April 4, 2010

Vingt-troisiéme annivesaire!

I decided to be the best girlfriend ever and throw FBF (French boyfriend) a surprise 23rd birthday party. My studio is rather spacious, especially once all the furniture has been pushed to the walls, and I had yet to have one. I figured, if it was a horrible disaster and my landlord got mad at me, I was allowed to at least have one party. I could just apologize for it later.

Having been the Events Director for my college club and thrown parties with upwards of 300 attendees, I thought I had the whole surprise party thing in the bag. Then France happened.

As an UCSB graduate, the first challenge for me in throwing the party was coming up with a theme. I wasn’t sure what kind of theme to do, nor what kind of themes French people found appropriate, so I consulted my French coconspirator. “We need to pick a theme!” I said.

He replied, “…..FBF’s birthday is the theme.”

So I put aside my dream of some crazy costumed party, and decided to focus on what every birthday party needs: a cake.

This proved to be quite challenging, however, as an amenity that is commonly missing in French studios is an oven. My studio is no exception. In lieu of baking a cake for FBF, I thought I could make Jello shots and write with frosting “Bon anniversaire” (Happy birthday).

This was also a no-go. Jello does not exist in France. I googled about it, double checked with my French coconspirator, and looked around at the grocery store. So having a special birthday snack also went out the window.

On the day of I went over to the store to pick up the necessary snacks and drinks, as well as things to decorate my studio with. I had already hand painted a Bon Anniversaire sign, and was looking for some streamers to drape around the place thinking that decorations had to be the same everywhere. I had no such luck in this category either. In the end, the only things I had to decorate my studio with were the signs I had made, and some balloons.

Although my French surprise party was not going at all how I imagined a surprise party should be in my American brain, I was successful in importing one very important American party pastime.

I taught all my French friends Beer Pong.


  1. I love the build up to your last line!

  2. hahaha, totally agree with mom. It is so important at universities stateside.

  3. this is one of my faves ever!

    so many specific enjoyable parts!

    the fact that in theory, fbf said "fbf's birthday is the theme" and not "my birthday".

    the fact that jello doesn't exist! that is so shocking and sad! for whatever reason i expected that to become a quest, ending in you making jello shots from scratch somehow.

    i also want an entire second follow-up blog post solely about the adventure of teaching beer pong to the frenchies.

  4. Mandie: Thanks! I gave up on my hunt for Jello. It can be found in Paris, but I wasn't going to pay 40euros roundtrip for train tickets just for it. I hadn't thought about making Jello from scratch....
    The Frenchies were quick to understand the rules of beer pong! Although I don't know if it's really caught on.. they only play it if I'm around (and then it's only happened 3 times in the year and a half I've lived here).


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