Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Surviving Your Child’s 18th (PARTY!)

October 24th, 2016

Be honest. Who actually looks forward to hosting their child’s 18th birthday party? We’ve all heard the war stories – drugs, sex and alcohol, only it’s not far away, it’s downstairs in your precious living room, possibly spilling over to verboten areas, like your precious bedroom.

So it was with a  tight smile that I’d give Julia, my youngest,  when she’d tell me how excited she was for her 18th. Julia did this every year from the first double digit birthday, always wanting to be older, always wanting to dress up for an occasion. Eighteen was a long way off. I figured it would never come. But then it did – last month. Julia is persistent with a capital P,  a bulldog in pug’s clothing. I conceded the way I always do – with clenched teeth and a trip to the therapist. She had been working hard …


And my ex-husband  did offer to host the party in his fancy Italian restaurant thereby removing a big stinger from the birthday bee. Better his place gets trashed than mine. But still … I’m busy (writing deadlines, transatlantic romance, beauty maintenance), Julia’s busy too  (shopping on-line for the killer dress, filling out forms to return said killer dress, reminding me that I need to be home for dress deliveries and pick-ups) so who was going to make this party a success?

Enter Edley

Edley is one of my son Thomas’s best friends from school who doubles, along with his girlfriend Sylvie, as Julia’s “babysitter” when I am doing my transatlantic thing. Edley is also, it turns out, a birthday party planner extraordinaire. He’s organised, aesthetic, creative, funny and has the diplomatic skills to win over me and my Ex.

Here he is flanked by my two daughters, 24-year old Kate on his left and the birthday girl on his right.


I can’t leave out my son Thomas, without whom we never would have found Edley…


Edley thought of everything that a talented 23 year old will think of that someone about twice that age (can we leave it vague please) will not. God’s Own Junkyard , a neon-signs-for-hire spot,  is definitely not on my go-to list,



Nor is Bubblegum Balloon …


This pug-chiselled ice luge was so cute that I could ignore the powerful punch within …


‘Julia for President’ pink personalised M&M’s were a sweet touch …


Ditto the hand-wrapped candies telling guests which table they were sitting at …


Julia was going to be on everyone’s mind, including the teenage smokers ….


When my kids were young I had Smarty Artie number nine on speed dial. Now I have Edley. It’s a whole new ball game out there. Face it – baby boomers and millennials speak a different language. I still like reading the newspaper, using my landline every so often, entering a store. Julia gets her news from her phone, her everything from her phone.

Three millennials below …


Edley also came in handy with my toast/roast where he helped me trawl through Julia’s Facebook wall. It was a wealth of photos and captions I had never seen, like “Dear Elevator, I am drunk”or “Naked on mummy’s bed, #livindalyfe”. My projector-led roast of Facebook photos made me a “cool mum”  – my five minutes of fame.

Edley set up a snapchat geofilter, which I still don’t completely understand, but posed for nonetheless – below with Sylvie.


The Photo Booth had a rockin’ night  – lots of kissing  and wardrobe malfunctions. Julia would not let me post the pics, but you know who you are ;)



I actually enjoyed Julia’s 18th, maybe not quite as much as the 18 year olds …. If anyone is planning a party and wants it to be stress-free and fun, I can’t recommend Edley highly enough. He costs £20/hour and is worth every cent and then some. (edleynaylorleyland@gmail.com)

October, 2016