This must be birthday, I never could get the hang of birthdays
October 23, 2021 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Let's say I decided to throw myself a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy–themed 42nd birthday party. What might that look like?

I celebrated my 40th during very grim conditions in early lockdown, and my 41st was also pre-vaccine so I couldn't even have a do-over. However, that means this coming one is 42, which you might guess from my username is a meaningful number to me. It's not till March (not quite six months after the book's 42nd birthday, incidentally, which was just a couple weeks ago, which is what got me thinking about this) so I've got time. I probably will not actually do this, I don't like planning parties for myself, but it merely pleases me to behave in a certain way to what appears to be a birthday. In other words, it's fun to think about. I have seen this previous question but I'm not looking to travel.

I'd want to keep things low-key, so for instance yes on having people wear their dressing gowns over their clothes, no on any sort of elaborate costuming beyond that. (Possibly deelyboppers, like a teaser.) Genuinely good recipes for terrestrial Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, Ol' Janx Spirit, etc. very much welcomed. What else? Electronic halma? Fill a conical tub with fine white sand and/or sugar? Find a small lake that thinks it's a gin and tonic and have guests jump in and out of it? Insult everyone at the party in alphabetical order?

Anything related to any incarnation of Hitchhiker's Guide except the 2006 movie is welcome. I will get the joke. My guests might not, but we're looking for stuff that's fun even if you don't.
posted by babelfish to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (37 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Each guest should receive a complimentary towel, or be encouraged to bring one. If at any point during the party a guest does not know where their towel is, there should be some sort of consequence.

A centerpiece on a table should be a pot of petunias with a toy whale.
posted by erst at 11:50 AM on October 23, 2021 [32 favorites]

Best answer: Invite guests to bring a self-penned poem, the worse the better, and have a poetry reading. Also I assume it’s bring a bottle? Preferably retsina - “a new pleasure, a new pleasure”.
posted by greycap at 11:55 AM on October 23, 2021 [10 favorites]

For my 42nd I ordered a cake decorated with "you are the answer" - there was much laughter where I ordered - they all got it!
posted by leslies at 12:18 PM on October 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

All of the above answers, plus you must have a cup of tea. Bonus points if you serve it in this teapot covered with gold hearts and/or use gold heart tea cups.

And after the tea, HGTTG cocktails from people who know a bit about cocktails.
posted by underclocked at 12:26 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Keep promising your guests lemon-scented napkins
posted by niicholas at 12:26 PM on October 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

Oh, and absolutely have some mice (either sugar or toy) randomly dotted around the room, and some dolphin balloons.
posted by underclocked at 12:37 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Very very obscure, but: crumbly cheese sandwiches and packets of pub peanuts.
posted by humbug at 12:59 PM on October 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Gummi fish?

(I don't dislike Hitchhiker's Guide, but I'm not a big fan either. "Thanks for all the fish" is the only thing I remember, so maybe it will be memorable to guests who aren't that into it?)
posted by FencingGal at 1:14 PM on October 23, 2021

Best answer: Have sandwich making supplies on hand, and appoint someone the Sandwich Maker. They must take their job very seriously and of course no one else is allowed to attempt it.
posted by dr. boludo at 1:23 PM on October 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: C'mon, you gotta give out a Rory Award.
posted by Miko at 1:32 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

DON'T PANIC sign on the door

Bulldozer birthday cake
posted by current resident at 2:16 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you do go out, wear your dressing gown, but let everyone else be in their regular clothes. I have very fond memories of a long day out with a friend in such attire while we all carried on as if it were totally normal, and it was far better that way in my opinion than if we could have all been easily dismissed as some weird club.
posted by teremala at 2:16 PM on October 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

I have no suggestions, I'm just jealous because I wanted to hold a Hitchhiker's party for mine, except it was during quarantine.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:50 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipes
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:52 PM on October 23, 2021

Galactic Pub Nuts Recipe
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:10 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you have a lavatory downstairs (disused or not), put a filing cabinet near it with a sign that says Beware of the Leopard?

Party event: co-write a Serious Screenplay using the word B*lg**m
posted by humbug at 3:16 PM on October 23, 2021 [6 favorites]

Potted petunias should be used as the table centerpiece. You can slap on a "Hello my name is Agrajag" label on the pot(s) if you like. A model humpback whale on or next to it would also not go amiss. (Petunias seem to be a cheap garden-center staple.)

Can you wear an extra, perhaps slapdash paper mache head for the duration?

I think "Don't Panic" would be great on the birthday invites, and "Mostly Harmless" labeled on your door.

Can you borrow a cage of two intelligent-looking mice to view the party?

Also, if any essential supply for the party fails to materialize, inform your guests that you had plenty, but it suffered a SMEF, a Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure. It's not HHGTTG, but it is Douglas Adams (Starship Titanic), so I think it's fair game.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:49 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Go around insulting every guest ... in alphabetical order.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:58 PM on October 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

have the loo labelled as the Total Perspective Vortex, with a wire running from it to a piece of fairy cake.

provide toothpicks with instructions on.

(play a lot of Pink Floyd)


Ideally, some kind of Dish of the Day. Some of the food should want to be eaten, and be capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. (Have someone wandering round with canapes, which they push on people claiming that they are made from their spare leg, or summat.)

a drink called jynnan tonyx, or gee-N'N-T'N-ix, or jinond-o-nicks
posted by runincircles at 4:05 PM on October 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

napkins, matchbooks etc. should come from Stavro Mueller Beta

That old Janx Spirit, and the appurtenant drinking game with an obscenely biological forfeit, e.g.

