Honoring 50 Years of Fun with Dick and Jane
March 14, 2017 5:40 PM   Subscribe

My parents' golden anniversary is in September, and they want a party. Fortunately they're helping plan it, but I'd love to step up and be Organizing Ninja. One problem - I've never planned a party of this scope and don't know what details to consider.

Fortunately we've got the date, venue, and time picked, and Dad is getting an old family friend to do music and my brother said he'd get the catering done. I'm stepping up to send out the invitations. But I KNOW there's got to be more to this than that, right?

What I'd love to find would be a party-planning checklist so I can go through it with my parents and at least address everything (even just the once, so that even if they say "oh, please, we don't want decorations" I know the question will at least have been asked). All the party-planning sites I've found make it seem to sound much more easy than it is ("just pick your venue, then send out invitations, and you're all set!") or they suggest using a web site as an information central (and I think most of the guest list are going to be on the computer-phobic side and would appreciate paper).

Bonus round - my parents' names really are Dick and Jane, and they get a big kick out of it - and I'd love to find some kind of Dick-and-Jane themed invitation if such a beast is out there. Or know how to design one for cheap.

posted by EmpressCallipygos to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Mazel tov...! I can speak to one part of it: Etsy adores kitsch, and will have Dick and Jane whatnot for sale, and they also have a lot of graphic designers offering custom invites, and, given Etsy, it should not be hard to find the right flavour of designer -- alternatively, searching for "Dick and Jane invitations" brings up a few hits (check eBay too) -- I'm thinking you could get your hands on a small box of them and have them duplicated on nice paper? With a little luck you might even find vintage/"vintage inspired" Dick and Jane party decorations too.

(Do mention a rough number of guests, and the type of venue? I went to a lovely golden anniversary party held in a spacious backyard. Drink storage was achieved by uprighting a stored canoe, and dumping in ice. It was a great Canadian unit of measurement, I thought -- "we went to a party with a canoe of beer... But that's not a useful idea for a small group in a posh hotel.)
posted by kmennie at 6:06 PM on March 14, 2017

This would be a great occasion for a repeating slideshow of photos of them at milestones of life and with friends and relatives. Ask invitees if they have any favorites to share.

You could think about party favors, little mementos for people to take home. To go with the theme, maybe custom pads of Post-It notes printed with faint lines like for handwriting worksheets and in one corner, a photo of each parent as a young child, cropped close around the head, with "Dick and Jane" in an appropriate typeface below.
posted by lakeroon at 6:25 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I did my in laws 50th. We had it on a Sunday. Family went to church together where the couple were blessed. Then onto a golf club for a brunch. Buffet. That was for the immediate family only. About 50. Then we had an open reception, for tea and cake We didn't do invites as according to my in laws the tradition here is to have a newspaper celebration article printed with "best wishes only at 1pm at Golf club".

Decorations were a banner and some confetti sprinkled on the tables. My in laws didn't want much fuss

Special touches- slide show, as well as a table of pictures. Guest book to sign. We had a photographer to do a family portrait as well as some candids. My sister in law wrote to get congratulations letters from the Pope, Queen, Prime Minister, Premier, Mayor as well as the Arch Bishop of the Diocese. We had the Pope framed professionally, and the others were just in normal frames. We presented those at the party.

After the brunch and reception, the immediate family went back to house for a BBQ.

I've been to a couple of others since, and they both were, for the most part, the same.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:29 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I know it's not a wedding, but maybe there's more information out there if you do a search for wedding event planning detailed checklists? There's probably some overlap since it's a 50th anniversary.
posted by aniola at 7:55 PM on March 14, 2017

You are supposed to invite the guests from the original wedding btw. So have fun tracking them down! I did track down people my parents hadn't seen in decades and they were thrilled by that, especially as it was a secret until the night. We had music from their dating days and a big book of photos that a friend who's an artist made into a kind of fun picture book. That would go really well with the Dick and Jane theme! The book was set up so guests could write their memories on the pages and was a big hit. Many of the photos came from guests and relatives of course and were also a surprise.
posted by fshgrl at 8:08 PM on March 14, 2017

Response by poster: To re-direct a bit - aniola is getting more after what i'm getting at, which is more of a general "If you are planning a big party like this, here is a list of things you will need to think about: a) venue, b) decorations, c) food, d) whether guests need hotels...."

