An Inside Look At Tabitha’s Surprise Picnic Paint Night

Tabitha’s 19th Surprise Picnic Paint Night

This past month we celebrated my sweet friend Tabitha for her 19th birthday. At the beginning of the year, she had mentioned how she had never been thrown a surprise party. From then on, my roommate Alyssa and I started scheming.

Here is a behind the scenes look at our vegan, surprise picnic paint night.


The first thing we decided on was the theme. Her birthday is October 31st, so originally we thought of doing a cute, halloween themed bonfire. After a few location issues which I’ll mention in the next section, we went back to the drawing board. We knew Tabitha loved flowers, art, and a good adventure. We ended up combining a few of her favorite things until we decided on a picnic and paint night.

Location & Time

When we were planning to do a fall themed bonfire at my home, we realized our friends wouldn’t want to leave campus. We then chose Friday, October 30th around 6:00 p.m. so most of our friends could come and help set everything up.

For the location, we wanted to find a place that was relatively close to our dorm. We had to carry food and decorations there, so we chose a place within walking distance. The weather was nice that day and we were able tp use the pavilion overlooking campus. It had plenty of space for a socially distanced picnic, a great view of the sunset, and was great for pictures!

The Spread

Vegan cake

When it came to food, we wanted a simple, affordable and vegan spread that everyone could enjoy.

Tabitha is vegan so we couldn’t go out and order a cake from a bakery. Instead, Alyssa and I spent the night before making the most delicious cake. We used a cake recipe by (insert blog here), and we whipped up our own vegan buttercream frosting recipe. Alyssa and I used fresh raspberries to decorated the cake, and topped it off with some gold birthday candles.

We decided to keep the refreshments simple and provided Oreos and a small fruit platter with Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. For the drinks, we made lemon citrus water and also had some La Croix on hand.

Details & Decorations

Decor pieces from @simply_thrifted_home on Instagram

To match the picnic and paint night theme, we wanted to create a simple, comfy, cottage core environment. Some of the girls on our hall contributed a few cute blankets with tassels to lay on the ground. My boyfriend let us borrow his small antique coffee table for the cake and refreshments. I pulled a few decor pieces from my @simply_thrifted_home account to add a fun vintage flare! The Oreos were displayed in two petite vintage cheese plates. I also placed a few brass candlesticks on the blankets to prevent them from being blown away. The wicker paper plate holders were a beautiful touch that also made for quick and easy clean up. The sustainable plates, napkins and forks were held in a thrifted picnic basket I thrifted from goodwill for $3.99. As a final touch, we bought a small bouquet of flowers, and decorated with some dried greenery to add some color and plant life.

We provided paints, brushes, and canvases for those who felt like painting. There were also blank cards and pens for our friends to write her a birthday card or share a sweet memory.

How We Surprised Tabitha

We had the whole party planned out, all we had to do was get Tabitha there. Let’s just say that was easier said than done.

The week before the party, all of our friends had been avoiding plans with Tabitha. They told her they had already made plans with other people on her birthday or were going home for the weekend. It started to get awkward when she told me how she felt like no one wanted to celebrate with her on her birthday weekend, and how she was probably just going to stay at the dorm and watch Netflix. I had my friend Eden invite her to go antiquing on Friday to make up for the fact she thought everyone was busy. She agreed after some persuasion and peer pressure.

The day of the party Alyssa gave Eden her student ID pass to “get a donut with her dining plan”. Eden then convinced Tabitha to let her do her makeup while we snuck all of the food and decorations into the common room elevators. The fake plan we told Tabitha was that they were going to walk to get their car and pick me up at work to go antiquing. Eden texted us as they were leaving the dorm so Alyssa could call them saying that Eden had forgotten to give her student ID back. Alyssa told them that she needed it before a group project across campus, and had bought a gift for Tabitha she wanted to give her anyways. They agreed to walk half way and meet her next to the pavilion at the top of the stairs.

Halfway into the plan things started to go down hill. The cake was in the refrigerator at my boyfriend’s house, but he left late from work. He then went all the way up the Freedom Tower next to the pavilion, which is 17 stories, then ran back down around fourteen flights of stairs to bring us the cake a minute before she arrived. Eden was able to stall her by taking photos with Tabitha until we were settled and the cake was present. Somehow everything went smoothly and Tabitha was legitimately surprised. Our friend Evan agreed to Dj, and we enjoyed some food, good music, and took pictures as the sun was setting.


The party was even better than we had planned, and was both fun and affordable. We spent around $50 for everything after we used some of the thrifted items from my Instagram thrift shop, and borrowed our friend’s blankets and table. With my friends help, the three of us set up everything in 30-45 minutes, and teardown only took about 15-20 minutes.

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at our surprise picnic paint night! If you end up using this post to plan your own party, tag me in your photos on Instagram, I’d love to see them!

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