Author Topic: Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party. UPDATE #24  (Read 3845 times)

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jpcher

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party. UPDATE #24
« on: February 06, 2013, 08:54:42 PM »
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.



Logistics/BG:

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!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2013, 07:57:56 PM by jpcher »

WillyNilly

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2013, 09:51:40 PM »
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.

iggy257

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2013, 11:05:18 PM »
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.

ladyknight1

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2013, 11:13:17 PM »
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.

cicero

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 04:15:54 AM »
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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bah12

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2013, 11:12:50 AM »
I'd go with St Louis too and the weekend between Christmas and New Years.  Since this is a milestone birthday for her, I think it would be kind of her children and grandchildren to arrange their holiday plans around her birthday party.  That seems like a time when kids will be out of school and the weekend is a good time for those who work.

camlan

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2013, 11:27:43 AM »
No matter where the party is, some people are going to have to travel. No matter when the party is, someone is not going to be able to make it. I think you need to accept these things, and plan around them. I would make the guiding principle be what is easiest for MIL and what she would most likely want. Whoever is planning this is going to hear a lot of, "But X would be better for me and my family." It's good to have a stock response for this sort of thing, "Yes, I understand that. But this party is for MIL and this is what would work best for *her*."

Location: I'd make it the location that is easiest for MIL. St. Louis would be my first choice, with Chicago second, since she does visit there. St. Louis also wins because it seems like a lot of the "really want them there" people live there.

Guests: Make a list of the people who *have* to be there, the people you really want to be there, and everyone else. The date/time/location has to work for the first group of people. Everyone else, you have to be prepared to tell them how sorry you are that they won't be able to join you. You might have to practice hardening your heart on this one. But the larger the group, the more the planners have to make a plan and stick with it. Frequent changes will wreak havoc with all the other guests.

Timing: The week around Christmas seems best to me, because all the various college-aged relations (who are on the "must be there" list) will be off school. It's also far enough away that people can negotiate with their workplaces to arrange time off. And it is close to her actual birthday.

I'm with Cicero on not making this a complete surprise. Maybe tell her it's a special dinner out with some of the family, and surprise her with all the other guests. That's what we did for my father's 70th birthday. He thought it was dinner with the family, but we invited old college and Army buddies, all his siblings and their spouses and children, close friends--I think there were about 80 people.

We also asked everyone who was invited to contribute a story or photograph about Dad. We had a large scrapbook made up, with all the stories and pictures--he loved it. Several of the people invited who couldn't make the party were able to call him during the party--he heard from Army buddies he'd only exchanged Christmas cards with for the last 40 years.
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peaches

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2013, 12:03:44 PM »
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

I agree with all of this.

And if MIL approves the arrangements, that can help to head off endless debate about the date and details of the event. You can say "This is the way MIL wants it - and it's her birthday".

Tea Drinker

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2013, 02:36:19 PM »
Another vote for not making it a complete surprise, both because the guest of honor might want to dress up for a party that is going to be focused on her, but because the risk of any surprise party is that the guest of honor might make conflicting plans. You can't push someone to set aside a date months in advance without telling them it's for something important, and if you pick a random date and don't tell her well in advance, she might happen to decide that was the perfect afternoon to schedule something medical, or even a late-afternoon hairdressing appointment that overlaps when your plans called for her to be home for the beginning of the party.
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gellchom

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2013, 05:08:05 PM »
Another BIG vote for not making it a surprise, but having a surprise treat for her.  She'll enjoy it a lot more.  She may try to demur, but you can probably persuade her -- and if you can't, then it's good you didn't do it.

Do consider the potential for travel nightmares if you plan it for January in Chicago.

Don't know about the budget, but you might consider a short cruise or long weekend at a resort with the family.

This reminds me of something funny.  For her 80th birthday, we got my mother, who is brilliant but kind of an absent-minded professor type sometimes (nothing to do with her age; she's always been like that!), a fancy massage chair she wanted.  She unfortunately forgets what it's called and tells people, "My children got me the most wonderful vibrator for my 80th birthday!"

