I remember when I turned 18…I couldn’t wait. I am not quite sure why I was so excited; maybe I couldn’t wait to be an adult, or at least have my parents treat me like one. Or maybe I was just dying to buy some lottery tickets. Ha! Either way, it was a wonderful feeling, however long ago it was, and it got me excited to plan my cousin Julia’s Surprise 18th Birthday party!
Turning 18 is a graduation into adulthood, so we knew the party could not have any childish elements. Teal is Julia’s favorite color, so a color palette of deep purple, teal and silver sounded like perfection. We started by hanging purple and teal balloons upside down from the light fixtures, over where the food would be stationed. Balloons are a great way to get a big impact for not a lot of money. AND they looked gorgeous! We mixed in some hanging metallic stars and it all came together.
The dining room table is very modern so we wanted the flowers and table decor to be consistent. There is a large and colorful painting hanging behind the table, so white was the way to go on this table. Beautiful orchids, tulips, carnations and long taper candles, all looked gorgeous in white. And of course the vases were modern and white as well. A large neutral colored bowl was the perfect centerpiece, to pull everything together.
The bar set up quickly became one of my favorite elements of the party. With some magnetic boards from IKEA, and some purple, teal and blue magnets from Staples, we wrote out the numbers “18” which looked absolutely amazing behind the bar! The birthday girl loves pina coladas, so as a nod to her favorites we served a non-alcoholic version for the under-21 guests. The drink was served out of these amazing glass carafes with a chalk board sign on the outside. Beer and water was kept cold in a galvanized tin and champagne glasses set out for a Birthday Toast.
I come from a large Italian family, so good food is the center of every gathering; and this party was no exception. Because guests were going to be mingling for about an hour before the ‘guest of honor’ arrived, we had to be sure the appetizers were plentiful. We started with Roasted Shrimp Cocktail a favorite party recipe of mine, from The Food Network. I love traditional shrimp cocktail, but there is something about roasting shrimp that gives them the most amazing flavor. Simple, elegant and delicious. We created an antipasti platter with some marinated veggies, two types of Italian cheeses and two cured meats. In addition, we served a trio of dips; hummus, spinach dip and whitefish salad.
Everyone loves mozzarella and tomato; it is simply a match made in heaven! So I knew marinated mozzarella balls skewered with fresh grape tomatoes would be a crowd favorite. A crusty baguette and an assortment of crackers & crostini rounded out our spread. Small chalkboards displayed were the perfect way to let guests know what they were munching on…and more importantly, what yummy food was in store for later!
Once the surprise was over, the bubbly was popped, toasts were given and everyone was having a great time. As the guests chatted and sipped their drinks, we switched over the food station and got ready to serve the main course. It is important when having a cocktail party, to serve food that is easy for guests to enjoy without a ton of fork and knife action. But seeing as it was dinner time, we knew the selection had to be filling. Julia’s mom, Arlene, gave us a run-down of The Birthday Girl’s faves and from there we set the perfect menu. Our favorite friends at Cobblestone Catering knocked it out of the park on this one. Julia loves pulled pork and chicken parm, so how did we serve both? Sliders of course! They were not only adorable but out-of-this-world amazing. No Italian meal is complete without pasta, but it isn’t exactly cocktail party food. Individual baked ziti ramekins was a genius way to serve pasta elegantly to a crowd. And who doesn’t love a meatball? No one in my family! So for this party we served two kinds; traditional beef & ricotta and less traditional spicy duck. We stationed the meatballs directly next to warm parker house rolls, just in case anyone had the urge to make a meatball sandwich…and guess what, people did! I know my family all too well. I know what you are thinking, were there any vegetables served at this meal? Don’t worry, we didn’t forget. Crisp romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons and creamy homemade Caesar dressing…all served in individual plastic tumblers for a perfect portion and easy eating. Genius, right? We thought so!
Everyone knows LMP loves a gorgeous dessert table, I mean what’s not to love? We started by setting up a 6 foot table against the two large windows in the living room and hanging purple felt bunting and twinkle lights above. As a centerpiece, we used a tall white vase and filled it with decorative branches to create an impactful yet not overly busy look. A white linen with a purple & teal runner was a gorgeous background for all of our delicious treats. Kreated by K baked up two different kinds of cake pops for us…red velvet pops with “18” were displayed in a silver cube filled with white jelly beans and chocolate pops with purple sprinkles were turned upside down and displayed on chic white cake stands.
No LMP party is complete without something sweet from Sugar Sweet Sunshine…and this time we outdid ourselves! We served these mini cake/pudding/deliciousness cups called “chocolate bomb” and the guests went crazy for them. I dropped off the cups earlier that week, Sugar Sweet filled them, and the we tied mini spoons to each…seriously amazing. And who could forget the cake? The birthday cake was seriously one of the most delicious cake I have ever eaten! Moist chocolate cake with white butter-cream icing. We decorated the top of the cake with mini purple ombre tissue poms and “18” sparklers. It was almost too pretty to eat.
We rounded out the dessert table with delicious key lime bars, made by Julia’s mom Arlene and some good ole-fashioned oreos, everyone’s favorite! To complete the table, we added some white hydrangeas and white carnations and hung small silver stars from the branches. We always love adding fresh flowers wherever we can, and in this case kept them white to not take away from the color throughout the rest of the space. It truly turned out gorgeous.
LMP is all about the details. We know it’s the little things that turn a great party into an extraordinary party. For one last fun detail we created a favor that was a play on 3 things Julia can legally do, now that she is 18. First, we got Happy Birthday scratch off lottery tickets. Next a trip to Economy Candy for some candy cigarettes; the real ones are terrible but the candy version is a treat. And lastly, temporary tattoos…not permanent and pain free! It was a simple and creative way to celebrate turning 18. A big shout out to our girl Raquel Bianca for capturing all of these special details.
Happy Birthday Julia! Thanks for letting LMP share in your celebration. We hope it was a night to remember.