A Daddy/Daughter 40th/1st Birthday Surprise Party on the Cheap!

This is when we all yelled, “Surprise!” Bob was surprised. Emmie was surprised and terrified.

That title is a mouthful! What happens when you have a husband turning 40 and a baby girl turning 1 within a day of each other? A massive 40th birthday surprise/1 year old party, of course. I’ve been so busy for the past months working on just this one giant project. It was a thousand little projects rolled into one huge one. I ended up feeling like I was planning our wedding all over again. And there were more guests at the party than at our wedding. I had so much fun getting everything together. There was much thrift store shopping involved in my preparations, obviously! The only bad part was that I couldn’t share my vision with my greatest springboard for ideas – my husband. To add another element of difficulty, he was on vacation for the entire week before the party. My mom and my sister provided freezer space and lots of help in getting all the food prepared ahead of time. Lucky for me, I was able to borrow the restaurant where my husband and I met and worked together for years, Park Cafe, for the location. Our house would’ve never accommodated the crowd. On the day of the party, my in-laws diverted my husband to church while my family and I converged on the restaurant. We managed to get everything pulled together in a hour and a half. I seriously have the best family ever.

This was our location.  It could not have been more perfect. My husband owned the restaurant when I started working there many years ago. We had a not-so-secret relationship and have been together ever since. My husband sold the restaurant to Michael Ganley, who also owns The Payne-Corley House.  I ended up working for Michael in both locations for quite some time. Park Cafe is closed on Sundays, so I asked if I might be able to borrow it on a Sunday for the party. Michael was very kind and let me for only the cost of covering a shift for a manager. Perfect!  I love a good barter.

The Food!

I set up two separate buffets. One for Bob/adults and one for Emmie/kids. Bob’s table had sub-type sandwiches I pre-made and froze. Bob loves chips and kettle corn, so I used an old wine box and a copper basket I found at Goodwill and filled them to the brim. I added scoops I borrowed from my mom and some brown paper bags I trimmed down with pinking shears. Our guests could then fill a bag with their favorite. I used the part of the lunch bags I cut off to wrap the sandwiches.

For the vegetable cups, I wrapped some little Dixie-type cups with circles of newspaper tied with twine.  My mom filled the bottoms of each cup with ranch dressing and stuck in the veggies just before the party.

I made some water bottle wraps from strips of burlap painted with a stencil. I put a little hot glue on the back. They turned out great!

For Emmie’s table, my lovely mom made some Nutella and PB&J finger sandwiches for me. They were also frozen until the day of the party. In keeping with the pink, girly theme, I sliced some watermelon triangles and stuck a popsicle stick into each rind to make a watermelon pop.

The gumball machine (from Goodwill for $2)  was red at one time. I spray painted it with some metallic silver and loaded it up with some pink and white gumballs.

For the kids’ drinks, I served pink lemonade in a dispenser I borrowed from my sister.  I used small canning jars with paper straws as cups. I drilled small holes in the tops of the jars just wide enough for the straws to keep them spill-proof. I ended up having to cut a few inches off the straws to make them the right height.

I put Emmie’s favorite food, animal crackers, in a jar I borrowed from my pantry for the party.

I was going for sort of a number theme with the decorations, although I’m not sure that it turned out quite the way I wanted. Nevertheless, that was my inspiration for the birthday numbers on each table…

I spray painted some old frames and house numbers I had in the garage black, then hot glued the numbers to some burlap for Bob’s table.

This was the banner over Emmie’s table. I made it from a paper star decoration I got on clearance at Joann Fabric. I cut off three points from the star and attached them together using a hole punch and brads. Then using some school glue and twine, I spelled out “one.” The ribbon/scrap garland was easy to make with strips of remnants I had from sewing tied to more twine. My friend, Heather, saved the day by putting this up for me after I handed it to her in a pile!

Cole, my oldest son, just bought a really great camera. Lucky for me, he let me borrow it so I could set up a little photo booth for the party. I put my boys in charge of the project. My photographer niece, Leah (leahcatherinephotography.blogspot.com), was nice enough to let us borrow her camera remote.  I made very simple backdrop by taping double layers of newspaper together, punching holes at the top, and stringing it up with some twine on a shower curtain rod. I wanted to bring in the number theme, so I used some scrapbook numbers, table numbers, and random other number sticker numbers. I got all of them at Goodwill. I painted the 40’s red and the 1’s pink to make them stick out of the background.

I snagged the chalkboard above at an estate sale for $5. It is so awesome. It’s real slate. There was another lady looking to buy it, but I got there first! Yay for me!

I made all the photo booth props with templates I found after Googling. My costs were rising steeply at the time, so I made most of them from paint sample chips I glued together to make them double-sided. I needed lots of colors, but not much real estate on each piece of paper. It worked out perfectly. Then I just hot-glued them to dowels from Wal-Mart (.99 for 12.)

Here’s me, my hubby, and Emmie playing around!

My nephew, Michael.

My nephew, Nicholas and my son, Ryan.

My twin nephews, Sam and Joe. So cute!

My beautiful friends, Heather and Linda. I made these caption bubbles from cardboard painted with chalkboard paint. I glued a piece wood to the back to use as a handle.

The last element of the party was the ice cream bar. My husband does not have a big sweet tooth, but he absolutely loves ice cream. Even though this was very difficult to pull off with the surprise, it was the one thing I was adamant about having at his party.

This ugly, humble yard cart made me so very happy when I found it! I bought it from the same estate sale where I bought the above chalkboard. It was also $5. I had been agonizing over a vessel in which to put 70 cups of ice cream. Attractively. This could not have been more perfect. Even the rusted out hole in it provided drainage for the ice. I cleaned it up, lined it with a piece of fabric, put some dry ice in the bottom of it, and filled the rest to the brim with ice and ice cream. Everything stayed perfectly cold. One of our guests even wheeled it down to the park next to the restaurant after the party and gave the remaining ice cream to the kids playing there!

I used plain to-go coffee cups I found at Wal-Mart for the ice cream. My sister and nieces helped me pre-scoop all the ice cream! I bought little wooden spoons on the internet, made two small slits in the cardboard holders, and slid one onto each cup.

I put all the toppings into rolled down paper bags. It looked really cute, and it made the clean up super-easy!

What’s a birthday party without a little cake? I made these cupcakes in ice cream cones. They are not quite as pretty as they looked in my mind, but they were still delicious!

Surprise party success! My husband had a great time! I could not have pulled this one off without the tremendous help of my family, my in-laws, and my friends. Also, photo credit goes to my niece, Leah. She is the only reason I have photo evidence of this party at all!


2 thoughts on “A Daddy/Daughter 40th/1st Birthday Surprise Party on the Cheap!

  1. This is awesome!! I have the same thing going on with my husband turning 40 and my daughter turning 1 both in July! What did your invitations look like? I’m trying to think of a way to put both 40th and 1st Surprise Birthday’s!

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