Reaching 80 is an achievement, one to be celebrated. Here are some tips to help you plan an 80th birthday party that will mean a lot to your guest of honor.
Make sure to involve the guest of honor in the planning process. If you’ve lived to be 80, you know what you like. My Aunt Millie wanted a great party with all her friends and family. She selected her favorite Italian restaurant as the venue for the event. My grandmother, on the other hand, told us that her idea of a perfect party would be to go to her son’s house and have the immediate family celebrate it. For my grandmother, a big, explosive party would be overwhelming.
Find out what is most important to the celebrant. For some, it may mean that a relative from out of town attends. Others may focus on the menu and the flowers. My Aunt Millie really wanted to wear a corsage and for all her kids to wear it too, so everyone would recognize them. Ask open-ended questions like these to get to what really matters to the person who is celebrating:
- Describe your ideal party.
- Who would attend?
- What would we eat?
- What would be served?
- Would there be activities, music or entertainment?
You do not have to involve the celebrant in all the details, only the ones that are considered important. Once you have gathered all the data about the desired guest list and location, you will begin your work.
Invitations. Make sure to send out written invitations, as many important guests may or may not check their email regularly, or they may not use email at all. Include the following in the invitation:
- Dated. Enter the day of the week and the actual date.
- Time. Let people know the start time and end time, if you don’t have an open ending.
- Rental. Include address and directions.
- Meal. Make sure guests know what type of food you are serving (brunch, lunch, or dinner). You can also decide to have a party with only hor d’oeuvres.
- Gifts. Find out if the guest of honor wants some kind of special gift. At an 80th birthday party, all guests were asked to write a paragraph about their best memory with the celebrant.
- RSVP. Include a phone number and email address for invitees to use when replying.
Invitations don’t have to be expensive. There are so many fun-edged papers in office supply stores that you can create your own very easily.
Once people have responded to your invitations, count the person or facility hosting the party. Organize any type of audiovisual needs. If there will be speeches, install a microphone and speaker.
Entertainment or activities: Make sure to keep this in mind when planning a party. I attended an 80th birthday party where the host created a PowerPoint presentation of old and current photos of the celebrant. In another, they posted the photos on cardboard and hung them for the party. If the party is not too big, guests can also share their favorite memory of the celebrant.
And as an “after party” gift for the guest of honor, be sure to take lots of photos at the party, especially of them with their many friends and family. Then put the photos in an album and present them to him. They will be very grateful for this thoughtful gesture.