Pilot Party -90yr- Boarding Pass Invitation
J in Clovis, CA, US
I had no idea that planning a birthday celebration for someone over 90 was more difficult than planning for my children’s parties. Last month, my granduncle turned 90 and I planned on giving him a special celebration. He lives in a nursing home, therefore making my choices and options limited to what the home allows. And we had to be very careful with the food we were going to serve.
INVITATIONS: He worked for an airline most of his life, therefore, I decided that this would be the central theme. I made the invitation envelope like an airline ticket jacket. On the jacket, it read ‘Welcome Aboard Flight 90’ since he was 90 years old. Then, The main invitation, which was inserted in the flap was like a ticket with the important details of the party. A ‘Boarding Pass’ was also included. The pass was specially made for each person, which contained what kind of food he/she can have. Some residents had special food instructions like no extra cake, etc. That way, with the Pass, the ones distributing food would know what to give whom.
PARTY: My uncle did not know that we planned something for him. The nurse made sure that he was in his room when we arrived. We decorated the Dining Hall with balloons. We used paper planes as streamers. A specially made banner which read ‘Jose’s Flight 90 Enjoy the Flight’ was placed behind the chair where he was going to sit. We had a special pin made which said ‘Head Pilot’. This was going to be pinned on his shirt. There was a matching pilot’s hat to go with it. We were serving juice, cake made with 0 calories, and low fat ice cream. Each of us was dressed in white with a steward/des cap on. His birthday cake was shaped like plane with him as the pilot. The candles outlined the plane.
All the other residents gathered in the hall waiting for him. We made them sign in the poster that was his birthday greeting. We made sure that the Boarding Pass was visible for easy serving. We packed the food in disposable containers that looked like the ones use for airline meals. When all was ready, the nurse got him from his room. Everyone said ‘Welcome Aboard!’ when he came in. The pin was placed on his shirt and he wore the cap. Everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday!’
We asked them, ‘Are we ready to take off?’ When they said they were, we used some crackers as a sign that the party has started. This was possible because the nurse gave us clearance that we could pop some of these. He blew his candles and made his wish. The residents were hungry so we served them food. The pass really helped since it made things faster. We told them that we needed their attention for a short demonstration ‘for your safety’ for an enjoyable flight. But unlike ordinary flights where everyone watched the same thing, our demonstration will be done for each table. A stewardess will go around while the others were waiting for the food to be served. She will make balloon sculptures. They can tell them what they wanted. The choices were: a flower, dog, lion, giraffe and a sword.
GAMES:After eating, we cleared everything and got ready for 2 games. The party guests usually get sleepy very easily. First game was ‘Jose’s Roundtrip Facts’ or in simpler terms, Trivial Pursuit. We asked questions about my uncle and for every answer, we gave them fat free candy bar of their choice. The one who has the most correct answers won a special prize packed in a paper bag that looked like the disposable bags in the airplanes.
The next game was ‘On Board Bingo’. They had a great time since this was one of the favorite games of the residents. The objective was to form a straight ‘Bingo’ line in any direction. For every ‘bingo’ we gave the winner a pouch of toiletries again packed in paper bags similar to disposable airline bags. These bags had the label ‘Jose’s Flight 90’.
After the Bingo game, the residents were tired. So, we decided it was time to give them their loot bags. These were drawstring pouches that resembled the pouches distributed to the First Class passengers. Inside were more sugar-free cookies and candies. Inside the bag was a wall hanging for their room, which said ‘I love you’ with a child and an old person. An added treat was a toy airplane made from soft foam, which I got from Oriental Trading. In the pilot’s window, I pasted my uncle’s picture. The tag said: Thanks for flying with us.
POST PARTY:The residents went back to their rooms. We gave my uncle our special gift for him. We called it ‘Flight Itinerary A’: It was a compilation of letters from other relatives made in a scrapbook. On the cover was an airplane with him in the pilot’s seat. There were news clippings of articles that he would be interested in. We found a poem that he made before and we printed that using big, bold letters so that he can paste it on the wall. We knew that he needed to rest. So we escorted him back to the room. We were all tired but we knew it was well worth the effort. After we get all the pictures, we shall make another album; which will be called ‘Flight Itinerary B’. This will then be another surprise for him.