“A few” is not 100? My sweetie’s surprise birthday party.

“So how many people will be here?” my husband asked, mid-stride. He thought we were meeting two other couples for dinner, but he was leery. “A few,” I lied. 100+ family members and friends isn’t a few?

But we sure had fun! And I so loved watching him smile and laugh. Happy Birthday, darlin’. Happy Birthday.

Birthday Boy Greg in the center, with his bro Curt on the left and cousin Dale on the right. Both came from Fargo.
Birthday Boy Greg in the center, with his bro Curt on the left and cousin Dale on the right. Both came from Fargo.

It started with one

“Everyone ought to throw their husband a surprise party,” said the lady next to me in bike class. That was 3 years ago. She was a new member, we started chatting, and I learned she had just buried her husband. At age 48. She was at the health club to ‘get healthy,’ and she told me her biggest regret was never throwing her husband a surprise party.

That sparked an idea. So I started saving $ and planning.

By early this year, I had The Chart House booked. Classic, beautiful venue right here in Lakeville. It overlooks one of the lakes with a great restaurant and private event area, including an outdoor patio and gazebo area. I selected the menu. Picked the beer. Let them pick the wines.

Takes two to decorate

I enlisted my friend Penny to help with decorations. They were gorgeous, just like her!

Multiplying rapidly

Then I did the evite invitation. I contemplated limiting the guest list, but just couldn’t. Greg has so many great family members and colleagues, neighbors and friends. I added on with glee! I think the final guest list was 186.



I did have to spill the news to our kiddos a bit before the big day. They were fun allies in our secret!

Matt: “Dad’s gonna be mad. He said he didn’t want anything.”

Cara: “oooooh, I can’t WAIT!”

Julia (when I had to give up my Sequoia to the shop for a few ill-timed days): “How you gonna move 98 balloons in the little car, mom?” #wickedsmile

Our kids were great hostesses and host!
Our kids were great hostesses and host!

The most important guest almost didn’t go

Weeks before, Greg was balking at meeting our friends for dinner. Days before, he was leery. Hours before, he was really suspicious! Apparently his parents are lousy liars.

But he did. And so did so many wonderful people. Thanks, all.

Our girls delivered his cake.
Our girls delivered his cake.



Lemon-filled, red velvet, vanilla bean and milk chocolate cupcakes! (his faves)
Lemon-filled, red velvet, vanilla bean and milk chocolate cupcakes! (his faves)

See? I told you Penny’s decor was beautiful:

Hockey pucks, of course.
Hockey pucks, of course.



Wonderfalls centerpieces. Each was a candy-filled favor.
Wonderfalls centerpieces. Each was a candy-filled favor.


me and g

I ran into the health club lady a few months ago and told her how her comment had impacted me. She hugged me and said, “Honey, it’s a lot more fun to plan a surprise party than a funeral. I hope hundreds of people come!”

They did, I can now tell her. They did. And my favorite one of all had fun. #Love



Surprise! Julia is 14!

Since she was a surprise of the very best kind in the beginning, a Surprise Party to celebrate our Julia’s 14th birthday seemed perfect.

1997, and Greg and I had been married 3+ years. We had it all: great families, friends, careers that fit our high ambition; we were traveling and doin’ it all. We always planned to have kids (and we were doin’ it all to do so, ahem). Yet by this time, we also kinda figured maybe we just weren’t meant to have kids…

Then. We found out we were expecting our first little one!

Julia Elizabeth Hansen changed our lives forever. In all the best ways. Time for surprise payback, huh?

Julia, left, with Bestie Meghan, who helped plan and orchestrate the party. Meghan will make a scary good spy some day!

The secret plan

So how do you plan a Surprise Birthday Party for an alert young lady? Facebook, of course. The private messaging feature. Jules bestie, Meghan, helped invite all Jules’ fave girls and her amazing mom Jenny brought Julia and Meghan to our meeting spot, under the auspices of just getting a little Cherry Berry treat.

City girlz, soccer babes

I wanted her party to celebrate all the things I so appreciate about Julia and her awesome friends:

1. They like to eat (fairly) healthy: Cherry Berry froz yogurt! The bright lime green and red decor set the tone, too!

Little sis Cara, cousin Allie and the birthday girl.

2. They adore their families

Julia, Justin, Davey; Grandpa Jerry also came for the fun!

3. They’re city girls – From Cherry Berry, the girls went to the quintessential urban park, Heart of the City in Burnsville for some pix.

4. Most are sporty girls; ALL have a competitive spirit! We then went back to our house to watch the Gold Medal Women’s Soccer Game (the week before, Hope Solo and Co. nearly lost a play-in game. I was VERY nervous!) The girls won. And our girls won. I hope they will remember that today, girls can do anything. ANYTHING. After all was said and done, the U.S. women hauled home more medals than the guys. I can’t wait to see how Julia and her friends will change the world. They will. And I won’t be one bit surprised.

Did she know?

All morning, I figured Julia knew about the surprise. Perhaps I’d left my Facebook open…perhaps I’d slipped up…

As soon as I saw our little lady’s face, I knew She. Had. No. Idea! She blushed beautifully deep red and started to cry happy tears. Same tears of joy I wept 14 years ago, baby girl.

I LOVED surprising her: after all, she was one of my biggest surprises. Paybacks are great, huh?

Happy Birthday, Jewels. We adore you, appreciate you and love you more than you can ever know.