Birthday party suggestions for a 60 y.o.?
December 11, 2007 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Surprise birthday party for my 60 y.o. mother - what can we do to keep the guests up and mingling?

The party will be in a secluded section of a local brew pub - 20 to 30 people (fairly lowkey). We're looking for interactive things to keep be occupied and interested while they wait a few minutes for the birthday girl and for the rest of the evening. Food will be provided and alcohol will be available.

Current ideas:
- station with some old pictures to look through
- digital camera set up for people to take pictures

This will be a restaurant, so we can't do things that require lots of space or sound, but we'd like to make it a comfortable, interesting evening for the guests (some of whom know each other, some of whom don't).
posted by imposster to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
put up a big "happy birthday" board and have everyone write a message on it...

really though, mingling is what people are supposed to do at those things for a few minutes
posted by Salvatorparadise at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2007

Ask people to bring their favorite photo of themselves with your mom. It'll give people something to compare and start the reminiscence.
posted by Sara Anne at 12:52 PM on December 11, 2007

The old classic is to put the food and the booze at opposite ends of the space so forcing people to move about to get everything they want and so mingle, but the other ideas up here so far sound like fun too.
posted by merocet at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2007

Nothing wrong with old fashioned party games, especially since most of these people remember when you played party games at grown up parties.

I've had luck with writing stuff on nametags, to start a conversation

- guess which famous person I am

- fact about your mom that only they know

- fact about them that you'd never guess

- a person scavenger hunt, where you need to match the person with the event in your mom's life (find the bridesmaid, the highschool best friend, the fellow biology major, whatever)
posted by beezy at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2007

at one of my grandmothers birthdays we gave her a surprise party and had everyone bring a flower that reminded us of her and write why on a 3x5 card, then we all told her why that flower reminded us and gave her the flower. she still adores that bouquet and reads thru the cards. perhaps they could write a fond memory on a 3x5 when they get there for her to read later
posted by meeshell at 3:19 PM on December 11, 2007

Best answer: photos are a fantastic idea, but don't put them at a single station- frame them and put little clusters of frames around the bar, as natural gathering points for a couple ppl at a time. you want people to mingle around the pics, form small groups of 2-4 ppl, and start conversations about the pics. putting them all in one place encourages clumping, it takes too long to look at all the pics, and the person looking at the pics will feel rushed. you can get cheap little stand-up frames at dollar stores or ikea.

put out markers and a pile of regular paper, adn let guests write colourful notes for your mom- making her birthday cards, messages, etc. have a binder with clear plastic slips in it like this one (which you can get at any art supply shop for $10-$20, depending how many pages). let guests put their art/messages into the book, and it becomes a keepsake.

i did both of these things at a party i threw last summer, and both went over amazingly well. the book of messages is hilarious, and people really liked seeing baby and kid pics of the birthday boy!
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:37 PM on December 11, 2007

Best answer: if you think your guests might by shy about the markers thing, give them an assignment: like "write a funny story about colleen!" "three reasons i love colleen", or "what was your first impression of colleen?" the book could be "60 things we love about colleen", and each page could be a "reason" written by a different guest.
something like that to get the creative juices flowing.
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:39 PM on December 11, 2007

Best answer: We just did exactly this (surprise party in a restaurant with a mix of guests) for my grandmother's 75th birthday.

Name tags -- maybe try to see if you can find oversized ones? Ask everyone to write not just their name, but also how they met your mom, or just the year they met her. This is great for starting conversation among people who know your mom, but not each other. ("Yes, we went to college together...and did you know, she used to hide sardines under the floorboards for midnight feasts?")

We also bought a big picture frame, which gave us space for a normal photo in the middle of a proportionately huge mat. Someone good at lettering can write "Yourmom's 60th -- 12/12/2007." Then, at the party, we left the mat out and had everyone write "Happy birthday" (or whatever) and sign it with different markers. The group photo we took that day went in the middle, and now the whole thing is hanging in my grandmother's house -- and she loves it.
posted by booksandlibretti at 12:04 AM on December 12, 2007

We've done that "sign the mat" idea several times for retirement parties, and people do like it. Cautions, though: Make sure people don't write too close to the edge of the mat, or their message will be covered up by the frame. Bring a box of extra-fine point black Sharpies - other pens tend to smear and a mix of inks looks tacky(ier).
posted by tizzie at 5:50 AM on December 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the great ideas. This will really help.
posted by imposster at 9:23 AM on December 12, 2007

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