My cousin, Judy, has been to Paris many times over the years and considers it her second home. When I learned she didn't have the funds to go for her thirtieth birthday, I decided to throw her a surprise party and bring Paris to her.
We told Judy that her Aunt Vanessa's house was going to be the gathering place for a family party, but we didn't tell her anything about inviting her friends or the Paris theme. We sent invitations shaped like the Eiffel Tower to twenty of her friends. Inside were the party details as well as instructions for the guests to wear berets and scarves to the party and to keep it a surprise for Mademoiselle Judy.
On the day of the party the furniture was cleared out of the living room and wire-framed metal bistro tables and wrought iron chairs, like the kind in a Parisian café, were set up. Each table was covered by a lace table cloth. A single white rose was put in a crystal vase on each table. French music like "La Vie En Rose", "April in Paris", etc., played on the stereo.
When Judy arrived all her friends and family were sitting at the tables in their berets and scarves sipping coffee. Judy nearly cried at the sight. She couldn't believe how much effort we had put into the party. Just her saying Vanessa's living room looked like a Paris cafe was praise enough.
She sat down at a table near the centre of the others so we could all see her. Waiters handed out menus listing the choices of French cuisine, and each person ordered from the waiter who served their table, just like in a cafe. They was choice of red or white wine to enjoy with the meal. Each table's food was brought to the table from the kitchen. All the dishes made by the caterer were authentic and delicious. Soon everyone was eating and having a great time.
Dessert was spectacular. First, we all sang Happy Birthday to Judy and I took a picture of her as tears swelled in her eyes. Judy was thrilled with the custom gift basket Vanessa gave her. It was filled with flavoured coffees and Belgium chocolate truffles. Vanessa raised her glass, making a toast to Judy reaching her thirtieth birthday and everyone joined in. There were éclairs, cream puffs and many other kinds of pastries. Judy has the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know. I took the last cream puff, but I gave it to her when she started eyeing it.
After we were all stuffed we divided into groups and played Trivial Pursuit. There were three games going on at once. Judy's and my game lasted the longest, so by the end of the party everyone was standing over our table to see who would win. We just couldn't seem to get in the middle for the final question. At last, Judy answered correctly and won the game. We all agreed it was good that she won. After all, it was her birthday.
After everyone went home Judy, Vanessa and I spent a few hours drinking wine and talking in our Parisian cafe while the caterer was cleaning up. I can't remember when I had such a great time.