After a minor air conditioning set-back for my husband’s 40th birthday party, the guests entered the party after a cocktail hour with the llama. We spent all day setting up the room, and I had been collecting Moroccan decor for about 3 months for the party. That, combined with what I already had, turned out to be just enough to fill the space. All of the draping fabric I bought from a local designer who was selling off all of her fabrics wholesale–I also got all of the tablecloths wholesale as well (it turned out to be so much cheaper than renting!).
One of my most favorite aspects of the decor was the colored jars of various sizes–they added such depth and pops of color. Also, we ended up using my Moroccan DIY Gold Luminaries inside (it was too light outside to see the electric candles in the jars) so they added a very lush and rich dimension as well.
I did end up hiring the amazing Yolanda with Capitol Decor at the last minute (only a week before the party), and she brought in and designed all the pipe and drape, the phenomenal flower arrangements, and the 3 seating areas. She also did the day-of services to coordinate set-up, servers, and break-down–it made all the difference.
We had a few surprises planned for the birthday party entertainment in addition to the hukka room. We had a belly dancer who did two performances, the first with a candelabra. I told her beforehand I didn’t want the dances to be overly-sexual because it didn’t just match the theme of the party and she said, “Don’t worry, I don’t take off any of my clothes.” My husband did give her money while she was dancing, which made me cringe–yes, I know that’s what’s done, but I still think it’s tacky. Regardless, though, her performances, costumes, and the lighted candles were fabulous. The bongo player–who played with the DJ the whole night, also came off the stage and played with the belly dancer during her dances….I loved that he got really into it!
A lot of energy went into selecting, ordering, and setting up the food. I decided to do separate vendors for each table, so the caterer ended up being moi. We had a huge seafood paella lined with lobster, a kabob table with a separate table for garnishments, a bread table, a salad table that included grape leaves and a Moroccan cous cous salad, a sushi table, a cake-pops table, a cream puff and macaroon table, a tart table, and a cake table. So, there were more than a few options. I used loads of edible decor to style the tables–grapes, bread, oranges, and berries–this added to the lush, over-the-top Moroccan theme, and added more bright colors to the mix. Almost all of the tables were from different vendors, so we coordinated between me and my husband along with friends and family to make pick-ups the day before and the day-of. I hired the bartenders and servers separately and, finally, the 6 years I worked my way through college and grad school as a banquet server paid off–myself, along with Yolanda, coordinated the catering for the night. I will admit this path was a lot more work than hiring a caterer to do everything, but I love doing high-end on a budget and, cost-savings wise, it really paid off.
The last special touch I added to my husband’s 40th birthday was sparklers to the Happy Birthday song. I had the servers and bartenders pass out sparklers and matches while his dad was giving a speech and the cake was being wheeled out. They told everyone to light the sparklers when the Happy Birthday song began, so the whole room sparkled when my husband blew out his candles. I wanted longer more elaborate candles, which I eventually found at Crate and Barrel, to stand up to the gorgeous cake.
The candles were blown out, the sparklers burned down, my husband had a fabulous time (and a little too much to drink). The party had ended.