Have a game of Scrabble out for ppl to play

Potato crisps

Picture of a group of smartly dressed young dogs, labelled as Sirius B (or your constituency) Young Conservatives Club
posted by runincircles at 4:14 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

My own plan — unrealized — for my 42nd was to have a sort of symposium on "the question of life, the universe, and everything", where all present are invited to perform (speak, read poetry, sing, dance, etc.) something around 5 minutes long that gives their sincere(ish) personal idea of what life's big question is. (Incorporation of the number 42 extremely optional).
posted by xueexueg at 4:21 PM on October 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

pin the tail on the (Vogon)

(vogon) shaped piñata

play cricket, at your own risk

like musical chairs, musical planets, but with one planet destroyed to make way for, etc, each time.
posted by runincircles at 4:22 PM on October 23, 2021

Whiteboard in the corner/ sheet of paper or card on the wall with a partially filled out outline of Norway. Assortment of pens and an invite to complete the diagram.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 4:27 PM on October 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

can you feed a small dog something that is invasion-fleet-shaped?
posted by humbug at 4:36 PM on October 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

We threw a Hitchhiker's party for my spouse's 42nd! Highlights included free towels (well, hand towels) for every guest, a bowl of (Swedish) Babel fish, and a sheet cake which I designed to look like the Guide itself. The centerpiece was a steaming punch bowl full of Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, the recipe of which I created to truly emulate the sensation of having one's brain smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick:

Lemonade (American-style, not European-style; I used Turkey Hill)
White tequila
99 Peaches overproof peach schnapps
A splash of lemon extract
Halved or quartered lemons, squeezed into the bowl and then tossed in
Dry ice (very important!)

Garnish each serving with edible gold foil.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:43 PM on October 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

(Also, if you serve Swedish fish, remind your guests that these are candied Babel fish, which are tasty but should not be inserted in one's ear.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:45 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Find one of the many bands on Bandcamp named Disaster Area and turn the bass way up
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:03 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sign on the entryway saying "Come Outside," astroturf on the floor, and toothpick instructions on the wall.
posted by solotoro at 6:39 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

In practical details, a recommendation for your mice needs
posted by eviemath at 8:53 PM on October 23, 2021

Best answer: An illuminated sign saying "go stick your head in a pig"
posted by equalpants at 10:19 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

Some great ideas here. I'd be very tempted to try to make a Marvin the Paranoid Android (TV version) out of cardboard boxes or junk from the 99 cent store, spray paint the whole thing silver and then have it speak to guests via a phone hidden inside. (Really, Marvin looks like he was built with junk from a thrift store.) Or maybe you could mock up something that looks like the Guide and put an Iphone in it that's playing a loop of Guide entries from the TV show. A lot of the tech in the TV show was super cheap and janky by 2021 standards, and it wouldn't be that hard to reproduce any of it with some aluminum foil and gumption. I haven't looked but there may already be virtual Marvins or virtual Guides online, and you could incorporate them into the theme.

Depending on how many guests you'd have, you could give away super cheap digital watches as party favors. It could also be a fun group activity to have everybody play the old text adventure with an emulator (it's easy to find) but it's notoriously difficult and the party might bog down in everybody getting frustrated. Have some cheats handy!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:29 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

A centerpiece on a table should be a pot of petunias with a toy whale.

Yes! Accompanied by a toy bulldozer, a leopard figurine, a Lego Marvin/a blocky toy robot, a bowl of gold foil-covered chocolate hearts, a Ford Prefect, a pair of very dark sunglasses, a Don't Panic hand towel, two toy mice, and a copy of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:37 PM on October 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you're making cocktails I would try to concoct something good with earl grey in it and call it Advanced Tea Substitute.

I haven't tested this but I think it would work well:

Make a honey syrup with equal parts hot earl grey tea and honey

2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz earl grey tea syrup

Shake with ice, strain and serve.
posted by aubilenon at 1:00 AM on October 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

Spouse and I met a a Hitchhikers Guide Party and subsequently married three months later. We played the entire original radio series, had Brad burgers (the host’s speciality) and some sort of alcoholic dessert drink made with ice cream and Oreos. So, you could have the show playing in the back, maybe? YMMV.

I also thought the TV show was great with Peter Davidson playing the food that wants to be eaten. If you don’t want someone walking around saying “Consider me liver” I’d put a banner by the food that says “Restaurant at the End of the Universe.”

Also, I’d label the front exit “A Ark” the back exit “C Ark” and the bathroom “B Ark.”

Congratulations! Sounds fun!
posted by rw at 9:56 PM on October 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

I had a HHGttG themed birthday party a few years ago. Here's the spotify playlist I made for it.

I dressed up as the BBC miniseries version of Ford Prefect, with a striped blazer, paisley shirt, and argyle vest.

I made pitchers of a whisky cocktail and called it Something Almost, but not Quite, Entirely Unlike Tea and set out little paper cups with which to drink them, and set out bowls of swedish fish and space themed candy.
posted by burntflowers at 11:24 AM on October 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You need to serve "tea" and "no tea".

Your guests can place their valuables in The thing your aunt gave you which you don't know what it is.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:58 PM on October 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

The thing your aunt gave you which you don't know what it is.

"Made in Ibiza"
posted by aubilenon at 9:43 PM on October 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

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