Well, I can cross another accomplishment off my personal "bucket list." I have now planned, organized, and hosted a surprise birthday party.
This past Friday I wrote about my wife and her reaching a "milestone" birthday. Two days later, Sunday July 3, a gathering of friends and family helped her celebrate at Oakland Baptist Church. As I mentioned it was a surprise party.
Ever since last September, when Paula was gracious enough to allow me to spend my 50th birthday in Walt Disney World, I've been determined to give her a memorable birthday this year.
Just a little over 2 weeks ago I came up with the idea of giving Paula a surprise birthday celebration. The only day I could do it was the Sunday after her birthday, July 3rd. I decided that the fellowship hall of our church would be the place.
Planning a party, much less a surprise party, was something I'd never done before. I reserved the fellowship hall, told my kids and my sister-in-law, then made out a list of those I wanted to invite.
Next was buying the decorations and the invitations. I got off of work early one afternoon and went shopping. I had decided on the theme the day before.
All during our Chattanooga vacation Paula mentioned that she'd like to take a vacation to the beach sometime. After we got home she got more specific. She said that next year when her brother and his family go on vacation to the beach in the Florida panhandle she wants to go. She then said she wished we'd gone this year instead of Chattanooga because she wants a vacation where all she has to do is relax.
So I decided that I would try and give her some resemblance of a that type of vacation. The theme of her party would be a beach party.
The tables would be covered with bright tablecloths with tropical colors including: green, orange, blue, yellow and red. There would be centerpieces made to look like little beaches set on the tables along with flip flops, Frisbees, and water pistols. Instead of confetti, small seashells would be spread all over the tables as well. There would be beach balls to toss around too.
For Paula I would make up a small "spot" that resembled a little beach. A special place for her to relax during her party. I would get a small blow up kiddie pool and fill it with sand also inside the pool would be a basin filled with water to serve as the "ocean". I would put seashells and a starfish on the sand. A plastic webbed beach chair covered with a beach towel would be her spot to relax.
I would get the decorations and all the things I needed at a local dollar store, Hobby Lobby and Walmart. Walmart is where I ordered the cake. Their cake decorator said she could make it look like a beach and an ocean.
I found the invitations and filled them out. They had to be distributed in 3 phases to: Friends and family, church family (including the church staff and her fellow praise team members) and co-workers. I wouldn't have been able to get the invites to that last group without Paula's long time co-worker and friend, Jenny. Thanks for your help.
It wasn't until a week before the party that I got the opportunity to hand out the invitations to the church family. I did it the hard way with Paula running around the church as I was doing it. I did my best to do it on the sly. Overall I had invited close to 50 people. Many said they would come. But because of getting such short notice or plans for the holiday weekend some would not be able to be there.
Monday, June 27, was the last day off I had from work before the party. I took the day to get all the decorations and supplies (hidden in various places around our home out of Paula's sight) to the church.
I had to create the centerpieces. It involved putting a green Mylar palm tree in the center of a small bowl and surrounded it with sand; play sand I bought from Walmart. A small proportionately sized beach towel and a paper umbrella were placed next to the tree. Small shells covered the beach.
After the centerpieces were complete it was time to go shopping for the food. With the cake ordered and the plates, cups and napkins already at the church there my shopping list was relatively short. I needed to get: soda, chips, pretzels, ice cream and soda.
I took all of that to the church as well. I stashed it safely away with a general note on each item that it was for a private party.
Now there were only things a few things left to do. The most important one was come up with a way to get Paula to the church and to the party that afternoon. I could only think of one way to do it. It would require the help of one of Paula's best friends from church.
Details on that and other diversionary tactics that had to be implements as well as what happened at the party will be in "part 2" of the story in the next post.