Did you have a chance to see our Winter Wonderland styled photoshoot we posted in December? Well, today I wanted to tell you the entire story behind this collection! You may have caught the appetizers I showed in the Ruff Draft… giving a glimpse of the Winter Wonderland Surprise 60th Birthday Party I threw for my mom in December. Now it’s time to reveal the entire party – step by step, with months of planning and anticipation.
In September of last year, my siblings, stepdad and I decided we should throw a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom that upcoming December. Her birthday was on December 29, so we thought the best way to surprise her was to have it early, on the 22nd. My entire family lives in Ohio, so we decided I would come home for Christmas (which I haven’t done since I moved away). I would come in 4 days before the party to prepare & execute, and keep it a secret from my mom that I was coming home. (She thought she was coming to South Carolina the day after Christmas, just like she has done for the past 3 years).
In November, I talked with Maureen and asked her if we could create a Winter Wonderland collection for the shop, so she could help me pre-plan the party I was creating in Ohio in December. I knew that in order to pull off this once in a lifetime party, I would need Maureen’s assistance even if she couldn’t be with me in Ohio. So, together we created the Winter Wonderland Collection and dessert table, and I traveled home with all the designs and props.
In the meantime, throughout the fall… my sister Laura & I had been creating paper snowflakes. I told her, that I wanted the entire party to feel like a true Winter Wonderland, and that we had to have snowflakes EVERYWHERE. Do you know the scene from the movie Elf, where he turns the house into a winter wonderland… I wanted it to feel just like that! Laura and her family created over 400 snowflakes (my family did around 100), and my other siblings Erin & Brian had another 100 or so… we ended up with over 600 snowflakes to hang!!!!
One other fun note – we knew we wanted the party to be cocktail attire, so in order to have my mom dressed and ready for a party, we sent her a fake holiday party invitation. She thought she was going to a family friend’s party the evening of her surprise party. She even ordered personalized stationery from the shop, to bring as hostess gifts! She had no clue what was in store for her…LOL!!!
Once I arrived in Ohio, I moved into my sister Erin’s house (party location) for the week to start preparing and assembling. I had to keep a low profile, so I wouldn’t bump into my mom. (thank goodness, she still works… it kept her from stopping by my sister’s house). My brother Brian, my 2 sisters Laura & Erin, plus Laura’s husband Dave, my husband Matt, Erin’s boyfriend Josh, Brian’s girlfriend Ali, helped me on & off for 4 days straight. My stepdad, Ric kept my mom occupied in her spare time – it truly took that many people to make the party happen.
The day before the party, a real winter storm came through…. it was just the scenery needed for our magical event!
Hours before the party – hanging snowflake garland, and food prep!
————–Now for the actual Winter Wonderland Surprise 60th Birthday Party————
Thank you to the amazing Jennifer Conklin Photography for capturing every detail!
We strung snowflake garland from wall to wall…. along the fireplace & stairs… we also taped up individual snowflakes along the front door entry and favor table. Once the garland was hung in the great room, I recreated the dessert table that Maureen & I had staged earlier in November. I didn’t have the same space, so I condensed the table to incorporate a few treats, and give a similar look. Our local Ohio Baker, Misty Conkle from Misty’s Cakery, provided the beautiful and delicious vanilla raspberry filled cake. Sandy, from Firefly Confections, shipped the gorgeous cookies to us in Ohio. I sat out branches with hanging birds that we had made from our earlier photo shoot, and also recreated the meringue trees in mason jar snow globes. I added a few painted pinecones, and painted number 60 made out of old house numbers for an added touch.
Once the great room and dessert table were set, we worked our way into the garden room, to set up the bar and appetizer tables.
First my siblings and I strung more snowflake garland along the ceiling and windows. We hung white lights around the window, and snowflake garland in front of the tables. Once the tables were in place, I created the bar and appetizer spread. On the left side of the bar, I set out glassware for each drink we were serving (wine, martinis and hot cocoa)… I added printable party flags to the stems, and added printable red birds to the hot cocoa mugs. To see full printable collection, click here.
