Relationships

Alex’s Birthday Party

Alex's Birthday Party

Alex has a big birthday this month, so this past weekend, I threw him a semi-surprise birthday party. Here are a few pictures, if you’d like to see…

Alex's Birthday Party

I planned a surprise party for Sunday evening and invited Alex’s friends from the neighborhood, from work, from college, even from childhood. Despite being a terrible gossip, I managed to keep the secret… until Friday night, when he told me he had just been assigned a big story. “I have to work all weekend,” he told me. “Every second counts.” So, I had to tell him about my plan. Luckily, the story came together in time, and he could attend his own celebration!

Alex's Birthday Party

We ordered chicken fingers, pizzas and veggie sushi rolls from local restaurants, plus a stinky cheese plate, of course.

Alex's Birthday Party

When it came time to serve the cake, the gazillion candles joined together into one giant flame. I was laughing so hard I could barely carry the cake.

Alex's Birthday Party

It was a mighty feat…

Alex's Birthday Party

Victory! By the way, we got the Brooklyn Blackout cake from Ladybird Bakery, and it was INSANELY delicious. I’ve never really liked cake but this one has changed my mind.

Alex's Birthday Party

The night was so great and reminded me that it’s worth the effort to throw parties sometimes; it’s so nice to have lots of people you love in one room. (I also remembered this inspiring story about Friday meatballs.)

We love you, Alex!

Plus, a few Alex posts from the past:
Alex’s Side of Toby’s Birth Story (I loved this)
8 Confessions of a New Dad
Birthday Cheese
How to Fight Fair
Our Honeymoon 1,000 Years Ago

(Photos as a gift from Christine Han for Cup of Jo. Thank you so much, Christine!)

  1. I love this! Throwing a party is always a good idea and so fun to be around all the ones ya love the most!

  2. Dianna says...

    You guys are such a beautiful couple. You’re so lucky, Jo! Thanky Out for sharing your happiness with us.

  3. Ha, nice one! I wish my surprise party for my Alex went as well… Instead, my husband came in (friends were hiding in the living room), went straight to the bathroom to pee without closing the door (back then we lived in a quite small apartment so you could hear everything!) and when he finally opened the living room door and everybody yelled “Surprise”, he froze, turned and left the room (I guess to recover from the shock). That was the last surprise party I’ll ever organise for him ;-)

  4. You guys are too adorable. :)

  5. SFDC says...

    Love the party. And I have that mirror! :)

  6. Georgia says...

    Never noticed until this post how much Toby is Alex’s mini-me!

    A beautiful family and if I’m not mistaken, Alex and I both just joined the half-century club! Congrats!

  7. Liz C says...

    You are a beautiful couple!

  8. Hanne says...

    Happy happy birthday to Alex! You look sooooooooooooooo gorgeous together, it’s crazy!!!

    Nice party!

  9. Vous êtes magnifiques!!!! HB to Alex !!

  10. Happy Birthday to Alex, Looks like all your hard work paid off, everyone seems to be having a great time.

    Shruthi
    http://nyambura.co

  11. oh joanna, i could comment on every post and tell you how following your blog for years and years has added so much of my life. i can’t tell you how often i smile and think “i learned about this on cup of jo!” or pass along a tidbit or send a link to your post — you are our generation’s blogger and your voice has remained so true and constant and kind and humble. i’m so grateful. so, for the hundreds of comments i should have posted, that first photo of you and alex just put the biggest smile on my face and made me think “now! write one now!” THANK YOU. from the bottom of my heart.

  12. Kate says...

    Happy Birthday Alex! The party looks like it was such a fun celebration. Also, I have to say this–you two take the loveliest photos together!

  13. lomagirl says...

    I love all the intense conversations going on in the background of all the photographs. Clearly people were having a good time with each other- this is MY kind of party.

  14. Ah, Joanna! These are some amazing photos and memories. I’m not much for throwing parties, but this is a good reminder of how great they can be. (And don’t have to have a lot of fuss to be beautiful and memorable.) A belated happy birthday to Alex!

  15. Nina says...

    Beautiful photos! I’m planning my baby shower and wanted to serve some of MY favorite foods (chicken fingers, pizza, french fries, donuts) but wasn’t sure if it would come off as tacky. I think you just convinced me it is definitely not! Did you serve the items in a certain fashion? Happy birthday Alex!

