Idea No.


Surprise Party -70yr- Presentation of Memories



March 2007


Peggy in Harrisburg, PA  USA

Runner Up

Surprise Party

For our Mom's 70th, we wanted to have a lovely party and we planned everything with her in mind, and what we thought she would like.  She loves springtime and pastel colors, so we went with that theme for the party.  

The invitations were 8½ X 11 scrapbook pages that looked as if they had been painted with the palest of pale, light green paint in the center.  The paint looked aged and cracked  it was very cool.  Around the border were ferns, butterflies and spring-like flowers.  We bought the pages at Michael's craft store for 20 cents each, and just printed on the individual sheets rather than preparing one and copying it.  The invitation read, 1937 was a very good year, 2007 Marie's birthday is here and then had all the party details including date, location and time.  We added a note on the bottom for everyone to either think of a special memory to share that evening, or write a memory and give it to us so we could share it during the party.  We mailed the invitations in pastel-colored envelopes and placed butterfly stickers on the envelopes. About 60 people attended the party which was held in a small, local reception hall. 

As guests arrived, we had them write their name and address on an envelope and placed the envelopes in a large pastel blue bucket decorated with butterfly stickers.  These envelopes went with the thank you cards we had already purchased for Mom to use to send to all her guests (we asked guests to fill out only one card per household).  As they took their seats, we provided each guest with a champagne glass.  The adults had a crystal glass, and the youngsters had plastic glasses.  That way, as we were pouring the champagne, we knew who was sitting where, and those under the legal drinking age were given sparkling cider.  To get Mom to the reception hall, my sister created and printed fake tickets to a ham dinner sponsored by the high school, girls softball team (Mom's great-granddaughter is a member of the team).  We told Mom we'd meet her after the dinner for cake and ice cream to celebrate her birthday.  She was very surprised when she walked into the door of the reception hall and saw her friends and family gathered to celebrate her birthday!   The tables in the reception hall were covered in white linen tablecloths.  The table centerpieces were small (about 8 inches) pastel-colored sprinkling cans (light blue, yellow, pink, lilac, and mint green) filled with a variety of pastel spring flowers.  We also added butterflies to the flowers and on a few, we hot glued the butterfly to the spout of the can.  They were adorable! 

We also sprinkled butterfly-shaped, pastel-colored confetti on the tables, and used cute pastel-colored ramekins (bowls) for nuts.  These were placed on either side of the centerpieces so people could munch while they waited on the guest of honor to arrive.  We also had small plates of meringue (Meringos) cookies on small clear plates on each tables.  These cookies come in a variety of colors, and we used pastel blue, pink, and yellow.  At each place setting, we placed on the table, one program (more about those later), and one favor.  Favors were an issue.  Since many of Mom's friends don't drink, bottles of wine were out of the question.  After much deliberation, we went with small tulle circles filled with pastel Kissables (plentiful right now with Easter right around the corner).  We tied each bundle with different pastel, satin ribbon.  We also printed a tiny picture of my mom (a Glamour Shot that she had done a few years ago).  Beneath the picture, we printed the words Happy 70th Marie.  We laminated these tiny, little pictures, and hole punched them and tied them with the ribbons to the Kissable-filled tulle circles.  For additional decoration, we had 70 pastel-colored balloons placed in clusters around the room (there were also two Mylar balloons with butterfly designs on them).  We had balloons on each of the three windowsills; along the one side of the room (the strings were extra long, so it allowed us to do that); on the cake table; on the beverage table; and between the posters  you'll hear about those later on).  Some of the balloon clusters were placed in tall, tapered buckets.  These buckets were all pastel colors also. 

