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Dougies - A Trip Down Memory Lane

1950s American Diner Themed Party

My mum turned 80 on 14th February and there was no way my family was going to let that day pass without suitable celebration.

The Plan

With my parents and many of my close family living down in London we wanted to plan a party for Mum that would be close to home, would be a total surprise to her and an occasion for her and her guests to remember for some time to come!

The Inspiration

In the 1950s before emigrating to the UK from Barbados my Mum worked in an American style diner called Dougies. I remember as a child mum sharing lots of stories about her fond memories of Dougies - the food, the regular customers and the fabulous tunes on the jukebox. It was obviously a very special time for her so it seemed like a perfect focus and theme for her party.

The Plan - how we pulled off the surprise

I wanted the party to be a complete surprise for Mum as well as being full of surprises. The biggest surprise we managed to pull off was one of my sisters and her husband flying in from their home in New York for the party. Lots of planning and plotting, emails, inbox messages and phone calls but it happened!

We teamed up with my Auntie and one of my cousins, who arranged to whisk mum away from her house for the whole day so that "Operation Dougies" could get under way!

The Food

Dougies Diner Menu

The party menu was based on the fabulous Dougies food mum has so often talked about and some of the delights included:-

Hot Sticky BBQ Chicken Wings
Jailhouse Rock Chilli
Traditional Mac 'n' Cheese
Hot spicy jerk drumsticks
Dougies Special Chef's Salad
Homemade Slaw and Potato Salad
Bajan fish cake
Sorrel Punch
Ice Cold Mauby
Iced Cold Beer
Shakes, Malts and Floats
Peggy Sue's Pie

The Music

With so many great hits from the 50s I wanted to find a way to incorporate as many as I could, even researching a few of my Mum's favourites and ones that would take her right back to her Dougies days. So I hired a jukebox for the party from Jukebox45.com and provided the lovely Chris from jukebox45.com with a list of tracks to include in this rather fabulous CD Americana Jukebox.

Jukebox45 Hire

The artists from the 1950s amongst Mum's favourites include:-

Neil Sedaka
Bill Haley and the comets
Chuck Berry
Little Richard
Carl Perkins
Jerry Lee Lewis
Brooke Benton
Connie Francis
The Platters
Buddy Holly
Elvis Presley
The Everly Brothers
Eddie Cochran
Jackie Wilson
Sam Cooke
Lloyd Price
Smiley Lewis
Fats Domino
Paul Anka
The Five Satins
Gene Vincent
Ray Charles
Bobby Vee
The Champs
The Dells
The Drifters
Rocky Valance
Frank Sinatra
Dream Martin
Sammy Davis Junior

The Cake

Well as they say "a party without a cake is just a meeting!" so I approached the lovely Natalie from Yummy Little Cakes to create something very special and of course in keeping with the 1950s American Diner theme. I created this secret Pinterest board with a few ideas

Party Ideas on Pinterest

and Natalie created this fabulous 2 tier cake incorporating a lovely bespoke topper by Miss Cake and a diner sign created by Polly and Me.

Birthday Cake by Yummy Little Cakes

The bottom layer was 'to die for' chocolate with a lemon top tier. We also had some fabulous mini vanilla milkshake cupcakes.

Jar of Hearts

With members of our family and some of my mum's oldest and dearest friends living overseas and not being able to come to the party I wanted to find a way to incorporate them in the party.

Birthday Party Ideas - Jar of Hearts

So I enlisted the help of my one of my cousins in Barbados and with the help of Whatsupp and Facebook we gathered lots of extra special birthday greetings and created a 'Jar of Hearts' for all the messages presented these to Mum at the party.

Mini Jukebox Guesbook Alternative - Handcrafted by Sarah Manton

For guests at the party we had this mini jukebox guest book card created by the fabulous Sarah Manton. Inside the jukebox were individual record cards for guests to write their birthday messages for mum.

My sister also bought this rather fabulous personalised T Shirt for my Mum.

Birthday Party Idea - Personalised T Shirt

The moment when everyone shouted "Surprise" was just amazing and mum's reaction captured in these images by MIchael from Picture In Me was priceless!

Surprise Birthday Party

Wishing my mum and those of you who are mums a truly wonderful Mothers' Day!

Leaving you with a little Flipagram video of a few more of the party images,

Until next time,

Valerie x

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