Plan a Memorable Milestone Birthday Celebration

Pink birthday cake
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All birthdays are special, but milestone birthdays often take the cake. Throughout childhood and into young adulthood, milestones are often marked when a person turns 1, 13, 16, 18, and 21. For adults, the milestones typically start at age 30 and recur each decade. (Of course, people can choose their own milestones to celebrate.) If you're in charge of planning a milestone birthday party for a friend or family member, try one of these popular approaches.

Take a Humorous Approach

In adulthood, the 30th birthday is commonly a major milestone. And on this birthday, many people often feel much older than they actually are. So if your birthday honoree is a good sport with a sense of humor, it can be funny to throw them an "over the hill" birthday party.

When you host an "over the hill" party, ask guests to bring small gag gifts that tease the honoree about how old they have become. Some gift examples include reading glasses and denture cream. To carry the theme over to the treats, serve soft foods, such as pudding, for your poor, toothless, geriatric friend.

A variation on the "over the hill" party is a mock funeral party. Request that guests come dressed in clothes of mourning, and ask some of them to prepare a eulogy for the honoree. You also can write a humorous obituary to share with guests. Play organ music during the party, and decorate with lilies. Keep the rest of the decor, such as balloons, in a black color scheme.

For an "over-the-hill" dessert, make a cake in the shape of a tombstone. This is easy to do by attaching a rectangular cake to half of a round cake with a diameter that matches the rectangle's width. Frost the cake in gray, black, or white, and don't forget to write R.I.P. somewhere on it.

One word of advice for this particular party: Make sure the honoree has not recently experienced any deaths of family members or friends. This party loses its humor if it hits too close to home.

Pick a Hobby or Interest

If your honoree wouldn't appreciate an "over the hill" party but you still want to do something fun, plan the party around one of their favorite hobbies or interests.

For example, if you're throwing a party for a person who loves gardening, make that the theme. Ask guests to bring their favorite seed packets or plant cuttings to share, aiming to get one packet or cutting for every year the honoree has been alive. And suggest that everyone dresses in gardening clothes with big straw hats. Also, create a cake with a floral theme. (You can even opt for edible flowers to add a touch of natural beauty.) And serve snacks in clay pots that are lined with foil.

Likewise, if your honoree is a sports fanatic, center the party on their favorite team. Ask guests to dress in attire with the team logo (or the team colors), and decorate with team paraphernalia. For some personalized fun, create a timeline of the team's key moments that occurred throughout the birthday honoree's life.

Celebrate the Best of Times

Another way to celebrate a milestone birthday is to make the honoree's life the theme. Create a pictorial timeline of the honoree's milestone moments as part of your decor. Ask friends and family to contribute photos and videos for a "this is your life" presentation. And allow guests time to toast with their fondest or funniest memories of the birthday honoree.

A twist on this approach is to create a historical theme for the milestone. Involve decor and activities from every decade the honoree has been alive. Or a similar option is to plan your historical theme around the decade of life the honoree is entering. For instance, if the birthday milestone is age 40, then host a 1940s big band-themed party. If you choose this decade format for your party, ask guests to dress in period clothing, and play music from that era. There also are many decor options, such as vintage movie posters.

Even if you don't want to have a full-blown theme for the birthday party, you still can subtly mark the milestone with the details. For instance, serve beverages, such as vintage wines, from the decade the birthday honoree was born. Or send guests home with a goodie bag of items equal to the honoree's age—e.g., 30 small pieces of candy for a 30th birthday party.

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