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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

A Few of His Favorite Things: Ben’s 30th Birthday Party

It seems like just yesterday Ben and I were two crazy teenagers falling in love.  We started out as dance partners in show choir, flirted for months and months, and eventually we went on a date.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Now here we are in our home with our two unbelievably awesome children, real jobs, so much to be thankful for.  And suddenly, Ben is thirty and in a few more months I’ll be right there with him.  Though he never expects or wants much of a fuss over his birthday, I couldn’t let this milestone pass without at least a small celebration.

The problem was, he’s basically the most low maintenance guy in the world.  No involved theme or ultra-coordinating decor needed – that’s just not his style.  I kept thinking and thinking of his favorite things and which one could provide a central theme until I finally realized that a simple party including many of his favorites was just the right choice.  Even though it is so simple, I thought I’d still go ahead and share it here in case the non-theme theme provides inspiration for any of my readers.

(If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know our love for The Office runs deep.  It only seemed appropriate to have the “It is your birthday.” sign as a backdrop for the party.)

As a funny turn of fate for this foodie, Ben’s favorite foods are very simplistic.  This man loves cereal.  He would gladly eat it for every meal if he could.  I made sure there was some cereal at the party.  To make it even more fun, we had these Cubs hat bowls.  Remember these bowls?  Like they used to have at Baskin Robbins back in the day?  Ben is a huge Cubs fan and wanted one of these his whole childhood, but never got one.  I was able to find them on eBay and he was definitely pumped about it.  Andrew has also been enjoying them ever since the party :)

He also really, really loves chips.  Unfortunately we don’t buy them often, so as a treat I bought lots of chips for the party.  I decided to layer them in this large glass jar that I normally might use for beverages.  Basically the easiest thing ever and a fun way to present chips.

Next to chips and cereal, Ben also really loves sandwiches.  I love serving slider-sized sandwiches at parties because they are easy to make, portable, and always a huge hit.  This time I made Italian, ham and cheese, and pulled pork sandwiches.  Lots and lots, and almost none were left.  I’m pretty convinced you can never make too many sliders for a party.

The menu was very random, meat-centric, and decidedly not well rounded.  The full menu included:
The cereal bar
Potato chip trifle
Bacon lover’s mac and cheese
BLT panzanella
Assorted sliders/sandwiches

In addition to the Cubs, the other sports teams we cheer for include IU and the Colts.  I decided to honor each with a quick batch of sugar cookies decorated with royal icing.  I loved the way these turned out.  People get very excited about cookies with royal icing!

Like about 99% of guys his age, Ben is a big Star Wars fan.  I didn’t have time to make the Star Wars sugar cookies, so instead I made some chocolate cupcakes, popped them onto the left over cupcake tower from Andrew’s recent birthday party, and topped them with these fun Star Wars toppers.  People loved these.  As a bonus, after enjoying the cupcakes, the toppers can be used to act out scenes from the movies.  This may or may not have occurred.

We topped off the food portion of the celebration with a bananas foster birthday cake that I unknowingly topped with 30 trick/sparkler candles.  Ben didn’t get them all out in one breath (or five) but it definitely made for some good laughs.  I’m so thankful for my wonderful, supportive, loving husband.  We’re looking forward to many, many more birthdays together!

  • http://twitter.com/Katrinadingle Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Oh my goodness – what a party!!!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    Sweet. Looks like you two compliment each other perfectly! While my husband never turns up his nose at any of my kitchen concoctions, he’s really more of a meat and potatoes guy at heart. And if I did something like this for his birthday, I would have to think of some really nerdy computer themes. Maybe 0’s and 1’s cookies?

  • Katherine Cimino

    Most men have such simple wants (chips! cereal!) I love how you gave him exactly what he wanted rather than complicate the affair to meet your own needs. You both sound like a wonderful loving couple. Bravo, and Happy Birthday Ben!

  • victoria a.

    too funny-my husband also could eat cereal for every meal if he could!! what a cute idea-i’ll have to keep the cereal bar in mind for his next birthday :)

  • Kristen @ The LBK

    I adore that you kept it about HIM! Oh, and I LOVE the banner!

  • Alexa

    Go CUBS! Hopefully Ben will get a another birthday treat and finally get a World Series win! The cupcakes look amazing as always. :)

  • Shawnda

    I love it! Swap out the logos on the cookies and you just threw Jason’s idea of the most perfect party ever – birthday or not :)

  • http://twitter.com/CaleighsKitchen Caleigh’s Kitchen

    I am dying at the “It is your birthday.” sign. My husband and I are huge Office fans too. Love it.

