How to throw a birthday bash like art gallery owner Arnika Dawkins
She and her friends, who call themselves The Birthday Club, have been celebrating together for more than 16 years
It can be easy to lose touch with friends, especially after your children leave home and life takes you in different directions. Recently, my friend Arnika Dawkins, who owns a fine art gallery, told me about a unique way that she and her pals have stayed in touch. The same group of girlfriends has been gathering to celebrate each of their birthdays for more than 16 years.
“The Birthday Club started in 2000 when my dear friend Cynthia invited us to celebrate her 40th birthday,” explains Arnika. “We had such a wonderful time together that I did the same for my birthday, which was a few months later in March. I invited everyone to a sleepover at an Atlanta hotel so that we could enjoy fellowship and amazing city views. The rest is history!”
The “club” has six members in addition to Arnika: Lisa Robinson, real estate broker; Deirdre Barrett, marketing and leadership consultant; Cassandra Whitfield, attorney; Cynthia Quarles, Cabi consultant; Suzette Randolph, entrepreneur; and Susan Webster, nutritionist.
Each “birthday girl” chooses an activity, and the other women make it happen. They’ve celebrated by dining at restaurants; cooking special menus together; traveling; and going to plays, concerts, and spas. “Our commitment to celebrating each other is the foundation that holds us together,” she says. “And our staying power comes from a mutual respect and admiration as well as openness to sharing our authentic selves. There’s not one subject we can’t debate.” A server at the Loews Atlanta Hotel was so impressed with their lively camaraderie that he pulled up a chair and joined the party—and that’s not the only time that’s happened.
Last March I went along for Arnika’s birthday lunch at her photography gallery on Cascade Road. Appropriately for the venue, Polaroid shots of each guest served as place cards. Festivities began with a signature Champagne cocktail and a tempting cheese board. On that sunny early spring afternoon, we gathered on the deck outside and toasted Arnika. Now another year has rolled by. I wonder where the club is celebrating this time?
Learn how to make the spread at Dawkins’ party with the recipes below:
Created by Birthday Club member Susan Webster