A 90th birthday is a big milestone and anyone reaching it deserves a grand celebration. Whether you are planning a 90th birthday celebration for your parent, grandparent, or special friend, the occasion deserves to be marked, and the special guest needs to be honored.
Planning a party for someone in his or her 90s requires additional attention to some details.
Time and Location
Before you begin making lists of food, games, and entertainment, think carefully about the time and location of the party.
- Time - The time of the party should be convenient for the guest of honor. Does she tire easily at the end of the day? If so, then schedule the party for late morning or mid-afternoon and forego an evening celebration.
- Length - In the same respect, a party that is too long may exhaust an older person, leaving him or her struggling to maintain a smile at the end of the event. The party may need to be kept to a two or three hour increment of time.
- Location - While you may be tempted to host the party at the guest-of-honor's house, don't. If the party is hosted at a different location, he won't be tempted to help out in the kitchen or cater to other guests' needs. The location you choose, however, should be wheelchair accessible if needed. If you're hosting the party outdoors, be sure you set up on level ground to avoid possible falls for your guest of honor and other elderly guests.
Have fun with invitations for a 90th birthday party. Use the invitations to add an extra special element to the party. Insert a blank card into the invitation with only the words "What's your memory?" at the top. Guests must then write down a favorite memory of the honored guest and bring that card to the party. A designated reader will read the memories to the special person during the party. Then, two or three others can create a scrapbook of all the cards to give as a gift.
Adding a special form of entertainment to any birthday party can make it a truly special evening.
- Birthday video - Several days or weeks before the party, shoot a video of individual guests reciting their favorite memories and relating their personal birthday wishes. On the day of the party, play the video in the background and give a personal copy to the birthday "girl" or "boy" at the end of the celebration.
- Performances - Invite the younger crowd to rehearse a special song that has meaning for the guest of honor and sing it to her right before she opens her gifts. Older guests could perform a skit or short play that chronicles significant events in the honoree's life or historical events that have occurred over the last 90 years.
- Roast - Invite guests to tell funny stories about the guest of honor, honoring him with humor and love.
Party platters and cake are always a good choice for casual get-togethers. Make sure there are some diabetic and soft options for elderly guests. If you're planning a theme for the party, food should also fit into that particular theme.
Birthday Party Themes
Choosing a theme or central activity for a birthday party allows you to personalize the party and also makes it easier from a planning perspective. When hosting a 90th birthday party, consider these special themes.
Back in Time: 1920s Brunch
Themed parties that revolve around the 1920's can be great fun for those who were born during the era. This time period, also known as the "Roaring Twenties", was marked by many things including flappers, fashion, and music. All the best of this time period can be captured for a fabulous party to remember.
- Find old pictures of famous people including musicians, actors, politicians, and others that the celebrant may have enjoyed in his/her younger years. Make banners or posters out of these photos to use as wall decorations.
- If you can get your hands on some old album covers, these make excellent décor items as well.
- Black and white decorations with some red make a dramatic impact on any room. Use feather boas and pearls for accents.
- Have someone demonstrate popular jazz steps from the time in a 1920s flapper costume.
- For entertainment, you may have some guests/family members perform some of the old songs or old silent movie scenes.
- A fun game of Name That Tune can be played. Select popular songs and help guests to remember the good old days!
- Serve finger snacks on silver plated trays and drinks in a large washtub with ice.
- Deviled eggs were popular in the 1920's as were tea sandwiches, salted nuts, and fancy cupcakes.
- Offer a nice lemon punch, non-alcoholic beer or grape juice for beverages.
The Best Times of Your Life Party
This party theme allows you to focus in on some very memorable events that may have occurred in the celebrants life. This could be things such as graduations from school, awards, accomplishments, travel, family and more. Many elderly people love to talk about all the wonderful things that have happened in their life and share their memories. There's no better way to celebrate a 90th birthday than to share all the great things that have happened in the celebrant's life with guests. Tie it all together by instituting an award or endowment in his/her name or make a donation to a worthy charity.
- Prepare a banner that says "These are the Best Times of Your Life" and stretch it out for everyone to see.
- Have a photo exhibition or slide presentation of the life-time achievements and activities of birthday celebrant. Have any awards or banners placed near the photos.
- Ask the celebrant to talk about some of his/her favorite memories through the years.
- Prepare a scrapbook with all kinds of memories for the celebrant and guests to look at. This can include pictures, old letters, and postcards.
- Let guests reminisce about the important role the birthday celebrant played in their life or read out greetings and messages from those who could not attend the function.
