Sunday, July 8, 2012

Surprise 40th Anniversary Party

Last weekend my siblings and I threw a surprise 40th anniversary party for our parents. One of my favorite things about planning the party was the almost daily phone calls with my siblings.  We even did a couple of video conferences since we live in three different states and couldn't get together to plan the party.

The night of the party, we had arranged for my parents and some of their friends to go out to dinner near our house. The plan was that they were then going to check out a house near ours and our kids were going to be waiting out front of our house and spot my parents and ask them to come see something in our backyard. Instead, my mom ended up calling me during their dinner to see if they could stop by and show our house to their friends. Perfect!

My parents were completely shocked when they arrived and saw all of their kids (one sister had traveled across the country to be there and another had traveled from Utah) and then they saw our yard full of 80 friends and family. So fun! I've never thrown a surprise party before, but I'll be on the lookout for another opportunity to do it.

We decorated the yard with hot pink and purple paper lanterns in the trees. Those were my parents wedding colors! We had tables with white tablecloths topped with candlelit mason jars with wedding and older family photos.

We had a few different food sections set up at the party. First, we had a cake, punch, mints and nuts table since these were the food items at our parents' wedding reception. My sister, Michelle made all of the cakes and they were each so delicious. We has a dark chocolate cake, coconut creme cake, fresh strawberry cake and a peanut butter cup cake. She really outdid herself on the cakes.  We made this punch recipe and it was perfectly refreshing and delicious.

Another one of our food tables was cookies and milk station.  We had skim milk, dark chocolate almond milk and regular chocolate milk along with an mix of homemade and store bought cookies. We also added a tray of homemade (by Michelle) brownies plus a canister of homemade vanilla ice cream. We also had some funfetti Chex mix made by my sister Kristen.

Our third food station was a popcorn mix station. We popped a bunch of fresh popcorn and filled a giant basket. We had several little containers that held a bunch of different candies (Whoppers, mini M&M's, Reeces Pieces, nuts, and Junior Mints) plus some flavors that could shake on the popcorn so everyone could do a custom popcorn mix. We bought the flavors from this online store. We decorated white paper bags that everyone could use to hold their popcorn.

My brother put together a video with wedding photos and older photos that we had running during the party.

We set up a photobooth where we asked the guests to pose as they arrived at the party. My sister Kristen ran the booth. Nice work, Kristen!

Once the sun went down, our paper lanterns light up perfectly. We used these battery operated lights in each lantern. The lights were perfect because we didn't have to rig up any electric lights. We also lined our pool fence with white lights.

Overall, I'd say that we threw a very successful party. It was such a fun night spent celebrating my amazing parents.


  1. I think all of you were fabulous and the only thing missing was us not being able to be there! Really proud of all of you. We are looking forward to seeing you all at the reunion this week. Love you.

  2. It was a fun event to see unfold. You and your siblings did a great job... all the food, decorations, and pictures; but even more importantly there was joy, love and friendship shared - of all those gathered to celebrate! Well Done.

  3. Congrats to your parents! Looks like it was a great celebration!!!

  4. How AWESOME!!! I loveeeeeeeeee all the different food stations you had and loving the paper lanterns!!! Happy Anniversary to your folks!!

  5. This really is so amazing!! I'm sad I couldn't be there - outstanding job!!! Last night at dinner, your mom and dad told us all the details. They were so very touched. :)

  6. This turned out SO cool! Love the lanterns--and I LOVE the look on your mom's face--PRICELESS! speaking of surprise parties--I know someone that will be turning the BIG 4-0 in February! ;)

  7. Gorgeous food and decor! I'm inspired to throw a fun party myself! :)

  8. What an amazing party! You all did such a fabulous job. I bet your parents loved it!

  9. I love parties, particularly in planning the menu. And the ones you've prepared looks mouthwatering, especially the strawberry cake! By the way, congratulations to your parents for being together that long! I bet you and your siblings are already conniving for their anniversary this year. =)

    Lawrie Brinkerhoff



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