Party Like it’s 1836: Instructions for a Lavish Birthday Celebration By Heather Roselle

Congratulations! It’s 1836, and it’s your birthday: you have survived another year of typhoid, yellow fever, smallpox, scarlet fever, and cholera epidemics. You’ve endured the political and social turmoil of the Battle of the Alamo, a frightening financial panic, and a tumultuous Presidential election, and now you want to kick back and relax for a moment. I get it. Some things are worth celebrating, despite the multiple immensely stressful and confounding socio-political variables of the ever changing modern world– like your birthday! So grab that party hat, ink up your quill and get ready to draft some invitations for the world’s best birthday party in 1836. 

  1. Invitations: If you truly want this party to be the best of the best, you must invite only fifty of the most important people you know. I’m talking investors, geniuses, descendents of the monarchy (shhh!), political leaders, people with trust funds, and maybe a few antisocial and esoteric artists to add some spice. The invitations, written on the finest parchment and sealed with your personalized wax stamp, should be hand delivered via horse and carriage to ensure a sense of personability. However you cannot be caught dead doing the manual labor of delivering letters- you’ll hire someone for that. 
  2. Food: If you don’t serve at least a five course meal, your birthday party is a disappointment. The order goes: hors d’oeuvres, an appetizer, a salad, the main course, and a dessert. Your team of elite private chefs will know what ingredients are best this time of year, but I might recommend the stuffed ham slices for the main course. For dessert, perhaps a gooseberry tower or a Queen of Puddings. The opulence is necessary and expected. 
  3. Venue: This goes without saying, but your party should take place in your formal front parlor. I recommend gathering fresh flowers to place a bouquet on each chair, to relieve the room of the aroma of sickness (assorted, above). The tables must be set according to the preferred social guide, but do not forget at least two tablecloths to prevent the intrusive noise of silverware clinking together. You will need at least five forks and knives, one for each course. Have your silversmith make extra, just in case. 
  4. Music: A party calls for music! Hire someone to go into your village and procure the most talented music student to play the harpsichord, or the piano. Their quaint youthfulness and whimsy will delight your guests. Do not pay them- this is not charity work. 
  5. Gifts: It is unclassy to ask for gifts, but if a guest shows up empty handed, you reserve the right to immediately and violently expel them from your presence. A table, ornately decorated, should sit to the right of the doorway so that guests can be seen holding their gift for you but are free from the social pressure of physically handing it to you. The gift table should serve as a constant subconscious reminder of your intelligence, value, and general belovedness to your guests. The real performance comes later, when you open the

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