  16. Molly says...

    These pictures are incredible. The party looks like a blast. You look gorgeous. All the love in the room is really inspiring. Love this post so much.

  17. Ann says...

    Ahh, what a fun party! You two look as in love as in the wedding photos you’ve shared in the past. Cheers!

  18. You look gorgeous and all the cake photos are soooo sweet! Thanks for sharing and happy birthday to Alex!

  19. Jess. says...

    Oooh, your hair really IS delicious. Happy Birthday, Alex! Your family is such an inspiration. superXOX

  20. Samantha says...

    You two are SO cute together! The kiss picture must be framed and hanged in your livingroom. Happy birthday, Alex!

  21. KC says...

    I really love how you capture life’s great moments with your camera. Such great pics! You two are a very beautiful couple.

    Blessings.

  22. What a fun night! And it’s great that Alex got to attend his own party.

    I’m terrible at entertaining. I think it is equal parts introversion, embarrassment at the state of my home decor (or lack thereof), and lack of planning initiative. I’m definitely inspired though!

  23. Ashley says...

    I just love your little family! Looks like a perfect gathering too. I love having parties with good friends; it truly brings such life to your home, makes you feel all warm & fuzzy at the end of the night! :)
    You look magnificent, and that first pic is just the best ever – frame it!
    Happy birthday to Alex.

    And p.s. I have to admit…when I read through my blogs at night, I always save yours for last be/c it’s just so genuine & fun to read. Thx for sharing bits of your life with us. xo

  24. Brooklyn Blackout Cake?! Oh, how I miss thee… Thankfully, Simply Desserts’ Strawberry White Chocolate Cake has filled your void here in Seattle. Very different, but equally excellent. Happy Birthday, Alex!

  25. melissa says...

    Such great photos! Ever since you wrote about Friday Meatballs I have been doing it and it’s so much fun, so thank you for that :-)

  26. Happy Birthday Alex!
    I love house parties and this one looks like it was SO much fun! I feel like the older I get, the less I go to – though I also read somewhere that they are less common?

  27. colleen says...

    Your honey colored highlights are amazing!

  28. so sad we’re not close enough to celebrate with you, though I spy some familiar faces. Happy birthday, Alex!!! <3

  29. Natalie says...

    Love these photos! Make me want to throw a cozy winter bash its friends! Who makes your dress?! You look gorg!

  30. Very nice! Parties in peoples home’s are my favourite. Happy Birthday Alex.

  31. Laura says...

    Love this!

  32. Lily says...

    Please tell us what you did to your hair! The color is amazing and you look gorgeous!

  33. Claire says...

    What sweet photos, you both look so happy and in love. Happy birthday, Alex!

  34. Mallory says...

    Can I just say, you are oozing beauty and grace in these pictures. That dress is so effortlessly chic!

  35. Susana Silva says...

    Happy Birthday,Alex! And congratulations Joanna for throwing him such a nice party.It’s marvellous to do such a thing for someone you love.And it also makes me believe that showing love is not only beautiful as it is necessary and natural.Who doesn’t like to be in somebody else’s best thoughts and wishes?Wish you both and your family the very best for many years.I can picture you celebrating your greatgrandchildren’ birthdays with a kiss like the one you show above.Soul mates do exist and you are such a great proof of that.Long life comes from how much love and care we have,I’m sure of that.
    xoxo

  36. Theresa says...

    Sweet pics…Happy Birthday to your hubby! My hubby has an October birthday, too. :)

  37. Paula says...

    Everything looks awesome! I love the cake pictures.. specially the one with the kiss :)

    Could you please share what lipstick you were wearing? Love the tone.

  38. Paula says...

    OMG! I haven’t read the post yet but that top photo!!!

  39. What a beautiful celebration! Just curious, did your kids sleep through all that or did they get sent away for the evening?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good question! just now, i answered it in a comment below, if you scroll right down… thank you!! xoxo

  40. Very nice! And it’s so good to remember how worth it is to throw a sizeable party even though we might live in a condensed urban setting. Looks cozy and perfect. AND.. what are you wearing? Is that a shift dress? Please tell me more…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you! it’s from everlane.

