Gnarly 30th Birthday


The hubs (henceforth known as JMFH) has been talking about his 30th birthday since I met him…when he was 20. Mostly, he’s been talking about 30 as if it were the end of his life, laying out a pretty detailed scenario in which I was supposed to behead him on the morning of his 30th. Uhhhh…dramatic much? Obviously this meant I had to take matters into my own hands,  put my event planning hat on, and make his birthday as awesome as possible.

Just after the new year started in 2014, I started to see lists of things that were turning 30 in 2014, and it was a movie and comic lover’s dream – TMNT, Transformers, Tetris, Karate Kid, Muppet Babies, Ghostbusters. Naturally, I started a Pinterest board…6+ months in advance.

ConfessionCalling JMFH a movie and comic lover is pretty much the understatement of the year. This man is a filmmaker, inspired by 80s-tastic movies like Karate Kid, Ghostbusters, Gremlins and Terminator. This man has a bi-weekly podcast (POW!Cast – check it out!) about comic books and movies. A party theme focused on 80s geek culture? Jackpot.

I had a theme and a Pinterest board, but to take this party to the next level I had to convince JMFH to let me surprise him – not with a full-on surprise party, but with the theme: he could know no details except the basics – day, place, time, guests. Easy enough, right? Wrong.

The thing about JMFH is that when I think I have a ridiculous idea that he’s never going to go for, he agrees immediately; and when I think I have a straightforward idea he’s going to like right away, he resists. So it took some convincing, but finally I convinced him, and the scheming could begin.

Step 1: Beverages

We have some amazing friends with a hobby every bit as wonderful as baking – brewing beer. I asked them to brew, gave them some ideas of what he’d like, and they came up with a great name, recipe, and even labels to bottle some.

Confession: He almost figured me out on the beer front. I was digging around, trying to make sure I was making the right choice as far as the kind of beer for the guys to make. I was asking him things like, “What would you say is your all time favorite kind of beer?” when he said, “I should ask Rick to make beer for my birthday!”

Enter panic mode!

MUST. THINK. FAST. So I said, “You can’t do that! That’s so rude! Making beer is hard! It takes a long time! You can’t ask him to do that!” …and it worked! He was completely thrown off, and the surprise was AMAZING! There are few things I love more than seeing JMFH’s surprised face. 🙂

Story on the name: JMFH is my shorthand for what many call my husband: John Motherf*&#ing Hale. No, seriously. They actually call him that. So naturally the beer had to be named…

John MF'in Ale

…John Motherf*&#ing Ale.

The best part? It tasted FANTASTIC, and it was a huge hit. They even made extra (and, luckily, hid them from party guests) for us to take home. JMFH has been hoarding them for months and is protecting the last bottle with his life!

I even made a drinking game based on stuff JMFH says or his reactions to life in general. Super easy to do – just come up with your list, type it up, print it out, and prepare to get drunk! This spawned my favorite quote of the evening, from the birthday boy as he read through the rules: “Awww…y’all about to get drunk tonight!”

Step 2: Decorations

For decorations, I just went over the top, typical 80s – tie dye, neon colors, silly phrases, even Grumpy Cat in Ray-Bans.

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I also made a poster with a list of things created in 1984.


And of course, there was a photo backdrop and tubular props (mics, sunglasses, shutter shades, and fingerless mesh gloves) to catch everyone in their 80s garb.

The birthday boy and his podcast partner

The birthday boy and his podcast partner

Step 3: Cupcakes (duh)

The cupcake flavor was a no brainer. JMFH is crazy for cinnamon, so these Snickerdoodle Cupcakes were a perfect choice. The question was the decorations. Ultimately, I went with two 1984 classics: TMNT and Tetris.

I found some Tetris cookie cutters, which made those decorations pretty easy to make out of neon-colored fondant.


It just so happens that a new TMNT movie came out in 2014. So I figured it would be easy to track down some good decorations, even if they weren’t edible. I searched everywhere – big box stores, local party store. No TMNT anywhere to be found. So ultimately, I had to create some fondant toppers myself. They turned out great.


Finally, I arranged the cakes into the number 30 for the party.


Between the decorations, the beer, the surprise, and the cupcakes, it was a huge success and so much fun. And it was nice to finally use my themed event planning skills outside of work! Now to start planning for his 40th…