Advice On Throwing A Party With A Friend

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.

Camels & Chocolate
Jul 12, 2010

Every soiree I attend of yours ends with the sentiment: "Best. Party. Ever." Saturday was no different.

Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 12, 2010

Awwwwww, thanks! That makes me happy.

Jul 13, 2010

Lovely party! And I know you guys were probably bummed to have worn hoodies on the beach in July, but it's been about a million degrees for a week in New York, so I am nothing but jealous.

Jul 13, 2010

So cool! I've never lived anywhere that allows beach parties like that.

Jul 13, 2010

I wish I needed a jacket now. I can only take off so much in this heat without getting arrested.

Kate (and Ben)
Jul 13, 2010

You know the only way to make a s'more better? And I do mean the ONLY way. Add a smear of creamy peanut butter to the graham cracker before laying down your chocolate and marshmallow. For real. Wowzers.
And, you're welcome.

hip hip gin gin
Jul 13, 2010

I'll tell you a summer that is so cool it necessitates a pashmina is my kind of summer! I think it is time for us to move to San Francisco. Because this whole heat wave, I'm sweating in the shower, thing is totally ridiculous.


Look like a killer party!

Jul 13, 2010

When we were looking for you on the beach, I saw a group of people all in red shirts and thought for sure it was you. Then I heaved a huge sigh of relief because I had happened to wear a red shirt myself and wouldn't be thrown out of the party for clashing.

Locusts and Wild Honey
Jul 13, 2010

Hooray! It was the best beach bonfire yet! I have no doubt you'll make it fancier and fancier every year.

I'll have to up my game too. Hmmmm...a signature cocktail?

Kerri Anne
Jul 13, 2010

I'm a huge fan of little details (or big chalkboards!) that make a party memorable. And any party featuring s'mores. Glad it was such a hit!

Miranda Tuttle
Jul 13, 2010

Try using Reese's peanut butter cups instead of plain chocolate bars for S'mores. We did that for 4th of July an I swear I'm never going back.

Jul 13, 2010

I was on Treasure Island for 4th of July and, holy crap, coldest 4th I've ever had. Layers and winter hats and in the end we even wrapped ourselves in sleeping bags. But I would take that over being hot and sweaty any day.

Your party looks lovely!

Alison of a Gun
Jul 13, 2010

Man I'm so jeal that you get to party with Maggie! And also that she gets to party with you. I wish I were a California Fancy Blogger soooo bad.

Jul 13, 2010

Wow- it looks like your life comes right out of a magazine. Gorgeous! :)

Jul 13, 2010

When I plan parties, I obsess about the matching-the napkins match the favors, match the invitations, match the decorations AND the booze. Maybe that's what I get so stressed out. Also, am OLD b/c my party planning posts this week centered on a 4 year old's fairy birthday while yours was on a boozy beach bonfire.

Jul 14, 2010

I say print the second pic three times and call it Christmas!

Also, 1) I am sad I didn't see you when I was in SF last month and 2) I would've loved being at that party. AWESOME.

The easel? THE BOMB.

Jul 14, 2010

I thought California was warm-weather -land. Crazy.
Btw, I just wanted you to know that you and your hubby are pretty much the most attractive real-life couple I have ever seen. You guys should be in movies.

Jul 14, 2010

Did you make the red velvet cupcakes? Is what I want to know.

Also, I love your party. I dream of throwing, or even attending, parties like that, but right now I and all my friends are in grad school. Not that grad school isn't conducive to crazy boozefests, they just don't generally look so pretty.

Jul 14, 2010

wow. what a great party. but can you bring some of the cool air from SF to St. Louis?? Its wayyy too HOT here!`

Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 14, 2010

Sharone, sadly I didn't make them. I WOULD have, but all my baking stuff was packed away in boxes. Instead, we ordered them from here:

Jul 15, 2010

More S'mores?
Two things.
Strawberry marshmallows and cinnamon covered graham crackers.

Jul 15, 2010

Would you throw me a party someday? I think I would enjoy it very much.

Jul 18, 2010

Looks like it was an awesome party :)

Jul 19, 2010

Now THIS is a shindig that I would love to attend! Looks like the perfect day.

Jul 20, 2010

Lovely party post! I was wondering if you might be willing to share the punch recipe? Thanks very much!

Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 20, 2010

Merced, I'm pretty sure this is the punch recipe Alison used:

Pretty easy and VERY delicious!

Jul 21, 2010

Thank you so very much! Cheers!

Apr 21, 2016

I feel saesfiitd after reading that one.

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