How to Host a Fête During a Fest

One of my dearest friends’ birthday is during the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. (It is what I imagine having a birthday during Christmas celebrations in any other part of the country is like.) Every year she stays with my husband and me, and every year we’re so exhausted by the time it comes around that we typically make it special by inviting a large group of people over after the last day of fest for some of her favorite dishes, home-cooked of course, and her favorite cake.

This year was her big 3-0, and her parents were in town to show us how it’s done. We all met at Liuzza’s By the Track at 10 a.m., and her mother began producing celebratory items from her bag like she was Mary Poppins. First came plastic champagne flutes and multiple bottles of my friend’s favorite champagne. Then came paper napkins in her favorite pattern: paisley. Then the “birthday” stickers for each of us with glitter and arrows drawn on them so that we could all point out whose birthday it was (as long as we stood in the right spot). Those were followed by presents, hot beignets with birthday candles, a blinking button to hold her birthday pin-on money and the pieces de resistance: Afro wigs to match my friend’s most striking feature. We definitely made for a photo op, and walking with her through the fest all day reminded me how wonderful people can be.

This just goes to show that though New Orleans has more festivals, balls and nonprofit events than there are days in the year, throwing a party within a party can be fun, easy and most of all, memorable.

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