Naoto turned forty on Sunday and on Saturday night, we threw him a surprise party. I say we because it really did take a village to pull this off. I could have never done it without the help of our neighbor friends, who sat through many planning and plotting meetings, lied their collective pants off to keep the secret and helped gather, prepare and–most importantly–hide tons of food, beer and wine. Since Naoto works a million hours a week, I thought it would be easy to plot and scheme the party details, but with all the text messages, emails, tweets and invitation responses flying around, I was on edge for a month…every time my phone would ding, ping or light up, I had a small heart attack, especially when Naoto was around.
Naoto thought a few of us were going to go out to dinner and then coming back to our place for cake and drinks. This cover story made it easy because I had an excuse to be cleaning house and decorating for the “after party”. But instead of a tiny party, I invited a lot more people–office friends, Trader Joe’s friends, old friends and new friends. And, instead of going out, we kept the party at our place and served Freddy’s meatballs, SPAM musubis and other tasty snacks.
Because we were trying hard to be sly, we decided that Brett and I should take Naoto out for a snack and some errands–some ridiculous errands, especially since it was snowing like crazy Saturday afternoon. You can see in the picture above how quickly the snow was falling and accumulating as we walked from the Vietnamese restaurant to the bar for a drink.
Stacy and Karen stayed back and set up the food and welcome the guests. Then, we brought Naoto back for the surprise. Does he look surprised? I think he was. It was incredibly hard to keep a straight face as we walked down the hall to our apartment. And the group was so quiet that Naoto got almost all the way into the dining room before he realized anything was happening. It was awesome. I was so thrilled that so many people were able to make it in spite of the weather. Our good friends from Iowa made an attempt to drive to Chicago, but sadly, they got snowed out. That was the only bummer of the night though…otherwise the party was perfect and Naoto was joyful. (Even more joyful than normal.)I ordered the cake from Kay’s Bakery in Forest Park and it was delicious. Chocolate cake with fudge filling and white buttercream…yum! I had them keep it simple and then I made an easy cake “topper” with some scrapbooking numbers I had in my stash. Karen and I made the “pouf installation” last week using our handmade tissue poufs, my gold glitter New Year’s Eve garland and some gold glitter rosettes (made by Jackie and me) . It added fun color to the corner of the dining room. It’s going to hang up there for the rest of the month (at least). I made my usual stamped kraft paper table cloth (it featured Happy Birthday, coffee and random Japanese stamps) and because I am foil-printed coaster happy lately, I ordered some special coasters for the occasion. The only other decorations at the party were adorable pictures of young Naoto scattered around the apartment. (I shared one yesterday.)
Thanks to everyone who made the night possible and so much fun. It meant a lot to Naoto that you braved the snow and the cold weather to celebrate this milestone with him. And a huge thanks to Naoto’s colleague Kristen for taking most of the wonderful pictures in this blog post. (If it weren’t for Kristen, there would be no pictures!)