A 30th Birthday Gathering Centered on Gratitude

There are a few birthday milestones we hit in our lives, and 30 is definitely one of them! To celebrate her coming of age, Lee Anne, of Petal & Vine Photography, decided to buck tradition and throw a birthday party in honor of her guests rather than herself. If you’re thinking “What?!” then you’re on track with her friends’ & family’s reaction. They were shocked when they arrived to Lee Anne’s 30th birthday gathering centered on gratitude. She was the one handing out gifts, treating them to dinner, and thanking them for being integral parts of her life. Woah! Talk about a cool gal! We hope you love this sweet (and beautiful!) party just as much as we do, and most importantly, leave it feeling inspired.

Lee Anne says, The goal of this “Gratitude Gathering” was to gather the people who have loved me well and who have been present in my life, the people who have taught me the essential things that make me who I am and the people whose love helped save me from an awfully dark season of my life. I had postpartum depression after my second child was born, 5 years ago, and really fully didn’t believe I’d make it through that season. I truly did not imagine I would see age 30. And then, as I healed more and more and saw that milestone coming, and I thought about the joy of turning 30 and all the healing that had happened, all I wanted to do was thank the people who got me here. So, I asked a bunch of amazing vendors to help me, and we threw this party to surprise my people and show them how grateful I am for every single one of them.

My hope was that each guest would feel like they were coming to their own (surprise!) birthday party. They thought they were just coming to a party for me, where they were told not to bring gifts. First, there was a gorgeous hand lettered sign to welcome them “You Belong Here” (by the incredible Emily Waters of Emily Grace Designs). Then, there were gift bags for each of them, tagged with photos of special memories from our friendship, and filled with a letter and gifts that were entirely specific to who they are and what they love. There was also a floral crown station where they could choose a sweet little floral crown to wear as the guests of honor, and finally, a beautiful tablescape and a delicious, healthy meal.


The heart of the idea behind the gratitude gathering is to emphasize the value of choosing joy, expressing our appreciation for the people in our lives, and celebrating them. Oh, and in case you’re wondering how it went over, since all the guests thought they were coming to a party for me and showed up to find it all about them… here’s what a few of them said:

“About last night: I felt like it was my birthday. That’s how loved I felt! I came back to life a little bit last night. It was a really big deal. It was something that I had no idea that I desperately needed.” – Rose

“What a delightful surprise to receive an invitation to my dear friend’s birthday dinner, only to discover it’s an absolutely gorgeous event to honor everyone BUT the birthday girl! It was an incredible evening, from the handwritten card and handpicked gift we each received, to the utter joy of this eclectic group of women coming together and sharing in an intimate dinner to celebrate this beautiful soul who is the thread that ties all of us together. My heart is so full, and I know that this gratitude gathering was an experience I’ll hold dear and remember forever.” – Melinda

“When Lee Anne mentioned to me her idea to host a gratitude party I was floored. She is a special person with a beautiful heart and I knew this kind of gathering would be an overflow of that. From the moment I walked in the door all the way until later in the evening when my husband and children joined us to dance I felt Lee Anne’s warmth and hospitality. Every small detail of the evening was thoughtful and lovely, just like her. In a world full of self promoters and people wanting the spotlight there was something really special about Lee Anne dedicating an evening to give thanks and love to the people in her life whom she treasures. It was an honor to be counted among them.” – Ida

“Being invited to this Gratitude Gathering was an incredible honor. Lee Anne’s heart and soul were poured into every detail and you couldn’t help but feel your own gratitude in response. We celebrated the blessing of friendship in both somber and raucous moments. It is inspiring to see someone take a day often used to celebrate themselves and flip it upside down to bask in gratitude.” – Jennifer

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