23 December 2010

Merry Christmas Manda Jean!

23 December 2010
My sister Amanda & her son Daniel

This past Thanksgiving, while the family was gathered, we tried to come up with some fresh ideas for Christmas 2010. We typically just do the standard gift exchange, but this year we wanted to focus our attention on someone who would really appreciate a special Christmas. Several of us immediately thought of my sister Amanda (who happened to be out-of-town for T-day). Amanda is a single mother of 3 young children. Life for her isn't as simple as it is for most us. Despite it all, she's done an amazing job of balancing her family life, work & attending school full-time. And, she's one of the most positive, generous people I know. So, it seemed natural to want to spoil her for a change this Christmas.

And so the planning began for our crazy surprise party. We waffled a bit between low-key and full-out, but we decided in the end not to hold anything back because, of anyone, Amanda could handle it. (She's not the type to embarrass easily.)

We disguised the party as a "game night", and planned everything around this hilarious little board game called Quelf. We played the first round normally, and then we pulled out our custom-made game cards focused all on Amanda...

Sheri's card read, "Whip out your pom poms and create your own cheer for 'Mrs. Pickle Feather'" (aka. Amanda)

Up to this point, Amanda was still clueless, but not for much longer... 

Aside from Sheri's peppy cheer and Jason and Eric's superb performance, the rest of the game was mostly dedicated to us showering Amanda with gifts. For example, one card read, "Treat Mrs. Pickle Feather like she is Cleopatra and adorn her with extravagant gifts" (jewelry). Another card read, "Share a story that will keep MPF captivated for 4 hours." (DVDs x2) Another: "Brighten someone's day (highlights gift cert.) by making their life a little easier (free house cleaning GC) and a little less hairy (waxing GC)." The 3 grand finale gifts were...

1. A massive, custom-made woven blanket of her favorite celebrity crush, Mr. Wentworth Miller (The card read, "Wrap someone with love." so we gave her a big Wentworth bear hug)

2. A Gift Card for Broadway in Boise. She gets to choose between Wicked, Grease, Fiddler, etc. (The Quelf card read, "Give a memorable performance"...so after all of the women, and Eric?, did an impressive Can Can kick line, we gave her the broadway gift card)
3. And, finally, we gathered several 3x5" notecards from family and friends expressing why they love and admire Amanda (there were well over 100 cards from nearly 40 ppl). The idea was to have the whole night be fun and lightheared and then let the more serious gift be one that she could read on her own time without an audience. Here are a couple of examples of the sweet notes that people gave...
I think we were all really touched by Amanda's reaction to the final gift. She immediately began to cry. And the night ended with a big mooshy group hug.