes.
A room in a hidden speakeasy and 1920's photo props for guests to use during the party.


A book cake is a fun way to have book themed food at your party! You can also go all out and have the food book-themed as well by including popular recipes from books 🙂

Book cakes with vintage library themed decor that includes a typewriter, a candelabra, and a writer's bust.

If you’re going for a 1920’s speakeasy you can include some 1920’s cocktails including an old fashioned, sidecar and bee’s knees.

A Bee's Knees cocktail served during a 1920's themed party in a speakeasy.
Female in 1920's style flapper dress holding a Bee's Knees cocktail.

Local second hand stores are a great place to search for a typewriter since they are very heavy to ship 🙂 Plus, if you want a few more books to fill in your décor you can often find a good deal on some great looking hardcover books too.


For a 1920’s themed literary party you can have a list of words and phrases from the 1920’s and have guests raise their hands to guess what  their meaning was back then. At the end you can give the winner a book, library books scented candle or some other writer-centric prize.

Another fun literary game is Authors. It’s a card came that’s been around since 1861 and can be played by all ages. There are several versions, the original Authors, American Authors, and Children’s Authors.

I hope your 1920’s literary themed party is the cat’s pajamas!