Gonna Party Like It's My Birthday...

Last year I waxed philosophical on my birthday, and didn't feel much like celebrating. Now that 25 is behind me and I'm headed squarely into the back half of my 20s, I'm feeling more positive on life (being in love will do that, I suppose), and I decided that it was time to fete the passing of another year on earth with a party. After all, my cookie exchange reminded me how much I enjoy entertaining, and I promised myself back in December that I would start doing it more often.

I put together a lovely centerpiece for the table using $16 worth of flowers from the grocery store, and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I don't even want to think about how much it would have cost to get an equally-sized bouquet from a florist...

The older I get, the more I've realized that I don't have to kill myself trying to impress my party guests with a vast and elaborate spread of delicacies. I decided to keep things simple with a cheese plate, some frozen phyllo tarts, homemade olive tapenade, the world's greatest chocolate cake, and a DIY cocktail bar. I ended up with just enough cake to serve all my guests, and there were very few leftovers, so I'm counting my food offerings a success. Mostly, I'm just worried about the potential alcoholism that may ensue as I try to get rid of the huge beer surplus that's currently gracing my fridge. That, or it'll go bad before I can drink it all, like it has with every party I've had in the past. Clearly, the lesson I need to take from this is that my friends aren't big beer drinkers...

I wanted to make sure that I got at least one photo on my birthday with Justin, so I snapped this one right before the guests started to arrive. Check out the sparkly new piece of bling I got from my parents as a gift!

I was excited that some of my high school friends made the hike from the suburbs to celebrate with me. Here's Stephanie, Taryn, Sarah, and Ashley.

Two more of my favorite ladies: Lisa and Lauren.

I managed to get one more picture with Justin for the evening, and pulled in Jane as well.

By the end of the evening, I think I managed to host one of my best gatherings to date, and certainly the largest in terms of attendance. I think inviting more people was critical to the success of the party, as people were more likely to mingle in small, ever-evolving groups instead of congregating around the table and having a single conversation. This way, more people had a chance to talk, engage with, and get to know each other. It seemed like everyone had a good time, and I was glad to be able to bring together such a diverse and entertaining group of people and call them all my friends.

I am truly blessed to have such great friends, and such an amazing boyfriend in my life -- if the quality of the people surrounding me is any indicator, 26 might just be my best year yet!

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