Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Celebrating Mom’s 89th Birthday Gatsby Style

While recuperating from my most recent spine surgery, I planned a 1920s/Gatsby-style ladies luncheon to celebrate my Mom’s 89th birthday. (Doesn’t she look beautiful??? Don’t tell me this chick “Ain’t Misbehavin'”!!!) A grand luncheon in her honor has become sort of a tradition (when I’m healthy!) since her 2011 retirement from the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a delightful challenge to come up with a theme that both she and her guests will enjoy. (Check out 88 Years & 88 Keys, Celebrating 85 Years of Fabulous, Pretty In Pink, Grazin’ in the Grass.) This year’s inspiration came from a flapper bar towel my friend/neighbor, Barbara, gifted me while I was convalescing. Mom was born in the March preceding the start of the Great Depression in 1929, and I thought it would be a fun idea to travel back in time to explore the good things about that (infamous) year!
(This post is super photo heavy, but I pay close attention to the “cat’s particulars” aka details and want to share each and every nuance with you!)


Setting the mood from the very start was an important part of the planning. The invitations I created on my desktop had the familiar art deco design representative of the 1920s. Along with the invitations was an insert suggesting accessories to help the ladies get “all dolled up” for the occasion. Notice the flapper lady I put in the return address corner and the Lena Horne stamps!!!


A pair of “V.I.P. Entrance” signs in 1920s black and gold art deco style flanked the doorway, greeting guests as they approached the porch. Music from the decadent era rang out as it would outside a bustling nightclub, courtesy of a Google Mini.


The computer-generated, sequin-backed sign on the front door welcomes guests to the fictional “Gold Sequin” speakeasy.


My friend/neighbor, Jane, was such a sexy, gracious (and convincing!) “cigarette girl” hawking bubble gum cigars and candy cigarettes I ordered from the Blair Candy Co.


Our modest entry hall sets the tone for thumbing our noses to Prohibition with the oversized champagne flutes! They’re filled with tiny crystals. (Crystals…Cristál…the champagne…get it?) On the walls are cute Rosanna cocktail plates I bought a few years ago for cocktail parties that were first used for “Hooray for Vodka!” back in 2013! (Smaller plates of this same design were used to serve the birthday cake!)


The primary bar with specialty drinks (potent Mary Pickfords and chocolate martinis that were really a couple of “quilts”!) was set up in the library, although guests were invited to get whatever they may want from any of the other 3 bars on the main floor.  (Tip: Make up pitchers of these drinks and then just have the bartender shake small portions with ice to serve!) The bar was covered with a gold crinkle taffeta tablecloth and black sequin table runner from The towel that inspired this theme reads “You can’t regret what you don’t remember” and jokingly refers to the temporary amnesia caused by one of the meds I was taking, prominently hangs in the front. We borrowed cocktail artwork from the basement decor to further lend to the bar atmosphere. The ostrich feather trimmed lamp (’cause that’s how I roll!) is borrowed from my dressing room, and the glass of brandy and “burning” cigarette (both fake) further lent to the speakeasy theme. The two booze hounds  in the above pics…just pitiful!!! 🙂


We transformed the family room into a 1920s era fine dining establishment complete with a 1920s music playlist in the background. It didn’t take long for me to know what linens I’d use from my stash. The palette of the Gatsby era was gold, black & white. I layered floor-length (90″x132″ for 6’x30″ folding tables) black linens from with gold sequin runners from The chairs clean up nicely with gold stretch leather-look covers (no longer available where I bought them, but I’ve seen them at with black spandex sashes and sparkly gold slips (


I ordered 100 white ostrich feathers to create these lush (and surprisingly easy!) centerpieces. The glass tower vases are filled with odd-sized bulk “pearls” from Hobby Lobby and topped with a beautiful dangling bobeche affixed with a bit of Cling® Floral Adhesive to avoid catastrophe. The extended centerpiece is filled in with gold mercury glass votives with LED tealights, black  ceramic pieces (again, borrowed from my dressing room), and cabaret lamps created with crystal candlesticks, bobeches, and white silk shades.


