Keep open mind when planning for a party

Recently, someone who I know celebrated a milestone birthday, entering into a new decade. While I may have promised to not say which birthday it was, I was not sworn to secrecy on any other matter concerning this subject.

That being said, it was my mom’s birthday. A nice big birthday for her, which does not seem to correlate with her appearance or actions.

If I were allowed to share certain specific details and then tell you she still jumps on the trampoline with her grandkids, you would agree.

Alas, I am not.

The surprise started almost a year ago, when my sister and I started saving ideas for this upcoming birthday.

A great deal of ideas were tossed back and forth concerning location, activities, menu, etc.

All the other things were easy, we knew what guests to invite, for the most part, and gold just seemed to be the right color for decor and other small details.

Since this was a learning process for us, please allow me to share some of the things that we learned during the organization of this event.

When considering your location, keep the guest list in mind, the season, and whether or not this event will be a surprise.

Being a winter birthday, we had just about no choice but to have an indoor party. This does take some of the decision away, and also ensures no rain plans for an outdoor party.

However, you also need to find a venue that will comfortably fit the number of guests included.

Keep in mind that parties are almost always crowded, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow and bump into people a little bit.

The location was the main thing that we went back and forth on several times.

We wanted a place where we could easily set up and clean up afterwards, and really make our own. Also a place that wouldn’t raise high suspicion when it was time to get the birthday girl to her own party.

At some point during the planning period, we found out that a relative was having what was called an, ‘Open House,’ style birthday, which meant that people could pop in and out at their convenience, to visit and have a snack, then leave as schedules called for.

This ultimately means that the guest of honor gets to see more of their favorite people and gets to spend a bit more time with them, as no one is on the schedule of a restaurant or rented venue.

BINGO. We had a winner.

Of course, we did not tell her this when she shared the news of that party with us!

After having this detail ironed out, the rest began to fall into place. There were close friends who were available to help with food, and the food theme was of course one of her favorites, soup and salad.

When choosing food for a birthday, this is your ultimate fall back. What is their favorite kind of food?

When in doubt, you can always go back to that.

One of the best parts of choosing soup, was that it easily can feed a crowd, especially with more than one kind.

When it came to how to get her there, it was easy to say that we are having a family party at this location, and this day and time. Totally un-suspect.

One of the last details, was tracking down the guests. With social media in the game now, it’s a totally different ballgame when it comes to finding people.

It is, however, still a bit of a challenge to track down decades of friends, family and coworkers.

We did our best, and that’s the most anyone can do!

Word of mouth was our best tool, as most of the friends and coworkers have mutual friends.

All in all, it was a huge success.

She could not have been more surprised, and as each new guest arrived, more and more surprise came with them.

I feel like this party may have been more properly planned than our wedding which is almost ten years ago now.

Again, life before Pinterest and shared ideas. A different world.

This may not be the last we hear of this event, but for now, that is all.

As always, thanks for reading! And if it applies to you, happy surprise party planning from hbk!

Katy Wise is a Fredonia resident.