Throwing a senior birthday party for a person’s 70, 80, or 90-year milestone, or anywhere in between, makes a great way to show them how much you care. As with most parties, a little extra thought to the needs of the guest of honor along with those attending make the day fun and memorable for everyone.
Start the party planning process well in advance to find the perfect celebration date. Choose a time and date that avoids regularly timed activities or hard-to-reschedule appointments. Your guest of honor should look forward to and anticipate the date.
Hold the party during the mid-afternoon, or whenever energy runs highest for the guest of honor. That goes for attendees, too. Keep the overall time frame long enough to spend an enjoyable amount of time together, but not be exhausting. Generally, two to four hours tends to work well for the attention span of adults and children alike.
While it may be tempting to have a surprise event, this may be problematic for some. Not only is a surprise difficult to schedule, it sometimes causes unwanted health issues and affects your guest’s disposition. Some people, no matter their age, don’t like surprises. Why risk ruining the mood of the celebration by starting it on a bad note?
Take off some of the creative pressure and adopt a party theme. This will give the event direction and guide the overall planning. Incorporate the theme into the invitation and decorations. These might include balloons, streamers, candles, movie posters, album covers, vintage sports gear, photos, and retro items to add color and interest to the party.
Dial up or dial down your theme to set the tone and vibe for the day. If your honoree is low-key, something like a “remember-when” theme may work better than a loud Vegas theme or even something with a punchy and tropical vibe. Choose a theme that reflects the disposition of the honoree and fits well with the tendencies of the guests.
Themes may include:
Creating a place in which to move freely and safely during the celebration applies to all guests, regardless of their age. Verify that participants will have accessibility to the location, particularly if they are in a wheelchair or have other mobility needs. Look for enough space for wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. Check that carpets and rugs are safely navigable and won’t cause anyone to trip.
During the event, keep an eye out for spilled drinks and snacks that may make walking areas slippery. Keeping things picked up also means less mess to clean up later.
When seating, arrange guests so they have access to canes, wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, and other ambulatory devices when they need to get up.
Additionally, for outdoor spaces, ensure that there is even ground to prevent injury risks. Let guests know in advance to wear comfortable shoes and that they will be walking on grass.
REAL LIFE PARTY – ONE ARTIST’s 90th BIRTHDAY
I recently photographed a memorable 90th senior birthday party in Denver. The guest of honor, an artist, enjoyed seeing family members who flew in from around the country to celebrate her birthday milestone.
Their first family event started at a local paint and sip store where everyone created small pieces of art. These were brought the next day to the main celebration as decor and displayed around the hostess’s home.
The day of the party, the hostess set up several long tables in the dining room with fine linens and floral arrangements. Several photo cubes on the tables held memories of the birthday honoree throughout her life.
Everyone attending wore bright colors at the request of the guest of honor to mark the occasion. They also came prepared with stories to share with words/drawings on paper, or in short speeches after the birthday cake was served.
In between the day’s events, a self-operated photo booth with funny glasses and props entertained people of all ages.
All the photos were collected and made into a memory book by one of the family members. She distributed them across the country as a keepsake for this special day.
Guest List Musts
Make sure to invite close family members, friends, and loved ones who have shared important moments with the birthday celebrant. Encourage guests and remind them on the invitation to bring their own stories and photos to share about the honoree.
Tailor the party activities to suit the individual’s preferences. Then, focus on activities that appeal to multiple age groups and abilities.
This could include playing their favorite music, organizing a photo slideshow showcasing memorable moments, or arranging for a live performance of their beloved songs.
Reminiscing, storytelling, or playing games that hold sentimental value can create a joyful and engaging atmosphere. Playing games like bingo with a competitive element or prizes may be appropriate.
Food & Drink Options
Serve up food and drinks with personal preferences and dietary restrictions in mind. Find out if there is something the guest of honor has been craving and would look forward to as a treat. Keep everyone hydrated with plenty of water on hand.
Senior Birthday Party Gifts
Often, many older adults have downsized or are in the process of getting rid of extra stuff in their lives. Appropriate gifts may be a new book, a gift certificate to their favorite store or restaurant, or a piece of jewelry. If they enjoy technology, consider an e-book, music, or subscription to a streaming service with a coupon for your help with installing or downloading. A donation to their favorite charity in their name may also be a nice gesture and form of recognition.
Tips for Getting Great Senior Birthday Party Photos
Successful birthday parties start with paying attention to the needs, preferences, and comfort of the honoree and their guests throughout the celebration. Involve family and friends to share in the celebration and encourage them to contribute their own stories and photos. After the festivities, be sure to create a small keepsake book to document the event and serve as a touchstone for the special memories of the day.