  41. I’ve been aching to throw a fun dinner party of some kind, and honestly this just looks so fun and so sweet. I’m throwing in the towel – no matter how much I plan, I don’t think I could have a party that was quite as wonderful or full of love as this one looks to be.

    farouchefox.blogspot.com

  42. May says...

    Happy Birthday Alex!
    May your life be filled with many wonderful surprises!

  43. What a nice surprise for Alex. Yay you! Is it me, or does it look like a younger Matthew Broderick attended the party? (First photo.)

  44. Lucy says...

    Alex looks like the town troubadour in Gilmore Girls! Happy birthday!

    • Claire says...

      You are so right! I loved that guy! And I think both Alex and the troubadour have guitar playing and sports coat wearing tendencies in common. :)

  45. Ko says...

    It looks like you had an amazing time. I agree, it’s always so special to get everyone you love together in one room. Makes you realise how lucky you are !

    Almost Everything

  46. Caz says...

    It looks like it was a lovely night! Happy birthday to Alex!

    P.S Your hair looks great!

  47. Katie H. says...

    I read your blog all the time, and I can’t believe I’ve never left a comment. This post just brought such a smile to my face… you guys are the cutest! Happy Birthday to Alex!

  48. Di says...

    What a grand idea! Did the kiddos sleep through the noise? We have dinner parties after our 5 and 2 yr old are safely asleep, but I’ve always worried they may wake up if we were to have a proper partay and want to join in on the fun.

  49. Holy Moley that giant flame is hilarious!! I love when me moments like that happen at gatherings because I feel like everyone relaxes even more! Nothing better than joint laughter! Happy Birthday to your husband!

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  50. Looks like a successful (semi) surprise party! And you – and your hair – look gorgeous! xo

    • I was thinking the same thing – Joanna, your hair is stealing the show, here! Is it a new cut/style? Bombshell.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you guys are SO sweet! i actually splurged and used Glamsquad for the first time — it’s an app where you can have a stylist come to your house and give you a blow out. i never do stuff like that and it was awesome! https://www.glamsquad.com/

  51. Laura C says...

    Happy birthday, Alex! You lucky guy… I wish my husband throw me a party for my next birthday, but he’s not that kind of surprise guy!
    Joanna, once again you were superb.
    xox

  52. Kim says...

    I am laughing hysterically over the giant flame on the cake – what a great moment you captured!

  53. Angela says...

    In the trenches of mothering two young children, I love that you love on your husband like this. Such a wonderful example and a beautiful reminder to honor the one you chose.

  54. Fabulous photos.

  55. Emma says...

    Great photos—looks like such a fun party! Also, Alex’s face in the third picture IS Toby. So sweet to see how much they look alike.

  56. Natasha says...

    Where’d you get that dress? Lovely!

  57. Danielle S says...

    3rd photo down- so much Toby in that face! Adorable

    • Sarah says...

      I KNOW! I’ve never realised that until now!

  58. Annie says...

    I agree with all the comments! Gorgeous couple (dat hair tho!) and looks like a fun time. The candle fire on the cake was PERFECTION.

    So…I know Alex is a bit older than you….Does…does that mean he’s the big 5-0? Because he looks about 35. (Promise I’m not trying to flirt. Mostly. :P)

    • EXACTLY what I was thinking! 50?!!! He’s so cute.

  59. Joanna, your hair in these photos is bangin! What’s your secret?
    Also, yeah parties are hard work. I was just reading an article (I think in the NY Times) about “the death of the house party” and how kids these days just don’t throw parties as much as the earlier generations did, for reasons ranging from cost to social media usage (people hang out more online, it’s easier to blow off attending by sending a text, etc). They are a lot of work (and money) and yeah kind of nerve-racking for the socially anxious among us but when you’ve got a good group, there’s candlelight, and you’re feeling a warm buzz from the wine you’re drinking, it doesn’t get much better. :) thanks for sharing with us!

  60. Lindsay says...

    Kudos to the photographer Christine Han. She caught some hilarious (you & the flame!) and heart-stopping (that kiss!) moments. Thanks for sharing your life moments with us.

  61. jill c says...

    so sweet! alex and you look so happy! and joanna – you look stunning!

