Parents’ Anniversary? Think Theme!
current social trend toward the Extreme Party, planning often
becomes an overwhelming task for someone simply wanting to celebrate
a special landmark in their parents’ marriage. It is especially
easy for young people to fall prey to the desire to impress and
demonstrate their love and respect for their parents with over-the-top
events, even when the plans are not appropriate for the situation,
lifestyle or budget of everyone involved. It is hard to avoid
wanting to give back in grand style to the people who gave you
so much, and the desire to show off a bit of your own success
and prove yourself can be very strong. Despite marketing to the
contrary, it is possible to create a memorable event without mortgaging
the house or taking out a loan. No one will be less impressed
or more deeply saddened than your parents if you go into debt
to please them.
1. Give yourself
time to plan. If you are going to hold the party at a venue other
than someone’s home, you will need to give yourself plenty
of leeway in choosing a date. Catering facilities that can accommodate
large groups fill their calendars quickly with weddings and other
affairs. You may have to wait two years for a date at a high-end
caterer. Smaller venues and the off-beat may be more readily available.
Start checking dates immediately as soon as you have made the
decision to plan your parents’ party. If you are already
very close to the date, you will be limited in the options available
to you, and you will have to be more creative to make up for it.
your budget in stone. It is unbelievably easy to wind up over
budget as small decisions add big dollar amounts to the final
tally. A separate, temporary checking account created just to
hold the funds dedicated to the event will prove to be a tremendous
budgeting tool. Avoid out-of-pocket purchases. Dedicate one credit
card to party use, and pay it off each month from the special
account set up for that purchase. Most credit card companies have
an online site that will allow you to check your balance frequently.
3. Keep the
couple in mind. Guests are important, but the people you most
want to please and excite are the ones whose milestone you are
celebrating. Older couples may not be as thrilled at the prospect
of an overnight cruise party with fifty of their relatives as
they might with a party of ten close friends or family members
and theater tickets to a favorite stage show. If the couple has
a hobby, consider theming the party around it.
4. Keep the
guest list targeted. Be aware of the couple’s feelings.
A party in their honor is not the time to force reintroductions
to people with whom they have had disagreements. Find the couple’s
closest friends and ask for help in identifying appropriate guests.
If either of the couple is employed or recently retired, contact
someone at their place of employment and ask for help there, too.
Most people have several groups of friends who are compartmented
as “work friends”, “social friends”, “club
members”, and so on. Start by listing the groups, then contact
someone within each for suggestions.
is everything! If you are planning a surprise, make sure you are
aware of any plans the couple might already have. As exciting
as your party plan might be, the couple might be more perturbed
than thrilled if you have in some way usurped either their own
private plans or their date. Check with a close friend or relative
who might be privy to their plans.
It is key to remember that these are your parents. You may believe
that you know everything about them, their tastes, and their preferences.
Parents do not always share everything with their children, and
children tend to squint a bit when looking directly at their parents.
That’s why it’s vital to have help from one or more
of their same-age friends. This is not the time to introduce your
septuagenarian folks to the things that you and your friends enjoy
doing. The event is for them, not you, and you must avoid using
it as a platform for your own tastes and issues.
That said, let’s look at themes. The following list was
compiled from several sources. These are by no means the only
alternatives, but there are some you might find intriguing.
Night at the Races
Wine-tasting hosted at a local winery
As you can
see, there are plenty of options!
Party is perhaps the current favorite and the most exciting to
plan and execute. Sending several people to a common destination
(an island, ski resort, or foreign country are popular) is an
expensive alternative but manageable if you plan that the guests’
plane fare will be their responsibility and the only gift required.
and overnighters are readily available in cities with ports nearby.
The prices are remarkably reasonable, and the details are all
handled by the company that owns the boats for a per-person price.
often have facilities where they will host a group for dinner
and a wine-tasting. One such in New Jersey, for instance, includes
a chamber music group and can handle up to forty guests at a price
that is lower than one might pay for a simple catered at-home
decision has to be based on the personal preferences and capabilities
of the guests of honor, but the opportunities for creating a memorable
event are endless. Use your imagination, work with your parents’
friends and close associates, and you will create a party that
will be the subject of happy conversation for years to come.