This sounds like so much fun!  Happy 80th birthday, Mom!

Lynn2000

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2013, 05:27:37 PM »
I suggest having it not in the winter, since both Chicago and St. Louis can have bad weather that time of year. I swear every storm that goes through the Midwest seems to hit one or both of them (I live in between). Otherwise they both have good transportation and hotel options so it's really which one MIL would prefer. I would be thinking her current hometown first and foremost so she doesn't have to worry about traveling, but she may feel differently.

I like the idea of the slideshow or scrapbook with memories, photos, census records, newspaper clippings, etc.. They make great conversation starters, people can contribute to them in advance from afar (maybe people who won't be able to attend), and MIL may really enjoy looking at them later. And, not to be morbid, but years from now other people may enjoy looking at them too and thinking about her. Someone could even get one of those books that suggest biographical questions to ask people and put them to her, and include her answers as part of the scrapbook. (As a family history researcher I would find this very interesting, and invaluable for future generations as well.)

Also, there should basically be only one person officially organizing it, and they will have to be very firm when plans are set. As others have said, there will be no way to please everyone, and the organizer may find themselves beset with requests to change something. You don't want more than one person to have the "authority" to change plans or there will be a mess. As things are set, find a reliable way to let everyone else know right away so they can start planning/saving for their own travel. It might also help to set deadlines by which certain decisions should be made. For example, it wouldn't be right to dither over the location and only let people know a month in advance, as they may not be able to schedule time off/save up money for traveling/book a decent hotel room.
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onyonryngs

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2013, 05:32:32 PM »
I'd go with St Louis too and the weekend between Christmas and New Years.  Since this is a milestone birthday for her, I think it would be kind of her children and grandchildren to arrange their holiday plans around her birthday party.  That seems like a time when kids will be out of school and the weekend is a good time for those who work.

This.  Go with St. Louis and the weekend between the 2 holidays.  It might be hard for some people to get off work if they already had that week off.  Travel will be expensive that week, but it'll be the week after Jan 1 too.  And the drive from STL to/from Chicago isn't bad so maybe only the ATL family needs to fly.  If it was my grandma's bday, I'd go no matter what weekend.

jpcher

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2013, 07:43:51 PM »
Thank you for your responses so far! Please keep your ideas and thought coming.

I'm loving the ideas for photos/screen-shows/dated news items to use as centerpieces.

Beth is the one that brought up the idea, so I'm differing to her as hostess. I will offer suggestions, and I appreciate many of your suggestions concerning how to say "No." to a guest list.

The "Surprise" factor would come into play with an already regularly scheduled party . . . like the day after Thanksgiving or 4th of July and turning it into "Surprise 80th bday!" so MIL will be expecting/planning on the date for a party anyway.


I'm really liking the suggestions of having her party in St. Louis after Christmas and before New Years. True, all of the college kids will be out of school and it's plenty of time for the workers to plan for time off.

How should I approach this idea since Beth already said she wanted to do something out of the Christmas schedule?

kudeebee

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 12:03:27 AM »
I agree with  holding the party in St. Louis.  That is where her roots are, that is where her extended family is--and it seems that these people would be on the really want to have there list.  I would hesitate to have it very far from her actual birth date--4th of July seems way too far away.  Weekend after Thanksgiving might work, but could be more busy than a weekend after Christmas.


Brisvegasgal

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Re: Thoughts, please. For an 80th bday party.
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 04:48:28 AM »
My FIL had his 80th birthday in January this year and because all his family and friends live in the same city, he ended up with three.  One for his sons (and families), one for his siblings and another for his buddies.

By far the best thing we (my DH) did was to get people to write us a little something about him and to send us a picture (if they had one) and we created a book*. It took about a month to get people to respond and about 20 hours of time for us to put it together.  But it was totally worth it.

* We got a book professionally printed and was one of those ones that you put together online and a company prints it and posts it to you.  It cost about $70 AUD and that included posting it from the States to Australia.