Shawty, it's yo birthday.
I LOVE BIRTHDAYS. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE BIRTHDAYS.
Seriously. Some people say that, and they'll do something kind of special for people, but if I know someone really well and know something that will make it over the top, come hell or high water I'm making it happen.
Now take this attitude towards birthdays and apply it to Fran's birthday. Whenever we'd watch movies that were set in America and there'd be some sort of stupid hoe-down or country barn dance she'd always say "Kelsey, can't we convince our friends to do that? It looks so fun."
You need to understand that all of our friends are a part of Hillsong, the most design heavy, hipster populated church I've ever come across in my life. There was no way they'd be caught dead doing that just for the heck of it, but as soon as I heard her request I knew I was going to make it happen for my Fran's birthday. My response to her was "You're kidding right? There's no where that even resembles a venue that could host something like this."
There wasn't, I had to make one. I arranged for a friend of hers to distract her from the apartment for the day, and we moved all of the furniture from our common area in the apartment away (it's a really big, open area with a balcony making it the perfect party area). I had also arranged to have Terri Martin's infamous cupcakes there, topped with handmade, edible farm animals. I had made chili, cornbread, and other classic American staples. We borrowed our friend Reagan's DJ skills and equipment and blended hip-hop music and country music for the best party vibe. I required all of our friends to dress up in plaid and shorts...extra points if they had anything John Deere-esq. The cherry on top of it all? I rented hay bails. Freaking hay bails. It cost more to have them delivered/picked up than it did to actually rent them, but nevertheless it was the perfect venue.
We pulled off the surprise and she loved it, as I knew she would. As humans, we go through so much every year of our lives. So many changes, some good and some really crap. Life is tricky, confusing, and messy. I think it's incredibly necessary to take at least one day out of 365 to acknowledge the effort it took someone to forge on through all of the craziness that transpires in a year. To say "Hey, you did it! You're doing it! You're really great, and I am so glad you were born. Do it again!"
So here are my top four hints to being a birthday planning expert, so we can carry on this attitude:
1. Get creative: I was a missionary in Africa when I did this. I didn't have loads of extra cash lying around, but researched where to get the different things to make this possible and planned it way in advance.
2. Get other people involved: chances are, you're not the only person who loves the birthday boy/girl. Team up with others who feel the same and go crazy.
3. Think of them: Honestly, I knew a lot of our hipster/creative friends would give me eye rolls when I told them the theme of the party...but this party wasn't about them or me. It was about Fran and what she wanted, so it was easy to let those eye rolls roll right off my shoulders.
4. Bribe people with cupcakes. Really good cupcakes: There's NO way that we should have been allowed that many people in the apartment. There's no way that our strict security at our complex should have allowed a huge trailer full of hay enter our apartment and leave trails all over the stairs and hallways. Due to previous parties we'd had, they knew that they were going to be getting some of the world's best cupcakes in exchange for their cooperation, so they were willing to let pretty much anything slide.