My Big Birthday is just one month from now and there’s a fancy party in the works, courtesy of Mark and my girlfriends, to help me celebrate.
When I say “fancy,” I mean that it’s going to look to the outsider like we had a party planner involved, and that we spent half the year having “our people” call “their people.”
But - in case you are new here: that’s not how this works. (I’m doing my hands up and down the length of my body when I say, “this.”)
As my friend, Chrissy, said to me this very morning: “We’re the type of people who can pull things out last minute.”
My friends and I are a bunch of middle-aged women, busy with work and chores and running teenagers to and fro, while juggling appointments for mani-pedis and waxings of various body parts, and mammograms and colonoscopies.
Ain’t nobody got time to be putting in a bunch of party planning time.
But we’re magical unicorns under pressure, and we know for a fact that we’re able to pull together a super fun event that’ll look professionally planned all on our own, and it’ll be so, so easy.
I say this, of course, as my friends are scrambling around to get their calendars together, just to make sure they’re all on the same page with one another, and praying to God nobody shows up wearing an 80’s prom dress, since this was the original plan.
Meanwhile I’m kicking back in my fishnet stockings, puffing on a long, French cigarette, doing exactly nothing to help.
They’ve got this.
Besides, you know that stressing out and becoming a bluthering damn fool is a choice, right? I mean, I know this, but I still find myself stressing out and getting anxious. I’m being intentional about choosing to enjoy the ride - all of it: the planning, the event itself, with all the people and noise and small talk that comes along with a party.
But I’m choosing not to sweat the small stuff. Or the big stuff, either, as it turns out. (Refer to “doing nothing while puffing on a long cigarette” above.)
Here’s how this party has come together:
The place we settled on is a barn on our friend’s gorgeous four-acre property. It has a giant courtyard shaded by a 1,300-year-old Live Oak tree, and blanketed with astroturf so that it’s always green.
We got really lucky when we were shopping around for venues. Our friend was in the process of getting her barn renovated, and we got super lucky on the timing of her having it ready right around the time the party’s scheduled.
We wanted something close, so that people wouldn’t have to drive into Austin; informal, but nice; and with the flexibility to decorate as we please.
As I type, there’s still a considerable amount of construction happening at the site. There’s no grass, yet, and they’re installing sprinklers, so the grounds are all brown dirt lined with a giant grid of trenches, which has my friends all in a lather, worrying that it won’t be finished in time, but listen.
I don’t even GAF about that.
This no-frills location has the natural beauty of, say, Christie Brinkley or Cindy Crawford. No need to fancy it up with decor - she’s just gorgeous on her own.
I love anything that has a story, and there’s so much story in this place, which is why I immediately fell in love with the idea of having my party here. The barn isn’t anything super exciting: just a building with concrete floors and a tin roof.
But the doors. Those big, gorgeous doors that slide wide open, were taken from a building of Willie Nelson’s undergoing renovation in south Austin, then welded together and placed on heavy tracks to serve as the barn’s new sliding doors.
Incidentally, the property is also the site of two adorable tiny homes built by A&E’s Tiny House Nation after the main house on the property - my friend’s dream home - burned to the ground when she and her kids were away on vacation. You can check the episode out on season 5, episode 14.
Lots of story in this place.
Food & Drinks
We’re having Tex-Mex catered from our local restaurant (one of only a handful of dining options in our small town).
Dinner will be fajitas - easy to please everyone, because everyone can put whatever fixin’s they want; and fajitas are easy to eat sitting or standing. We’re Texans. We’ve got this part down.
Plus, this way, we won’t have to have people at the chafing dishes, serving up food - everyone can serve themselves.
We’ll have disposable dishes - “fancy” plastic plates and metallic plasticware. Fancier than paper plates and plastic forks, but easy to toss in the trash and clean up when the party’s over.
We’re serving beer and wine and possibly a signature cocktail, just because wine can start getting expensive.
Twinkle lights, votive candles, and balloons placed around the barn will be the bulk of the decorations. We’ll also have giant wire spools, which we’ll cover with linens, to serve as cocktail tables, and we’re renting some tables and chairs, so we’ll have plenty of seating and to make it look semi-fancy.
Texas in mid-November can be tricky. It can be warm enough for shorts, mild and gorgeous, or ass-bitin’ cold. There are fire pits around the outside of the barn, and those will be lit, which will add natural ambience, but also warmth if it’s chilly.
The great thing about this venue is that it’s got a lot of character, so it won’t need much, in terms of decorating. In fact, it can actually take away from the look if we add too much.
We’re not sure, yet, if we’ll have a deejay to spin some 80’s and 90’s tunes, or if we’ll load up a fun party playlist and connect to some big speakers.
Here’s some of the music that’ll be on the must-play playlist:
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, by Wham!
Footloose, by Kenny Loggins
More Than A Feelin’, by Boston
Borderline, by Madonna
Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson
Hold On, by Wilson Phillips
These Dreams, by Heart <— for slow dancing 😏
We didn’t want to kill any trees or spend money on postage, but we wanted something a step up from just plain ol’ email invitations.
We went with Paperless Post because they have the best designs out there.
They’re modern - which sounds counter to what we’re looking for for a retro party - but these designs are fresh and updated, while maintaining a modern vibe.
My favorite part is their new flyer option, which is what we used for this party because you can drag in GIFs and text effects, as well as change the color scheme.
Here’s a snapshot of my invites:
I can’t wait for my big bash, and I am not a party person AT ALL.
But I don’t want to have any regrets, and if I didn’t acknowledge this momentous birthday with something special, I would definitely regret it.
Putting people you trust in charge, having a beautiful venue, and fun music, how can we go wrong?
A very special thank you to Paperless Post for sponsoring this blog post and saving my life with adorable, easy-to-create party invitations. I only recommend brands I’ve personally used and loved, and I am happy to recommend Paperless Post.