We had a small table in the back of the room for gifts.  That table was covered with a white cloth.  On that table, we also placed a pastel pink gift bag for any cards that people brought.  We used some small butterfly stickers to decorate the bag, and attached a butterfly gift tag on which we had simply written, CARDS.  (we didn't want any cards to be misplaced).  The buffet table was in the kitchen area of the reception hall.  It was a very long center island separated from the kitchen work area.  At the beginning of the buffet table we had the plates, napkins and utensils.  Because we served cold cuts and finger foods, we used paper plates.  The plates were octagonal shaped and had a beautiful butterfly design that matched the invitations exactly (it was the same design).  The butterfly plates and invitations had lilac accents in the design, so we used plastic, lilac utensils.  The utensils were placed in miniature pink buckets and we had one for knives, forks and spoons.  We also had lilac napkins that were imprinted with Happy 70th Birthday, Marie and March 10, 2007.  The napkins also had a picture of a butterfly.  We served sandwich meats and cheeses, rolls, potato salad, macaroni salad, pickles, olives, chips, pretzels, and meatballs.  There was also a beverage table which offered coffee, punch, and water. 

There was a separate table for the cakes (which were in the center of the room).  A co-worker who does an excellent job made the cakes!  She made two cakes.  The first cake was a sprinkling can.  It looked exactly like a real sprinkling can covered in silver (gray) fondant and filled with pastel spring flowers.  She even placed a butterfly in the flowers to match the table centerpieces.  She placed that cake on the right side of a large cake board.  On the same board, she placed a pale yellow, ceramic flowerpot lying on its side.  She filled the bottom of the flowerpot with crushed, chocolate, graham cracker crumbs to resemble dirt.  In the dirt she had seven chocolate flowers.  They were pink and it looked as if they had spilled from the flowerpot.  In the center of the cake board, she placed a ½ sheet cake between the flowerpot and the sprinkling can.  She decorated that cake with crushed chocolate graham crackers so that it looked as if the cake had also spilled from the pot and onto the board. To serve the cake, we used lilac plates and had napkins with the same butterfly print as the large dinner plates.  We also used the small pastel pink buckets for the forks on the cake table.  We used one cluster of balloons on the cake table as well. 

In addition to the other food and the cake, we had a chocolate fountain.  Next to the fountain, we served butter flavored pretzel rods, oatmeal macaroon cookies, strawberry filled cookies, vanilla tube cookies, peanut butter cookies, and marshmallows.  In addition, and on the same table as the chocolate fountain, we had a large fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements (they are nationwide, and do a beautiful job).  It was a huge fruit bouquet with pineapple slices shaped like flowers with cantaloupe centers, cantaloupe and honeydew shaped like leaves, and grapes and strawberries on skewers.  It looked like a large floral bouquet, but it was fruit!  

Since we didn't want dancing and a DJ (let's face it, Mom couldn't dance if she wanted to), we provided a short program for entertainment.  The Programs at each place setting were our own design, but we had them professionally printed.  The front cover of the program had a great picture of Mom at her sewing machine (she's been a seamstress her entire life).  It said, Celebrating 70 years of Marie, and March 10, 2007.  The inside left cover had a picture of our mom from 1968, wearing a dress she made for our town's Centennial celebration.  The photo was taken at a Baking Contest that was held during the Centennial, and Mom is holding a cake that she baked.  She won Second Place in the contest for that cake recipe.  We typed a little story about that, and then added the cake recipe and a note saying that we would be giving away two of the cakes as door prizes (we had these baked and wrapped them in clear cellophane tied with pastel ribbons and a butterfly tag on each one for the winners).  The inside, right side of the program outlined the actual program for the evening. 

We (the children,  there are three of us, my sister, brother and me - and our spouses) each had a nice reading (my sister wrote a little story, my brother read a poem that reminded him of our childhood, and I wrote a poem about growing up with Mom).  My husband presented Mom with a letter from our Governor (you may request these from most state Governor's and they are free of charge and very personal).  Three of the older grandkids also had readings or poems to read.  My son read a poem he had written, my daughter forgot her poem at home, so she just improvised and told a few stories about her Gramma and wished her a happy birthday.  My niece is very shy, so she asked my sister to read a few stories she had written down about growing up and things she remembered best about Grandma.  Then the oldest great-grandchildren presented Mom with a corsage made of six small, pink roses.  They also presented her with a beautiful silk flower arrangement made in a real sprinkling can.  Two of the youngest great-grandchildren (they are both three years old) sang Happy Birthday.  Then we opened the floor to the guests to tell their stories.  Some were funny and some were heart-felt.  It was so nice to hear them speak of their memories with Mom. 