  • Maria

    This is just my kinda party :) (also, my guy would love this too, so I need to keep it in mind for sure!). I especially love the Colts and IU cookies (I’m from Indiana too!!) and the Cubbies cookies are awesome too (even if I’m a Reds fan ;) ). And you never go wrong with Star Wars.

  • http://twitter.com/ABitchinKitchen Maggie G.

    I made the same sign for my ex-bf a couple years ago on his birthday! To further pay homage to The Office, I also hung up partially deflated brown balloons haha. Did Ben pick an hour of sleep or an hour of TV to celebrate? :)

  • annieseats

    Haha! That’s awesome. I wanted to do the grey and brown balloons too but I just couldn’t bring myself to go all the way with that. So funny!

  • Kristen

    Looks like a fantastic party! My husband definitely follows in Ben’s footsteps with simple tastes. Great job :) Happy birthday, Ben!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamandabooty Amanda Elaine Johnson

    Love it! My hubby’s turning 30 in February, so I am trying to think of ideas … :D

  • Jessica L.

    Aww, happy birthday to him!! Absolutely loving the banner :)

  • Elizabeth

    Love that this party demonstrates just how much you love *him*, not just throwing a party. I have to say that in a strange way, this post touched me. Nothing more beautiful than watching love in action.

  • Liz N

    Annie, such a thoughtful party you planned for Ben. I’m sure he was tickled by every detail. I wanted to ask where you got the recycleable plates on the far left of the picture. They look really great. I know you are environmentally conscious and wondered if they were any more expensive than traditional paper plates? Thanks!

  • Amy K

    HAHAHHAHA. “What? It’s her birthday. She didn’t cure cancer.”

  • Connie

    Great birthday goodies! I agree, you can never have too many tiny sandwiches for a party. I love the Star Wars themed cupcake picks! My husband loves Star Wars as well, and he just turned 30 earlier this year.

  • annieseats

    Liz, sorry, should have mentioned that in the post! Yes, the plates are from Garnish (thinkgarnish.com) and they are awesome. I figured we could compost them or recycle. They were pretty cheap I think, but I forget the unit price.

  • Courtney

    Haha, my husband put up the same sign fort birthday last month (along with the deflated balloons!) we were the only ones who knew the reference so I think the rest of the family was confused. Love the party’

  • SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph

    This party looks right up my husband’s alley, from the sign to the cereal to the Star Wars cupcakes. For something without a cohesive theme, this came together really great! Good job!

  • Andrea

    Ok, I love this. My husband is the same way… very simplistic food choices, easy to please, doesn’t like much fuss. This party setup appreciates those things about your husband and surely left him feeling so loved! Thank you for sharing this… definitely left me feeling inspired about how I could love my husband on his next birthday.

  • Courtney

    How fun!!!!! What a great wife you are. I bet his favorite part of all was the thought you put into making his special day an unforgettable one.

  • Caroline L.

    Happy Birthday, Ben! You always throw the most amazing parties – even this simple one is a stunner!

  • Lauren @ Pass the Spork

    Love all of this! Birthdays are all about indulging in favorite things and it looks like you captured all of your husband’s in this party. The cereal bar idea is my favorite.
    My husband is a huge Cubs fan. Will you ship your cookies to Philadelphia ;-)

  • Kelsey

    Your had me at “It is your birthday.” I love that you just went with what Ben loves–a perfect party for your sweet husband!

  • nicole

    will we get the recipe for that amazing looking bananas foster cake!?!? I hope so!

  • Ann P.

    YEEEES. I love the office. I’ve seen every episode! My favorite is The Injury or Beach Day, but i love this episode too! When Jim and Dwight give Kelly a nap for her birthday and she’s like, “I’m so excited, I can’t sleep!” So classic :) What a great idea to have an Office Party for Ben! Happy birthday to him! :)

  • morgan dufford

    Happy Birthday, Ben!! I love the ‘It is your birthday.’ sign! I don’t watch The Office, so at first, I thought the banner was supposed to represent a gigantic label from a label maker! I remember past entries stating that Ben is a teacher, and many of my teachers love label makers, so there you go :) The party looks great, and the “big italian” sandwiches are making me crave Jimmy John’s! I hope you post the recipe :)

  • Guest

    Love this! Birthdays are all about favorite things and it looks like you captured all of your husband’s perfectly. The cereal bar is my favorite.

    My husband is a huge Cubs fan, too. Do you ship cookies to Philadelphia ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paula-Braman-Duarte/100000682511378 Paula Braman-Duarte

    Happy Birthday, Ben. Your thirties will bring so many new adventures, for sure! Looks like you had a great party, hope there’s some leftover cereal, sliders, and cake, to enjoy the rest of the week.

