In the end more than 35 arrived but everyone was comfortable. We stayed nearly an hour past closing and everything was lovely. It was exactly what I'd hoped for - lots of tables and couches where people could sit and mingle or talk more intimately, blankets for those who were cold, excellent food and incredible service - it was perfect. There was only one unexpected happening.... the number of flowers that arrived .
The restaurant gave us a large ice bucket which is usually more than enough - last night it was far from adequate. We had to run in to the housewares shop and buy two very large vases to fit all the flowers that needed to be in a vase (there were a few potted plants two).
To put it in context you can see a champagne bottle in there - it's not a small personal size but a full bottle - those two outer vases are huge.
It was overwhelming. In the elevator on the way out a colleague looked at me, struggling with a giant vase, two potted plants and large shopping bag (birthday gifts for the kidlet tomorrow and a rather challenging game from some friends) and I dropped my purse. He laughed "A lot of people really like you."
I had wanted to bring together people I care about. I succeeded. And their presence is a wonderful confirmation that it's truly mutual affection. That was the best birthday gift I could have asked for.