Idea No.


80th Lou-Wow Party - Memorabilia Table



July 2006


Becky in Jackson, TN USA

Special Mention

80th Eightieth Party

80th Birthday Lou-Wow  For my Mother's 80th birthday tribute my brothers and I and our spouses planned a Luau.  Mom knew she was having a party, but we kept the theme a secret.  Since her name is Lou, and she is such an active, amazing lady, we decided to call it a Tropical Birthday Lou-Wow. 

I printed invitations on white card stock with a border of tropical greenery, flowers and palms and used a bamboo font.  It said Please join Lou's children in wishing her Hau Oli La Hanua.  Guests were urged to come in island dress.

The party was held at the Family Life Center (gym without bleachers) of her church on Saturday afternoon, July 15, which is her actual birthday. Since we live in the South, and July is extremely hot, we chose to have the Lou-Wow inside.  Expecting 100 guests, we decided ½ the space of the gym would be just the right size.  To separate the party area from the rest of the gym, we used 4 x 8 pegboard dividers mounted on wheels that the church had on hand.  We lined up 5 in a row and covered them with a Scene Setter called Coral Reef, a beautiful underwater scene.

The stage area which we used for the tribute to Mom was a 6 x 8 space covered with a mat of artificial turf.  For a background we arranged every silk palm and large tropical artificial plants that we had in our homes or borrowed from friends.  On both sides we placed 3 tiki torches wrapped with silk leis, securing them in a base made of PVC pipe and camouflaged with more greenery.  To the left of the stage area, we had a screen on which we showed a PowerPoint slide show of 75 tropical scenes which I had searched out and downloaded from the internet.  The slideshow ran continuously from the beginning of the party until time for our program, as a CD of Hawaiian steel guitar music played.

The wall opposite the coral reef wall had double doors right in the middle.  Since a single door at the end of the wall is the one everyone uses as an entry, we decided to conceal the double doors with decorations.  In front of the door we hung 2 tension rods with greenery garlands hanging down to form a curtain.  On the walls on both sides of the door, we hung  3 x 6 reed beach mats on which my artist sister-in law had painted beach scenes with palm trees in the foreground.  On that same wall on each end, we set up two 8 tables, covered them with reed beach mats, and skirted them with grass skirting, rimmed with silk flowers.  Using large blue cardboard project boards on the tables, I displayed eight 8 x10 photo portraits of Mom through the years, mounted on multicolored card stock.  I also enlarged some funny photos to 5 x 7 and included them. 

On the table we displayed memorabilia from her childhood and high school days.  On the table at the other end, I displayed enlarged copies of post cards showing Memphis (her home town and where she lives now) points of interest in the 1930's and 1940's.  On the table were items from the old days like 78 rpm records, shaped note hymnal, woman's hat and gloves, and crocheted doilies.  At the end opposite the staging area, we set up a table top Tiki Hut where one of the great-granddaughters served punch.  These can be bought commercially, but we decided to make our own, using bamboo from the hobby store, beach mats, and Grass skirting for the thatched roof. 

An Aloha Banner hung on the front, and we decorated the hut further with silk flowers, coconut monkey, table torch, and life sized feathered parrot.  On the bare spaces of the walls we hung colored fishnets, with fish cutouts and real shells. We also placed around the room 4 palm trees made of carpet rolls covered in burlap, with palm fronds at the top.  The luau table itself sat in the center of our space.  We pushed together two 3 x 8 tables to make a 6 x 8, covered it with a white tablecloth and skirted it with grass skirting.  We then loosely bunched up another tablecloth, upon which we nestled pineapples, bunches of bananas, coconuts, and silk hibiscus blossoms. The centerpiece was made using a 15 flower pot set in a woven basket filled with sand.  We cut a piece of 3 diameter bamboo into a 3 piece and a 4 piece, and inserted artificial palm bushes into the tops to resemble palm trees.  We stuck these into the sand, and used tropical greenery and hibiscus around the base of the trees. 

For our guests we used 10 round tables which seat 8 each.  Tables were covered with plastic tablecloths in solid colors of red, yellow, lime green, and orange.  We made 2 different kinds of centerpieces.  Five were miniature versions of the main centerpiece, about 18 high.  These sat on reed placemats with shells and loose silk flower petals scattered around.  The other 5 were silk tropical flower arrangements with anthuriums, bird of paradise, calla lilies, hisbiscus, and other tropical flowers in shades of red, yellow, orange, and of course green.  These sat on placemats made of bamboo, with the loose flower petals.    We also included party favors on the tables for everyone to take home.  They were laminated bookmarks with Aloha and the date and occasion of the party.  They were printed with a picture of a shapely hula girl.  A close look revealed the face on the hula girl was a cut and pasted photo of Mom!  At the outside of the entrance we had a 10 high palm tree which swayed in the breeze.  This was made of 1 and ½ foam swim noodles taped together and wrapped with strips of brown burlap.  It was topped with palm fronds poked into the foam and slid down on a pvc pipe stuck deep into the ground.  We also had artificial pots of greenery, a large decorated tiki torch, and colorful silk whirligigs stuck into the lawn. 

At the entrance to our Lou-Wow we had stationed 3 great-granddaughters, ages 7, 9, and 10, dressed in hula skirts and silk leis.  Their job was to greet each guest with Aloha and give them a lei to wear.  At a round table just inside the entrance was the oldest great-granddaughter age 17, who oversaw the guest book and filled out Aloha floral nametags for each guest.  A hula girl pinata beside a bamboo palm tree sat on the table to greet the guests as well.  Mom was escorted to the party by her 80 year old boyfriend, with whom she graduated from High School.  They arrived shortly after the guests and entered the room to a round of applause.  A real flower lei was placed around her neck and perfectly complemented her aqua blue pantsuit.  

We made all the food for the Lou-Wow ourselves.  Our menu was an assortment of finger foods, including teriyaki chicken, molded salmon loaf, pineapple cheese ball, assorted crackers, mini sandwiches of date nut bread and pineapple cream cheese, macadamia nut cookies, coconut date balls, and of course an assortment of fresh fruit including pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, kiwi, strawberries with fruit dip.  Serving dishes were large melamine aqua blue trays, and assorted baskets lined with tropical print fabric.  We made 6 picks for the fruit from bamboo skewers with a silk blossom glued to the top of each.  The punch was a blend of banana, orange, and pineapple juices with Sprite. 

The four great-grandsons were enlisted to remove the used dinnerware and cups from the tables using bamboo trays.  Our program, which was a tribute to Mom's life began with my brother's interpretation of the WOW in Lou-Wow (Woman of Wisdom, Woman of Wealth, Wacky old Woman and MOM - which is WOW upside down.)  Following that was an original poem by a granddaughter, a hula dance by the 3 youngest great-granddaughters, a hilarious look at her life in the church by her pastor, and a PowerPoint presentation of her life in photos.  Following the program we presented Mom her gift, a framed 11 x 16 mosaic of herself, made up of over 2000 tiny pictures of her family.  After everyone sang Happy Birthday, we cut and served the birthday cake which was decorated with hula girls, tiny palms and gold sprinkles for sand.  The party lasted about 2 ½ hours, and everyone loved the party, especially my Mom.  For several days after, people called her and wrote her letters thanking her for inviting them.

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