Serve the celebrant's favorite food. Perhaps he/she enjoys food from a particular country or a special style of food that brings back fond memories. For example, she might like some of her mom's homemade apple pie that reminds her of her youth and Spanish paella to remind her of travels overseas for her 40th anniversary. Keep food simple and easy to eat, and offer a few drink options such as tea, water, and juice.
Historical Hollywood Evening
If you thought fancy-dress parties are for kids, think again. Have the guest of honor dress up in his best tuxedos/evening gown. Suggest to the other guests to dress up as famous personalities of the 1930 to 1950s. The costumes can range from Hollywood stars to popular singers or famous politicians or world leaders of the time.
- Arrange the event in a rented out hall and grounds of a local club or resort so you don't have to do a lot of decorating to make the space look nice.
- Have a slideshow of old personal photos interspersed with old movie posters from the era.
- Organize it in such a way that each entrant is announced as the assumed personality. Meeting and greeting each guest will be a hilarious affair for the guest of honor.
- Let him/her have a chance at guessing the identity of the guest before others make attempts.
- Project movie clips from old movies and ask people to guess what movies are playing.
Serve non-alcoholic champagne to add that Hollywood glitz to the event. Food items might include fancy finger foods such as smoked salmon, stuffed cherry tomatoes, goat cheese stuffed dates, and blue cheese puffs.
Assisted Living Tea Party
Not everyone may be lucky enough to be hale and hearty at 90. However, those living in care homes need not miss out on this important milestone of their lives. Plan the party right there in the home if the person is not in a position to be shifted to another venue. Take the management of the home into confidence before planning the party.
Choose a time and place that would not inconvenience other residents of the home. A quiet afternoon party would be ideal. Keep the celebration short and sweet so that those who feel tired can quietly retire to their rooms.
Arrange to have a few close friends and relatives to be present so that it becomes a memorable event. Find out if there's a particular person the birthday boy/girl is longing to meet, and make an extra effort to get that person to the party. It is important to have the birthday celebrant groomed to perfection for the big day, so plan to be there a little early to help if needed.
Lavishly decorate a corner of the garden, porch, or recreation room to set it apart from the rest of the home. Use balloons, flower decorations, streamers, and be sure to have a Happy Birthday banner. To create a tea party feel, pick up Victorian or lace table cloths for table settings. Use old teapots as centerpieces, even if you don't plan to actually serve tea out of them. Pastel flowers are a nice touch as well.
- Live entertainment, such as a violin player or pianist, is always a welcome addition to a tea party.
- Display the greeting cards of those who are not attending for all to read, and play any consolidated audio messages.
- Have plenty to snack on including foods that are easy to eat such as soft cookies, pretzels, cheese and crackers, finger sandwiches, and a nice assortment of teas and juices.
- Arrange food trolleys to carry the food and drinks around with ease. Have enough water bottles and tissue papers to take care of accidental spills.
In the Year You Were Born Party
This party theme focuses on the celebrant's year of birth. It is a fun way to not only celebrate a birthday but also to take a trip back in time. Host this party at a friend or family member's home or rent a nice room somewhere, depending on the size of your party.
- Display baby items from the celebrant's childhood. Favorite blankets, stuffed animals, or special toys can all be placed throughout the party area.
- Visit thrift or antique stores to put together a display of popular home and fashion items from the year of the celebrant's birth.
- Recite popular poems, stories, and events that were current the year the celebrant was born. Ask guests to try and find an unusual item to share with the rest of the party-goers.
- Listening to the radio sitcoms and soap operas probably played a key role in entertaining people born 90 years ago. Look up old broadcasts and have them playing during the party.
Offer a spread of the celebrant's favorite food and drink from their youth. You may need to do some research at the library or online to find classic recipes. Family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation are another good source for food ideas. Punch and tea can accompany the dishes.
Those in the older generation may not want a lot of trinkets, have room for larger gifts, or be able to take care of gifts that require maintenance. Instead, consider practical or sentimental gifts for someone turning 90.
- Make an individual scrapbook of your family.
- Record you and your children singing some of the guest of honor's favorite songs or hymns.
- Create a collage of photos and put them in a large poster frame.
- Put together a gift basket of special items that you know will be used, like lotions, mints, herbal teas, fruit, and small candies.
Take the time to plan a 90th birthday celebration and it will be an incredibly memorable experience for both the celebrant as well as the guests. With thoughtful planning and organization your party will go off without hitch and everyone will have a grand time.