The Big Bash

As mentioned, I threw myself a Forget I’m 40 bash this past Saturday. I love to entertain and I am sort of known for throwing fun parties… though I often overdue it by creating way too much work for myself. So for this party, I decided to let the “professionals” help out — I hired a bartender, a server/chef and the steel drum player from our wedding. I also had the food catered (very unlike me). Granted, I still did a fair amount of work myself, but splurging on this extra help really made the day that much more enjoyable.

I spent both Thursday and Friday running errands, ordering everything and getting the yard/garden ready. In case it’s never come through in my writing… I am ridiculously anal when it comes to planning, decorating and hosting events. I come across as being laid back, but in reality… I’m generally freaking out and/or having a nervous breakdown inside! This time was a little different though… I was pretty relaxed… and I liked it! I think I may have to hire folks to help more often!

For a theme, I wanted a tropical/Caribbean feel to the party. It’s summer and I am a beach person… so what better way to forget my age than to immerse myself in something I love. The first thing I thought of was music… I had to have the steel drum player from our wedding. You see, I am pretty non-conventional. I actually walked down the “aisle” (it was outside, overlooking the ocean) to the wedding march played on a steel drum. The drummer actually had to learn the song! I felt pretty proud about that…

I had found the drummer doing some random Google searches five years ago… his name is Justin Petty and he is part of a larger band called Pan Loco. He also performs with other groups and does solo performances. He’s an awesome guy… I cannot recommend him enough. He’s also local — he’s the Department Chair and the Professor of Broadcast Media Technology at Roxbury Community College. Here he is showing my friend “A” a few drumming tips before the guests arrived:

I rented tables, chairs and linens from the Rental Depot on Centre Street in West Roxbury. I should have stopped by sooner… but never made it there until Thursday. So, the tables I wanted (round) and the table cloths I was hoping for (black) were both all rented. I had to go with small square tables with white cloths. I was able to get black table cloths for the banquet tables though.

I found the bartender on Craig’s List. I LOVE Craig’s List! Granted, you can get burned… but you can also wind up with a great experience… which I did. Matt, who runs the Marketing for Best Student Help, bartends on the side and goes by “Mixologist at Large”. Not only did he come up with an amazing drink list, he made a shopping list for me and went out and bought all the alcohol for me as well. He was very professional, made a mean (and strong) drink and all my guests loved him. For those of you who asked, you can reach him at this email address: or email me directly for his phone number. Here is Matt setting up the “bar” right before the party began:

Matt also had a friend — Gina, who is a chef in training and a very organized and professional young woman. Gina had the toughest job — organizing, plating and serving the food. This is a job that I always do myself and this is where the anal gene really comes into play. I have a difficult time letting (read: trusting) folks to do this type of stuff for me. Gina did a great job… everything looked beautiful and she kept the food flowing at just the right pace for over six hours. She also cleaned up my kitchen, put the food away and even helped Matt clean up his space. Both of them did an amazing job and I definitely plan to use them again in the future. Not only that… the rates were very fair. I won’t disclose the amount, as I don’t know how Matt prices out his jobs. Let’s just say the cost was very reasonable and well worth it.

Decorating was pretty easy… we have a beautiful yard that has a very tropical feel to it:

I did get several balloon bouquets from iParty on Route 1 South in Dedham and some tiki torches (only $1.60 each on sale!) from A.C. More in the Dedham Mall. I put up some little white lights, made centerpieces out of Dahlia’s I got from Home Depot (just put them inside black gift bags) and bought a few “40-themed” decorations from iParty as well. Just enough to make the space feel special.

Last but not least, the food was catered by Whole Foods Market at Fresh Pond. We went with the Fresh Pond location because they had the most options for catering. Not all stores have the same menu… so make sure you do a little research before you decide.

Since the party was outside, I wanted things that would be easy to eat while standing and holding a drink… so we went with most finger foods, including the following:

  • Bacon and Blue Cheese Pinwheels (all pinwheels are $22.99 per dozen)
  • Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pinwheels
  • Mango Brie Pinwheels
  • Savory Smoked Chicken Pinwheels
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Skewers ($32.99/2 doz)
  • Curried Tofu Skewers with Tamarind Dipping Sauce ($30.99/2 doz)
  • BBQ Shrimp Skewers ($44.99/2 doz)
  • Caribbean Fruit Skewers with lime creme fraiche ($32.99/2 doz)
  • Onion Focaccia Basket ($39.99/12 mini sandwiches — 3 varieties)
  • Brioche Basket ($39.99/12 mini sandwiches — 3 varieties)
  • Signature Dip Basket ($49.99) — Hummus, spinach artichoke dip and whipped feta spread with pita crisps and veggies

And then I had some other goodies and nibbles. Of course there was also a cake… from Party Favors in Coolidge Corner. I guess I really am over the hill now:

And here is where the 3-yo helped me cut the cake. He ate TWO ENTIRE evergreen trees off the cake… before it was even cut. Poor babysitter…

I had a wonderful time… thank you to all my friends who helped me celebrate and an especially gracious thank you the the wonderful Husband… who not only threw me this party, but who also gave me a gift certificate for the new iPhone 3G AND bought me an amazing channel-set diamond ring to help me celebrate this birthday milestone and also our 5-year anniversary next month. He’s the best!!!

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