06 April 2014

A Vintage Springtime Birthday Party

If you read this blog you've probably picked up on the fact that I like a very vintage aesthetic for both my decor and my fashion. So when I was planning a small celebration for my twenty-fourth birthday, of course I went with a vintage theme. Since the celebration was just for me and my family, I didn't want to go too overboard on decorations and treats, but I wanted just enough little touches to make everything seem special.

I mostly used items that I had on hand for the party decor. I have a fabric pennant garland from The Land of Nod that I've used for my birthday for years, made of double-layered triangles of checked, plaid, and calico floral fabric in soft colors. It's long enough to tie diagonally across our dining room, which instantly gives the space a festive atmosphere. I also hung two white eyelet paper lanterns from Martha Stewart Crafts in the archway between our dining room and living room--they were left over from the set I used to make my ceiling fixture shade. To dress them up a bit, I threaded streamers of sheer pink toile ribbon over the bottoms of the lanterns' frames. I also placed battery-powered flickering votive candles inside on cardstock inserts.

I used the same sheer pink toile ribbon layered with a pink grosgrain ribbon on the twig wreath that hangs in our dining room. I also hung up a pretty Tasha Tudor poster (an early birthday gift from my mother) over the living room fireplace and displayed some of my favorite Tasha Tudor books on the mantlepiece. I love Tasha Tudor's illustrations and her description of birthday parties in A Time to Keep was a partial inspiration for this celebration.

I've slowly been switching from paper party goods to real linens and dishes for my birthday, since it's more vintage as well as cheaper in the long run and better for the environment. I've had a beautiful floral tablecloth from Macy's for many years, and this year I invested in pretty pink and green floral plates from IKEA. They're glass, which I think adds a retro touch, and were just $2.99 each. I did use paper napkins this year, also from IKEA and only $1.99 per pack.

As for the food itself, this year I am happy to report that there were no mishaps with the cake. I used a chocolate cake mix from Madhava that contains the same kinds of ingredients you'd use if making a cake from scratch, and made my favorite chocolate frosting recipe from The Tasha Tudor Cookbook. Even though I love the look of pretty paper cupcake wrappers, I used foil ones because they never stick and never impart any odd flavors to the cake. I topped each cupcake with either a flag pick from Meri Meri, a company that makes adorable party goods, or all-natural beeswax candles from Mole Hollow purchased through the Tasha Tudor and Family online store.

My mother and sister couldn't eat the cake because they have dietary restrictions, so I wanted to have a little non-food favor for each of them. I gave them each a votive lantern from IKEA and a little book of quotations from Peter Pauper Press--the lanterns were just $4.00 each and the books around $5.00 each, so either on their own would make great favors for a larger party. I picked a white lantern and Peter Pauper's Believe book for my mother (pictured below) and a blue lantern with Peter Pauper's Dream book for my sister.

For activities, we played Monopoly and watched an episode of Jeeves and Wooster. I picked Monopoly because it's vintage and one of my favorite games from my childhood, partly because we live near Atlantic City where the game is set. I had a good strategy--I invested in the yellow properties and got both Park Place and Boardwalk--but lost to my father who bought up all the properties on the first two sides of the board. Jeeves and Wooster, which has what tvtropes.com dubs a "Genteel Interbellum Setting," made the perfect viewing to round out the festivities.

I really enjoyed my birthday this year and was happy that everything went off without a hitch. Later I'll share the new books I received as gifts, as I did last year, so check back if you need some good new book suggestions!

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