Idea No.


Red Hat Society Party -50yr- Poem Invite



December 2005


Peggy in Harrisburg, PA  USA

Runner Up

50th Fiftieth Party

RED HAT SOCIETY 50TH BIRTHDAY PARTY  For my sister, Holly's, 50th birthday, we planned a surprise Red Hat Society party.  (The Red Hat Society is a women's club based on the poem, "Warning" written by Jenny Joseph in 1961.  Women must be age 50 to join this club). 

The poem:  When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandles, and say we've no money for butter. I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along the public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth. I shall go out in my slippers in the rain And pick flowers in other people's gardens And learn to spit. You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat And eat three pounds of sausages at a go Or only bread and pickle for a week And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes. But now we must have clothes that keep us dry And pay our rent and not swear in the street And set a good example for the children. We must have friends to dinner and read the papers. But maybe I ought to practice a little now? So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.   That was to give you an idea of what it's all about! 

For the invitation:  I used a piece of 8 1/2 X 11 Red Hat scrapbook paper.  The border of the paper was purple with red hats.  The center of the page was white, but I printed the invitation using red ink, and a very nice font, with the following:  HOLLY (last name) is Turning 50! (picture of a lady in a red hat here downloaded from the Red Hat website) Please help us honor Holly at her surprise induction into the RED HAT SOCIETY. (listing of date, time and address) To add to the festivities, please wear a red hat and a purple shirt if you choose.  And remember- it's a SURPRISE!!  (a row of red hats here downloaded from the internet) Then I added the first 8 lines of the poem, so people who had never heard of it would get the idea.  The invitation envelopes were addressed in red ink.  We had one red hat sticker on the front of each envelope.  We also used Happy Birthday postage stamps to mail the invitations for a nice touch. 

The party was held at my home.  I had a banner printed (JustSigns - a local store did a great job).  The banner was printed with "Happy Birthday Holly" in purple and behind those words, was a giant number "50" in red.  On either side of the banner, we hung two red and one purple balloons.  The banner and balloons were hung between the two pillars on our front porch.   The dining room of our home was decorated with a small Christmas Tree (since the party was held in December).  We used red and purple icesickle ornaments and purple and red beads, and several Red Hat ornaments to decorate the tree that was on a small side table. These decorations were purchased after Christmas last year at a huge discount. 

The dining room buffet table held:  on the left side - a 1/2 sheet cake that was decorated with purple sparkling icing and topped with a brimmed red hat cake that had a purple hat band.  The cake said, Happy Birthday, Holly" and was made by a local baker.  On the right side of the buffet table was a framed print of the poem, "Warning" in its entirety.  On either side of the print were several velvet, feather-looking decorations that were red with purple rhinestones on each "leaf."  These were also purchased after Christmas last year at a huge discount. We also had small red cake plates and red forks (stuck in a wine glass for effect and to save space) on the buffet table.  We sprinkled the entire table with red hat confetti (  The dining room table was covered with a purple table cloth and sprinkled with the same confetti (this confetti was red hats and purple dresses - very cute).  The center of the table held a hat stand and a beautiful red hat with a purple satin band.  The hat stand was wrapped with a red feather boa and the boa was also draped down the center of the table on either side of the hat stand.  The table held red plates and red napkins.  We also placed red plastic utensils in wine glasses to save space on this table(and because it looks nice). 

We served a variety of finger foods (meatballs in sauce, vegetables and dip, baked brie and crackers, taquitoes, vegetable pizza, cheese and grapes, buffalo chicken dip, dried beef dip in a bread loaf, etc). A nice, small touch was mini round pretzel wheels topped with purple, chocolate candy wafers and then topped with a red M&M.  We had a small bowl of these on the dining room table and also on the coffee table in the family room along with mixed nuts.  These pretzel candies are cute and simple to make, but are always a bit hit and can be coordinated with any color scheme! We also had a variety of beverages at the bar in the family room.  In our hallway (which is very wide) was a red poster board covered with a collage of about 75 pictures of Holly from the time of her birth to very recently.  The poster was titled "Celebrating 50 years of Holly".  This title was crafted by using large purple scrapbook letters.  We had the poster on an easel. 

On the coffee table in the family room we had a Red Hat scrapbook (it was an 8X8 book with a red cover decorated with a beautiful red hat and trimmed with purple - purchased at AC Moore craftstore - where they have a nice stock of Red Hat supplies).  We had removed the blank pages and had the pages next to the scrapbook.  We put red and purple markers/scrapbook pens in a wine glass and had the glass next to the pages so everyone could write a personal message to Holly.  Before the party, I had decorated every other page in the scrapbook using Red Hat stickers and Red Hat paper that I had also purchased from AC Moore.  I'll use the photos that were taken at the party and add them to the scrapbook to complete it!  The center of the coffee table held a Red Hat made of glass that was also a photo holder (it had three prongs that hold photos).  The center prong held a laminated copy of the party invitation.  The other two prongs held photos of Holly. 

On that table we also had a trivia game "How Well Do You Know Holly?"  The game was printed in red and purple ink (with some pictures of red hats to decorate the pages).  It was 20 questions about the Birthday Girl (what is Holly's favorite color, what is Holly's favorite flavor of ice cream, etc.).  We had a dozen red and a dozen purple pencils personalized with "Happy Birthday Holly" for everyone to use for the trivia game.  The pencils were also placed in a wine glass on the table.  The winner of the Trivia game won a bottle of champagne.  Other entertainment included a caricature artist (found by searching the internet).  Every guest got to take home their own caricature.  Some couples had their pictures done together. This was a huge hit since it was something both the adults and the younger set could participate in and the artist did an excellent job! 

We also had a champagne toast and presented Holly with her Official Membership to the Red Hat Society (which I had ordered several weeks earlier) and a Red Hat Society Official Membership Pin.  When Holly walked in and got over her initial shock of the surprise, we told her to change into her purple sweater (that we had purchased and had waiting upstairs for her) and gave her a beautiful red hat to wear for the party.  We also had a dozen red straw hats complete with purple ribbons (Oriental Trading) available for anyone who did not bring one to wear. We also used these throughout the house to decorate (we had one on the post of the stairs, one on the bar, one on the end of the sofa, etc). It was a fun party to plan!

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