Suzie's Surprise 60th Birthday Party

This party was held in December as a surprise party for my mother's 60th. We chose a Mexican theme  as is it really so easy to prepare for and most can be done in advance. South Africa is not big on Mexican themes or Cinco de Mayo (which was the actual theme) so it took ordering decorations from 3 different places over a period of six months. But in the end it turned out great!

Obviously the most (MOST!) important part of any Mexican party is the tequila! We ended up having way to many flavours but surprisingly we weren't left with too many leftovers. We had bubblegum, chilli-choc, dark chocolate, white, gold, coffee and caramel. We added salt, limes and lemons for the white and gold tequilas. I also sourced some moustache straws which were a hit. In the middle big ice bucket I had Mexican beers that were part decor and part deliciously refreshing.

I also added a big container of water and lemon slices on the same table with tall glasses to encourage everyone to hydrate as much as possible.  However the Poncho's were the most popular! I don't have pictures of the starters but I decided to give the guest something to line their stomach with but with enough bite to also make them thirsty: peri-peri prawns and bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers.

The family is not big on tequila so we expected some of it to be a waste but everyone got in the mood. This table was really bare and very sticky after a long party. I bought plastic shot glasses (over a 100) and just discarded them instead having to wash them afterwards.

As always I used chalk pens to write the menu on the sliding door. This way everyone knew what we were having. I planned the time table as follows: starters within 30 minutes of guests arrival, then 1h30 hours later the main meal and 1 hour later dessert. I also had nacho chips everywhere with salsas so no one could go hungry.

As I said the Mexican theme (cinco da mayo is just a bit fancier) is easy to prepare for and the food can be done in advance so you just heat it up. Hubby and my cousin M were hard at work dishing up the final goodies for the food table. 

The food table was prepared with about 40 guests in mind. The menu was steak fajitas with all the toppings. We prepared the sliced onions and peppers the night before and fried it off. We also prepared the poppers ready to add to the oven to bake, grated the cheese and made guacamole and salsa in big tubs so we can just add more to the table if need be. The steaks were marinated to braai the next day.

I also made my version of Mexican corn which is corn on the cob, steamed, topped with fresh coriander, feta, lime juice and chilli. So easy and quick. I was worried I won't have enough limes as they can be scarce in RSA so I was hoarding them from about 4 months before the party.

To add to the table I also prepared Mexican rice which is cooked rice with corn kernels, peas, diced peppers, some tomato paste, chilli powder and lemon juice. 


So the toppings were plain salsa (diced tomato and onion), shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and grated cheese. I sourced real corn tortillas, but really it was very difficult to find, and honestly, I think I missed a step because they didn't taste that nice. The tacos were great so I assume we had to fry them or something. But the flour tortillas were great!

 So all the guest had to do was grab a plate, choose a tortilla (corn or wheat) or taco, top with a mixture of steak, peppers and onions, add toppings and enjoy.

For those who liked it spicier, we had so many, many different chilli toppings in the form of salsas, sauce sand whole chilli's to choose from!

Obviously we had 2 margraritas (a pineapple coconut and a berries version) and one hell of a dessert table. I really struggled to get margarita glasses and ended up having to buy a whole bunch of them. But I get to use them for desserts in the future! I also sourced some Mexican glasses which I glued to the glass decanters and blow-up cacti. I also found these great blue and purple flowers that fitted the theme.

The cake was amazing and so beautiful! We had some speeches and then cut into a pink, purple and blue rainbow cake and as always The Mixing Bowl Cake Company outdid themselves! It was so pretty I almost didn't want to cut it. 

Isn't this skull too cute? They are piggy banks bought from CNA and they went with the theme beautifully. In all probability they started the theme! I bought these 6 months before we even started the planning.

As I was worried that the cake might not be enough to feed 40 people, I also added 20 cupcakes. We had chocolate-coffee and vanilla-lime flavoured cupcakes and weren't the little chilli's on top just too cute?

I also had these skull sugar cookies made and they were both delicious and so good looking! As people left the party I gave them these memento's though not many were left!

 Before I forget here is the recipe for the margaritas:

  • ½ a bottle of gold tequila in each
  • ½ a bottle of Trippe sec
  • juice of 5 limes (more if they are dry) in each
  • 4 litres of juice (coco-pine in one, mixed berries in the other)
  • lemon and lime slices for both
  • pineapple slices for one and strawberries for the other.

Woolworth's were selling these chilli plants and I just added the little Mexican plastic glasses to each as a quick decoration. The were freaking adorable and I planted the plants in my garden afterwards.

For when the energy started lagging abit I had these little cafiene chocolates stashed everywhere. The are tasty and has more of a caffiene kick than a cup of coffee! I just had to ensure the kiddies didn't get them. For them I had 2 pinatas filled with sweets to keep them occupied.

As a treat I ordered a Photo Booth and had everyone take at least one set of (four) photos. The company also had a guest book and printed 2 copies of each set. One was given to the guest (with magnets on the back) and the other was glued into the book and signed. At the end of the party we gave it to Suzie as her birthday gift.

As I began planing the party 12 months in advance, I had the fortune of inviting all my mom's brothers and sisters, even the ones in Namibia and cousin in Johannesburg. We planned the party around the arrival of the ones from Namibia with the excuse that as they have never had dinner at our house, we will have just a small braai at our place!

It worked great as she never suspected a thing. And as my perfect momento of the day I have a photo of all 3 generations! Again the best day ever!

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