Who says birthday parties are just for kids? Not me! In fact, I still have a few annual birthday rituals and having a party is one that hasn’t changed since I was a kid!
While the type of party has certainly changed and the beverage of choice has shifted from Orange Crush or Rootbeer to something more “adult” (read: generally containing alcohol), I still honour some of the birthday traditions I started as a kid. For instance, I almost always take the day off. These days, a free day to sleep in, move at a leisurely pace, and not worry about the office is a pretty wonderful gift to give yourself!
My birthday falls in the couple weeks following the chaos and cheer of winter holidays, so it can actually be hard to get excited about another party (read: it’s always cold, there’s usually snow, we’re all broke!). This year though was exceptional! When my birthday rolled around, I found myself at a tiny local brewery with 7 of my beer drinking besties, enjoying beer tasting flights and amazing food beautifully paired with the beer in an intimate setting that was closed to the public. Throughout the night, I paused a few times, thinking “how amazing is this?!” before loud laughs took over or more food arrived, or we brought out the cake (well, cakes with an s, if I’m being honest!).
So, how did it all happen?! Well, in summer 2017, I discovered the new local brewery and fell in love with it! The beer scene on Vancouver Island is quite impressive and I like to seek out new breweries. This brewery, Loveshack Libations, is BC’s 2nd smallest brewery and the beer is delicious, the atmosphere is unique, and Dave, the owner, is awesome. My first visit there was a first date situation and when we arrived (after I got us lost!), we found a communal table with 8 strangers already set up. It felt a little awkward and I believe the question my date asked was “what have you gotten us into?” We stayed though, pulled up the last two chairs, and had a comical afternoon getting to know our fellow beer enthusiasts and trying the beers. That initial “surprise” wore off quickly and we went back many times. Fast forward from that first visit and Dave decided to run an auction on social media with an amazing prize at stake! The auction was closing on a night where I was out with friends and I told them about the place and the beer and the prize. My friends convinced me to bid and, when I woke up the next day, I discovered I had won!
My prize was: a lovely refurbished wooden crate filled with 12 different beers, two glasses, one t-shirt, a GC for a local food truck, hand-made cards, and a private tasting for 8 at the brewery!
A couple days after the auction closed, I went for a drive to pick up the prize (sidenote here: the brewery is about 45 minutes north of Nanaimo, just outside of Qualicum Beach) and I chatted with Dave about possible dates for the tasting. He said Tuesdays worked and I did some quick thinking to remember my birthday was on a Tuesday this year. It was clearly meant to be and my birthday party experience emerged.
The planning that ensued was:
- Me to Dave: How would Tues, Jan 16 work?
- Dave to me: Sounds good. What time will you be here?
- Me to Dave: We’ll leave my house at 5:30 and drive straight there
- Dave to me: Perfect, see you then!
This was followed by:
- Me to friends: My birthday? Private tasting at a brewery?
- Friends to me: We’re in!
I’d never planned so little in my entire life! I knew to expect the fun, warm atmosphere I had experienced before and I knew it was a great group going. I brought cakes (plural, as previously confessed) and packed a few snacks for the trip. If we got there happy from the snacks, enjoyed some delicious beer, and had some laughs, the evening was going to be a success! Honestly, that’s all I had in mind…
From the moment we arrived, everything surpassed any expectation I either secretly had or didn’t even have the notion to dream up! Dave had set out place settings and tasting glasses for each of us. He had strategically planned tasting flights to pair with the rounds of food that were being delivered from The Knockananna Grill (an amazing little food truck!) that works with the brewery. There were little fairy lights strung up, machines brewing beer in the corner, a gorgeous live edge wood table, and special printed cards highlighting the beer flight selections. Dave was funny, engaging, and put up with the group being both ridiculous and hilarious.
As we grow up, we disregard or let go of some of the rituals we loved as kids and we can lose the magic of gathering with your friends to laugh and celebrate things as simple as a birthday. Families, babies, people moving, real jobs, general “adulting” responsibilities can fill our schedules to the point where a birthday party is difficult to fit in. But, can I tell you, it’s oh so worth it! We were all just glowing after that celebration; we spent the night laughing those deep belly laughs and all that love and laughter easily carried through the rest of the week. We kept that magic feeling going, circulating pictures, stalking the brewery and food truck on social media, and remembering those few amazing hours we managed to carve out, even with all our busy lives.
Pausing to celebrate my birthday is one of my annual rituals and this year it was a massive success! You’ll read about many more birthday adventures as we get going on this blog, encouraging you to get out and play, birthday party style!!
Explore the island with us & show us some love!