Party time!

8 Jun

I love throwing parties. Really, really love it. Always kill myself doing it  – but love it anyway. I also happen to love David, and this past weekend was his birthday, so about two dozen friends and I got together and, after a couple months of planning and a very elaborate network of lies, we surprised him with a swingin’ party!

I’m not posting how-to’s for the individual recipes this time, but here are the details, in case you could use some inspiration for your next party. I wish I had gotten more pictures of the food, but alas… it was hectic. I would never have been ready on time if not for the great group of people who showed up early to help me with the last-minute prep. I kept apologizing to them and saying, “One of these days, I’m going to throw a party and have everything ready when people get here!!” They just shook their heads, smiled, and said “No you won’t.” Oh well.

Rat Pack

I decided to give the party a Rat Pack theme, because, well – who knew how to party better than the Rat Pack? Plus we love the music and the whole era. I had so much fun researching cocktail parties and getting into a retro mindset. I watched Mad Men, shopped garage sales and antique stores, and watched a bazillion instructional YouTube videos on vintage hair & makeup.


The lie:

Faux event created by my friend Jen – co-ed happy hour to celebrate her upcoming wedding. The wine bar was near my house, so he came over to meet me and we would go together. Psych!

surprise birthday party

The menu:

Pigs in a blanket (meat and tofu dogs in Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough)
Chips and homemade guacamole from my friend Claire
Chicken sandwiches from Daniele, David’s mother
Deviled eggs from my friend Karen
Meat / cheese / olive bites on frilled toothpicks
Spiced nuts
Waldorf salad from Rachael Ray
Popcorn from a vintagey popcorn maker David’s parents brought over
Mini cupcakes and cake balls in red velvet and spice cake
Chocolate mocha cake from Ina Garten
Retro candies
Cardinal punch

spiced nuts & mini cupcakes

birthday cake

birthday cake


Poker table
Food label tent cards
Slide show with pictures of Rat Pack, Mad Men, pin-up girls, etc.

Swingin’ playlist:

Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Sammy Davis Jr.
Ella Fitzgerald
Louis Prima
Louis Armstrong
Peggy Lee
Brian Setzer Orchestra
Squirrel Nut Zippers
and others… great for a theme party, but this also happens to be the soundtrack to my everyday life 🙂


Mad Men-inspired advertising slogan quiz (from this list)
Charades – famous movie titles from the 1960s and earlier

quiz & paper airplaneThe slogan game was later turned into paper airplanes… my friends are such clever recyclers!

A couple signs of success from the next day…

The carnage was worse than any other party I’ve thrown. Most notable was the flattened popcorn all over the floor. The chocolate shavings (and guts thereof) were fun too!

When I resumed the five and a half-hour party playlist the next day, only two songs were left unplayed.

All the alcohol left in my fridge and freezer was a bonus. 😉

I ended up starting a cold before the party even ended, which I am still fighting four days later. BUT it was all worth it, and so much fun we are already thinking about the next party! Woohoo!

Anne Taintor

2 Responses to “Party time!”

  1. Mary June 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    That picture of David eating that cake is priceless! hee hee

  2. JASMINE June 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Boo hoo… I wish I had been there !!! Oh, well, perhaps next year !!! As we say in French “a bon entendeur salut.”

    Love and congratulations on a super-duper surprise party!!!

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