My Big Bash At 40
I’ve already written a few posts around my 40th birthday. The first was about how to dress for my age. If you missed it, you can read it here. The second post was a diary piece I wrote on the eve of the big day, which you can read here. I also wrote a piece about how I celebrated with Sukh and the kids with a day out in London, which can be found here. This is the final post in the mini-series – my big bash at 40.
I had thrown Sukh a surprise party for his 40th but I knew he could never pull off a surprise for me. It’s mostly a control thing. I need to know everything that’s going on in the family months in advance. So how could Sukh conceal such information from me? He would never get away with telling me we were booked up that night. Not without me bombarding him with thousands of questions!
I booked a date a couple of weeks after my birthday. We had a couple of family weddings in October and November. So I knew extended family could probably do with a bit of a break rather than three big events so close together.
I shortlisted a few venues and decided on a banqueting suite not far from my house. It was perfect for my budget, could accommodate all of my guests and being an Asian venue I knew my family and friends would be happy with the menu. The manager was a bit surprised I had turned up by myself to look around, finalise the venue and sign the contract.
He said normally a spouse or parent would accompany most clients. I had no reservations about going on my own and making the decision. After all, I’m a grown woman, it was my party and I knew what I wanted. I didn’t feel I needed anyone to hold my hand.
I’ve also planned a couple of big events before. My wedding doesn’t really count as both Sukh and my parents took care of most of the details. Things were very different in Asian families when we got married over fifteen years ago. Now, couples make a lot of big decisions themselves on the venue, music, catering and the finer details – and rightfully so.
The first big event (mostly) Sukh and I planned was Shivam’s first birthday party. Sukh wanted a Chinese theme as he is obsessed with Chinese culture and food. It was a lavish affair and he even booked some lion dancers. We both thought out the menu carefully and included some Chinese food items, as well as chopsticks and fortune cookies, at each place setting. It was a night I will always cherish and people to this day say it was one of the best parties they had been to because it was so unique.
And then of course was Sukh’s surprise party, for which I picked a Hollywood/Bollywood theme. I can’t quite believe how well I pulled this off, thanks to a few close friends and family. So I was confident I could meticulously plan my own party and put down a deposit on the venue back in July.
I didn’t really plan anything else until after our big trip to Orlando. That was a planning mission in itself and yes, I am well organised and in control most of the time but planning these two big events simultaneously was a bit too much even for me.
As soon as we returned it was all systems go. I booked my good friend Anjla from Cake Couture to bake my birthday cake. She had baked Sukh’s too and has done every cake for the four of us for years. I usually choose the design I want online and send her a photo. She then works on it and offers suggestions or changes. I have never been disappointed. For my 40th, I chose a simple design in gold.
I had decided I wanted all my guests to be dressed in either black or gold. The décor would also be black and gold. I think it’s a classy theme and who doesn’t have a little black dress or saree in their wardrobe? It would be easy for the guys too.
The venue was taking care of the three-course meal so all I had to do was buy a few snacks for the tables as guests mingled. I also booked my good friends at Sugar Rush to set up a sweet table on the night, which was a hit with the kids and adults alike. You can find out more about them here.
Sukh’s first cousin Suraj owns Crush Cocktail Bars. I knew I had to have cocktails at my party. Whenever we’ve had a family event in recent years, we’ve had Crush there and the cocktails and mocktails go down a treat. Suraj spent time going over my personalised menu. We decided on four special mixes; Naughty November (as that’s when my birthday is), A Rosie World (How could I not?), All That Glitters (to go with the glamorous theme) and Flirty Forty (self-explanatory!). I knew it would be a hit with my guests but there was a crowd there all evening! Since that night I’ve had friends and family telling me that was definitely one of their highlights.
I decided on a traditional outfit for the night. I had actually ordered a gold gown online but for many reasons, it just never arrived in time. So out I went to my favourite Asian boutiques in Birmingham to find something that would be special enough to wear on my big night. When I came across this red and gold lehenga, I fell in love with it at first sight but I had spent so much on my party already and somehow I just couldn’t justify the cost. I walked away from the store and decided to just order something else online.
But I couldn’t get the lehenga out of my mind. There was only one in the store and the man had said once it’s gone, it’s gone. If I didn’t find anything else within a week and it was still there, I would buy it. If it was gone, well then I would have to console myself with ‘it wasn’t meant to be’. I didn’t find anything else – or maybe I didn’t really look hard enough. So I went back to the store a week later and there it was – still hanging on the rail. I bought it immediately and talked the manager into giving me a sizeable discount too – as I had purchased several outfits from him before.
The theme I had set for the party was black and gold and here I was, buying red. Friends assured me that it was my night after all and I could and should wear something different to everyone else.
I ordered a guestbook online and set-up a table near the cocktail bar. It was the best place for it, as people would sign it as they waited for their drinks. Sukh put up a gold backdrop near the bar and the photographer managed to capture some great pictures.
I decided to make a seating plan for the evening. There were many people from different aspects of my life attending; friends from school, college and work, family friends, Sukh’s extended family and mine. I wanted everyone to be next to or near someone they knew. It wasn’t easy drawing up the plan but people don’t remain seated for long – as everyone is mingling or on the dance-floor anyway after they’ve eaten.
I had got a friend to design a special filter for Snapchat. Most people opt to have these now at events and it’s nice when you look back on the story of the night to have something unique to you. It was a simple gold design with ‘Rosie’s 40th’ in black text.
I chose a couple of my favourite songs for when it was time to blow out the candles and cut my cake – Natasha Beddingfield’s Unwritten and Take That’s Greatest Day.
I had planned a family dance immediately after with Sukh and the kids. Jessie J’s Flashlight has been a favourite for a while. It was nice to have a moment as a four before the dance floor opened up for my guests for the rest of the night.
It was great fun dancing the night away with all the special people in my life to a mix of Bollywood, Bhangra, Hip Hop, R&B and even some grime music. I had picked a special song as the final one for the evening. As the biggest Take That fan on the planet, it could only be Rule The World. The song summed up everything I was feeling that night and was the perfect way to end my birthday celebrations.
It will be a night I will always remember and cherish fondly.
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