Tom’s Surprise Birthday Picnic


Tom was excited about turning 56. Really! He felt that it was a safe age because since he works for the government he can already receive pension if he decides to retire. Not that he is doing it tomorrow, but for him it is a comforting thought especially on days when work stresses him out too much. So I knew I couldn’t let this birthday pass without throwing for my hardworking husband a well-deserved celebration.

Since we live in a condo and our home doesn’t have AC I thought having a picnic party was the way to go. There were two downers to having it in the city’s park district: no alcohol can be served and the unpredictable weather. August is the warmest month in Chicago and staying outdoors on a 90F temp can be unpleasant. But our city has a very nice lakefront and beaches so it would be a treat for our guests to spend an afternoon there. However, I didn’t really have to worry for the latter, God gave us a perfect summer 85Fand breezy.

I reserved 4 picnic tables, half of it under the shade and half under the sun. Although we have 2 grills to ourselves, I opted to do all my cooking at home since I know it would be hard to entertain guests and cook at the same time. I was so lucky that Candice, a filipina friend who is from my hometown (she’s a cousin of my brother in law) came out to help. I hired Evan’s pre-school teacher’s assistant to keep an eye on him and she helped out as well in setting up. I underestimated the effort in having a party outside the home, even if it’s a simple one, it was so physically demanding that I hardly could get out of bed today. I was EXHAUSTED. It broke my heart but I decided to listen to my body and skipped my 12 mile long run this week.

For my menu here is what I prepared:
Appetizers: Marinated shrimps and lumpia shanghai
Salads: green salad, potato salad
Entrees: baked and breaded chicken, honey baked baby back ribs, baked ziti, baked beans
Desserts: chilled fruit salad, rainbow jell-o and chocolate birthday cake

The lumpia, ribs, chilled fruit salad, chicken, rainbow jell-o and birthday cake were a hit. The potato recipe I got was good. I wouldn’t make the marinated shrimps again and look for another baked beans recipe.

My guests were impressed when I told them I made them all but I really enjoy putting it together. I just wish that I can better estimate preparation (cooking) time and how much food to make. If I had to correct something, it would be to bring the chafing dishes next time. I thought that because the food were newly cook I wouldn’t need to reheat it, but they got cold fast.

There were also a few bees pestering us, the downside of picnics, that is why we had the food covered most of the time. Not very photogenic. I had also thought of making some decors but I was glad I skipped that because the wind would only have knocked them over.

Tom enjoyed his birthday picnic. He already knew by the time the day arrived, especially when the day before Evan blabbed to him about the golf course cake we made for him, while I pretended to act like I didn’t know what was he talking about =) Tom loved his cake, I would think that he hasn’t had a birthday cake for like decades already so that made it more memorable for him. He usually doesn’t care for food much but he insisted on having his share of chicken, baked ziti and cake when he saw I was giving much of them away.

We had a nice time yesterday that I can’t wait to do it again next summer. I just make it a yearly affair =)

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3 Responses to Tom’s Surprise Birthday Picnic

  1. Kittymama says:

    Happy birthday to Tom! Seems like it was a perfect day for a party, plus the menu sounds yummy! :-)

  2. MC says:

    happy b/day to tom. you did great organizing that picnic/party. i wouldn’t know where to begin if it was me.

  3. geri says:

    Kittymama, it was a lovely day wish it was less windy and no bees though. These bees are pretty tenacious when it comes to sweet stuff like me hehehe

    MC, my biggest headache was how to transport warm and cold food to the venue. It requires planning. Next time I will use food warmers, although how to carry a gallon of hot water is another problem I have yet to find an answer to.

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