A Mrs Burns & Daughters Production

I don't know, Internet. You think you've had your parents all figured out for the last 32 years, and then you go home one weekend and they own a croquet set. 

It was my dad's birthday last week, and we'd been planning for a few months to show up and surprise him with an impromptu family reunion. My brother Tom flew in from New York on Wednesday and freaked him out by answering the door when my dad got home from band practice—brief pause so we can collectively giggle that my dad goes to BAND PRACTICE—and then Luke and I arrived on Friday night in a move so stealthy that it took all five of us to pull it off. Needless to say, though, we did it. And suddenly all six of us were home together, which was cause enough for a celebration. 

Now, you may think that I like to throw parties—and you'd be right about that; my goodness, we know each other well—but my mother is the ultimate entertainer, and as soon as she knew she was going to have her whole family together for the weekend, she started planning what we should do. And what we should do, she decided, was drink Pimm's, eat cucumber sandwiches, and play a rousing game of croquet in the garden. 

In other words, we should pretty much British it up to the max. 

Somewhere along the line, though, this turned into dressing up like the characters from Downton Abbey. I'm not sure how it happened—my mother had sent me an email with the subject line "Dress Code" and a message to wear a large hat, which I had unfortunately dismissed as a joke—but at some point that morning "hey, it might be kind of fun to dress like we're going to a garden party" morphed swiftly into "hey, it'd be even more fun to dress like we're going to a garden party in an indeterminate decade between 1890 and 1950," and before I knew it, there we all were, standing around in costume in our own backyard. 

Well, you know what they say: the family that dresses up in period costume and looks snooty together...

I rather let the side down on the costume end of things—if only I'd taken my mother's email seriously and asked to borrow Leah's cloche hat!—but I did manage to filch a strand of fake pearls from my sister, plus my mother's straw boater from her old school uniform (too bad my head was a little larger than the average 9-year-old's), so if anyone suspected the $19.99 Valerie Bertinelli from TJ Maxx wasn't period-appropriate, they were kind enough not to say so, at least. Also it helped that we hadn't really picked a period. The prevailing feeling, as we all scurried to our rooms to change, was "eh, just wear something that makes it look like you wouldn't know what a computer was." 

My mother, who is excellent at celebrating people with food, outdid herself with the menu, and my sister Susie made a wonderful sous-chef—or Su-chef, as I pointed out to her just one more time than was strictly funny. I pretty much just showed up and cut the crusts off the sandwiches, but those two went to town with everything from the decorations to the menu, which—in addition to some very English things like sausage rolls and Eton Mess—included fries doused in vinegar and served in newspaper cones, and cupcakes topped with my dad's initials.

My mother borrowed this tent, and we hung some Union Jack bunting left over from the Diamond Jubilee. 


I know it's a little dorky—what's next, joining a local Civil War reenactment club? Do you think they have a family rate?—but our time together is so infrequent, and so precious when it happens, that it's lovely to be able to create such indelible memories. In fact, we've already decided that we're going to do it again next year. In the meantime, however, I'm going to need to brush up on my croquet. Lady Mary would have been appalled. 

More photos here, if you're into that sort of thing. 

1
Red boots
Jun 25, 2012

But Holly - you let the side down - do I see the American spelling of 'personalised'?!

2
Rebecca
Jun 25, 2012

You guys are ADORABLE! Seriously, I think everyone of your readers would like to be an honorary member of your family! And I had to google what Eton Mess was, yum!

3
Jane
Jun 25, 2012

What a delightful get together - looks like a lot of fun.

4
honeypops
Jun 25, 2012

please adopt me.

5
Chanel Jibal
Jun 25, 2012

Omg this was one of the best parties I've seen on the internets in a while. You guys reply out did yourselves. Just awesome! I'd love to do something like this but I'm afraid I would even know where to start... Great job! I'm sure It was fun!!!

6
mjb
Jun 25, 2012

I thought from the first photo that it was a Royal Tennenbaums party!

7
Danielle
Jun 25, 2012

This looks like so much fun and the food looks delicious.

I want to plan more occasions to dress like characters from Downton Abbey. Just last week I tried to talk my husband into buying a tux to wear around the house but he wasn't into it.

8
Anna Louisa
Jun 25, 2012

Wonderful! I've been waiting impatiently for the explanation behind the pictures :). Your family is too cool.

www.anna-bird.com

9
Emily
Jun 25, 2012

I absolutely love your family!

10
ashley
Jun 25, 2012

Your family continues to be one of my favorites.

11
Lindsey
Jun 25, 2012

I went home this weekend, and MY WHOLE FAMILY WORE AMERICAN CLOTHES. I did not know until just now that this was the least cool thing we could do. (And not one round of croquet, we played BASEBALL. Unoriginal, family, UNORIGINAL.)

