Chef Chris provided cooking lessons, food ordering & delivery, and much more to help make this virtual birthday party unforgettable!
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Being self-quarantined doesn’t mean you cannot do things to make the people you care about feel special. Whether you share a home with them or not. Yesterday was my husband Kilian’s birthday and, understandably, under these circumstances I had to “think outside the box” to make it a unique one for him.
When the coronavirus seemed less serious than it is, I thought I had plenty of time to shop online for his gifts to be delivered on time. So I got on his favorite shopping website, MR PORTER, to look for a pair of pajamas and a robe. A request he made a while ago after being jealous of my “adult” pajama sets! Mine are burgundy, and if you know Kilian, then you know we don’t share that same favorite color! And nor would we want to be twins! Luckily, I found a beautiful black pair and a robe. Their website mentioned it was “shipping direct from the manufacturer” and it’s an international company so I called to find out how long it would take. They told me they were shipping from Italy, so I placed the order and crossed my fingers… Needless to say, they did not arrive in time.
By this past Tuesday, I knew I had to come up with a plan b. The obvious (to me) answer: food. With this in mind I called my friend, Chef Chris Nirschel, and we brainstormed a few ideas. Here’s what we came up with!
- Order some of his favorite “specialty” foods. I wanted him to be spoiled so I splurged on caviar, truffles, foie gras, and boudin blanc. Being away from family and friends in Paris, I knew this would be a way to create a taste of home, away from home.
- Bake a birthday cake. I actually made a birthday apple pie because of his dietary restrictions. And the candle in the middle worked just fine! Admittedly, I’m not a great cook so Chef Chris sent me an easy-to-follow recipe and I did my best. Take a look at my Instagram stories if you’re curious to see how it turned out (consider this your warning! LOL!). It was made with love so that’s all that counts, right!?! I think so!
- Find him a gift to enjoy while being at home (besides pajamas obviously!). Again, thinking about past gift requests and working with Chef Chris, I organized a month of private online cooking classes so he (OK we!) can step up our game in the kitchen!
In realizing that all of my gifts were actually going to be shared by the two of us (haha, oops!), I also set him up for an astrology reading over the phone with our favorite astrologer, and hired a DJ. Yep, you read that right, a DJ! Keep reading…
I also knew I wanted family and friends to be a part of his special day. Both Zoom and HouseParty, the multi-person video apps, have been lifesavers in helping us connect with our loved ones. So, I decided to get everyone together for the celebration! I reached out to family and friends in both Europe and the U.S. and organized two Zoom “parties”. The first one was with our family and friends in Europe, so I made it an early happy hour since it was 4:00pm for us (9pm for them). The second party for our US-based loved ones was at 9:30pm. Everyone was on mute besides the DJ from 9:30-10pm so they could hear the music and dance. But at the same time, Kilian could say hi to people as they joined since it was video. At 10pm, we then unmuted everyone and all sang “Happy Birthday”! It was so much fun! The goal was to be with those who care about and love Kilian, and for everyone to be able to raise a glass for a toast and wish him a Happy Birthday. It was a huge success!
And last, but definitely not least, the icing on the cake: lingerie! As you likely know I’m a fan of Fleur du Mal and luckily so is Kilian (he is French, after all!). After virtually hanging out with friends, we had our own little private party… I’ll stop here on this one!
While I did my best under the circumstances, I would have planned everything a little further in advance if I had it to do again. Many websites are still functioning so gifts can be ordered, but there are definitely delays in receiving products. I got lucky on preparing the food by working with Chef Chris who was able to help me get the specialty items directly from his suppliers. And much faster than they would have ordinarily taken. Without him, I would have researched on my own two or three weeks prior about where to buy the items and called them to inquire about timing and before simply placing an order online. The non-tangible gifts, however, can be more last minute. They just require thinking about your loved one and what makes them happy. There are so many fun ideas to choose from that require nothing more than creativity, thoughtfulness, and love!
All in all, it was a successful birthday celebration despite being in self-quarantine. In the end, after I reflected on all of the planning and preparation, the best birthday present was simply the gift of time together. Time together with family, time together with friends, and time together for just the two of us. So, next time you have an occasion to celebrate, there is no need to stress. Instead, celebrate the love we have around us, and the ways in which we can make people feel special in our lives, whether they are near or far…