Wednesday, March 06, 2013

how to throw your friend a birthday dinner party


Amy Sedaris' 'I like you. Hospitality under the influence' is my favourite hosting book!


I love parties. I love attending them and I certainly enjoy curating one. Despite being likened to Carrie Bradshaw (SATC), I've always had the affinity for Charlotte (Sex And the City) and Bree (Desperate Housewives). I love the thoughts that go into their dinner party planning and most of all their insane obsession with having everything matched to the tee. I share the same sentiments. You'll be surprised to know that when in a book sale, you'll find me hunting for books on hosting and throwing good parties first and others second. Miss Badges is a good friend and I wanted to give her the gift of having a good time. So I decided to take upon myself the reigns of helping to organize her party... and to return the favour (of a party she threw for me last year).



Whether you live in a basement with the income of a ten-year-old girl or on a saffron farm in the south of Spain, the spirit of hospitality is the same. It's the giving of yourself, a present of you to them from me for us.

"Hello, and I like you." This is what you're saying when you invite somebody into your home, without having to hear yourself say it out loud. 

... Amy Sedaris, 'I like you. Hospitality under the influence.'...



1. THEME (+ DRESSCODE)
The first thing I ever ask about a party is the theme. I believe the theme is the backbone of the entire event. It determines the budget, the food that will be served, the cocktail / drinks and even how the hostess / party peeps will be dressed. For this party, I went for something a little low-key and simple as the event fell on a week day (birthday girl's choice): roses. It is Miss Badges' favourite flower and scent so we're looking at deep red / pink / fuschia shades along with a slightly vintage and baroque tone. No dresscode this time (weekday mah) so the guests were free to come in whatever they like.


2. APPOINTMENT WITH BIRTHDAY PERSON

This is crucial 'cos, seriously, what is a birthday party if the birthday person is NOT present?? So if you're planning a surprise (or not), do make sure that your plan includes the attendance of the birthday person. We made it a non-surprise party for Miss Badges this year because when we cleverly devised a surprise plan to whisk her off to dinner with the 'gang' last year, she in turn made for the surprise to be on us by joining her family for (another) surprise birthday dinner 0_0. Trust me we were all stunned and had no choice but to feebly laugh at ourselves. So not cool!


3. DATE + TIME
I know it's abit of a repeat with regards to no.2 but equally as important as having the birthday person is to also ensure that a substantial crowd is present to get the party goin'. Naturally parties are held during the weekends but if majority of your invitees are bazaar peeps (we, hawkahs, work weekends mind you) then week days would be the most plausible choice. The date and time was of Miss Badges' request. That worked too.


4. INVITE LIST (+ BUDGET)
This will require you to summon as much common sense as you possess. If you're abit of a noob then I'd highly suggest you consult another friend of the birthday person to help curate the invite list rather than risk getting the evil eye from the birthday person for inviting that ex-she-never-got-over / relative-who-never-fails-to-embarass-her / a person she unfriend-ed (not talking facebook here but in real life!) 2 years back / an idiot -_- Choose people that makes her happy and that she loves. Birthdays aren't about putting up with morons or enemies.. we have other festivals for that like CNY reunions.

As how Bridget (Jones) would call this: her urban family.

Since I'm not cooking for the party, the crowd will also determine the venue of choice (to be explained). Aiya in simple terms, if you're inviting struggling musicians to go dutch, don't-lah choose The Ritz.


5. VENUE
I have a mild obsession for 'It' dining places and cafes. Ish.. macam hipster-lah pulak, oh wait hipsters would never be caught dead uttering those words LOL! This time around I chose Huck's Cafe for it's intimate setting and good food. It's very Underground Supper Club-ish minus the snob and absolute secrecy.


My early reservation meant that we were able to bag the exclusive private room!

I have to admit it was a challenge to navigate through their extensive menu along with the pre-order system especially if you have to take orders from 10 pax. Also having them charge a nominal fee for corkage was a little on the meh side. Otherwise it was a really pleasant dining experience. I enjoyed the privacy and rustic yet elegant decor. The food was SO GOOD. Huck was such a gracious and inviting dude and his wait staff were nice. The sentiments were echoed by other diners when they left. Oh I cannot stress enough the importance of  reservations especially if your party is rather large. It is unwise to show up at a busy restaurant demanding for a table for 6 pax and above unless you're OK with waiting an hour or more to be seated (which is a buzzkill for a birthday thingy, don't you think?).


Huck's Cafe
22, Jalan Abdullah
Off Jalan Bangsar
59000 Kuala Lumpur, 
Tel: +603 2282 2126 / HP: +6012 604 8719 (After 3pm)


6. INVITATIONS
Facebook event page. Enough said. You even have the option to make it a secret event. Awesome.

There're also email invitations which iare helpful if you prefer it less casual. Still, email doesn't have the advantage of knowing if your recipient has read the message which Facebook trumps!

