I invited a diverse group of girlfriends for a late afternoon party and told them to bring a $15-20 gift along, something that they liked to do to relax or treat themselves. Not a present for me, but a present to trade.
And I had prepared early spring treats to eat - thinking of light, pretty food that also had zest and (because it's me) a touch of the unexpected. I also did not want to be stressed out by the food or have high-maintenance recipes. In the end, my menu met my goals!
I made the biscuits, ham, dill cream, curried chickpeas, and cake several days ahead of time. I used this recipe for the ambrosia, and toasted the coconut and pecans a few days prior to the party. I also cut out the little bread rounds for the cucumber sandwiches and put them in the freezer. Not much left to do on the party day!
For the gifts, we put our place cards in a bag, pulled out a name, and received her gift. I loved how there were gifts at the birthday party without undue attention put on the birthday girl. Of course we all had to explain our gifts, and that was so interesting to hear what each of us was currently relaxing with.
A word about the cake: I made the Italian Cream Cake from Vintage Cakes. It was fabulous and enormous and I did not reduce the sugar (good choice) nor did I sub in some whole grain flour (probably also a good choice). It was a lot of work. I will most definitely check this book out of the library again, which means I am flirting with marrying (buying) this book.
A word about the pretty factor: I was terribly excited to pull out all my pretty linens, dishes, and baubles to decorate with. I even turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. Well, that was a mistake.
My best inspiration came from Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse. She sticks to a theme of some sort and uses pretty objects from around her house with some fresh flowers. That's what I did.
My theme was "spring pretty", although I basically just made it up on the day of the party. I borrowed the snack sets from Rebecca's mother, a fancy-dancy punch bowl from Rebecca, and the cake stand and cover from my friend Sue.
The daffodils I bought did not open and, in fact, withered before they opened. There were gallons of punch left over, should have hosted a baby shower or something. My birthday was perfectly wonderful and this party was one of the reasons.