The place setting decision was remarkably simple. As a restaurant might use, I opted for all white from the ceramic charger to the B. Smith luncheon plate to the Pier 1 “White Poppy” salad bowl. The “Graham” matte gold flatware is from Target, and the Longchamps stemware is accompanied by individual bottles of non-alcoholic Martinelli’s sparkling cider for the toast. Faux pearl napkin rings cinch simply folded black napkins. The menus layered in white, black, and gold sequin-covered cardstock from Hobby Lobby were created on my desktop using Microsoft® Word. (That sequin cardstock is no joke to cut!!!) The pearl embellishment on the menus came from a pair of summer sandals I broke! The meal served included the Louisville, Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich, a late night/early morning diner staple back in the 1920s to soak up the liquor enjoy after a night out of unabandoned carousing. Water and lemonade bottles were placed on both sides of the dining table.


Other special touches around this room included another ostrich feather lamp I created using a crystal candlestick, an abundance of paper rosettes (Michaels) mixed with oversized champagne glasses of crystals and pearls, and an extra tall martini glass (Hobby Lobby) that I placed in a large flat glass bowl to give it girth. Final touch: notice a muted television in the background playing “The Great Gatsby” movie!!!


My sister makes fun fortune cookies for all occasions, these with art deco-style fabric. While the take-home fortune cookies were a demure little thank you to the guests, I asked her to create some funny, slightly suggestive ones for us to play the fortune cookie game “In Bed”. Ever heard of it? Each guest opens their cookie and reads the fortune aloud followed by the words “in bed.” As the pictures show, this game got lots of laughs!!!


Check out this cake created by my longtime friend, Patrick Snuffer. I provided him with an almost childlike sketch using various elements I’d seen around the Internet, and voilà! A delicious art deco cake with a black ostrich feather! To the left of the cake are the mini martini glasses in which ice cream (choice of 4!!!) was served. The miniature gold spoons are from Michaels.


The candy bar in the dining room was one of my favorite elements to create! I researched candies and gums that were popular in the 1920s and then went on the hunt. The result: a favor bar laden with 22 flavor treats served up in various size martini and pilsner glasses!!! Guests scooped up what they wanted into favor bags with black, gold and/or white twist ties displayed in my Limoges swan salt & pepper cellars. The table is covered in another gold crinkle taffeta cloth with a black sequin runner. The gold painted manzanita “trees” just seemed to work with the decor, especially dressed in large hanging crystals. My generous neighbor provided the sequined dress for the dress form, and I finished it off with a few ostrich feathers, a feather boa, and all the remaining pearl necklaces from my jewelry collection!


The dining room was “fun central” with the candy bar AND a “photo booth” where guests could take selfies or have their photo taken. We simply took the existing artwork off the wall and replaced it with oversized gold and black paper rosettes (Michaels). I hung a huge paper rosette over the mirror and draped it with crystal garland. The photo prop table beneath was laden with vintage accessories (thanks, Dee!) and fake cocktails. (Notice I was a good girl and stayed in little black flats instead of the gorgeous T-strap heels I really wanted to wear!) Fun/Silly pics of guests at the photo booth and around the house are at the very end of the post. Such fun!!!


Without question this was one of the most fun birthday parties I’ve ever put together in my Mom’s honor!!! My sister, Berishia, and I both love our Mom so much, and we are blessed to have had her in our lives for all these years.




Special, HUGE thanks to: my friend/neighbor, Jane, for being the best cigarette girl a flapper could ask for; my friend/neighbor, Barbara, for mixing up those insanely potent drinks, whipping up a mean Mornay sauce for the Kentucky Hot Browns, and helping out so much in the kitchen; Barbara’s helpful husband, Lynn, for graciously taking time away from college basketball to take our group photo; my dear friend, Patrick, for creating such an extraordinary cake; my cousin, Dee, for all the props she contributed for the photo booth and for doing such a fabulous job on Mom’s makeup; my sister, Berishia, for the fortune cookies; my best friend of nearly 55 years, Sheri, for her precision serving skills and so many great photos despite the overcast skies, and; my husband, Ramon, for all the photos he took, his bartending prowess, being such an all-round good sport, and PAYING FOR THIS!!! 😉

Now…on to the fun guest pics with captions chock full of 1920s Flapper/ Gangster Slang. (The Flapper Slang Guide, Slang of the 1920s, Molls & Dolls Slang Dictionary) Enjoy!