Having said that, when it's a very special party that I'm hosting (example will be given in the near future), I do make an effort to send out invitations. It's certainly much more endearing and personal. It's like receiving an invitation to a Fashion Week show! It seems as if fashion houses and to-be-married couples are the only ones who bother to send out fancy invitations.

Last but not least, there's Whatsapp and iMessage. I don't have a smartphone so Whatsapp don't apply to me. I'm a rebel like that.


7. MENU + BAR

As mentioned prior, Huck's Cafe is strictly pre-order unless you want to be given the surprise menu which I don't particularly recommend, maybe because I'm not one for surprises. Otherwise this shouldn't be a problem in other eateries. Do note the religious / cultural practice of the bulk of the guests. Halal / non-halal. Vegetarians and non-beef eaters. Be considerate-lah.


It's free flow water at Huck's and 2 drinks to boot. The first is a basil seed berry drink. The second (not featured in the post) is amla juice.

Starters are on the house. The first is keropok with caramelized onions.



The second is a choice of mushroom or cauliflower soup. Both soups are SEDAPS.


The lamb shank was very good. I had positive reviews of the other mains as well. 

There's a choice of desserts of the day as well. Not too bad. Overall the food was smashing!



8. DECOR + HELP

This is my favourite part! Ask anyone I know and they'll tell you that my party pet-peeve is an undecorated event! Let me present you my past work (most of which are embarrassingly amateur..):

My Graduation Party circa 2008 @ West 57th St Cafe.

My Blog Birthday Party circa 2008 @ Wondermilk Cafe

IKEA Crayfish Party circa 2010 @ Shelbyfornia (my home-lah!)
Hawaiian 'rooftop' BBQ circa 2010 @ Miss ChewChew's



New Year's Eve Camp Nowhere circa 2010 @ Shelbyfornia



Christmas Potluck circa 2011 @ Shelbyfornia (notice my paper plate angels?) 




A Parisian Tea Party Picnic circa 2011 @ Hotel Maya



You know how in parties, people always ask if they could help. I usually try to handle it all by myself but since this was sort of a communal-hosting party, I cheated and seeked a little help. Do not feel flustered about juggling everything on your own. Rather than holing up in the stress of doing everything on your own, learn to delegate little tasks to people. I'm sure they're more than willing to help. I took up the bulk of the work which was the table decor of flowers + candles (and organizing). Here's a list I used that could be helpful for you:

Table decor (flowers, candles etc): moi
Printables (sign, place cards, etc): Miss Jahit
Balloons (if applicable): Ah Lix
Cake (and toppers if applicable): Miss Buku & Miss Polkadot
Wine / Cocktails / Mixers: Miss Bangle
Music (if applicable): Miss Polkagot
Party Favours: Miss Marsh



This was not my first choice of colours but they were the only ones left. They turned out beautifully. Like Nate Berkus, I'm a fan of single colour bouquets.

Used the leftover "lidi" bits in an attempt to offer the arrangement a touch of sophistication! LOL not sure if it's of any success(?).







Voila! You likes??


9. ENTERTAINMENT (+ GAMES)


Ever since my birthday last year, it's pretty much our ritual to have helium-karaoke where you untie helium balloons, breathe the helium air in with your mouth and sing in the acquired chipmunk voice. That is hilarious especially after some wine!

Polaroids are entertaining and a nice keepsake for the birthday person.


10. GIFTS (FOR THE BIRTHDAY PERSON + GUESTS)

Always bring the birthday person a gift even if it's a store gift card or a generic bottle of wine. It's so ridiculous for people to turn up empty handed! It's also nice to give it some thought and get the birthday person something he/she would like or use often. I gave Miss Badges a Voluspa Champagne Rose candle (a bestseller and constantly sold out here in KL) for her newly refurbished room :) Look at her other fun presents!



For the guests, Miss Marsh was generous enough to post over little wee packs of her famous marshmallows in rose (in keeping with the theme, bless her!) as a contribution to the party on her part. Always provide party favours / door gifts. Sometimes it can be the ONLY highlight of the event.

There you have it: 'How to throw a friend a nice birthday party'! Hope this offers you some inspiration and I look forward to hear about heartfelt parties you threw for your friends (just leave the link to your party post in the comments section) :)

*b*

4 comments:

Aurelas said...

"I Like You" is one of my favourite books! It is just so much fun and full of great ideas and advice. I haven't really been able to use any of the party-planning tips yet though. It is interesting to see how you used the book to make your party work.

Cheers!
Aurelas

shelbybaby said...

aurelas: ooh so glad to know we share the same party planning book in common! it's rare to find anyone who finds her tips hilarious... i've yet to have the mini car-boot sale selling off used pots of lotion etc LOL!

Julie Kelly said...

It is always great to read your posts. They are so amazing. I really appreciate this one. Keep sharing in future.
Karaoke Brooklyn

shelbybaby said...

julie: you're too kind and am stoked you're enjoying the posts <3

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