Well, today I finally hit half a century. Most people ask me how I feel about that. I say elated!
When I hit my 49th year this time last February, I had ideas beyond the normal to celebrate my 50th.
There was a time when only the famous would throw extravagant parties, but now we all give it a good go, and that was my intentions for the big Five-0. I wanted to party like it was 1999.
It’s fair to say that my 40th decade has presented me with more challenges and life changes beyond comprehension and so I had in my head to get shot of this god awful decade with the most amazing party to end this decade once and for all and I was even considering my first ever tattoo saying “I survived my 40’s”, now look at us, I can’t even do that during a lockdown. (so that obviously wasn’t mean to be)
So little did I know that I would yet again be faced with a situation, this time a pandemic, that one last little thing the universe just had to throw at me in my final year of the ’40s, like I hadn’t dealt with enough. However, I’m just glad to be 50, and I guess I have to consider that the times I have had to live through has made me the person I am today. A dog-loving, disco queen who loves her friends, family and appreciating a good knees up.
The downside was, as the year went on and I started to lose wedding after wedding, I realised that what I really wanted to do couldn’t be done within my swiftly ongoing diminishing budget and I could slowly see my big event disappearing into the abyss. Little did we think last year that we would still be in this sh… storm a whole year later.
With a 250 strong guest list that I had written down of all the friends that mean the world to me over my life, I had planned on having the Imperial Dohl drummers for my Bollywood set, Sax and Bongos for my party sets, lights galore, fancy cocktail staff, a huge cake and just fun-packed entertainment left right and centre. It was going to be a party that everybody would have talked about for years to come. Alas, it seems the party I was hoping to plan just wasn’t meant to be.
So instead I had planned on a small virtual birthday party with 6 close girlfriends, via zoom. We have a group called Friends that give a sh..t” as we were only ever the solid ones always up for getting together. So a Zoom call was booked! Honestly, something I would never thought I would say, a bloody zoom party for such a momentous occasion. I just wasn't happy with that, so I put my thinking head-on, how can I make a zoom more interesting???
So with that, I found this pretty epic cocktail delivery company called Tapp’d Cocktails in Essex and so I bought almost 50 cocktails, choosing 6 flavours that I had planned to distribute across my group of friends. 6 friends, 6 cocktails, 6 flavours. All worked out well.
I was a little sceptical about the strength, were they any good? so just in case, it was rude not to test them.
So I and my partner tested the cocktails over our valentines zoom meal (that’s another experience to share another time) and we were both absolutely fuddled after only three cocktails. So I knew at that point that my girlfriends were in for a treat and that maybe 6 was a little overkill. I don't want to kill them.
So that decided. A virtual cocktail party was the plan. I then started to have sleepless nights. What if my virtual party is rubbish? Normally when we gather we all have our little pockets of conversations going on, and I was thinking, this won’t work over zoom. We’ll all be talking over each other.
I knew I wanted more for my party. Not only did I deserve it, so did my friends. So again, I put my planning hat on and went on a mission to find something completely out of the ordinary, and I found Chrissy Bang Bang Bray OMG. Hallelujah. I manage to find an online virtual party genius, all the way in Brisbane, Australia!
During the pandemic, Chrissy Bray has changed the well known saying from
GO HARD OR GO HOME to GO HARD AT HOME
Boy, she was not wrong. She offers a brand new online event that was fun, connected, interactive and turned out to be one of the best parties I could have ever imagined.
I was able to have up to 15 guests, so obviously I looked to increase my numbers of some of my other closer friends outside of our little local group, but only had one day to invite them as I literally found Chrissy on Thursday afternoon for my party on Saturday evening and she had to build it around me too.
Thankfully getting the girls on board wasn’t hard, after all, we are in a lockdown what possible excuse could they have to say no? unless they had another zoom party going on on a Saturday night. Even the BBC had removed Dancing on Ice for the night, just for me (I like to think lol) This is now a proper party to attend.
I sent Chrissy a picture (me on my 40th) and she swiftly made me a fabulous invite. Once I had sent that out and asked for a playlist, everyone was up for getting involved and shortly gave me a huge list of songs and singers they wanted to hear.
To say it was unconventional was an understatement, but I made the best of my celebration.
Along with the new virtual party that was planned, and cocktails all round, I had a same-day delivery from amazon to get some 50th Party props, inflatable mics, disco glasses and had personalised glasses made up for Crimbo, but didn’t get to give them out.
To jazz up my end of the party, my partner bought over a whole heap of disco lighting and lasers. With lights and my bose system on the ready, I had a full-scale nightclub going on in my lounge! How the police didn’t come knocking to see what was going on, I will never know.
So I was ready, the girls were ready with their props and booze, and poor Chrissy didn’t know what hit her.
She had us up dancing, changing moves to the genre of the songs, a little competition guessing the songs, the girls had to grab something from home that reminded them of me, this is when it got a little x-rated, (Anna & Zoe ... hilarious, say no more).
I did reach out after to apologise that we (ahem my friends) got rowdy quite quickly and the party become slightly x-rated at times but she said "I refuse to accept your apology, I absolutely LOVED how out there and random your friends where and it was such a pleasure for me that everyone just jumped right in".
Some of the feedback from the girls were
I loved the zoom party. Was amazing to celebrate your big birthday in lockdown. Loved the singing, dancing and catching up with the girls too. it really lifted my spirits - Angie
“haha, I love that usually after a night out and everyone’s shows us photos with loads of random and different shots. Today they are all of a screen” - Charlie
Sara via text “best party ever”
“the party was so good… I had an amazing time” - Sam
I can at least now say that a blooming good time was had by all and I would highly recommend a virtual party if you can't have a physical one for any age group, in fact, I'd even opt for one of these again in the future if getting people together in the same place becomes difficult.
Anyway, another year gone, this decade is over and after this rollercoaster of a decade, I wonder what life will bring me in the next 10 years. However what I do know is that I'm older, wiser, less stupid, more cautious, more cynical and less trusting, so with all those newfound traits I have accumulated, I should do okay.
Whilst this pandemic has been a huge inconvenience, it has made me realise how much we can adapt and think outside of the box to see our loved ones in a digital world. Although I love and miss the warmth of a hug. I really miss hugging my parents that I used to see every day.
Whilst I am old enough to have experienced the world of analogue, I am still young enough to embrace the opportunities that this digital world has bought along and it has made me realise how lucky I am to live in the world of technology, as much as it drives me nuts too because that has got us through the pandemic and got me the killer party I dreamed off, albeit in a smaller scale.
Anyway, my plans for today, my actual birthday?
I am going with my partner to have a covid test with a one-hour turnaround. Then I’m heading straight to my parents (who have been vaccinated) and I’m going to say I’m covid free and I want a hug right now, on my Birthday. I’m not waiting until June 21st.
Then I have lots of other things planned that I'll story on my insta but for all you out there turning 50 this year before you can legally spend time with your family and friends, treat yourself to a virtual party, you won't regret it. It's worth every penny. It may actually be soon become a thing of the past once life returns to normal. It’s the only time you’ll do it, and a memory that will last you a lifetime.
Recommendations from my party
https://www.chrissybray.com/event.php The queen and genius of virtual parties
https://www.tappdcocktails.com (vegan, organic, gluten-free and very alcoholic, what else can you want??