Party Planning Ideas

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Milestone Birthday Party Ideas

milestone birthday partyFor some people, the perfect milestone birthday party (16, 21, any birthday ending in "0" or "5," etc.), is a small, elegant dinner with close family and maybe a few friends. If you are planning a party for a person who prefers this, please check out the Buffet Luncheon or Nice Dinner In or Out ideas on the Theme Party page.

If you are throwing a big party, consider a theme. Age-related nostalgic themes that can apply to any milestone birthday party include:

  • The Year You Were Born (have stuff related to that year there)
  • This Is Your Life
  • Memory Lane (Driving Down, Walking Down, etc.)
  • Timeline (include historic events as well as the birthday person's life events)
  • Remember When... (ask guests to say them and write them down for a scrapbook gift)
  • Now and Then (have pictures of guest of honor and guests as kids and now)
  • A decade theme, maybe the decade the birthday person was a teenager: 1940s (WWII, Betty Grable, Frank Sinatra, the Jitterbug), 1950s (Sock-Hop, Elvis and Marilyn), 1960s (the Beatles, the Doors, mini-skirts), 1970s (smiley face, Woodstock, Led Zeppelin), 1980s (check out my page on this), etc.

For the more tongue-in-cheek milestone birthday party ideas:

  • Over the Hill (even though it's over done)
  • Retirement (of the decade or 5 years before)
  • Mock funeral (to bury the decade or 5 years before this birthday)
  • Happy New Decade (also to say goodbye to the previous decade, for birthdays ending in "0")

And of course, you can choose a milestone birthday party theme that is a hobby or passion of the birthday person like golfing, fishing, cats, etc. or any of many, many great party themes, a few of which are listed on the Party Theme Idea Guide page. (More will be added, so bookmark that page!)

Whether you choose a theme or not, here are some general ideas for the different aspects of your milestone birthday party.


It really depends on the number of guests. If it's a really large party, renting a hall or party room would be best. A large basement or back yard (during the right time of year) would be great too.


If you're going with a theme, the milestone birthday party invitations should match that theme. If not, it would be nice to point out the significance of the birthday on the invitation (e.g., 50th Birthday Party, etc.). Whether you go with an elegant or silly style depends on the birthday person and the kind of party you want to have. Choose a party motto, such as "You're not getting older, you're getting better!" or "Life Begins at 40" or "30 Years Ago, A Star Was Born!" Be sure to note if it's a surprise party!

Other options are to get tropical looking blank invitations or paper and print them on your computer, or to buy fill-in-the-blank invitations. There are all kinds of choices at and


You may or may not want costumes, depending on the theme of the party. If you are having a nice dinner party or small get together, costumes would really just be nice attire. But if it's a theme party, costumes are a nice touch. Get ideas for costumes on the Costume Ideas page or on any of the theme party pages.


Favors should match the milestone birthday party theme (as should everything else about your party), but for general parties without a distinguishable theme, nice party favors include chocolates, music CDs, lottery tickets, votive candles and bath and body products (generally just for the ladies), ornaments, coffee/travel mugs, etc. Just be sure to package whatever it is up in a favor box or bag, or with a nice envelope and bow.


Yet again, decorations depend on the theme, but some general milestone birthday party decorating ideas are:

  • Be sure to put a BIG sign in the yard or at the nearest street corner, with balloons. Also, put balloons on your mailbox or front door.
  • Metallic colors (silver/gold) are elegant, bright colors are jazzy, pastels or muted shades are calming
  • Get 2-3 dozen helium-filled balloons with long ribbons, and scatter them around the party room (only if the ceiling isn't too high). The balloons on the ceiling and long ribbons hanging down all around, give a water-like illusion and look really neat!
  • Have at least one Mylar balloon announcing the guest of honor's new age.
  • Have a large picture of the guest of honor on an easel - or a baby picture by a recent picture. Have pictures of him or her at different stages of life displayed around the room.
  • Make sure to have a banner or large sign stating the purpose of the party
  • Get tableware that has the birthday number on it (e.g., "50th Birthday!") or use metallic colors - make sure the forks, knives, spoons and cups match.
  • Have candles as centerpieces for the tables, or use pre-made party centerpieces with metallic colors, shaped like stars, or announce the birthday.
  • Sprinkle confetti on the tables.

Get more milestone birthday party decoration ideas at ShindigZ.


This depends on what time of day the party is. For a small, sit-down dinner, you'd have a full served meal. For a large party at any meal-time, a buffet is the easiest way to go. You could have different "stations:"

  • one with drinks - coffee, tea, soda, punch, alcohol (if you're serving it)
  • one with appetizers/salad
  • one with hot foods or sandwich fixings
  • one with dessert items

You could serve the guest of honor's favorite foods. You could ask everyone to bring a dish. You could have ethic themed food: Italian/pasta, Chinese, Mexican, etc.

Many easy party food and snack ideas are on the Party Planning Food Page, such as chips, finger sandwiches, fruit and veggie platters, wraps, etc.


Be sure to offer iced tea, hot tea, coffee, soda, and juices. Alcohol is optional; having beer and wine to offer is nice for many people.


Of course, the cake's size depends on how many guests you'll have. How the cake is shaped and decorated can be according to your milestone birthday party theme, and if you didn't pick one, some ideas for nice cakes are:

  • A heart shaped cake
  • Cake in the shape of the birthday age - this one is neat because you can make two different flavors with each number (for 50th, a "5" and and "0").
  • Cake with a picture of the guest of honor.
  • Unique shapes like a top hat, teapot, tie or sunflower

More ideas can be found on the Cake Decorating Idea page.


If you have a milestone birthday party theme, get game ideas from that theme. For example, This Is Your Life and Remember When. For a milestone birthday, these ideas are always popular:

  • Roast the guest of honor.
  • Have the guest of honor read a book that gives advice about getting older, or have guests take turns reading.
  • How Well Do You Know Him/Her? (Guess facts about the guest of honor like favorite color, vacation spot, middle name, etc.)

Get more great ideas on the Party Game Idea page.


Depending on what the guest of honor would prefer and what kind of party it is, you may want to hire a band, DJ, small classical quartet, strings, a man walking around with a guitar, etc. If you want to provide background music with CDs, be sure to play music that fits the theme of the party or the guest of honor's favorite tunes. Check out the resources here for places to get CDs - there are even ways to make custom CDs with only the tunes you want.

Hopefully, these tips and resources will help you throw the best milestone birthday party ever!

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