I recently organised a surprise party for my mum and dad’s ruby wedding anniversary.
They’re a very special couple. You may have read this post on the perfect piece of poetry I gave them as a thank you on my wedding day. Sums up the debt of gratitude I feel for my upbringing, the way they have let me spread my wings, live my dreams and supported me to this day.
They’re also legendary dinner and party hosts. Which means when the opportunity arose to throw them a bash, I wanted to grab it with both hands. But it was daunting: how do you organise a celebration for the best in the business?
The other dilemma was that I knew they wouldn’t want my brother and me spending thousands on such an event.
So we (reluctantly, it must be said, but sensibly) settled on a rather tired and dated social club near home. It was either that or spending something approaching a wedding budget. We wanted to spend our money on plenty of food and a band to get everyone dancing. I knew I could give the place a makeover without having to spend a fortune.
And that’s what we did, for about £60.
Plenty of things kind of made my skin crawl: the polystyrene ceiling tiles, the black office-style chairs. But if you’re planning a party or a wedding on a budget, ugly features like this are exactly the kind of thing that you might be faced with, and that you have to look past as you think about ways to make the best of what you’ve got.
I love overhead decorations, for disguising an unappealing ceiling – obviously – but also for creating a party atmosphere and giving a cosier feel to a big, bare room.Again, here’s what we started with. Yikes, pretty much.
♥ red and white polka dot and stripe bunting: £3 per 10m length x 5 + P&P = £17.70 (this was a bargain, bought from this seller on eBay)
♥ pom poms: 12 in various sizes and a choice of colours = £12.99 (from this eBay seller)
♥ helium balloons: £1.50 each x 5 = £7.50 (from Country Baskets)
♥ goldfish bowl vases: £1.50 x 10 = £10.50 (from Country Baskets)
♥ flowers: about £10 (from a local supermarket)
♥ heart and ruby sprinkles: £2 (from Country Baskets)
Total = £60.69
I also used this Bronte bunting that I’d been kindly given by Paper Themes to review (normal price £6.99 for 4m). It’s in lovely pastel tones – the flags are dove grey stripes and soft pink flowers – and the thick card, scalloped edges and ribbon give it a luxurious feel. This is the bunting I used across the bottom of the stage.
The next addition: lots of lovely friends and family who all did their bit and turned up on time.
The final addition: the guests of honour, who were completely surprised, slightly overwhelmed and – ultimately – very happy.
Congratulations mum and dad ♥