First off, I believe you're a "true blue" friend. Hope your birthday girl knows how blessed she is to have a friend in you. Most "chain" restaurants can help put together a nice party to fit your budget. For our son's first leave out of Marine Corps basic training, we got a few of his friends and some of the family together at our local Fazoli's - an Italian-food chain restaurant.
Then again, your friend may want something a little more adult. And of course you don't have to serve dinner; light refreshments will work, too, especially if the party isn't at a regular mealtime. My youngest son's sweetheart made some really delicious finger foods with mini-franks. She "barbecued" them (she may have just brushed on a little BBQ sauce and popped them in the microwave,) then skewered them with plain wooden toothpicks. They weren't terribly expensive, but tasted good and "felt" fancy.
May I suggest one "don't" for this party? Since many women start feeling self-conscious about their age when they hit this milestone, I wouldn't use any of those silly "over the hill" decorations, cards or jokes. Hope these few thoughts help. (12/20/2008)
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