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November 28, 2014
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December 26, 2014

A 16th Birthday Party to Remember

How can words capture the love for a daughter? How can I express feelings that come from turning around to see my little one reach adolescence. Anxious feelings well up with each grain of sand that passes through the hour glass of my life.

Time and I have always battled. When I was a young mother I made a concerted effort to hold the line by quite literally “stopping to smell the roses”. Now, in a foolish attempt to combat how quickly life passes, I fill each day with as many experiences as I possibly can. Father Time, cheeky as he is, laughs a good laugh because staying engaged and having fun makes time fly! My family constantly goes from chore, to obligation, to event, to tradition, to celebration, to project, to extracurricular and before I know it I’m losing ground and another year passes. My children once asked me what superpower I would choose if I could pick only one. You guessed it; I would choose the power to stop time. 
With Payton recently turning sixteen, I will stop time the only way I know how by immortalizing my love for her through the permanence of the written word. 
Emma-Payton  A 16th Birthday Party to Remember Emma Payton

Emma and Payton


You are my heart. I am in awe at the kindness, beauty and grace you possess. Never lose the ability to laugh at yourself. I can’t wait to spend another year with you and see all that you continue to become. God blessed my life when he gave me you. I‘m more than glad that you are mine. Happy 16th birthday. I love you to the Moon! 
I’ve come to regard the pace we keep as a negative characteristic however, there is one way this insatiable drive to stay busy works to put the brakes on life passing me by. Because I don’t mind being on the go, I’m not the slightest bit intimidated by the infinite hours required to commemorate life’s milestones in big ways. By memorializing important events in this way, fleeting moments become more significant and the carefully planned details are burned into my heart and mind. These festive gatherings and traditions create lasting memories. Needless to say, birthday parties, holidays, achievements and other important events are happy family affairs.
Payton’s Sweet 16 celebration was no exception. I partnered with my dear friend Hannah to throw a bash in honor of our daughters. Her daughter Emma has been incredibly close with Payton since the 3rd grade when we moved from California to North Carolina. Since Emma turned 16 just a few short weeks after Payton, Hannah and I were a perfect pair. I like to think I am creative and resourceful like she is, but truth be told, I am the best copycat that has ever lived. I know a good idea when I see one and it’s fun to tweak them and make them my own. We each credit Pinterest for many of the party ideas but some original ideas contributed to the success of the event as well.
Invite  A 16th Birthday Party to Remember InviteIt was a night I will not soon forget. I think it’s important to set the tone of a party with a detailed invitation. Thoughtfully planned out invitations can set a party up for success by setting expectations. Our invitation communicated that this was a family friendly party and a dressy affair. I also think it’s important to have things for guests to do at a party. It should be an event. We set a program and asked one of the girls’ outgoing friends to emcee. Greeted by balloons and doors with monogrammed decals hung by ribbon, guests arrived to find the girls’ little brothers handing out programs outlining all the things they could experience that evening. On the back of the program was the “What’s in your Phone” game. This immediately engaged guests and with Frank Sinatra serenading in the background and food ready to be served the party was underway. The food favorite of the evening were the chocolate dipped strawberries my lady friends and I prepared while frosting cupcakes the night before.
The venue had an upstairs area where attendees could play life size Jenga, Chess, Checkers or Corn Hole. Accessorizing themselves in all manor of garb, friends could visit Sinatra, Monroe and Hepburn in the photo booth or type a wish for the birthday girls on an old fashioned typewriter. Amid the sea of Tiffany & Co. theme and decor complete with Tiffany blue punch, one could find any number of Audrey quotes or visit the hot chocolate bar.
Audry-Quote1  A 16th Birthday Party to Remember Audry Quote1The guests of honor were invited to the small stage where they thanked their guests for attending and all who helped. They were seated at the front of the room for what we’ve come to call the “paddle roast”. Each guest was given a paddle with a photograph of each girl on either side. The emcee shared funny stories and tidbits from the girls lives and participants guessed which girl the anecdote was referring to by holding up their picture. Guests gave themselves points for the ones they got right and pearls and bow ties were given as prizes to the winners.  Next, as a surprise, a talented crooner and upperclassman from the birthday girls’ high school sang. For his second song, and at our request, he invited the fathers to dance with their sweet 16 year old girls. Halfway through both entire families were dancing. Many others joined in as he completed the four additional Michael Buble, big band songs from his set. He was a hit!
The dance floor was full of kids moving to the beat as our friend disc jockeyed dance mix after dance mix. They cut a rug for the next hour and a half only stopping for the culminating event; the happy birthday song. Together the birthday girls blew out tall gold candles surrounding number sixteen sparklers on a birthday cake made to look like a Tiffany & Co. jewelry box. Guests enjoyed the 300 cupcakes, iced in blue, displayed in a magnificent cupcake tower. The final dances were danced and last photo booth snapshots were taken.
A moment that made the night worth all the effort happened while the dancing was under way and the birthday girls, smiling from ear to ear, came and said, “We love a successful party!” and thanked us again. I’m so pleased with how it all turned out. We loaded up the many car loads of party gear and with help from dear family and friends returned the clubhouse to its original state.
I learned so much from this experience. First, you can do a lot with a little and with the help of many. Second, I hope I have the resources to pay someone to handle all of the details when my children get married so I can be rested and fully take in the day.
Time is the great equalizer. It is the greatest gift we’ve been given and the most generous gift we can give. This party and all the love and energy we poured into it was a glorious use of sweet time.
To view the party photos enlarged, click here to go to the photo gallery.
Sweet33  A 16th Birthday Party to Remember Sweet33


1 Comment

  1. emma reeves says:

    Your family is so beautiful and the party looked like a blast!!! Just wanted to remind you that I am a baker and would love to provide cupcakes and/or cakes for your future gatherings. Just touch base with me and I will be honored to do so. I miss seeing you. We must get together soon and catch up.

    Love ya,


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