This past weekend I was able to help coordinate a surprise Birthday Weekend for a good friend. I love surprises! A couple of years ago I threw one in downtown Seattle for a friend that was a huge hit. The best part about both of these events were that the birthday girls were in total shock, and felt loved and special. Some of the aspects of this party are worth sharing. My friend’s husband (the master planner behind all this) knew that he wanted a whole weekend where a bunch of her closest friends were able to get away together. He found a very large and luxurious house on Vashon Island which was close enough for all of us to easily get to, and far enough away that made it feel like a vacation. For the rare few of you who haven’t heard of it he used www.vrbo.com, a site that has come in handy on more than one occasion.
After using FB to get the word out and still keeping it hush-hush, I immediately starting brainstorming how to help make this event special. My friend is very photogenic and fun, so I had a plethora of photos of her at my disposal. I decided to make a photo collage/poster of her in similar poses with a funny caption at the top. My options were to do the old-fashioned cut and paste on construction paper and poster board, or to get super fancy with some software that would allow me to get technical and produce something amazing. I was going to download Illustrator per a friends recommendation and then print it out at Costco. When I was on Costco’s site printing out regular photographs I found that I could also create a photo collage that was poster size, and it turned out great! I could have made it more fancy and put it on thick poster board, but this was inexpensive and achieved the effect I wanted. http://www.costcophotocenter.com/Shop/CollagePrints#/canvasprintssub/20x30collageprint/rpovId%3A58404/rpovId%3A58428 It ended up being the very first thing she saw when she walked in the door!
And what is a party without a banner? I can be pretty busy not to mention that I struggle when it comes to my “projects” in my head actually looking good after my sweat is poured into it. In other words by the time it takes me to fix all my mistakes I could have paid someone else much more adept to do it. Sure sometimes the fun is in doing it yourself, but not when time is a a factor. That is where Etsy.com comes in. My goodness, Etsy is to the craft challenged girl what ice is to an injury. I found a banner that took the creativity in my head and matched it to someone who could actually make it look good!
I also made a bunch of healthy snacks (from my TIU and Health and Wellness boards on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/angelrdh/) so she would have the option of eating healthy if she wanted. We had already loaded up on food the night before, so I knew there would be plenty of non healthy options in abundance. A cheesy birthday mug made from Costco (with a picture on it that I knew would make her laugh during her morning coffee) was another little touch.
For the grand entrance an engineer friend created two balloon filled “tunnels” that had a seam that could be torn, releasing the balloons over her head from above when she came in the door. It was great, although a giant garbage sack filled with balloons may have also worked well ;). This looked much more fancy though!
Beyond that, her husband had a day of wineries and food planned, and plenty of fun back at the house. There was sunshine, grilling, hot tubbing lounging, laughing, gift-giving, and celebrating to be had.
Her reaction? Confusion, a big smile, and even some tears. I’d call that a win.