Birthday Parties are for Adults, Too!

A person is never too old for a surprise birthday party that has everything including a fun theme, great company, and food that’s to die for.  Face it, within every adult there is a kid who would love a birthday party! But pulling all the right elements together is a bit of an art.  Here is how you do it right.

Begin with a party guest list

You could throw a massive birthday bash with a guest list numbering in the hundreds (might be appropriate for a milestone birthday, such as a 40th or 50th), or a smaller, more intimate gathering best suited to a quiet dinner party.  Which size of a guest list you’re aiming for will depend on the following two factors.

  1. Temperament of the birthday “boy” or “girl” – While an extrovert might adore being the center of attention in front of two or three hundred guests, an introvert might not love it quite so much. If you’re unsure, talk to the guest of honor to get some clues. Obviously you’ll have to be discreet since this is, after all, going to be a surprise party.  But you can bring up hypothetical situations and see what they say.
  1. Size of the budget – A huge birthday party can become quite costly but if you’re sharing the costs with other friends or family members, it will be manageable. Yet, assuming you’re not rich and are the sole funding source of this event, it is best to set a budget and try to keep to it.

Before you finalize the guest list, be sure to ask the guest of honour’s close friends and family if they can suggest any other people who ought to be on the guest list.  Work friends will be best suited to recommend people from work who are a must-invite.  Family is best positioned to recommend which family members ought to be invited (for example, that second cousin who the birthday boy or girl has been fantastic friends with since childhood).

Finally, be sure to tell every single person on the list that this is a surprise party, to prevent them from accidentally revealing the secret to the wrong person.

The birthday party budget

Whether you’re footing the entire bill yourself, or having the guests chip in, you definitely ought to consider your budget before going one more step further in the planning process.

Things like renting a ballroom or community center for a big bash can eat up a huge percentage of your budget.  Ditto for meal costs if you plan on a sit-down dining experience.

Sort out how much you can afford to spend on everything from the food to the cake, to miscellaneous party supplies.

If you need to make your budget go further, consider some creative ways to do it.  Small- to medium-sized gatherings are well suited to a potluck – everyone on the guest list is tasked with bringing one dish to share with the group.  As the party organizer, you keep track of what everyone has agreed to bring to ensure there’s enough variety and no duplication – this way, you won’t end up with a supper buffet table full of nothing but dessert and salad.

You can also save money by hosting the party at someone’s home – if your own home or backyard isn’t large enough to fit everyone, ask around to see if someone else on the guest list can provide the space.

If you have enough room in your party budget, renting a room at a local hotel, community center, or restaurant is a no-hassle way to host a party.  This way, no-one will have to worry about cleaning up their home or doing the dishes.

Time to talk birthday party decor

Whether the party will be held at someone’s home, or a commercial space, there’s lots of opportunity to increase the fun via nice decor touches.

Start with some decorative elements on the dining tables.  An outdoor BBQ theme party is well suited to fun red and white checked table runners.  For a beach-themed party, consider a nautical table runner.  If you’ll have wine on the tables, take out the generic corks and replace them with fun bottle stoppers – pineapple or anchor motifs are great for a beach theme.  Fun chalkboard bottle stoppers complement many decors, and you can come up with witty things to write on them.

Everyone likes to take photos at a party, so why not help them along?  Set up themed photo backdrops for your guests.

And don’t forget to include a birthday banner wishing the guest of honor a happy birthday!  Whether you want to do the tried and true “Happy 40th Birthday!” or something funny like “Over the Hill!”, a festive banner can add a fun element to the look of the party.

Adults are NOT too old to get a birthday party favor

Adult birthday party favors are all the rage (and we don’t mean “adult” the way you may be thinking, like X rated!)! When you were a kid, you probably got loot bags at all the parties you went to – and it was a delight to receive them.  So why not provide that same good feeling to guests at your grown-up bash?

If you’re on a tight budget, consider wrapping up a homemade treat such a chocolate fudge brownie, festive cookies, or some other easily-wrapped baked good. If you’re not a baker, you can still give away affordable treats.  Consider mini mason jars stuffed with candy, nuts or chocolate.

Scented votive candles in personalized birthday theme is a great idea, as are mint tins and bottle openers. Barware party favors are always great adult party favors for smaller budget parties.

If you have a budget and you want to treat guests, consider personalized drinking glassware.  Great practical ideas are to give out personalized printed shot glasses or birthday themed personalized wine glasses.  You’ll pour whatever wine the guests are drinking into these glasses, and they get to take them home.  Or, if you’re serving mixed drinks, consider giving each guest an custom printed rocks glass.

Bottle openers, shot glasses, coasters, and mini photo frames are also ideas worth considering.

The Birthday Cake

Planning for the cake should not be overlooked.  Before you order (or bake your own) cake, double check to make sure the birthday guy or gal doesn’t have any allergies that would cause problems. Wheat, gluten, dairy, and nut allergies are common and could torpedo their ability to enjoy their own cake if you don’t account for this ahead of time.

You can get a huge slab cake from the local grocery store to feed a crowd without breaking the bank.  Or, get a bakery to design a custom cake that can be as elaborate, or simple, as your heart (and budget!) desires.

Be sure to jazz up the cake with candles and sparklers.

And don’t forget to plan for accompaniments for the cake.  Whipped cream, ice cream, and even Jello are popular sides.

The big birthday party reveal

Your “big birthday kid” won’t know what hit them when their big day arrives, you’ll need an excuse to get the guest of honor to come.  Be sure that whatever excuse you come up with leaves them dressed appropriately for the occasion.  The last thing you’d want is to embarrass them by having them show up wearing torn jeans for a formal party where everyone is all dressed up, right?

Now that the guest of honor has arrived, all that’s left to do is enjoy the party, keep the food and drinks flowing, and have fun! Who says adults can’t have birthday parties!?