My cousin and best friend, Alex, is crazy about Rome. Since the family could not afford to send her there for her eighteenth birthday we decided to bring a little of Italy to her.
The theme of the party was planned as a surprise so we only told her the family was going to have a party, but nobody told her about the theme or that we were inviting all of Alex's friends. I was in charge of calling everyone and telling them to come to Alex's Aunt June's house.
The easiest thing to was transform Aunt June's patio into an Italian cafe without spending too much money or time. First, my mom rented four round tables and white bistro-style wrought iron chairs. The tables were covered with red and white checkered table cloths covered with white square linens. Each table had a small crystal bud vase with a single red rose and a votive candle. The husband of one of her sisters brought over some plaster statues and columns to place around the edge of the patio. He said we could borrow them for the day.
I helped arrange the chairs and set the tables while the violin player Aunt June hired tuned up his instrument. Aunt June's husband is an air brush artist and painted some backdrops on old sheets we taped between the plaster roman columns. He created a view of an Italian village on one side and the Italian countryside on the other. They were really nice. Once everything was ready, all we had to do was wait for the guests.
One by one the guests began arriving and everyone was really impressed with our work. Alex arrived last and was so surprised she could hardly speak. She was really surprised to see all her friends from school. She nearly flipped, she was so excited. Everyone greeted her and we all sat down at the tables. The violin player went over to her table and serenaded her making her turn beet red.
I helped Aunt June and Uncle Al serve the Italian dinner. It was homemade spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli with red sauce, shells stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach and garlic breadsticks with a side of red sauce for dipping. Everyone loved it, especially Alex. There was red wine for the adults and grape juice or soda for the youngsters. There was chocolate canoli for dessert. Aunt June put a candle in Alex's dessert and the violinist led us in an Italian version of Happy Birthday.
The tables were cleared away after dinner. Aunt June turned on the stereo and put in a CD of Italian dance music. Everyone started getting into the mood to dance especially when the tarantella started. I took some great photos of that of June dancing with Al with a rose between her teeth. It was so funny!
Alex told everyone what a great time she had. Everyone stayed late talking, and drinking coffee in our own little Italian cafe. Yesterday, Alex called me and told me next year she's going to Rome for her birthday for real, even if she has to charge it on her credit card. I hope I can go too.