Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party. UPDATE #24

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My MIL will turn 80 on Jan 1, 2014. Yes, we're planning early. ;)

SIL (Beth) sent out an e-mail to her siblings and myself (since LDH is gone, I am taking his place) asking for suggestions/ideas/thoughts on doing something special for MIL's 80th bday.


BIL#1 -- the oldest, let's call him Bob, lives in Atlanta and has 2 college-aged sons.

Me -- with LDH being the second child. We have 2 DDs that are college-aged.

BIL#2 -- the middle child, let's call him Bill, lives in Chicago area with his wife and 2 step daughters (one a Sr. in HS and the other part-time college student)

SIL -- the youngest (Beth) lives in the Chicago area with her (now)DH. Her daughter (the eldest grandchild) also lives in the Chicago area in a home of her own and has a great (new) job.

I mentioned the above because these are the people that are on the "Must accommodate when looking for a date" list -- In other words, MIL's children and grandchildren. The grandchildren that attend college have limited times off due to classes, exams, etc.

MIL -- lives in St. Louis. That's where her "roots" are.

She lived in the Chicago area for more than 20 years and still sees her old neighbors/co-workers/friends whenever she's in town, which is about 2-3 times per year.

MIL's extended family (her siblings, nieces/nephews and their kids) are located in St. Louis.

Questions for thoughts and opinions/ideas:

1. When would you host this party? January 1 sounds bad to me, everybody has holiday obligations, etc. MIL tends to make her trips up here in May & November (Thanksgiving) and for whatever odd ;) reasons she likes to drive up to see her families.

2. Where would you host the party? St. Louis or Chicago?

3. My thought was to host the party in the Chicago area the day after Thanksgiving. As a surprise. Yes, it's around another holiday but all of her children and grandchildren will be here anyway.

4. Bob has expressed his thoughts on having the party in St. Louis. It's closer to where he lives for him and his sons.

5. Bill and Beth stated that they would like to have the party in the Chicago area, possibly blocking off a string of hotel rooms and hosting a catered party in the hotel, inviting the St. Louis people along with MIL's Chicago friends.

6. None of us has a wealth-pool of money, but I think that the invite list should be expanded beyond the immediate family. Your thoughts?

7. How many people would you invite? Does just the immediate family (children/grandchildren) seem to be "not the hoopla" for an 80th birthday?

6. Beth suggested 4th of July. Hosting the party at MIL's house. MIL usually hosts 4th of July for her extended family. Of course, MIL wouldn't have to lift a finger, Beth and I would take care of everything. She suggested sending out "Surprise!" invitations to the guests mentioning MIL's 80th bday.

I'm looking to all of you great ehellions for any thoughts/ideas/suggestions for making my MIL's 80'th bday party a huge success.

I'd appreciate any input. Thanks!

I think the party should be in St Louis since that's where she lives and where her "roots" are.  She's 80 - sure she's healthy and up to travel now, but she's still old - seems to me best to plan it nearest to her home just in case something happens that makes travel difficult (something to her like a fall, but also outside stuff like bad weather - it sucks for anyone to be stuck in an airport delayed due to a storm, scrambling for a last minute hotel, etc but its much harder on a senior).  Plus at 'home' its easier to invite her friends, etc.

In the meantime can I suggest a slideshow?  You might already be planning one, but if not, please do.  They are easy to set up, are fun for everyone to see - photos from all sorts of experiences in her life and of so many of her family members, current and past, and can be burned onto a DVD and she watch it again, share it with friends, etc.

Printing out lots of photos and documents (census records, diplomas, old letters/postcards, etc) and setting them around the room as decor is always fun too, super easy and really personal, and great conversation fodder at a party.

I would have it in St Louis as well.  You could have it the week after Christmas so it is only a few days before her birthday, but all the kids will be off school.  Christmas falls in the middle of the week this year so you can have it on Dec 28 or 29 which is Saturday and Sunday so people who do have to work will still be able to attend, but again, all the kids will be out of school.  You could also have two parties, one in Chicago with those people and another in St louis with others.   One can be a big party and the other more smaller if you like. I would invite lots of people, if your MIL is into big parties, which her july 4 bashes sound like she is.

One thing I like to do for parties is to make up lists of things that came around/news from the year they were born and things they are older than. I like to write them up neatly or print them out and frame them and you can use them as decorations or if you are having a lot of tables as funky centerpieces. It is great to hear about how my grandparents remembered when something came out and it is a fun conversation starter between generations.

St. Louis sounds like the best place. I would suggest mid-May or mid-August for when the students are most likely to be available. I would also see if you can get copies of the newspaper from her birth day or week.

I would definitely invite her friends and perhaps more extended family.

I would also vote for St. Louis and the date should first and foremost take MIL's schedules/needs/comfort into account.

I also vote for *not* making this a surprise. i don't know your MIL but in my experience older people, especially women, like to know about these things - maybe she would have worn a different outfit or gotten her nails done, or something that may seem unimportant to us, but can be important to them. she also might have people on her "must invite" list that you may not be aware of.

a quasi surprise could be in the form of --- digging up an old college friend and bringing him/her as a surprise guest, finding some really old photos and having them redone, finding music that she loves, an old recipe, etc


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