I also dipped each martini glass in white chocolate and sugar sprinkles so they were ready to go. I put out another container with tree branches, fabric birds, snowflake cookies and paper snowflakes to tie in with the dessert table from the other room. I wrapped each wine bottle – since I didn’t have access to a printer, I created the wrap with copy paper, and then added a printable label to it. I also set out water bottles with printable drink wraps. On the right side of the bar, I created a hot cocoa station. I set out crushed mint, plain mini-marshmallows and chocolate/mint covered large marshmallows to mix with the hot cocoa.
We made hot cocoa sticks (all you have to do is add it to hot milk) which was actually chocolate ganache squares and marshmallow. (My brother-in-law made the ganache for me from this recipe) I wrapped them up in cellophane bags from Nashville Wraps, and tied with twine from The Twinery with a printable label. I set out individual mint sticks as well.
The snow peaking in from outside the windows, couldn’t have made for a more perfect setting. It truly made the room feel like a winter wonderland.
Once the bar was complete, I moved onto the appetizer table. I used white platters and glass stands for the food displays. I added paper ruffles with party logos, party flags on toothpicks, and set out more painted wooden windows with paper snowflakes for added details. To see all of the appetizers served in details, click here.
I made some chocolate covered pretzels to sit around the rooms, showing off some of the party printables. We also made extra hot cocoa sticks and Reindeer food (since Christmas was 3 days away), for guests to take as party favors.
We sat out food and last minute details right up until guests arrived. I asked my husband Matt, to run the bar while Brian & Dave valeted the guests’ cars. My nephew Alec (little guy in the red shirt & vest), greeted guests as they came in to the party.
The kids were so excited for the guest of honor to arrive (my mom, aka: Gigi), they could hardly stand it!
The guests were served cocktails while mingling, as they patiently awaited for my mom’s arrival.
Brynne and Alec watched for my mom, as Laura & I kept everyone quiet.
My mom finally arrived, and as she walked in, we all screamed “Happy Birthday”!
She was totally surprised…
..especially to see me, Matt and the girls – she had no idea until that moment that we were home for the holidays!
I hope I look that good at 60 – doesn’t my mom look fabulous???
Once things had settled down, we served the hot appetizers and ate from the appetizer table.
We took group photos for lasting memories (left side: Mom’s kids, right side: Ric’s kids)
Our siblings had a snowflake contest…. we each put up our best snowflakes in the designated four windows, for mom to choose her favorite – indicating the winner. We actually put a lot of thought into which snowflake went on the window… hoping to win (for bragging rights). Laura had hundreds to choose from, and I truly thought one of her 400+ snowflakes would win. Guess again… Brian and girlfriend Ali (who contributed the least amount of snowflakes) had the winning snowflake – go figure!
We did a champagne toast, and Brian gave a funny, yet heartfelt speech on behalf of our siblings, and Ric, our stepdad, gave a loving speech as well.
We played a Family Feud style game broken into two teams – all questions about Mom (somewhat “roast” like questions)… it was hysterical and the winning team received lottery tickets.
Last, Ric surprised mom with a cruise to the Bahamas during Christmas break, and New Years in Miami!
The party was perfect in every way, and it couldn’t have gone any better! Mom was truly surprised and totally grateful for all that we did!
A special thank you to all those who helped make this party happen – I couldn’t have done it without you!
VENDOR CREDITS & RESOURCES:
– Concept, Styling and Production: Anders Ruff (plus Adria’s family!)
–Professional Photography: Jennifer Conklin Photography
– Printable Graphics: Anders Ruff Shop
– Sugar Cookies: Firefly Confections
– Cake: Misty’s Cakery
– Twine: The Twinery
– Cello Bags: Nashville Wraps