Picture yourself at the beach in July. What are you wearing? A bathing suit, right? Maybe a t-shirt and shorts if you're there in the evening. What you're not wearing at the beach in July, I'd expect, is a long-sleeved t-shirt under a hoodie under a jacket with a fur-lined hood, wrapped in a pashmina, and topped off with a hat.
Welcome to summer in San Francisco.
Two years ago, my BFF Alison and I decided to hold a bonfire at Ocean Beach to celebrate the birthdays of our husbands, who weren't even our husbands then, they were just our boyfriends (how much changes in two years!) The 2008 Birthday Beach Bonfire was a glorious affair, so glorious, in fact, that we decided to recreate it this year as well (we skipped 2009, possibly because Alison was out of town but maybe also because my head was about to explode with wedding planning.) As with all things that grow better with age, we had big plans for the 2010 Birthday Beach Bonfire: we just didn't realize we had different plans.
My plan was to make everything cute. I like to make things cute, you see, and I was breathless with excitement over the red and white gingham napkins I'd found in Target and around which I intended to hinge my entire decorative scheme.
Alison's plan was to make a shitload of booze. This is never a bad plan, of course, and Alison truly outdid herself: not only did we have gallons and gallons of delicious homemade rum punch, but the Anglophiles among us delighted in a frosty glass of Pimms, which somehow tasted just as good on a frigid, windswept beach as it does on a pub bench on a warm English summer evening.
When planning a party with a friend, it's important, I think, to play to your strengths. Before we realized this, Alison was (probably) rolling her eyes at my idea for a completely unnecessary---but super cute!---DIY s'mores bar, and I was feverishly trying to find us some sort of super thrifty punch solution that would work only if we budgeted two drinks per person and slapped the wrist of any unsuspecting guest going in, innocently, for a third.
Naturally, this was a really crappy idea.
And eventually, thank goodness, we realized it. "You know what," said Alison. "Let me handle the booze. I'm good at booze. I'll do the booze and you make things look pretty. Let's divide and conquer."
This turned out to be the best idea ever.
Once we'd figured out what we were good at and what our main priorities were---mine: for the red velvet cupcakes to match the red gingham napkins to match the red table runner to match the red bamboo chip bowl; Alison's: for us not to run out of alcohol---the planning went incredibly smoothly. And the party was one of the most fun I've ever thrown.
However, parties are always more a little more exciting with sparklers, I find, and since we had a whole bunch left over from the wedding, we brought them down to the beach to play with. Leah and I got it into our heads that we would try and write something with our sparklers, and because it was only the two of us doing it, we had to come up with a word with two letters.
"Well, there's 'hi,'" you're thinking. "Or 'oh.' Or 'no.' Or 'ok.' Gee, there are tons of words they could write with two letters."
Yeah, we wrote "ho."
And then we did it again.
Unfortunately, we didn't manage to swing it for a third time, or else we could have printed those three photos next to each other and called it a Christmas card.
Anyway, I still smell like a campfire---as does the shirt I wore to work this morning, which I didn't even take to the party; someone tell me how that happens---and I am already brainstorming ways to make Beach Birthday Bonfire 2011 the best one yet (more toppings at the s'mores bar? Paper lanterns? Ooh, yes.) There are tons and tons of photos here, if you like seeing grown adults making weiner jokes and playing with fire while mildly intoxicated, and the thing that stands out most when I look at the set like that is how considerate Sean was to wear red. Not that he knew it, of course, but he totally matched my color scheme! Honestly, it's the little things, Internet, it really is.