  • The Healthy Hostess

    I love this party theme and idea! What a blast! I need to do this for my husband’s upcoming b-day! His choices would look similar – lots of bacon :)

  • annieseats

    Eh, I don’t know. It was good but for me, not good enough to be shared…yet. I’ll have to play around with the concept and tweak it until I consider it worthy of posting. It will be worth it though!

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurenoconnor.rd Lauren O’Connor Nutri-Savvy

    I bet it was an awesome b-day! Thanks for sharing. Nice to learn a little about yourselves – how you met. I met and fell in love with my husband through dance – we were dance partners, too!

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes

    Wow! You’re making all of us other wives look bad here!!! ha ha

  • Christina

    i was so so so expecting ‘benchiladas’ to appear on the menu! happy birthday!

  • Rachelle

    I love the “un-themed” party! The birthday banner is AWESOME! my engineer husband would really appreciate this kind of party buffet w “junk” I never buy, sandwiches and chocolate cake.

  • Cali

    Love the cookies! I grew up in Northern Indiana and I too love the Cubs, Colts and IU!! Happy Birthday.

  • Sandra Miller

    BEN is a very blessed man.
    What an amazing spread.
    Happy 30th!

  • http://twitter.com/TheSpicedLife Laura T

    Wow that is all seriously impressive. And as a sports fan, albeit none of those teams, I am especially impressed by the cookies. Wanna send me some Michigan ones? ;)

  • tesei

    Happy B-Day to Ben and congratulations to Annie on another big successful party!

  • Lori Russo

    You are so creative. I don’t know how you do it. Is that a glass milk bottle I see? I thought that went the way of the dinosaur lol

  • TheMrsatSuccessAlongtheWeigh

    I love this! I’m planning a milestone birthday for my honey for next month and I love the Star Wars cupcakes. I just saw some SW’s liners at Party City the other day so I might have to get those! Great job!

  • Runt

    Happy birthday to your husband! =]

  • Lynna

    That’s very sweet of you! The food looks fantastic! :)

  • grace

    i LOVE the banner! sweet stuff, annie. :)

  • Suze

    Happy Birthday to Ben!!! And many, many more!
    Annie, you are the best. I know your lives could not possibly be as perfect as it looks to us, but I hope it’s pretty darn close. :-D

  • http://twitter.com/KamillaVinther Kamilla Vinther

    Great Idea with the chips in an vertical container – whu should chips always be on a flat platter?.. Great blog!

  • Heather {ModernMealsforTwo}

    I love the banner! Hilarious!

  • MJ

    Looks like you and your husband enjoyed your many treats. Those little cubs hats are adorable! I can’t believe you got them at ebay. My husband and I have gone to a lot Phillies ball games and they actually serve their ice cream in these little hats ! We’ve collected quite a few of them.

    -MJ

  • http://twitter.com/BakeEatRepeat Courtney Rowland

    This is so great! And so thoughtful…i love that you chose his favorite things, even if they aren’t very “foodie.” I’m sure he appreciated all the special details!

  • bakermom

    Oh PLEASE work on that bananas foster cake. Ben’s looks so delicious & I want to make it now! I immediately googled it, but couldn’t find one like yours.

  • Nicole

    I’m going to need the recipe for a bananas foster birthday cake as bananas foster is my absolute favorite thing in the world

  • Kristin

    Hi Annie! Will you be posting the pulled pork recipe? YUM!

  • annieseats

    It’s actually the spicy shredded pork that’s already on the blog (older post) and I added some barbecue sauce that I made for Caroline’s party. Hope that helps!

  • Kristin

    Perfect, that does help – thank you!

  • Donna

    Happy birthday to Ben! What a wonderful spread. How do you do it?

  • Malin Undeland

    Wow – some lucky boyfriend! ;)

  • Kayla W

    This is so cute. I’m in love with the Colts cookies. Did you guys see they announced that there will be a Stars Wars exhibit at the Indiana State Museum next summer?

  • annieseats

    Oh boy, Ben will LOVE that!

  • Angie

    Ben and my husband would get along juuuuuuuust fine. Isn’t Ben a teacher? Graham’s a teacher, eats cereal all.the.time. like a college student, and is a die-hard Cubs fan. He’s turning 30 in January, and I think I’m going to steal your plastic hat bowl idea for his party.

  • annieseats

    Yep, he’s a teacher. How funny!

  • http://www.facebook.com/frances.j.hernandez.9 Frances Josef Hernandez

    This is awesome. You’re awesome that’s why I love checking your website when I’m in need of ideas for parties. Keep up the great work!

  • sweetsugarbelle

    I would have been all up in the middle of the Star Wars renactments!!!