Well, it all went well. We did it.. and no one got ill (except for the odd hangover, for example one friend swore blind that when he asked for gin and tonic he got tonic with gin and complained of a serious case of room spin later).
To go back to the the beginning. There was, I admit, a certain degree of stress when I decided, on a whim, to take all three girls for a haircut on the morning of the party, which took two hours, and by lunchtime the house still looked a mess. However, this was swiftly rectified by stuffing all floating stuff on surfaces (and there is a lot of this) into obliging drawers, then slamming them shut. Goodness knows how we will find anything in this house from now on.
Also, the day had been punctuated by various text messages sent from people who were letting us know that they weren't coming to the party after all.. even though they had previously accepted. While some were v. apologetic, others were a bit thin on excuses or didn't bother at all. I think we got 11 last minute drop-outs, but a friend warned me that its usual to have at least 10. Up until that point I hadn't believed her. I think that we had 55 guests all told, so not a bad turn out.
A very close friend who had asked if she could come early 'to help set up' revealed that she had an ulterior motive. She pulled a pink polo shirt from her bag, decorated with scanned family photos, the number 40 and two strategically placed hearts. Bless the birthday boy, he gamely wore it all evening, though the shirt did come up a little tight, forcing him to hold in his stomach for the duration. Unbeknownst to us, the same friend rushed around with her blue tack sticking up 'laminates' (laminated print out photos), to help etch into the guests' consciousness, images of my husband in awkward poses - such as when his swimming shorts split down the back whilst windsurfing (that one went into the downstairs loo!).
Guests trickled in rather slowly. Like a deranged woman, I feverishly herded them into one space near the entrance in order to look like there were enough guests to make a party. They all arrived raving about our shopping centre fairly lights and I must admit, it did all look pretty good - if a little OTT perhaps.
After 9 o'clock the one room that people were actually allowed in was rammed. I then started stressing that no one was eating the cheese, ham and 12 baguettes that were laid out further inside the house. I made my husband announce that there was food for all and predictably he was greeted by 'speech, speech, speech' from all the guests. He declined at this point, but made up for it later after having the benefit of 3-4 more beers....at which point he said,
'Um, my wife and my girls.... yes... I'm quite happy with them...' It sort of came out wrong and the guests exploded into laughter.
'Phew, That's lucky then!' the roared, 'Thank goodness for that!'
Anyway, going back; once we'd moved critical mass out of room no. one, I seized my chance to dim the lights, turn up the music and spin my £12.99 disco/mirror ball that I'd hefted back from England last summer (couldn't resist it). The ball drew a lot of admiration, but only after we'd figured out rather ingeniously (and last minute) that taping an extremely powerful torch to a standard lamp and shining it directly up at the thing, would have the desired twinkly/sparkly effect on the floor and the walls.
Soon, we had dancing! My husband's ipod dance play list was dispensed with almost immediately by guests eager to find their favourite tracks in his collection (this is the problem with doing a disco on the cheap! No fierce DJ fending people off the decks!). After they had lost interest with the ipod, trying to keep momentum going was very hard and a big responsibility. The only tracks that really worked as crowd pleasers were Cascada 'Evacuate the Dance Floor' and La Roux 'In for the Kill'. After we'd played these 5 times each, we lost the plot. Suffice to say that my husband's Billy Idol was a dance floor disaster and it was always going to be hard to coax people back after that one!
While listening to the radio this morning I kept having mini revelations like, why on earth did I forget Michael Jackson and what happened to Akon?
I am happy to report that there was no fighting (I'd written 'no fighting' on the invitation cards to those who came to our last one..fortunately they did laugh about that).
The TV also went on at one point when a select few males wanted to see the rugby results. Glad that they had chosen to come to the party and not persuaded their other halves to sit out the game in some pub, I said that watching TV was OK, but only if they'd eat lots of cheese and ham afterwards. They all looked sheepish.
At around midnight I remembered to cut the cake and by around 1am the battery for the disco ball torch was fading. 1.30am I remembered the 5 boxes of After Eights that I'd previously thought might be a good idea. By 2.30am my husband and I had shooed all the lagging guests down the garden to their waiting cars and we were lounging on an outside bench looking up at the stars feeling rather pleased with ourselves.
'The good thing is,' my husband said, 'SOOO many people owe us now!!' We giggled.
At that point one of our Alsatians trotted by, also rather pleased with herself, with the remaining half a ham in her mouth. I think that on balance it was a pretty good party.