The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald
To recreate one of Jay Gatsby’s legendary Saturday night galas, invite your friends over to your mansion-away-from-home on Long Island for an opulent evening filled with ecstatic jazz (live is best, but if not, a throaty record player will do), and more gin rickeys than you can shake a stick at, dolls. Then slip off your dancing shoes and cap the evening off with a midnight dip in the pool. 1920s fancy dress required for entry; the more pearls and longing looks, the better.
The Secret History , Donna Tartt
You know how to throw the campus novel party already — kegs and angst galore — but you’ll have to head to the woods for a genuine Secret History bacchanal. All partygoers should fast for three days before the event and then congregate with open minds, some very good wine, and some olives for atmosphere. You can pass the evening singing Greek hymns and dancing, but, as Henry says, belief is “the one condition which [is] absolutely necessary. Belief, and absolute surrender.” If you can manage that, you may just see Dionysus.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , Lewis Carroll
Everyone loves a good tea party, but a mad tea party is infinitely better. Confections should be brightly colored and interestingly sized, clocks should be stopped (or at the very least tampered with), and food and drink should be labelled “eat me” and “drink me” respectively, of course. Guests are encouraged to combine patterns and colors at will, and conversation should, as a rule, be utterly absurd.
The House of Mirth , Edith Wharton
The parties Lily Bart attends have always struck our fancy, being as they are full of “tableaux vivants and expensive music,” two things that are sure to make any girl swoon. A House of Mirth-themed soiree would be remiss if it didn’t indulge at least in the former — guests should be prepared to dress up as whichever classic painting their host chooses for them while their friends scrutinize their appearance from the safety of their plush cushions. Don’t get too cozy though — everyone gets a turn in the hot seat.
One Thousand and One Nights
Obviously, this would have to be a slumber party, and each guest would be required to come with a captivating story instead of a bottle of wine. Then, gather in a circle on the floor, telling stories nonstop from nightfall to daybreak — in between hits of hookah and sips of wine, of course. For absolute veracity, one guy should be invited in a flock of women. Well, for absolute absolute veracity, only one of you should survive the evening, but for the sake of fun, we don’t really recommend that.
The Master and Margarita , Mikhail Bulgakov
A recreation of the Devil’s dinner party isn’t for the faint of heart, but we think everyone needs to let their worst self out once in a while. For this party, guests should dress as the worst incarnation of themselves — or, if they prefer, as the worst incarnation of someone else, though they should never reveal how much of their person they’re choosing to reveal. Magic tricks are encouraged and at least one large black cat is absolutely required. You should offer him some vodka, but he doesn’t need to carry a pistol, at least in mixed company.
The Night Circus , Erin Morgenstern
Dinner, of course, starts at midnight. Partygoers must wear only black and white, with an occasional dash of red if desired, and the decor should match — black and white plates, napkins, down to the food, which must be as delicious as it is colorless. Several magicians — also dressed in black and white — should be patrolling the event, creating wonders with various levels of veracity. Caramel popcorn should be served for dessert.
Aurorarama , Jean-Christophe Valtat
An Aurorarama party is basically an Arctic Steampunk party, so take that however you will. We suggest holding the event in the dead of winter — February if possible — and handing out goggles and furs at the door to go over your guests’ Victorian garb. A sultry songstress should provide the entertainment, and all the rooms should be filled with books — dramatic readings of Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne are optional. Keep the door locked at all times to bar the Gentlemen of the Night from entry.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream , William Shakespeare
Better say goodbye now, because all partygoers at this magical soiree will be leaving the event with someone other than the person they came with — at least for tonight. We think decor is obvious — magic forest — but flowers and ferns should be strewn everywhere for impromptu wreath-making. Guests will sip honeydew, and any men who misbehave will be required to wear an enormous pair of donkey’s ears for the rest of the night, though that shouldn’t impede their socializing.
Less Than Zero , Bret Easton Ellis
Here’s the chance to throw the ultimate ’80s party — we even have your playlist all ready — filled with drugs and debauchery, sure, but more importantly with love triangles and shoulder pads. Just don’t let anyone do any crystal-meth. We’re trying to cultivate an element of glamour here, okay?