Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ultimate FRIENDS Themed 30th Birthday Party!

*Brace yourselves, friends! This is going to be a long one!*

My college besties are the best kind of besties. We all met when we were between eighteen and twenty-one, over twelve years ago. Over the years, we have celebrated marriages and new babies and new jobs and new houses and vacations. But most of all, we have celebrated BIRTHDAYS. When each girl turns thirty, she gets a big, over-the-top, themed surprise party, and I really think they have gotten bigger and better every year. 

We relived the rock n' roll 80s for our first party, transported ourselves to Hogwarts for a Harry Potter party, transformed into our favorite princesses for a magical Disney party, and threw a fabulous, Gatsby-worthy Roaring Twenties bash. Just this year for my birthday, we broke out the Spice Girls and Hanson CDs, the Furbies and Tamagotchis, and I donned my old overalls for a awesome 90s party! 

Me getting "slimed" at my 90s party

Even though they're a ton of work, these parties have brought us such joy. Everything we do is DIY and on a budget, and it's exciting to see what kind of creativity and talent each girl brings to the party-planning table. 

But really? This last party was one for the books. 

Have you ever heard of a tiny little show called F.R.I.E.N.D.S?? 

It's kind of our favorite. We've seen every episode, know all the lyrics to Smelly Cat, and we can accurately quote even the most obscure lines. We are obsessed. So when it was time to plan the party for our youngest FRIEND, there was no question what theme we would choose. We called it, "The One Where Aubrey Turns 30!"

I think the hardest part was reining in all the ideas and inspiration. If I had all the money in the world, I might have built a to-scale replica of Central Perk, I was that excited. 

We weren't able to build an exact replica, but I think we did an pretty fantastic job capturing the laid-back vibe of the eclectic coffeeshop in the Village, especially considering ours was located in a church fellowship hall! We scoured thrift stores, the church storage rooms, and our own homes to decorate most of this party. And since both Central Perk and Monica's apartment have that bohemian, shabby, flea market style, it was easy to mix and match and make everything work. 

This was our opening scene, and the first thing that Aubrey saw when we brought her into the party. Instead of yelling surprise, our party guests shouted "I'll Be There for You!"

We found the orange sofa at a thrift store for $40 and the rug and coffee table were borrowed from around the church and our homes. The backdrop is colored pencil! More on that a little later...

Not only did we visit Central Perk, we also had a little nook for Monica's apartment! We made sure to have a purple door and that iconic frame over the peephole. I just painted the frame on acrylic paper then glued it onto cardboard.

 The "Jouets" poster is identical to Monica's but it usually lives in my bathroom! All the furniture and accessories were sourced from around the church, and we brought the TV to have episodes of the show playing throughout the night. 

Remember the Geller Cup?? It's from "The One With the Football" in Season 3. 

I was so excited to find that troll doll in an antique store for $3! I dirtied him up with watered down acrylic paint and hot glued him to a 2x4. Plus the birthday girl got to take it home at the end of the night! 

We also made miniature versions of Phoebe's weird 3D paintings, Gladys and Glynnis. Soooo creepy, and we had to do a lot of mutilating to those poor Barbies. 

"Whoever doesn't get Gladys, gets Glynnis!"

This was our photo booth area. I made quote bubbles with some of the most famous sayings from the show ("We were on a break!"), as well as the friends' faces and various name tags (Princess Consuela Bananahammock, Crap Bag, Ugly Naked Guy, you get the gist). I also found these and these awesome photo booth props on Etsy and they were only $12 total. We hung up lobsters because, you know, he's her lobster. 

This was such a fun place to take photos, and the genius last minute addition of the Dollar Tree umbrellas was a really fun touch! 

I painted the Central Perk logo on the glass of a large frame I found at the thrift store to replicate the large front window of the coffeehouse. I was thrilled when Aubrey wanted to take it home to use in her house! 

I also whipped up this simple framed chalkboard out of scrap wood, and we used it to write our coffee bar options on. How awesome is that Estelle flyer?? My friend Brandi made it, and it's that level of detail that makes my heart so happy! 

Speaking of attention to detail, let's talk about the fountain backdrop. I had a vision of an oversized image of the fountain that the gang splashes around in, but couldn't figure out an affordable way to make it happen. Like I said, if I were a millionaire, I would just build an actual life-size fountain, but sometimes my ideas are too out of reach. I called around to every copy shop in our town, and the cheapest quote I found for a print out in the size we wanted was $60. That may not be much in the big scheme of things, but like I mentioned, we do these parties on a major budget, and we couldn't spend $60 on a piece of paper we would probably throw away. 