My cousin, Dee, and I always take pictures of us rough housing. Here we are trying to put each other in a “deep sleep.” A whole new meaning to “clutching your pearls”!!! Somebody call the “coppers”!

Wow! Here’s a real “sheba”! Barbara was the ultimate flapper girl, ready to have a great time in her sparkly black dress!

Mom and her forever baby sister, Vivienne, who I call Aunt Bean Bean Dancing Machine!

Here’s a couple of “swell dames”: Mom and friend/LINK sister, Shirley Thaw.

Mom and friend/LIncoln High School classmate from the Class of 1946/”canary”, Geneva Price

Mom and friend/Delta sorority sister, Dr. Susan Wilson. Check out those “gams”!

Mom and friend, Amy Heithoff-Dominguez, lookin’ like “the cat’s meow”!

Mom and friend/Delta sorority sister/education colleague, Dr. Marjorie Williams. That’s some “dish”!

Mom and friend/LINK sister, Barbara Graham, in her “glad rags” looking “air tight.”

Mom and my good friend & neighbor, Barbara Alsup. Quite the “billboard” that Barbara!

Mom and her friend/neighbor/fellow church member, Virginia Jones, who looks like a real “floorflusher”!

Mom and her niece/my arch nemesis cousin, Dee Evans, who’s had a little too much “giggle water.”

“Jeepers Creepers”! It’s Mom and her longtime family friend from the neighborhood (Leeds) where they grew up, Kimberly Randolph!

Mom and her son-in-law/my husband, the very dapper Dr. Ramon Nichols. Hubba hubba…what a “sheik”!!!

Well, look who stopped by to say hello and have her picture taken with the birthday girl! It’s little Ava Rutherford with her own flapper boa!!!

Ramon and me. Gosh, he looked so handsome in that outfit!!!!!!!!!!!! A real “brooksy” in those snazzy “dog kennels”!!! Me…post-op flat shoes! 😦

These “dolls” came ready to party! Barbara Graham (in a coat I really wanted to steal!) and Amy Heithoff-Dominguez (with a handbag to die for!)

Our resident bootlegger, Bob Rutherford, had to come check on his moll, Jane, and have a cigar!

Mom looked like the queen she is!


What a “babe”! Mom wears a 1920s-inspired gown designed and created by her granddaughter/my niece, Yvonne Chamberlain, for her to wear to the Governor’s Ball about 10 years ago. She still looks fabulous in it!!!

Even a “croaker” has to get his nutrition!

A couple of snappy “sips”: My “tomato” cousin, Dee Evans, and the flapper with the sexy “stilts”, Susan Wilson.

This is the look of PURE JOY!!! I absolutely adore this picture!!!

This outfit is absolutely the “duck’s quack”!!!

I’m so proud of my Mom!!!

A trio of real “lookers”: Barbara Alsup, me, and Sheri Grant

Check out these “kittens”: Barbara Graham, Shirley Thaw, Susan Wilson, and Dee Evans

Ripe and ready “hoppers”: Shirley Thaw, Susan Wilson, Dee Evans

I’m joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday this week. Check her out for a wealth of Spring and Easter ideas!

My friend, Debbie, at Debbee’s Buzz has another wonderful theme party you might like. Check out this fabulous Alice In Wonderland invitation!!!

