You might have noticed I've been on a bloggers weekend away. I shouted it from the rooftops, I instagrammed all of it and my feed has been full of it since - you'd be hard pushed not to know I'd been. There'll be a photo diary up soon about our time away, what we did and what it's really like going away with bloggers but for today I thought I'd share some snaps and details of our surprise birthday.
(You can see all our pics using the hashtag #BloggersPitB on Instagram)
Our weekend away was planned for the only weekend just about all of us could do, which just so happened to be the week before Mel's birthday so Talking Tables couldn't have got in touch at a better time. We've all worked with TT before, a long standing love affair that started at our bloggers picnic last year so when emails fell into all our inboxes asking if we were up for collaborations for the new season it was a no brainer.
I created a secret Whatsapp group between me, Sarah, Hannah and Effi separate to our chat with Mel and the secret planning began. We wanted to throw Mel a birthday party at the barn as her birthday was so close but decided to keep it a secret till the very moment she walked in so the lovely people at Talking Tables sent me THE biggest box of birthday goodies to decorate with. They were absolute angels making sure not to send Mel the same things as she was getting unbeknown to her, keeping the secret and sending us all a variety of party supplies and multiple sets of Prosecco Pong (read more of that on Sarah's blog here).
I'll link as many of the products as I can find at the bottom of the post but it's worth noting the disposable plates, cups and straws were all leftovers from the picnic or the Halloween and New Years sets they sent us at the end of 2016
The planning of the surprise birthday was like a military operation, like most surprises are. The stress of remembering which Whatsapp chat to speak in was all too much at some points, to the extent we tried to talk to Mel as little as possible about the whole weekend which is pretty difficult when you're all so excited.
The extent of the web of lies was insane. We knew we needed to arrive at the (aptly named) Party Barn we had booked way before Mel but knew she'd try and get out of London early if she knew we were heading down there. Secret half days off work were booked, we told her we'd be arriving around 6.30pm when actually we showed up more like 4.30 and photos and social media posts were all constructed to make her think we'd be there at the same time.
Having told Mel I wouldn't be getting Sarah until 5pm when she finished work I actually showed up at her flat at 1pm and luckily Mel's lack of geography (soz Mel) meant she didn't twig it'd be impossible for us to turn up in Hampshire a mere hour and a half after we'd left in a Friday rush hour. Instead I travelled for over 4 hours before collecting Effi in Petersfield and squeezing us (and a LOT) of luggage into my tiny car to set up.
The girls successfully created THE most Instagrammable venue ever with the balloons, streamers and decorations we'd been sent whilst I created the masterpiece that was the birthday cake. My Mum happens to have been a professional baker in years past so she kindly made us a cake (thanks to Mumma Rees) and I took all the elements down with me and constructed it when we were there. There was buttercream and homemade bramble jam (thanks again Mum) in the middle covered with rough icing and a million and one blackberries and strawberries. It was topped off with sugar paste versions of us which I turned my illustrative hand to and the Get Lit candles from Talking Tables and it was bloody yummy.
After a VERY stressful trip to Lidl & Tesco (we needed sausage rolls and soya milk and only Tesco would do ok?) we managed to keep ourselves from bursting and spoiling the surprise right up until the last minute. Hannah survived a half hours car journey with Mel alone and didn't blurt out what we'd done but tbf they said they thought I was leading them into a secluded area to kill them so they were probably distracted (they were following my car and the Party Barn was very rural).
We had grand ideas of filming Mel's reaction but alas we couldn't quite get it but the 4 of us had the benefit of seeing her walk in and realise and a "AWW GUYS" when she clocked it. It was the most Instagram friendly surprise ever and we loved having the decorations up (and the cake to eat) all weekend - it totally made the trip. We spent Friday evening celebrating her birthday a week early with a round of prosecco pong - of which I was official photographer - and we ate a lot of party food and the gals finished off a few bottles and we stayed up late and made the most of our time together.
So with all the planning coming into fruition and all the secrets out we're on to the main item on the agenda - the Talking Tables goodies.
My love for TT is no secret, we've worked together multiple times before and they're absolute gems. They made such an effort to send us all different stuff so we could decorate the barn and I was sent the biggest box of party goodies. TT are primarily a party based brand and if you haven't shopped with them before they should be your go to for events. You can visit their website here but I am seeing them pop up in more and more high street retailers too so check out your latest Paperchase to see if they're in stock.
The paper plates and cups have literally lasted us a year because there are a million and one varieties and we had so many leftovers and they're perfect for both your summer picnic and your festive (are we really going there? I think so) bashes later in the Winter. The balloons we left all over the floor but we did say we wish we'd bought helium and attached them to string to have all over the ceiling so either works. The streamers, tassels and window decorations can be a little fiddly to put together so have some patience whilst you're stringing them but they look SO good when they're up. We just attached ours to the tables, windows and doors with string or sellotape and they all stayed safe for the duration of our stay and none of them left marks when we took them down which is ideal when your venue isn't your own home. As for the fairy lights and table scatters they kinda speak for themselves - they're all battery powered so make sure you have a bunch in store but it totally made the ambience of the evening and we all nabbed a set to take home for blog props in the future.....
A massive thanks to Talking Tables for sending us so much party wear to make it the best surprise birthday and the most Instagrammable venue, everything we had is linked below.
*Our party goodies were sent to us in exchange for review, however I was not paid to write this post and all surprise planning and decorations love are very much my own.