Back in January, my dad turned 60! To celebrate, we had a party. (Yes, I'm way behind in posting these pictures.) Long time readers may remember that a year and half ago, we had a big blowout party to celebrate Mom's milestone birthday. It was only natural that she wanted to do the same for him. Only it couldn't be the same, you know? We actually started our brainstorming last spring. Our first idea was to send Dad and the boys to the Masters tournament but even with all of us registering our email addresses to win tickets, we didn't win a single one. The next plan was to rent a couple of houses at the beach in the same neighborhood as our beach house and invite several couples on a weekend getaway to the beach. We really thought this was going to work out until about three weeks out everyone started telling Mom they weren't going to be able to make it. So we ditched that idea, sprung into action and planned a quick, last-minute surprise party. Party location? My house. Eek! As you know, we've only been in our house for a few months so there are still lots of empty rooms. Mom and I decided that would work out just fine...more room to mingle! But how the heck do you decorate for a manly party? Flowers and candles seemed way too girly. So we put our heads together, did some brainstorming, and decided to let Dad's favorite whisky bottle be our inspiration. My dad is not a huge drinker at all, but if he does choose to have a drink, it's usually going to be a glass of Maker's Mark mixed with water. You know I like to take a theme and go crazy with it, so I quickly sent out an email to all my friends asking for their empty liquor bottles. I mean, we were just days past the holiday season so I figured there might be a few bottles hanging around. And I was right. :) Thanks to all of my friends that delivered on the goods!
No better way to set the scene than to start with some shots of the decor, so let me show you how we set things up for this shindig. The invitation we mailed out mimics a Jack Daniels bottle label. Not Maker's Mark, I know, but we had a tight deadline. After settling on our theme, I learned that my brother is a member of some Maker's Mark club and gets all kinds of freebies from them. So he gave us a bunch of MM gift bags and tissue paper that we used with all the liquor bottles to decorate. (Maker's Mark did not sponsor this post, but I guess in a roundabout way they kinda sponsored the party. Or at least the decorations.)
As I showed you in my living room post, we still don't have anything up on the freshly painted mantel. So we grabbed a bunch of liquor bottles - some empty, some full - and set it up to resemble a bar. We didn't have enough to completely fill the mantel, but some red tulle ribbon helped fill in the gaps. (Sorry for the smaller-than-normal pictures; I got a little carried away when resizing.)
Also in the living room is this cocktail table, where we added more bottles and some old pictures of Dad.
Our entry hall is pretty big (as far as entry halls go, I suppose) and still very empty. We set up two card tables so guests could sit and eat and talk (chairs were added to the tables after these pictures). Mom and I had purchased this fabric off a remnants table to make tablecloths. It's a little bit mismatched, but we thought the colors went well with the reds and yellows in a Maker's Mark bottle. Plus, there was nothing girly about the print, so double-win!
Our dining room is also still empty, so we had to set up a long folding table for the food. A little bit embarrassing with all of my Dad's friends there, but whaddaya gonna do? (Doc wouldn't let me run out and buy a rug and dining table just for the party...I checked. :) )
I do have a cute new little bar, though, that we used for all the plates and things.
The kitchen table had a centerpiece of more bottles, and we spread out lots of Dad's old yearbooks and school newspapers. Everyone loved looking through them, especially since many of the guests were in them too!
We had ordered a couple boxes of airplane sized bottles of Maker's Mark, and the little boxes they came in were perfect little containers for mixed nuts.
One of my very favorite decorations was this display:
Yes, folks, for a very brief period of time, my dad rocked a mustache. And we paid tribute to it with a stand full of chocolate 'staches.
A party's not a party without favors, and that's what we used those mini airplane bottles for. My dad has served on the local school board for many years and every year has to have his picture taken for the yearbook. A school photo, if you will. And every year he gets mailed a package of prints - you know, a couple 5x7s, one 8x10, and a couple sheets of wallets - and every single year he says "What the heck am I going to do with these?" Mom was able to find several years' worth of wallets that didn't get thrown away, and we decided it was high time we did something with 'em. So we attached a wallet sized picture of Dad on every single mini bottle of Maker's Mark. :)
Also attached was a chocolate cigar. Dad's also been a cigar smoker for years so Mom and I bought cigar-shaped candy molds and made these the week before.
So that's how we decorated. Now let's get to the party!
It was sort of a surprise party. It was a surprise in that we didn't tell Dad about it beforehand. But there was no big moment where we all jumped out from behind something and yelled "Surprise!" That's because there was no way to hide all the cars. Mom had told Dad the morning of the party that we (the kids) had all gotten babysitters so that we could go out to eat somewhere nice for his birthday. The plan was that she and Dad were going to pick up me and Doc on their way to the undisclosed restaurant. Of course, as soon as Dad rounded the corner to our house and saw all of the cars, he knew we weren't going out to eat.
Here they are making their entrance. I believe Dad was giving Mom heck because he had told her he didn't want any big party for his birthday.
We kids were in the mudroom area to greet him first.
Dad finally made it into the kitchen to see all of his friends and, in typical Dad fashion, thanked them all for being there and then apologized for having already made other plans and "really wished he could stay and visit," then turned around and pretended to leave.
I'll spare you ALL the pictures from the party, but here are some snapshots of the people that regularly appear on this little blog.
About midway through the party, we corralled all the guests into the kitchen so Mom could present Dad's gift to him. I wonder if Dad always cringes like that when Mom starts talking...
As for his gift, we copied this awesome idea and sent out letters to all of Dad's old and current friends, colleagues, classmates, and family members asking them to jot down stories or memories of him. We put each submission in it's own envelope and then numbered the envelopes. We had 60 envelopes full of 60-years worth of memories. Obviously Dad couldn't sit down and read them all during the party, but we still went ahead and presented them to him and he stayed up into the wee hours of the night going through them after party. (As the collector of the memories, I got to read them all in advance and believe me when I say there were some pretty funny stories!!)
Dad seemed touched and gave a toast to all his friends.
After his toast, we sang Happy Birthday and cut into the cake. The cake was made by two of my friends from high school - and husband and wife baking duo - and they did an awesome job with it!
We also took a quick family picture.
At Mom's party, we had a mock photo booth area with lots of props. We wanted to do the same for this party, but instead of gathering hats and wigs and boas as props, we ordered a set of these paper props on sticks.
There are some awesome pictures of the guests with the props, but this one of me and my brothers is hands-down my favorite one. I had no idea they weren't smiling either...totally unplanned.
Here are some more photo booth pics...
By the end of the night, there were a lot of people at the party with mustaches...
(Some of the men had brought their own.)
All in all, it was a really fun night! It was a little weird having my house full of people that were, ahem, a little bit older than me but it was more than worth it to be able to celebrate Dad! Heck, I'd do it all over again. Maybe at 70, Dad?
As much fun as it was partying with
the old folks Dad's friends, my very favorite part of the night was when this sweet pea came back home! Thanks again, Kim, for babysitting her during the party!
And with that, we called it a night. :)