So. My solution was to have Office Max print out this image in 4 separate BLACK AND WHITE 24x36 engineer prints. Then I painstakingly colored and shaded it in with good old fashioned Crayola colored pencils! It took me about ten hours total, but I was so proud of how it turned out. It's massive! With all four prints pieced together, it measures about four feet tall and six feet wide. 

Here it is in progress. You can see I had the show on my iPad and a cup of coffee nearby! I'm in love with how it turned out, so now I'm gonna have to find a wall in my house huge enough for it! 

Now let's talk about the FOOD! With Monica being a chef and Joey being such a fan of food, this was a real challenge to narrow down. 

Here you can see tiny bars of Mockolate (Season 2, "The One With the List") and tiny packs of gum (Chandler: "On second thought, gum would be perfection.)

Inside the box is the irresistible cheesecake from Mama's Little Bakery, Chicago, IL. You know, the one Chandler and Rachel eat off the ground when they should've returned it to Mrs. Braverman downstairs (Season 7, "The One With All the Cheesecakes").

We made simple cupcake toppers for store-bought cupcakes, plus we made mini cheesecakes too. 

We made a trifle, y'all. My friend Jessie is a kitchen magician, and she is responsible for most of the food. We tossed around the idea of making a trifle like Rachel's, but decided our trifle would be a successful one, not one including beef sautéed with peas and onions! And it was the best thing I've ever eaten. It did NOT taste like feet! 

We ordered the "Joey Special" (two pizzas) and had his favorite food, sandwiches! We also made "Grandma's Chicken Salad" (read it in Joey's sexy voice), as well as scones ("Stupid British snack food!"), Ugly Naked Guy's mini muffins, Phoebe's grandma's chocolate chip cookies ("Nesele Toulouse. You Americans always butcher the French language."), and avocado hummus ("Hummus! I got the hummus!" from "The One Where No One's Ready in Season 3).

My friend Maggie made all the cutie-cute labels for every dish so that even the non-super fans would know why we chose the food that we did. 

Even the chick and the duck made an appearance! This is a terrible photo, but by that point in the day, I was just glad to have clothes on and clean hair, and I had little time to spend taking photos. We lucked out when we found that plastic toy couch at the thrift store. I cleaned it up, spray painted it, and added the fringe. 

Look at the joy on her face! After we brought her into the party, we mingled a while and fixed coffee at our coffee bar, WHICH I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH. Y'all, by 6:30 I was not all with it, and I forgot to take photos of the coffee set up as well as the table decoration. Maybe I'll be able to add more as other people post their photos. But we had three (yes, THREE!) Keurigs set up with various creamers, syrups, and toppings. 

Then my favorite part... "The test is ready."

We played THE trivia game. You know the one! Where the girls compete against the guys to see who knows who better? And they end up losing their pretty purple apartment because Rachel thinks Chandlers job is "A transponster."

Aubrey and I especially had fun quoting all the memorable lines from this episode (Season 4, "The One With Phoebe's Uterus"). For a minute there, it was like we were living inside the world of Friends, which is the exact feeling we were going for! 

Part of me is sad that our big parties are over with (we agreed we're going on a cruise for our 40th birthdays!), but I am so happy this is how we chose to end it. In a way, it was like a party for all of us to enjoy, and it did not disappoint. 

Here's to the friends that will be there for you when the rain starts to pour!


  1. The party was fantastic and I love getting to see all of the details you guys put into it! I swear we need to do a business! I'll handle all the boring business side and you guys be the creative geniuses. :D

  2. The party was fantastic and I love getting to see all of the details you guys put into it! I swear we need to do a business! I'll handle all the boring business side and you guys be the creative geniuses. :D

  3. Hi there, this was a great blog! I am trying to make a replica of the geller cup but can't work out what the 2x4 is on top of, some sort of tin? Any chance you can email me? It's for a wedding present and just can't figure it out. If you could help that would be incredible! Can you email me on

    Really appreciate your help!


  4. Seems to be an amazing birthday party and hope you had good time there. Last week, I attended my best friend’s birthday party which was arranged at one of exemplary venues in Chicago. Had amazing time there with all my friends.

  5. Hi! How did you get all the questions for the game? I am having a Friends themed bridal shower and would love to use a lot of your ideas (they’re awesome!). Any help would be greatly appreciated!! You can email me Thanks I advance!!

  6. Hey there I’m just wondering how you made the backdrop for the photo booth? Thinking of doing something similar for me and my friends 40th. My email is Thanks so much!!


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