Real Party – Surprise 80th birthday!

Real Party – Surprise 80th birthday!

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When I’m asked to style a vintage party or wedding there are usually a few key elements to look at.  Number one is the venue as the size and type of rooms to be decorated determines what and how much styling needs to be done.  In my previous blog post it was a very large venue, an old flour mill of which we decorated three separate floors but sometimes it’s a much more intimate affair and I have styled some lovely parties in clients own homes.  As a party planner I see it as my job to think of all the little details which perhaps the client hasn’t thought about and to offer guidance regarding decor, food and the layout of where everything should be.  A client came to me recently to ask me to set up a vintage tea party to celebrate her mother’s 80th birthday for 30 guests.  The party was to be set up in the birthday girl’s own home without her knowing anything about it so it required some military style planning!  On the day of the party I parked around the corner from the house and awaited a text message to let me know that the coast was clear.  The unsuspecting birthday girl was taken out to visit a local garden centre to choose some birthday gifts while I rapidly unpacked vintage china and decorations and quickly started to transform the open plan kitchen and adjoining conservatory.

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As I hadn’t previously visited the house I was looking  around whilst unpacking to decide what would go where and luckily there were lots of areas and space to work with and a large adjoining utility room to store things which we had to move.  I put a bright pink gingham tablecloth on the table to match the birthday bunting and put all the teacups and cake stands out first before deciding where to put the more decorative items.

We had decided  at the initial consultation to use a lovely mixture of floral Royal Albert and pastel pink and green Tuscan teacups along with 3 tier cake stands and vintage china teapots.  It was a traditional afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and delicious miniature cakes and biscuits which friends and family had made and a vintage tea trolley was set up with stemmed glasses for drinks on arrival.

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For decoration around the room I used some of my lace lanterns decorated with 1950s porcelain brooches and put fairylights inside them to add a bit of sparkle.  I also used copper wire fairylights on the tables as they are super effective at helping to create a magical atmosphere and I hung some pretty fabric Happy Birthday bunting above the fireplace behind the table with the cake stands. As a centrepiece I used a cake stand decorated with pearls, sparkling crystals and silk roses to add some glamour and pastel  teacups were dotted around the room with flowers in them.

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I decided to put an easel at the front entrance with a blackboard ,which I’d made from an old mirror, saying ‘Happy 80th Birthday ‘ so that when the guest of honour arrived back home and came in her front door it was the first thing she noticed and gave her a hint of what was to come next.  I have to say that she was a very glamorous and youthful 80 year old and it was so wonderful to see her delighted reaction as the surprise element of a party can be somewhat of a risk but in this instance it was a huge success and she was thrilled to bits!

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When I went back to clear everything up after the party was over everyone said how special it had been and I received a lovely message the next day from the lady’s daughter saying how delighted her mum had been with everything which I was so happy to hear.  It’s really rewarding when all those little details come together for a successful event and that’s why I love my job!

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