Do you teach The Great Gatsby? If so, you need to throw a classroom Great Gatsby party! This is one of my (and my students’) favorite class days of each school year.
Parties play an important role in the novel, so what better way to connect with the students? Typically, I pass out invitations a week prior to the party, giving students enough time to put together a costume and plan a treat to share.
For party food, I allow students to bring treats for the class, with the caveat that the food must be something that would have been served in the 1920s—no running to the store for a bag of chips the morning of the party. They research and plan the recipe prior to coming to class, so that they can sign up for an item. I’ve had pineapple upside down cakes, finger sandwiches, deviled eggs, fruit salads, and more. I’ve learned, though, that if I don’t do treat sign-ups, I often end up with more lemon cakes than the class can eat, although that is a very Gatsby-like detail.
Despite the novel being set during prohibition, Gatsby’s parties all involve an excess of alcohol. I play up the prohibition idea and provide “Mock”tails for the party, including my specialty, the No-Gin Rickey! It’s fun and festive, with no chance of trouble.
My favorite part, though, is the entertainment. We all know that we have talented students, but we don’t always get the chance to see them shine. For this party, I ask students to sign up to entertain us: musicians can play a jazz piece on their instrument, dancers can teach a dance (like the Charleston) to the class, artists can create a piece of art based on the novel and share it with the class. This always creates fun memories and gives our creative students an opportunity to share their skills.
If this sounds like fun, you might want to check out my Gatsby Party resource on Teachers Pay Teachers, where I give all my tips and tricks, plus some party games and decorations.
I hope you give the party a shot—I bet you and your students will love it!