  62. What a gorgeous picture of the two of you! Every couple needs a photo like that:)

  63. Such a lovely celebration! I’m guessing the kids were out of the house? I’m always curious, where are the kids? I can’t imagine they’d sleep through a party?
    We don’t have the luxury of having family close by and having a party at our place seem completely out of the question due to 7:30 bed times. How do you do it?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good question! it was a tricky thing that we figured out the day of the party once we realized that a lot of people were coming and it would be too noisy for the boys to sleep. a couple we really like in our neighborhood was coming to the party and had hired a babysitter. we asked if we could bring the boys over to their house at 7:30 and put them to bed there (the party started at 8:30pm), and they were so sweet and said yes. so we did that. then, after the party at 11pm, we walked over to their house and woke the boys up and brought them home (toby in the stroller, and i carried anton). they were excited once we got home and they saw the balloons and everything, and they stayed up for about a half hour and then we all went to bed. i actually fell asleep in toby’s bed putting him back to sleep! so that is the glamorous behind-the-scenes of the party :)

  64. hannah says...

    Wow-3rd picture from the top. Alex looks exactly like Toby with a beard… and in matching jackets! Happy Birthday Alex.

  65. Jenny says...

    1) The top photo of you two is definitely frame-worthy.
    2) Your hair looks awesome – the color is beautiful and rich and has great dimension!
    3) Looks like such a fun evening! Now I want to throw a party! Happy Birthday, Alex!

  66. This is probably such a naive, mid-western comment, but how do New Yorkers throw parties in such tiny apartments?? I have a small ranch on a third of an acre and we never have people over because I just think my house is so small! Well done, looks like a helluva good time!

    • Rebekka says...

      Hi Mollie, hello from Cologne, Germany, where apartments are equally small. :-) I love having small parties in our apartment (and with a 1,5 years old baby), just BECAUSE. Things need to be celebrated to actually feel them. Don’t worry about the size of your house, or every detail. Your friends won’t even notice. I love following a woman from the midwest, Shauna Niequist, who published a great book about what happens when we simply gather around a table. It’s called “Bread and Wine” and it’s encouraging to just start sharing life, with foods and drinks open hearts. All the best to you!

  67. The giant flame photos made me LOL! Looks like a fun party. Happy birthday to Alex!

  68. Laurie says...

    Happy Birthday to you, Alex! So sweet, what a lovely celebration, Joanna!

  69. Jess says...

    Beautiful photos! And thank you for confirming that it’s so worth the effort to throw parties to have so many people you love together. I often have to remind myself of this as work, kids, etc take up so much time. But the laughter and memories make up for the planning and clean up ;)

  70. Anna says...

    Awww! Surprise parties are the best. By the way, your hair looks amazing!

  71. Elly says...

    Looks like a fun time! Where is your dress from?!

  72. Katie says...

    My husband threw me a surprise party for my 30th this year, but I was so sick that weekend. That morning, I said to him, “I’m so glad you didn’t throw me a surprise party, because the house is a disaster.” He went white and said that actually, we had to be at a restaurant in an hour for a surprise brunch. I’m so glad he did it, and that he planned it somewhere else other than our house!

  73. Jeannie says...

    Looks like such a fun night and the fire on that cake was mind-blowing! Such cute pictures.

  74. So sweet! Happy Birthday to Alex =) My husband has a big milestone birthday coming up and this has totally inspired me to throw a big (surprise) bash for him =)

  75. Sarah Cleghorn says...

    Hi Joanna! I love your blog and this sweet post is no exception. Are there any plans for a mobile version of your blog any time? I often read on my smartphone.

  76. Anne says...

    That picture of the Alex kissing you while you’re holding the cake – I’m getting chills, it’s like something out of a movie. You better get that one framed!!

  77. Jessie says...

    You are both so adorable. You give me hope that love can last!

  78. Sasha says...

    Joanna,
    did you get highlights? Your hair looks great! I am looking forward to a follow-up on the post you did on what to do when you start getting gray hair.

    • Maymay says...

      I’ve been dying to read a follow-up on that post as well.

  79. Alice Quin says...

    LOL! the blowing out the candle shots are too classic!

  80. Isn’t it amazing how warm and cheery your home feels when you’re surrounded by friends? I swear it even looks better! This seems like such a lovely party! Happiest of birthdays to Alex!