Last month we hosted my Mom’s 80th. Birthday Party in her Houston home. I have to admit it turned out to be THE hardest party I’ve ever planned! The drama, arguments, and tears topped even those that came with my son’s and daughter’s weddings, and those came with many!The year spent in planning this event was a roller coaster ride filled with excitement and fear. From choosing a venue to planning the menu it was a daunting task that was complicated by the fact that another relative’s wedding piggy backed on the event. In their collective wisdom my Mother and her cousin decided it would be prudent to hold the events in tandem to save out of town relatives the expense of traveling to Houston twice in the same year.
As to be expected when dealing with multiple people, each of whom has her own agenda, things got crazy really fast. My Mother graciously agreed to postpone her party until 2 weeks after her actual birth date and allowed her cousin to set the date. She set the wedding date on the Fourth of July to accommodate the relatives flying in from Canada. T
his prompted complaints from other relatives who remarked on having to purchase plane tickets during an expensive holiday season. To further complicate things my Mother insisted her party must be before the wedding, hence we hosted it on July 3rd., which interfered with the wedding rehearsal to be held on the same day.And the list of arguments and issues went on; shared DJ, guest lists, and more. Determined to throw my Mother the best party she ever had and to keep our sanity my daughters and I decided early on to separate both events and mind our own business. It turned out to be a difficult task as my Mother gave us weekly updates on the wedding plans, she had decided that being the eldest in the family it was her God given right to meddle in the wedding planning, in spite of our tearful pleas to leave the wedding people alone.In spite of all this we struggled on and hosted a truly memorable event. You know you’re event is a success when guests don’t want to go home, we literally had to escort guests to their cars at 1 a.m!
You know you’ve done well when the same guests are requesting a repeat performance the next day while attending a wedding which my 7 year old grandson calls “an epic fail”. (For more about this wedding and how to avoid such a fiasco read my post 5 Keys to a Successful Event).I still get calls and emails from friends and relatives congratulating us on a great party. So I guess it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears that went in to the event. Most importantly it made my Mother very happy, she told me the other day when I was back in Houston that her party was “very classy”!
Here are the highlights of that event and some ideas for throwing a 50’s themed party, I’ve got links to recipes too!. I hope it will inspire you to throw your next great party, without the drama that went with this one of course.
As I mentioned in my post 5 Keys to a Successful Event the first steps in planning a party is setting a Budget. In this case my husband set the budget as it was our family’s gift to my Mom.
Our goal was to have the best party my Mom had ever had, after all turning 80 is most definitely a milestone event. Our 3 key words were Fun, Memorable, and Classy.
My Mom choose the theme, yes she wanted a theme! She choose the 50’s because those were her teen years and she had some great memories. We loved the idea because we knew it would be fun to dress up in 50’s fashion and decorate the house in 50’s style.
Once we decided on the venue (after visiting several venues, none of which suited my Mother she finally agreed to host the event at her Houston home), contracted a caterer, agreed on the menu, ordered the cake, contracted party rentals, and found the DJ it was time to roll up our sleeves and work on the details. I’ve always said that it’s the details that makes the difference between a party and a memorable event!
The first thing we did was design and send out themed invitations. Our invitation needed to be fun and informative.
Along with giving guests important information we wanted to build up excitement for a fun event and let them know they could come dressed in 50’s fashion.
This lawn sign was staked by the front door where guests entered when they arrived.
A small table in the entry hall held a couple of vases filled with paper fans, it was very hot and guests were grateful for the fans and used them throughout the evening.
Instead of a guest book we had guests write their birthday greetings on a wooden letter A. (Everyone calls my Mom Nellie, but her name is really Angeles, don’t ask me why, I have no clue)
The focal point of the event was this Dessert/Candy Station set up on the back wall of the foyer, it was the first things guests saw as they entered.
Many pictures were taken in front of this set-up, the guests loved it!
Buffet tables were set up across from the Dessert Station in the foyer. A carving station was set up in the nearby sitting room.
Due to the Texas heat we decided food was best kept indoors. Guests filled their plates and headed out to the outdoor seating area which was reached thru the door in the media room.
We hosted a cocktail hour with hand passed hors d’oeuvres before the buffets and carving station were opened. During the cocktail hour guests socialized in the media room where a full bar was set up and staffed. Others choose to hang out by the pool.
We opted to have a menu of varied appetizers served in pretty sample containers. We had crab cakes, salmon sliders, Korean beef sticks, pulled pork quesadillas, and more. Noodles were served up in Chinese take-out boxes with chopsticks. We hired Hometown Chefs, one of the best caterers in the area. Chef Julio manned the carving station and his lovely wife Tiffany managed the staff. They were wonderful and the food was delectable!