39 thoughts on “Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Celebrating Mom’s 89th Birthday Gatsby Style

  1. Oh, my goodness! What tremendous fun! Alicia it’s so wonderful to see you up and about! You’ve made my day. What a spectacular party, and your mom is such a beautiful lady! Happy birthday to her, and many, many more!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can’t stop smiling…I totally agree with Maria. Your Mom is beautiful, what a blessed lady and her daughter (you) ain’t doing bad either.. 🙂 lol…You did a fantastic event!! Love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so fabulous I don’t know where to start! !!! What fun and what style–what a loving, happy family. We need more amazing women like your Mother in legislatures all over the country, now more than ever! Rise up, Ladies! And happy birthday, Madame Senator!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was superb, just can’t keep a good girl down, glad to see your;re recovering nicely. . Everything looked wonderful, I can tell you ladies had a fabulous time drinking all that hootch. I’m always amazed with your ideas.


  5. We’ll visit more about your absolutely incredible celebration for your mom in about three or four weeks, when you wake up again! Kudos! CherryKay


  6. Wow! What a wonderfully-detailed party! Your mom looks amazing! You certainly have a gift – both in party-planning and your beautiful mom!


  7. Oh wow did you go all out! But 89 calls for it definitely! Your sweet Mama deserves it. Ya’ll look so pretty. Love the detail and amount of work. A photo booth! Now that is fun and I loved the color scheme and the fact that you added decorative touches throughout the entry so the theme carried. Everybody looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t even know where to start, Alycia, jeepers creepers!
    Honestly and truly, this is the BEST party theme, decor, tablescape, attire that I think I’ve ever seen. I am pinning this, and please, save all the details. I may need to “purchase” a package of all your details and graphics. I need this party in my life!
    The pictures at the end are killer. You’re right, Ramon looks extremely dapper. You ALL look fabulous, your mom especially! I can’t get over the details, even down to the broken sandal pearls. The 20s slang is the best on the photos. Happiest of Birthdays to your mother, Senator Wilson!
    I just don’t have enough superlatives for this!
    Happy Easter to you and yours.


  9. All I can say is WOW Alycia!! What a party!!! Boozy Bash of all time!! Your mother is gorgeous! You thought of everything and MORE! What a fabulous treat for your mom AND all the lucky guests! Just amazing, and I’m so excited to see you’ve got your groove back!!


  10. Wow, Alycia!! Bravo!! You totally outdid yourself! No detail was left out and your decor was FANTASTIC!!!! Your Mom is beautiful and I am astounded she was celebrating her 89th birthday. Are you sure??!!! The party looked like everyone had a fabulous time. I’m glad you are doing so well. Many thanks for sharing such a special day! Rosie


  11. Happy birthday to your sweet Mom. Alycia, you have pulled out all of the stops for this fabulous birthday party. From the tall centerpieces with fluffy feathers to the gorgeous chair cover. Candy from the era and a photo booth is wonderful and so creative. So much to take in and admire. Looks like a fantastic party.


  12. WOW I’m speechless! What a wonderful, over the top soiree. It was absolutely the “Cat’s meow”. I just hope it doesn’t hurt your back. Proud of you wearing sensible shoes. Your Mom looks wonderful and
    “Happy Birthday to You! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday to You!!! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Happy Birthday….. ♪♫•*¨*¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Dear YYYYYYYvonne *¨*♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪!!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ Happy Birthday….. ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪… to YOU!!!!!!!!!!! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪…and many, many, more♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨ “


  13. Oh my goodness, Alycia, you certainly outdid yourself for your Mom’s birthday celebration!!!! You are such an inspiration for all your creativity and love of sharing your talents. Yes, your mom
    Looked ravishingly, as did all the guests, and you and Ramon. I am astonished at the decor, and all the special touches you thought of to make your moms birthday so special. What a party!!!


  14. Hi Alicia! I am all smiles! Everything is super gorgeous!! What a great job. Love the color scheme and all the eye candy. Words escape me, it is so grand. Your Mom is a real “Looker”. Her dress is gorgeous and so is she. You are so blessed to have her and she is so blessed to have you!
    The party theme is right up my alley. I love that era and watch everything I can on TV that pertains to it. All the glam and glitter and FUN!