You know? An actual checklist of all the things that you need to actually do. "I have an idea for a nice added touch to the party" is nice, but I'm looking more for things like "guests are going to want to know whether there is valet parking, so here is how you give them that info" kind of advice.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 PM on March 14, 2017

As for invitation I would go to fiverr. Get photos of your folks and have a fun caricature done of them together with cute lettering. Use it in invites and a banner, maybe even napkins or something.
posted by beccaj at 9:05 PM on March 14, 2017

I did this for/with my grandparents some 20 years ago. It was fun!
First of all I drew visual charts and timelines so we could go through every minute of the 3 day event, and the preparation time (invites go out 6 weeks before, RSVP - who handles the replies etc..)
Then I scheduled planning deadlines, such as when do we approve of the invitations, and who is on the approval board for them, same for everything, rooms, flowers, food, music, activities etc.
Then I did charts with who had which responsibilities and who they were accountable to crossed with those deadlines. And then I just started checking off those charts as things were done.
Remember to have a contingency plan manager. There was another party at our venue, and at some point the two parties merged. It ended up being great fun, but that was partly because we had planned for who to deal with unexpected stuff.
posted by mumimor at 2:00 AM on March 15, 2017

Response by poster: Muminor, what i"m looking for is:

Then I scheduled planning deadlines, such as when do we approve of the invitations, and who is on the approval board for them, same for everything, rooms, flowers, food, music, activities etc.

What I"m looking for is: Please give me a list of what you mean by "everything" and "Etc.".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:41 AM on March 15, 2017

Best answer: Your checklist depends on what kind of party it is, where it is, and how much of the work you'll be farming out to other people. If you're hiring people, they should have a handle on what they need from you.

Here's a list I found by Googling "Anniverary Party Checklist" - it seems pretty comprehensive.

I planned a surprise party for my dad's 70th birthday, and approached it as I did my own wedding reception. When you see the party happening in your mind's eye, what do you see? Dancing? A sit-down dinner? Is there a table with favors? Decorations on the table? What songs do you hear playing? Think of all the parties/receptions you've been to. What stuck with you? What didn't you care about?

Make a list of everything that is important to your parents and to you, even the stuff that's already underway, like the catering. Then split that list up - anything catering related, hand off to your brother. Anything venue related, take to the manager of the venue. Songs go to the DJ. Whatever is left will inform your final list.

In my family, we care about music, food, and booze, so that's where I put my energy. I sent out invites - created by someone I found on Etsy - about 2 months before the party. The venue handled all the food and booze, so I just needed to pick that, and they followed up with me. We created a playlist for the iPhone. I made a giant "70" on posterboard and covered the whole thing with pictures.

Good luck!
posted by lyssabee at 8:12 AM on March 15, 2017

What I"m looking for is: Please give me a list of what you mean by "everything" and "Etc.".

That is what your visual charts should help you do together.

For my grans, the party was in a remote place dear to them. So after we had made the guest list, the first question was "how do people get there". I made a poster for that, and made sure that every guest had a defined route that worked and that cousins with no means of transportation were served.

Next was the "arrival" poster. What would we do when everyone arrived, and how would we get everyone in a room. For us, a solution was that even though I had a summerhouse close to the venue, I stayed at the venue and served as a hostess in dialogue with the staff there. Then we planned for "arrival tea", as the poster showed us most people would be arriving at about 3PM before the party started at 6:30 PM.

Then came "sorting", finding a place for everyone to sleep. This was complicated because of various status issues

Then came "sitting", probably the most difficult part of the party. Who would sit next to whom and why at the main event.

Then came decoration and food. Easy peasy compared to the former questions.

Then came speeches (a very big thing here, maybe not so much in the US?), including finding and committing a toast master.

Then came entertainment, for three days..

Brunches, excursions, special events, left-over dinner etc. All needing wake-up times, transportation, food, decoration.

And so on, in essence, I made posters for each stage of the event. And from those posters we could go backward and forward deciding every element, even what to wear. We used the posters to include anyone who needed to be included. I made a lot of phone calls, but all from the basis of our planning tools.

When I say poster, they were more like A3 pieces of paper with a chart describing the element (like arrival tea), and then stick on comments from my grans about what they expected. Both my grans were heavily into planning.
posted by mumimor at 2:23 PM on March 15, 2017

Response by poster: Hi!

So fortunately my parents have kind of taken over the organizing because they have Definite Needs. So I'm downshifting to something more tangible:

I need a high-quality image of Dick And Jane from the books that i can use for the invitation. I am willing to pay.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:50 PM on May 8, 2017

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