12
Amy
Jun 25, 2012

Your family reigns supreme as the MOST adorable, awesome family on the Internet. Seriously. I love this.

13
Nichole
Jun 25, 2012

That is 100% adorable.

14
Hannah
Jun 25, 2012

Oh, thank heavens. I saw the photo you tweeted the other day and have been dying for an explanation. Your family is awesome.

15
susie g
Jun 25, 2012

you and your family are adorable! this looks like the most fun ever.

16
Linda
Jun 25, 2012

Ok, I'm just going to say what everyone else is thinking (or at least what I've been thinking for the past several years of reading NBB): Your brother Tom is HOT!

17
Lisa
Jun 25, 2012

what Linda said.

18
Roxanna (miguelina)
Jun 25, 2012

I want to be adopted by your family.

19
Megan
Jun 25, 2012

I love that your family always looks so glad to be together; it's delightful.

Related: your dad seriously looks like the happiest man alive in every picture you of him that post. He has such a kind face.

20
Sarah Brown
Jun 25, 2012

I've just realized who your dad reminds me of: Albert Finney. This makes me like him even more.

21
Heather
Jun 25, 2012

Oh my lord your family is GREAT!!!!!!!! They are all so awesome, and so good looking!

But on to far more important matters - please tell me where you can find sausage rolls? This is of utmost importance. I LOVE THEM (as I love pork pies) but can't find these things in America. Do you have a secret source?

22
Marcheline
Jun 25, 2012

Having a family that will actually all participate in a theme party? Extremely cool.

Having a family that actually looks like they are from the time period of the theme party? Priceless!

23
Erika
Jun 25, 2012

This was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes.

24
cojo
Jun 25, 2012

I wish I liked my family...

25
Angie Orth
Jun 25, 2012

No matter how hard I try, I just can't get my family on board with costumed fiestas. Please send me an invite for the next Burns gathering... I want to be adopted.

Also, I agree with Linda.

26
edj
Jun 25, 2012

I kind of think the men won this round! Although that tiny, twee boater is rather fetching ;)

27
Janssen
Jun 25, 2012

I think the whole Internet is in love with your family.

28
very important
Jun 25, 2012

Hi Tom. Anyone who dresses their yellow walking shorts with a navy and pink tie deserves a bow. On my knees.

29
Russell Hicks
Jun 25, 2012

How unutterably superb!!

30
Pretzel Thief
Jun 26, 2012

You guys are amazing.

That is all.

'Cept for the part where you just keep outdoing yourselves in the awesomeness stakes and make people wanna be adopted by you, hahah.

Love all the details and prettines...and I especially love that your dad has band practice, SQUEEEE!

31
Valery
Jun 26, 2012

I love how the accessories (especially the headwear) really make the difference.

32
Randy
Jun 26, 2012

Shouldn't that be "cones of chips"?

33
Mary
Jun 26, 2012

Damn, I want to be a part of your family!

34
Camels & Chocolate
Jun 29, 2012

This might very well be my favorite Burns family soiree ever. Which is saying loads, as I adore everything your family does.

Oh, and being from the rural South, I can say that Civil War reenactment clubs are still huge. Not that I've ever been part of one...uh, of course not...

35
taylor
Jun 30, 2012

well, aren't ya'll just too damn adorable. I would have enjoyed this, thoroughly.

36
newgyptian
Jul 01, 2012

I just emailed my husband this link and said, "I want to have kids if only to someday have a family like this."

The Burns rock!

37
Anna
Jul 04, 2012

I'm late to this post, but I'm another who agrees with Linda. Those cupcakes look neat and all, but, more importantly, Tom is a stud.

38
Kids Dentist
Jul 05, 2012

I like your mom's idea on this family reunion. It made it more enjoyable. How did she made you are all game for it?

39
Shelley
Jul 05, 2012

Delightful! I have costumes at all my parties, and I LOVE it! And the fun you have with your family! Let's be sisters. : )

40
kdub
Jul 07, 2012

Your outfit makes me think of the children's book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

41
Andi
Jul 15, 2012

Kristin of Camels & Chocolate shared this post on my blog and I have to say I am so thankful she did - I love it! What a fantastic day/party/visit, looks like an absolute ball! I have added you to my reader and can't wait to spend some time on catching up on old posts and not missing any new ones.

42
Emmy
May 19, 2016

Zdzichon Posted on Alegicznie reaguję na tytuły freemium. Jeszcze odiynkowlwaobe contentu jestem z wielkimi oporami gotów zaakceptować, ale płacenie za możliwość postępów w grze kompletnie zabija dla mnie całą radość.

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