Several months ago, my dad mentioned that he was thinking of planning a surprise birthday for my stepmom. My dad isn't exactly the social planner of the family, so I wasn't sure how all of this would pan out. But, I committed to attending.
After a few months of asking my dad what the plan was, I realized that his plan was to delegate. Memories of my childhood where cleaning up the house consisted of my dad reading through newspapers to decide if he was ready to recycle them, while the rest of us cleaned, came flooding back. This is the same guy who, when questioned about what he was doing to contribute to cleaning, would say (in complete seriousness), "I'm supervising".
Birthday planning became a joint father-daughter effort.
That's not to say that we didn't have help from others. Actorboy (check sidebar if you don't know who this is) was in charge of entertainment. He tried to find a way to make a medley of sorts out of this song (or the not-so-radio-friendly version), replacing the chorus with my step-mom's name.
That didn't really get very far.
For decorations, my aunt wanted to do something a bit "outside of the box". I tried very hard to be open-minded... But I just couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of having pet food as a centrepiece. Here's the sample she created:
In the end, we went with homemade bouquets made out of fall-coloured flowers:
The birthday lunch was held at the Hotel Fort Garry. It is one of a small number of locations in Winnipeg that offers kosher catering. If it were up to me, I would not hold an event at this venue. I think they need someone with good attention to detail to go in there and shake the place up.
However, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with the food. We went with a "Prairie Menu" that the guests really liked. The mains (salmon and chicken) were well-prepared and the menu is neutral enough that every guest can find something he/she will eat. In hindsight, the add-on of latkes (it was Hannukah time) was not a great idea (fried potatoes + warming trays = rubbery weirdness).
The best part was that the surprise worked! With a number of failed surprises under our belts (including the time where I announced that the cover plan would interfere with the surprise party...in front of the guest of honour...oops), we were thrilled to pull this one off. My poor dad had to endure months of wanting to talk about the event with my stepmom, only to remember that it was a surprise.
As soon as we yelled "SURPRISE", I felt so relieved. Although I may not be going opening a party-planning business with my dad or brother, I'm glad we were able to pull ourselves together to celebrate my stepmom's birthday.