Last weekend I got to be a part of a 50th birthday party that was, in a word, fun. Not that birthday parties aren’t usually fun, that is the goal after all. From the time we are small children celebrating with cake, pin-the-tail on the donkey or perhaps whacking the heck out of a piñata, birthday parties are supposed to be fun. I’ve certainly had my share of them, and of course they’ve been fun.
But this one, takes the cake.
Actually, now that I think about it, there wasn’t any cake. See? It was so much fun I totally forgot!
This party did have all the things most adult parties do. Food, check. Decorations, check. Alcohol, check.
What I learned from this party though, is that it isn’t about the stuff at the party. It was an amazing party because of the people who were there, and most importantly, the birthday girl herself. Without question, she is one of the most fun people I know and what do you know? Her friends are pretty amazing too.
With a full agenda for the night, including my husband as the DJ, it was the type of party I absolutely love to help people make happen. When you walked in the space (a rented room at a Senior Center) you saw decorated tables with old fashioned games, a wine/beer bar and a cocktail bar, a lounge area, buffet of what they called “Costco Sheik” food, a dance floor with lighting and a theater style set up with a big screen all amidst candles and twinkly lights.
The birthday girl greeted every guest, made them all wear name tags of their name and how they know her – which many chose to be hilarious in their answers – and helped them feel welcome. With a big smile, infectious laugh and a quick wit, she got everyone started off on the right foot and headed to the bar. I don’t think I have ever seen such a smiley group of people, and I’ve been a part of over 50 weddings!
After a bit of noshing and libations, the group of over 100 friends found their way to watch the beginning of a full night of entertainment. First, was a surprise of a video montage of family and friends sending their birthday wishes. The video was set to the birthday girl’s favorite Stevie Wonder song and included an old school SNL skit. It was funny and sweet, but mostly funny. Next came a photo slide show of childhood memories through today, with sentimental and hilarious photos included and everything in between. These by themselves would have been awesome, but remember, I said this party was fun!
Following the video, the senior center presented her with an old fashioned wheel chair and items she would need now that she is “elderly”. You can imagine what the items were. Then guests were invited to ‘roast’ the guest of honor and were instructed to be free to say whatever they want. Five to six funny stories later, and nearly crying from laughter, it was time to move on to the next phase of entertainment.
Unlike the typical birthday party, next up were three people our birthday girl called “Fancy Dancers”. Starting with a beautiful belly dancer who performed two songs and then gave a lesson to the more than willing guests, moving on to two burlesque performers who had elaborate and glittery costumes, I don’t think anyone remembered we were in a senior center anymore. They were fantastic, the music and lights were intoxicating and highly entertaining.
So, seriously, that could have been the end and it would have been epic. But nope, not our girl.
Next was a toast with Aquavit and some stories about how our guest of honor came to find the fancy dancers and her expression of thanks and love for her guests.
And all of this before 9:30pm!
Following the toast, the dance floor opened and DJ Tony B did his thing that he does so well, got people out on the floor until they can hardly breathe. It was one of my favorite sights. People were dancing, and you think it’s winding down, and next thing you know the birthday gal disappears, then reappears in a bright red pantsuit and curly dark haired wig just like the SNL skit in her opening video. What a crack up!
When the night was over, and the guests finally trickled out, I knew this was a night to remember. I swore to myself that I would use these next 10 years not only to plan a party like this for my 50th, but to surround myself with the kind of people who would love to be there with me.
The secret to this party’s success is being the kind of person who works hard, and plays harder. Someone who isn’t afraid to be themselves, however quirky, no matter if anyone laughs with them, or at them. Someone who is free.
Life is hard, and our pressures are great. We try to be the perfect at, well, everything. And though I know it’s not easy, I think the secret to a happy life is to not take life so seriously all the time. This is something I am not good at, being a composed Capricorn most of the time.
This party was a success in so many ways, but for me, it was a reminder that life is short and instead of asking “why?” all the time, remember to say “why not?” more often, and when given the chance to celebrate, kick it while you still can!
**If I can get permission from the birthday girl, I’ll post some photos from the night. Stay tuned!