Choose a theme
It’s not required, but pairing a theme with a party can kick things up a notch and make it even more memorable. The theme, says Hudes, is like “the story” or “the feeling of your event.” It sets the tone for the whole party and should be shared with all vendors so that everyone understands what guests must be feeling as soon as they arrive at your milestone birthday event. For her 75th birthday, Klein opted for a disco-themed party. “In the 70s, I was doing a lot of disco,” he says. Her 70th was an “eat dessert first” party.
Mitchell decided to throw an elegant and intimate dinner party for her 50th birthday. “I’ve had bigger parties before, like my 40th birthday, which included lots of guests, a live band, dancing, a candy table, hors d’oeuvres, carving stations, pasta, step and repeat on the red carpet and the nine yards,” she says. “Being 50 is classy, and that’s the vibe I wanted.”
Make a guest list
Once you have your budget, venue, and theme, it’s time to decide who to invite. Your budget can help you determine how many guests you can afford to host. For milestone birthdays, Mitchell suggests making sure to invite guests who represent every significant phase of your life and include a mix of family and friends.
You can send out printed invitations, like Klein did for her Mad Hatter party, or go digital, which was Mitchell’s preference. “I opted for a digital invitation that was texted to all invitees because it was the most efficient way to collect and track RSVPs,” she says.
Add a special touch
To make her birthday party even more special, Mitchell ordered a custom cake from a local baker and festive decorations online. “I found custom gold glitter ’50’ signs for each table’s flower arrangements,” she says. “I also ordered a personalized “Happy 50th Birthday Sharvette” cake.”
Mitchell wanted to document the event but didn’t want to be the person holding the camera, so she hired a photographer. “If you’re watching your budget, the photographer only needs to be there for about an hour of the entire event,” she notes. Mitchell also bought a special dress to wear, asked guests to dress in semi-formal attire, and had her makeup done for the big day.
In lieu of gifts, Klein asked guests to bring “a poem, joke, song, or story to share.” This, he says, added creative and free entertainment to the afternoon.
Plan for someone else
If you are planning a party for a friend or relative, be sure to be guided by their tastes and preferences. “Think about their favorite things,” Goldberg says. Hudes tells clients that they anticipate other people working in a special feature on the guest of honor. “There doesn’t have to be a real theme, just something that will make the honoree feel valued and appreciated,” she explains. “For example, if the honoree loves golf, you don’t need to make the party a golf theme, but it would be cute to add cookies with a golf club design on them and give them away as favors.”
You can also incorporate photos from the life of the birthday boy or girl into the invitation or decorations. “It’s amazing what you can find out about the person and how excited they will be as they walk down memory lane with all the guests,” Goldberg says.
Most importantly, enjoy the process. “Don’t stress,” Goldberg says. “After all, you are planning a party and everyone you invite is happy to be part of your celebration. The real goal here is for you and your guests to have a great time!