One of the things I’ve found most surprising about getting older is how difficult it is to maintain friendships.
When my girls were littler, we had lots of free time, and we went to library story time with friends, I hosted a toddler music group, I ran three days a week with two friends, and walked two mornings a week with four or five other moms, all of us pushing our strollers. There were play dates galore.
I had no sense that this was going to come to an end as my girls got older. Because now with older kids, you have school schedules to work around, sports and music lessons, and increasing responsibilities.
Combine that with moving to a new city, and I’ve felt keenly the lack of strong friendships in my life. So, one of my goals this year was to spend more time with my friends and really nurture those relationships.
Ralphie is one of my dearest friends from Texas and one of those people you can’t help but love.
One of my favorite things she did over the years was organize birthday lunches.
She’d ask me to pick four or five friends to invite and then she’d host us all for lunch at her home. She’d keep it simple – usually a soup and some homemade bread and then a little cake at the end.
It was the BEST.
As an adult, your birthday doesn’t tend to be as big of a deal as it is when you’re a kid, and I don’t know that most adults want a full-on birthday party, but it’s also so sad for the day to go unacknowledged.
A special little lunch on a weekday just feels so delightfully out of the ordinary.
When we lived in North Carolina, I hosted one for my friend Celeste and it was the BEST time, and I thought, “I should do this more often.”
And then I proceeded to not do it again for two years.
This year, though, I decided it was time to bring back the birthday lunch.
I’ve kept it pretty simple – I invite around 4-5 ladies, they’re welcome to bring their children if needed, and I make a big salad (I love this strawberry, chicken, bacon salad with balsamic honey dressing – it’s SO good and easy to prep ahead of time).
Each time I’ve hosted a birthday lunch, everyone has volunteered to bring things, but if they didn’t, I would ask them to so I don’t have to do it all myself. Someone brings bread, someone else brings cake, someone brings fruit, and someone brings a fun beverage.
I buy a bouquet of flowers for the table and consider that ample decoration. Maybe a few balloons if I’m feeling like really going all out.
We sit around and eat lunch, the kids eat and then run off to play in the backyard and basement, and we sit around and chat until we’re ready to eat cake, and then everyone goes home.
It usually lasts less than two hours, takes about an hour of prep time beforehand for me to make the salad, clean the bathroom, and sweep the floor, and it’s just the highlight of my month.
When Ralphie hosted my first birthday lunch (and every birthday lunch afterward), it made me feel SO special but didn’t feel overwhelming (introvert alert). It was such a fun little chance to spend time with a few of my favorite friends, enjoy a good meal, and most people aren’t booked up on a weekday at lunch – even my friends who work full-time in an office can usually sneak away for an hour.
In a recent episode of Awesome with Alison, she talked about doing the things she was good at. She’s great at party planning, so she volunteers for those kinds of things at her daughter’s school instead of feeling guilty that she’s not volunteering in the classroom teaching literacy skills or something.
I feel the same way about the birthday lunch. Having people over isn’t stressful to me, and this kind of event is basically 100% fun for me, so it’s a great fit. Am I likely to throw an extravagant surprise shower? Absolutely not.
Basically, I need to have friends with birthdays every month, because I love doing these so much. And maybe because I enjoy eating cake at lunchtime on a Thursday afternoon.