At that point in the program, after all the stories and poems, my brother proposed a wonderful toast to Mom that ended with - It's not the years in the life it's the life in the years.  Here's to a good friend, a great neighbor and the best Mom! We all toasted Mom and then it was time for the door prize drawing to give away the two cakes.  We brought the bucket forward and had Mom pull two envelopes from the bucket.  We just told the winners to take their cakes when they left that evening.  At that time, we made an announcement about the clusters of balloons that were placed around the room.  We said that after dinner and some socializing, we would gather the great-grandchildren together (the oldest is 17), and we would give each of them one cluster of balloons to release.  Attached to each cluster was a note that was laminated.  The note read:  Our Great-Gram is turning 70 - And we have 70 balloons!  To release so they go far away- (maybe to the moon).  So today we will release them.  And if, just one, you find - Please send a note to this address - (we hope that you don't mind).  We had the date,  our mom's name, but OUR address (too many crazy people out there preying on our senior citizens, so we didn't want to put our mom's name and address to advertise where a 70 year old woman is living).  At the end of the evening, we cut the strings shorter, moved the note to the top of the balloons, and had the great-grandchildren release them outside.  It was awesome as they all rose up into the night sky.  We figured that Mom would get a kick out of it if she receives any replies from the balloon release weeks or even months down the road. 

The last agenda item on the program was a special gift presentation from my brother in law.  Bob is a Harley rider, and he presented Mom with a sleep shirt that looked like a Biker Babe in a bikini.  Mom was a good sport about it, and everyone had a good laugh.  The program was really short, but so special, and just right for this type of party.  We then told everyone to help themselves to the food and beverage.  Later we cut the cake (which no one could believe was an actual cake).  For additional fun, we made eight 12X12 scrapbook pages -  one page for each decade of Mom's life.  We used a different pastel color for each page (pink, yellow, light green, light blue, and lilac  using some twice).  The 1930's page had a few pictures of Mom when she was ages 1-10 and we used different stickers in pastel colors to decorate the pages (just as you would do for scrap booking).  Each page was titled with the appropriate decade somewhere on the page.  We did the same thing for 1940, 1950, etc. using pictures of Mom and various friends and family members from that particular decade.  Also on the pages were lists of things that had happened in that decade (i.e., the sinking of the titanic, WWII begins, Nixon resigns, World Trade Center attacks, etc.) 

On the bottom of each list, we added items that related to Mom's personal life (i.e., Marie was born, Marie graduated from high school, Marie gave birth to Holly, Jack and Peggy, Marie moved with her family to, etc.).  Using one large, poster paper (in pink) lengthwise, we placed a copy of an 8X10 picture of all of us.  The picture included Mom, her three children and our spouses.  We had the picture professionally done just last year.  We surrounded that picture with a single picture of every stepchild, grandchild, step-grandchild, great-grandchild and step-great-grandchild THE POSTER WAS FULL!!!  We had each 12 X 12 page and the large poster laminated at Kinko's.  We used two large, white display boards (that you would use for a science project, etc.) to display the decade pages and the poster.  To fill in the spaces on the boards, we used a few nice poems (printed on pastel pages and laminated), and we also used about nine silk butterflies that were left from making the sprinkling can centerpieces.  We used hot glue to attach these to the boards.  We placed a cluster of balloons between the two boards.  Guests had a great time looking at the boards, reading the history events that Mom has lived through, seeing the pictures of Mom as a young girl, and searching for pictures of themselves.  During the time the guests arrived and Mom arrived, we had big band music playing (Mom's favorite).  We played it again during dinner and following dinner while everyone socialized.  This is a party my mom will never forget and neither will we!  A great time was had by all!

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