My Dad turned 60 this year. That’s a big day and a big deal, even to my Dad, who has hated celebrating his birthday for as long as I can remember. So what to do for the man who hates his birthday? I landed on what I thought was the only possible answer: a surprise party. As far as I knew, he had never had one, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for our friends and family to celebrate Mr. Mark Elwell on spending 60 wonderful years on this planet.

We settled on a brunch party with the theme of “Baseball, Bloody Marys, and Brunch” – three of my Dad’s favorite things. I then sent out an e-blast to family, friends, and colleagues inviting them to the event. The response was tremendous and almost thirty people agreed to come out to celebrate from all over the country. I sent out a couple of additional e-blasts as well: one reminding people of the event, and finally one where the recipient could click the e-blast to be re-directed to a dropbox folder with the photos from the special day. We celebrated the day at the Del Mar Train Station, where Jon and I got married, and really got spoiled with the weather.

There were so many paper goodies to brand the party. I made signage for when people arrived, a birthday badge for my Dad to wear throughout the day, banners, cocktail flags, old photos of him for the tables, and even signage for the bathroom. Thanks to my Uncle Kevin and my old box of family photos, I was even able to put together a large ‘60’ with photos of my Dad throughout his life.  

The final detail was a Bloody Mary bar to pay homage to my Dad’s favorite cocktail. One of my Dad’s best friends manned the bar for the event and graciously mixed cocktails with all the fixings. I even infused some vodkas with jalapeño and bacon for the more adventurous guests.

It was a spectacular day. Guests came out in their favorite baseball attire and munched on brunch while we celebrated (and roasted!) my Dad. I couldn’t have done it without my Rowdie-Family, the Kuptzes, Rouths, Kralls, and Lysanders - you guys are lifesavers! And of course a huge shout out to everyone who traveled far and wide, and managed to keep the day a surprise!