Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Pretty Party

I planned my own birthday party modeled on one I had attended a few years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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.


Dianna said...

Everything is beautiful! I'm so glad you had a nice birthday.

Lisa said...

Happy Birthday, Margo! It sounds like a very nice idea.

Rachel said...

I've thought of doing this for my birthday this year! I love that idea. I'd love to hear what people brought!

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a perfectly wonderful kind of birthday party. Mind if I scoop the idea for my own next birthday?

Sorry to hear your daffs didn't bloom out for you, sometimes that happens. I've had the best luck with daffs if I trim them as soon as I get them home (a good trim, get the dry stem off) and put them in very slightly warm water with a smidge of sugar in it. Seems to do the trick most times.

And if you should be getting tulips next, here's a tip from a wise woman I knew. Prepare the water (again slight warm) with a smidge of sugar and 2 pennies for every dozen stems. Trim the tulips one at a time and get them in the water fast. Don't change their water, just keep topping it up every day so the stems don't dry out. I've had tulips last nearly 2 weeks this way. And tulip stems will continue to grow in the vase - up to a couple of inches and sometimes in different directions.

hope that helps.
Chris S.

beth said...

sounds LOVELY. Happy Birthday. Love the gift exchange idea!

Hazel said...

I forgot- I think you share a birthday with my brother. Hope you had a lovely day.
It was my birthday last week so I'll have to wait until next year to use the present swap idea. I like the idea of birthday celebrations...for everybody else. I always end up feeling awkward and that's the perfect deflection.

Julian said...

Happy Birthday! Absolutely love this idea! Using things at home (or borrowed), and the gift idea for each guest. It looks veey pretty, and so much fun! Thanks for sharing! Christina

Jennifer Jo said...

Happy Birthday!!!!!

I like the idea of friends celebrating each other on the b-day girl's birthday. I might have to steal that one.

MDiskin said...

So pretty, and I love the exchange idea! So much more fun to gift to each other.

Isn't there something you need to do to daffodils? I have a hazy memory of reading about lighting a match and scorching the cut end to keep the "sap" inside. (Sadly I only remembered this after my own bouquet withered energetically overnight.)

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Happy Birthday.. What a fantastic idea to have the most wonderful birthday.. And I loved your pre-prep plans.. Taking the stress away..
What lovely things ..

Margo said...

Rachel, there was an art journal from a local artist, a book of poetry by Hafiz, coffee, chocolate, a Nora Ephron book on tape, a sewing pattern/fabric/buttons, and a Barnes & Noble gift card. When I went to a party like this a few years ago, I got really great exercise socks and a coffee shop gift card. I gave a little packet of notecards, pen, and pretty stamps (I was newly into writing letters by hand).

Margo said...

Chris and MDiskin, I did put the daffodils in warm water and keep their heads in the sun (when it was out) as instructed by the market seller, but it didn't work. I'll try some sugar, too, next time!

Margo said...

And please, everybody, use this birthday party idea for sure - I can't take credit for it as I borrowed it from a friend, too!

Anonymous said...

I love all of this. =)

jenny_o said...

Belated Happy Birthday, Margo! What a lovely party - your decorations and food look so pretty, and I love that you drew your guests into the celebration.

I found Anna's decorating and food to be wonderful inspiration as well, for my daughter's recent bridal shower. I'm not good at those things, so it was nice to find a style I liked and have a guide.

Tracy said...

Sounds lovely! Happy Belated Birthday!