Like so many entertainment trends I tend to be a decade late to the party. Gilmore Girls is a perfect example of this. Only in the last 6 months have I stumbled into this magical world thanks to Netflix. I don’t know how I missed it the first time around. My only thought is that perhaps it was because during the early years of this millennium I was drowning in bottles, diapers, and Veggie Tales videos and had socially checked out during those prime Gilmore Girl years.
But not to worry. I may be a decade late but I have finally stumbled upon and jumped aboard the fan train and am loving the journey!
The girls and I were introduced to the Gilmore Girls last fall by the Hudaks, not long after Ozzie had been placed in a residential facility. It was a season when we were all reeling and raw and this imaginary town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut and the characters within proved to be a place of healing for Molly and I. Each day during lunch break we would snuggle on my bed and watch one episode, with Grace joining us as her schedule allowed. Much like Downton Abbey became a special shared connection between Grace and I, Gilmore Girls became Molly and my shared connection.
This daily escape to another place became the source of much laughter, a few tears, and a lot of discussion as the relationship between the two main characters (who happen to be mother and daughter) played out on the screen. I don’t know when I have loved a show more and it was such a joy tumbling into that world with my girls.
As Molly’s 18th birthday neared, I knew what I wanted to do to celebrate her special day. Just as I had taken Grace on a journey to Downton Abbey for her 18th birthday (See link below)
I wanted to whisk Molly away to Stars Hollow for her 18th birthday, so with Gracie helping me plan, and the Hudaks in on the surprise, we set to work. The plan was to take Molly away for the night to a hotel where we would surprise her with a Gilmore Girls birthday party. I don’t know when I have had more fun planning an event, due in large part to the fact that in the midst of months of planning my creative juices were continually sparked with our daily Gilmore Girls lunch date.
Here are some clues to the inspirations that prompted our themed decorations:
(In fact we are still not done with the show, despite the party being over. We are only on season 6 so don’t give anything away!)
In the weeks leading up to Molly’s birthday our craft room became party headquarters with a “Molly, Do NOT Enter” sign posted outside. My printer got a workout as I printed, cut, laminated, and wrapped until my fingers bled, determined to bring Stars Hollow to life in our hotel room.
Finally the day arrived. I had booked the hotel for Friday night (the day before Molly’s birthday.) Grace and I drove down to the hotel at lunchtime to check in early and decorate the suite on the sly so that when we arrived later with the Hudak girls and Molly in tow they would walk into the finished room.
While Grace made newspaper hats for me I began decorating, hiding nods to favorite episodes through the rooms of our suite.
When the room was sufficiently decked out and we were packing up to leave we received a knock at the door. The housekeeping staff had seen the Dragonfly Inn sign on the outside of the hotel room door and wanted to know if we were filming a movie. When we explained that it was a Gilmore Girl surprise party they asked if they could take a tour. Turns out we weren’t the only Gilmore Girl fans in the building and our efforts were greatly appreciated by the housekeeping staff who clapped with glee at our efforts. 🙂
Later that afternoon it was time to head out. Molly didn’t know what to expect, as Grace had secretly packed her overnight bag. We drove north to pick up the Hudaks (Lana, Olivia, and Tatum.) I had to laugh when I saw the girls. It turns out all three had embraced their inner Luke and Molly was riding along with a noticeable clue to the evening ahead and didn’t even realize it.
We arrived, cluing Molly into the fact that we were spending the night at a hotel, but still unaware of the surprise that lay ahead. We took the elevator to the 4th floor and gave Molly the key.
Her first clue as to what the evening entailed:
We stepped inside and Molly and the Hudaks caught their first glimpse of our Gilmore Girl Gala:
They embarked on an impromptu “I Spy” hunt as they discovered all the nods to Rory and Lorelai hidden about the room. Here are some of the surprises we tucked around the suite:
Once the tour was complete the fun began.
We started with picking our “teams” for the night:
Who is your favorite Gilmore guy?
Then it was time to prepare for dinner. In true Lorelai style we opted to order in rather than go out. Earlier in the day I collected take out menus from local restaurants that would deliver to the hotel and scattered them in front of the TV, creating “functional décor.”
The girls perused the menus and chose dishes that sounded good from a few different restaurant, and then we ordered.
As we waited for our food to arrive party favors were handed out.
Tucked into Chinese take-out containers that I labeled with Al’s Pancake World, the girls found “jam hands” chapstick, “I will follow” bracelets, and Gilmore Girls socks.
Once properly attired for the evening ahead we sat down and began our Gilmore Girl marathon. Picking some of our favorite episodes of all time we settled in for a night of laughter and Gilmore Girl bingo.
Some of our choices for the night included:
It wasn’t too long before we had our first winner. Our bingo prizes were wrapped gift bags whose outside tags bore a clue to the prize within. Inside each bag was a nail polish that matched the clue on the outside:
After an episode and a half the first wave of food arrived.
In a spread that would make Lorelai proud, we feasted on everything from pizza to fried rice to deviled eggs, eating until our stomachs hurt.
At 10:00 pm the girls decided to take a break from our Gilmore Girl marathon and head down to the pool before it closed for the night, only to discover that it was shut down do to “unforeseen circumstances.” So they came up with a plan B:
Then it was time for gifts and cake. Sticking with the theme of the night Molly received a Luke’s Diner t-shirt from Miss Lana:
A beautifully framed, hand-painted picture of the show’s theme song from Olivia:
And a touching digital scrapbook of their decade long friendship from Tatum:
Molly’s birthday cake was a collection of cupcakes baked by Olivia. They were topped with a broken piece of pop-tart and filled with the matching flavor. They were so perfect and so delicious!
By 2:00 am the moms were spent and headed to bed while the girls began a game of Gilmore Girls Guess Who and Gilmore Girls Monopoly.
Eventually they too stumbled into bed.
In the morning we woke Molly in the traditional way with a cupcake and a song.
My baby is officially an adult!
Happy birthday, Miss Molly, I hope we made some memories you will treasure forever.