Three weeks ago my Daddy retired after almost 47 years as an Electrician. Next week my Mama will retire after 24 years of teaching high school math. And this past weekend, we celebrated by throwing them a fantastic Surprise Retirement Party and I made them a Travel / Suitcase Themed Retirement Cake.
I couldn't be more happy for my parents, or more proud of all theyv'e accomplished in their lives. More than anything, I could see through the guests and family that attended the party how many lives they've touched and what an impact they've made. I'm incredibly gratefuel to have them as my Daddy & Mama.
I have to tell you - planning a surprise party is work. The idea for the party was from my youngest brother Jake, then my siblings and I worked on it as a group (there are 4 of us... me, my sister, and our two brothers) to pull it all together.
Besides having to come up with a guest list without the help of my parents (which was hard work!), there were so many other decisions. We had to figure out a date that would work for so at the very least, our entire immediate family could attend. Then we had find and choose a venue. Oh... and then there was the matter of a caterer, and a menu. We had to come up with a theme, decorations, and gosh... so many decisions.
Then there were the lies. Oh the lies we told over the period of a month to keep my parents in the dark but also assure that they'd actually show up for the party. We had to make sure they didn't make other plans and scheme to get them to show up at an unusual location.
And my Daddy is a very inquistive, detail-driven person... so when we concocted a story - he asked all the questions. We weren 't sure we were going to be able to keep it up! Ha!
Anyhow, I digress. I want to share all the party & cake details with you...
The "Permanent Vacation" Retirement Party Theme
My sisters-in-law, Ariel & Amy, are incredibly creative when it comes to parties and decorating so they worked together on the party theme. My SIL Ariel found and designed invitations that immediately decided on the theme for us. I'm not sure where she got all of the images, but I know she used PicMonkey for the final design. It was just perfect!
My parents joke all the time that once they're both retired, we won't see them much because they plan to travel all the time. They already have a mission trip to Mexico booked in June and plans to visit India in the fall. So a travel/vacation theme was perfect!
Ariel pulled it together and all of the decorations ended up being focused on maps, globes, travel, airplanes and suitcases:
As soon as we had the invites printed Ariel started collecting decorations from family & friends and buying old vintage suitcases from the thrift stores.
And my SIL Amy started working on signs and gathering things to decorate my Mama's "Teacher" table (Amy is also a teacher).
And she also painted a perfect sign to hang behind the tables & the cake table:
Anywho... so as soon as we had the theme decided on, I immediatley was inspired with a cake design. I've always wanted to do a suitcase cake (ever since taking this Craftsy class a couple of years ago where Lauren made a vintage luggage cake), and this was my chance!
Now, let's talk CAKE!
Travel / Suitcase Themed Retirement Cake
I took ideas from the invitation (the colors, the globe, the plane and of course, the suitcases) and put them all together. I also wanted to do a little visual trick and have it look like a cake sitting on a suitcase, but the suitcase also be cake.
And guess what? It worked!! I had so many people tell me they thought the cake was sitting on a suitcase... I was thrilled! I baked two 10x15 cakes, filled and stacked them, then went to work covering and decorating the suitcase!
One more note... my always amazing husband made the stand for the cake. I didn't want it sitting directly on the table but I didn't have any kind of rectangle stand that would work so when I asked if he could make one for me, he immediately went to work and within a couple of hours, he had made the stand and stained it!
I made the top tier into "sky" with an airplane to represent their upcoming travels! Then I had a fellow (and local) cake decorator friend (who is also a very skilled woodworker) use his scroll saw to cut out the topper for me. I stained it to match the stand my husband built for the cake and voila... perfection!
I'm not sure I've ever been so satisfied and happy with a finished cake! It was exactly how I imagined it!
Anyway, we successfully pulled off the surprise and managed to have a fantastic party! After most of the guests left, we also managed to get some long overdue family pictures.
Both one of my brothers and one of my brothers-in-law work in the oil industry offshore and for almost 2 years, they've been on almost exact opposite shifts (meaning they were almost never both at home at the same time). Recently my brother-in-law's schedule changed so we planned the party on a weekend when they were both home.
This (above) is a pic of my parents, all 4 of us kids (not really "kids" anymore) and our spouses. And this one below is the same group plus all 13 grandchildren and my Mama's brother and his wife (who happened to be visiting Mississippi from Colorado... it worked out beautifully!).
What a group!! I love it that we have these pics and memories!!
And just because my husband is awesome, he also took a picture of me with our kids for Mother's Day. Because I'm the (not so professional) photographer of the family, I often find that there are almost never pictures of me when we have family get-togethers. But Richy remembered that and made sure that there were quite a few taken during the festitivies this weekend!
Speaking of photos... this blog post barely scratched the surface. I took over 400 pictures on Saturday!! Ha! There were dozens more of the cake and the party and the guests and even several more group shots of our family!
A few more details...
Let me tell you a few more detailsa bout the he Travel / Suitcase Themed Retirement Cake.
The suitcase part was 2 layers of 10x15 sheet cake (pans here), stacked and filled. It was Italian Cream Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream. I decorated it with Brown Satin Ice Fondant and used these tools for the details:
- Ribbon Cutter for the straps
- Stitching Tool for details
- Gold Luster Dust mixed with Lemon Extract for the buckles/rivets.
- My favorite paint brushes
- Wilton Black Colormist to add depth and a weathered look to the "leather"
- This wood grain mat to make the texture on the fondant that covered the board.
- Confectioner's Glaze to give it a shine
- The bottom tier was colored with Americolor Ivory and the top tier with Americolor Electric Blue (just a tiny bit).
- The maps were edible images from this shop on Etsy.
- Cloud cutters for the top tier.
- Non-toxic Pencil for drawing on the dashes behind the plane.
And finally... that's it!
Did I miss anything? Do you have questions about any details I skipped over? Leave me a comment!
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