We set up a kid’s table in the guest seating area and served egg and dairy free foods to accommodate my grandsons and cousin’s daughter who have severe food allergies.
The kid’s menu consisted of egg and dairy free mini corndog muffins, fruit cup, vegan cupcakes, and grilled chicken fingers from Chick-Fil-A. We baked the muffins and cupcakes ourselves. Click on the item for the recipe.
This beautiful and yummy cake and the milkshake cupcakes from Kandikakes Bakery in Spring, Texas were the centerpiece of our Sweets table.
We placed the cake display on my Mom’s round dining table and set up the dessert station on one side of it.
Our dessert table had some great homemade truffles, brownies, blondies, pecan bars, mango cream cheese dessert, and more.
We added French Macaroons and mini meringues from Trader Joe’s. Click on the items for recipes.
On the other side of the cake table was our candy buffet. We filled up pretty jars, canisters, and bowls with candies in our color scheme.
I got most of the pink candies on clearance after Valentine’s Day and the blue ones after Easter. Remember this event was a year’s worth of planning and picking up supplies when you catch them on sale is a great budget stretcher! But do check the expiration date on food items before you buy them, make sure they’re good until several months AFTER your event. I was surprised to find that the Valentine’s and Easter candies had expiration dates in the fall of 2016!
When setting up any type of buffet I like to create interest by placing items at different levels and using a variety of containers. For this event we added height by using books we wrapped in gift wrapping paper that matched our color scheme and theme.
We made our own stands and bowls with dollar store items. Click here to learn how!
All the food we served had individual labels which were placed on the cute wooden easels I got from WalMart.
Decor for the event was easy. We tried to use things that were available in the 50’s and came up with Mason Jar Photo Centerpieces.
The photos were a great way to showcase Mom’s milestone events and the guests loved guessing when the photos were taken. They were great conversation starters, specially when a guest found a picture he or she was also in.
Our centerpieces were actually groupings of 3 jars in varying sizes.
The smallest jelly jar held a battery operated tea light, the quart sized jar were Citronella jars to ward off those pesky Texas sized mosquitoes, and of course the gallon jar held the photos.
We also used pint sized jars with daisy cut lids and placed glow sticks inside and hung them on the trees around the yard. We used the same size jars and glow sticks to light up the pool’s waterfall.
As you can see Mason Jars are my thing right now, so we used them on our buffet tables as well.
They held cutlery and lighted branches we got from WalMart. We added tissue balls for some fun color around the jars. Easy and inexpensive!
Balloons are another inexpensive way to decorate. We used helium filled balloons as our backdrop for the sweets table. The non-helium balloons filled out the space around the birthday banner, it was a great way to hide the driveway! We alternated black and white to mimic the checker board floors of a 1950’s ice cream parlor.
Click on the items for DIY instructions.
Dancing was in the media room after dinner.
We looped a slide show of Mom’s life on the projection screen through out the party.
For a bit of fun we placed life sized cardboard cutouts of Marilyn and Elvis in the room as well. The guests loved posing for photos with these 50’s idols! I got them from Amazon. (clicking on the links here will take you to our Amazon affiliate)
Other “details” we had at our event but are not pictured here was the “Just In Case” basket filled with breath mints, hand lotion, pins, and other notions in the restroom, the first aid bucket outside filled with hand sanitizer, mosquito repellent, and sunscreen, personalized labels on water and wine bottles, a non-alcoholic drink station that had dispensers of strawberry lemonade and fruit infused water, mason jar with daisy cut lids served as glasses for the non-alcoholic drinks, and personalized stickers for the candy buffet bags and paper fans.
We designed and made all the stationary ourselves. Here’s a few that we made, some of them were printed others were die cut on a Cricut.
Planning your own 50s’ Themed Party? Let us design custom party stationary for you! We design everything from invitations to menu cards specially for you!
Order your personalized invitations from my Esty Shop! We can design it and send you the files so you can print it yourself or if you prefer we can send you finished cards that are ready to send! Savvy Nana Crafts check it out!
As you can see in these photos everyone had a blast, many of them dressed in their 50’s best!
I have to admit even the girls and I had fun.
Most of all it was all worth it to see the smile on my Mom’s face all evening!
She had fretted that it would rain, the mosquitoes would eat up the guests, and there wouldn’t be enough food. Well it didn’t rain on our parade, the mosquitoes were AWOL, and there was more than enough food for everyone! And best of all I came in under budget which put a smile on my husband’s face!