I think this post is long due as my hubby’s birthday was in August. I had been meaning to update it but never had time. Here it goes! Planning for Hubby’s birthday started way back in May. I am not kidding! I wanted to make this day special as this would be his first birthday after our DD was born. I decided the best way to make it special will be by inviting very close friends and make it a surprise party. So, I have sent emails to a few of his very good friends and guess what! 10 out of 12 said that they could make it! I was elated. Once of them was to fly over from a different city. If I know one thing about Hubby and his friends, it’s the fact that they all love good food, music and good drinks. So, my emphasis was on that. Food!! One month before the date is when I started properly planning. I had decided already to order food from outside, since making it at home would tip off Hubby that I am up to something. I researched a bit and found out that a near by Italian restaurant is one of its kind! One of the days, hubby was working in the nights and so, DD and I went to the restaurant to order food. When I did to there, I saw that the entrees were over $20 per order! My! That's expensive and that's not even including appetizers, desserts and drinks! After some "talking", the chef agreed to do apps and entrees in my budget; well, I went a little over but only by $50 over budget. But hey, when you go with fine Italian dining, you got to bite the bullet. Setting a menu was difficult than I had anticipated. We were to have 4 vegetarians and 6 non-vegetarians as guests (excluding hubby and I). So, I couldn't order large portions of the same Kind. After a lot of discussion with the chef, below is the menu: Starters: Fresh garlic bread Bruschetta Calamari Entrees: Chicken penne Chicken marcelle Baked potatoes Portobello mushroom ravioli Dessert: Fruits Cake and Ice cream Apart from the above, I had bought some lays chips and tortillas and some salsa. Our good family friend had also brought Samosa's and some dessert (Kheer, didn’t go well with Italian menu but its nice of them bring anyway. We enjoyed it). On the day of the birthday, everyone loved the food. I am so glad I ordered it from the restaurant; everything really was nice. Picture of Entrees is below: For drinks, below were bought. I made sure Hubby had his favorites, sans Keiths as that’s what he normally drinks. Beer: Heineken, Kingfisher, Tsingtao, Corona Wine: Since I went for Italian, I got Chianti, like 5 bottles of red and 3 white. Champagne: Brut and something else which escapes me right now. We already had so much more acohol in our wine rack, so I didn’t buy things like whiskey, rum etc Of course we didn’t drink all of it on the same night Cake: I had decided already that I would be baking one cake at home to be cut in the morning when DD is awake and I would buy one for the night. The day before the birthday: Cake 1: I started the chocolate cake. So far so good. The trouble began when I decided to make frosting as well. The double trouble began when I had decided that I want to make a two layered chocolate cake! Trouble one: the cake itself was very moist; in this case, I don't have to frost as it would be a nightmare to apply frosting; frosting doesn't go well, at least not for me on super moist cakes. After the first layer, I started the second layer and the crumbs were falling off; the. And being moist was doing that. The cream just was not sticking. Trouble two: it was taking waaaay too long. DD was also fussing a lot and I had to keep washing my hands to run upstairs to comfort her. When it was finally done after 3 hours, it was no way close to how I wanted it to look like. But I guess A would forgive me for messy looking cake as I had the right intentions like my cake? Cake#2 Something told me that I had to finish all the outside shopping 2 days before the birthday. I was glad I did, as Hubby wanted to take my car for work that day (A's car is a standard car and I don't drive stick shift). I bought a yummy 3 layered fruit cake. I was so mad with the day lady at the confectionary section. It was already 5:30 pm and it was getting closer to DD's dinner time. The lady looked at me and totally ignored me for good 2 mins! I yelled at her, " lady, if you are too busy to serve me, call your manager, perhaps he/she would assist me". She made some excuse but I got my point across. See, I can be a biyaatch when I want to. I just don't like to be one; doesn't mean I am not capable of being one. Anyway, I bought the cake I wanted and went home! Cleaning: As most of you who know me, know that while I try to keep the home as clean as possible, it never comes to a point where I can say, "it's spotless". Since I was going to have so many guests at home, I wanted to make sure everything is spotless. But how? I mean, when I don't do anything extra itself I am so busy with DD, where do I find time to clean carpets, clean the bathrooms, kitchen, floors, fridge and all the rooms?! I can't start too early as there is a danger of getting everything "back to square 1". So, I had to start 2 weeks before the party date. My DD was being such a sweetheart; I simply put her in the crib with a few toys while I vacuumed the upper level. The next day, I did the lower level carpets. The day after I did the bathrooms. Most of the stuff had to be done when she went to bed, which gives me a window of 2 hours every night. Unfortunately, she was waking up every 20 mins the first night; that means i hardly got to do anything at all. Polishing the glasses, polishing the cutlery, rinsing and wiping the china were done on 3rd night. I grossly underestimated the time take to polish the glasses. Of course I had a lot of glasses to polish, for I had no idea what everyone would be drinking. I started with wine glasses, then proceeded to beer mugs, martini glasses and finally to champagne flutes. I am telling you, it’s a 1 hour job. But I was so glad I did it because at the end of it all, they were all shining, just like crystal which they are. Finally the day came. When Hubby woke up at 11:30 AM (he was working the night before), we had a cake cutting with DD in his lap. He also got cuddles, kisses and a card from DD. Her hand prints frame has not been completed as a gift and hence, I couldn’t give it to him. He got some other personal gifts from me and DD. When the evening came, one of his friends came over to take him out for a drink. By then he guessed that I am up to something as no one shows up unannounced at our home. Our good friends helped me immensely with getting the food from the restaurant, cleaning up, prepping the backyard etc. It wouldn’t have been the same without them two. 9 of his good friends gathered, including his best buddy Steve who flew over from a different province. Hubby was surprised with the guest list; though the party itself wasn’t a surprise (his friend showing up unannounced gave him a hint). All of us had good time and he got so many gifts. But the best gift of all was best wishes of his friends. Hubby had a great time and I guess that’s all that matters at the end of the day. Would I do this again? Probably not. Too much work! Certainly not when you dont have anyone to help to maintain the 'surprise factor'.