    I am so glad you have recovered from your back surgery and you look amazing. All the “flappers” look snazzy in their swanky outfits. What fun! I can’t say enough. I will be back to take all this in again and again. Thanks for sharing and giving us all the laughter and smiles and letting us know that age is just a number – right??

    Many blessings and have a Happy and Blessed Easter!


  15. Oh my goodness, Alycia, this party is over the top. Your mother is gorgeous,cannot believe she is 89.
    I can’t find enough superlatives either. I know your Mom was thrilled with such an amazing party and such attention to detail. All of you looked stunning. What great friends you have. Just fabulous Alycia!


  16. Ms. Yvonne is a vibrant and beautiful lady and I’m sending her belated birthday wishes. You, my dear, left no stone unturned with this party. I love how you carried the theme throughout the area and happy that you paid attention to Drs orders and wore flats. You looked amazing and kudos to you!


  17. I’m rubbing scratch offs now hoping I’d hit the big one so I can fly you here to ditto this fabulous party for my mom 😁😁! But joking aside.. your mom looks fantastic! She’s an inspiration to what aging gracefully is all about. It’s truly a blessing to have her with you so keep on celebrating and having those parties! Wish your mom a happy birthday for me

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A beautiful mama and such a grand celebration. Well done. Such a lovely way to honor your mom who looks so fabulous at 89! I do hope your spine will behave itself and that you feel tip top soon!


  19. Alycia, there is no way you mom could be 89! She is gorgeous! What a party! I don’t know where to begin. You thought of and planned every detail to perfection. I agree with Rita and Dianne, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe this party! The theme was such a fabulous idea and all of the ladies definitely embraced it with attire and big smiles! Each party station and table fit the theme, and your creativity is incredible! Well, I seem to be gushing! Your Mom has undoubtedly had a very full life with fabulous family and friends! You honored her with a party of a lifetime! Your comeback from the surgery is remarkable, this was no easy feat! Congrats and happy birthday to you beautiful Mom! What a celebration of life!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This would have been a fun party for a lady of any age. I love how all the guests got into the theme with fabulous outfits. I’m thinking the loveliest lady there was your mom who looks far short of 89! How excited I’d be if one of my daughters hosted such a gathering for me!


  21. All you Dolls (and lucky Dudes) looked amazing. Your mother is the poster girl for healthy aging, ageless beauty. While I enjoy your edgyy/snarky Pinterest posts as a sign that you are mending, it’s great to see you in full event planner mode. Thanks for the inspiration!


  22. You are the PARTAY QUEEN BEE! You can plan my party while you are recuperating girl! Wow, what a fabulous party, and I just think your mom is the most beautiful flapper girl I have ever seen in my whole life, and everyone else really got into the theme too! I just love all of your ideas. Now I want to put on a flapper party – maybe Halloween!!
    I loved all of your lingo – you are using words I have never heard of, but that sure made it fun!
    What a splash – that woman is spoiled to have you as her loving and adorable daughter!


  23. OMG Alycia!!! What a grand event for a grand lady! I love dressing up and enjoyed seeing all the costumes and pix from the photo booth. And, the table, the bar, the decorations, the food….. WOW! Really enjoyed your post, it was the next best thing to being there.

    Liked by 1 person

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  27. Oh my goodness dear friend ! Your mom is gorgeous and doesn’t look at all 88, she’s stunning !
    You are an amazing daughter to throw her such an incredible party with all the glit and beautiful decor from the entire home and awesome tablescape. A party really fit for a queen, your mom is, noless.
    I been away since January, Florida and later Madrid visiting daughter grandgirl and SIL. I’ve been home for a month finally and I haven’t see you, but I just wanted and pay you a visit and see how you are. I am glad you are feeling better with your hip.
    I always think of you and remember one you as one of my fav bloggy friends, so many have gone and I miss them. Lately I’ve been more active with my blog, but sometimes I have no inspiration, lol..
    Keep well and I hope Ramon and the rest of your family are well.
    Big hugs,


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