Top 5 Tips for Planning a Milestone Birthday Party

This past week has been a big one in our family. The Accountant turned 40 last week. So on Saturday night we partied.

I’m no party planner, but organising parties for those who I love is one thing that gives me pleasure, and I’m fairly certain that my guest of honour and the guests enjoy event as well. I thought I would tell you a little about the party while giving my top 5 hints on how to host  successful milestone birthday party for your loved one.

The Accountant and myself!


1. Establish and Work On the Recipients Likes.
Sit down and brainstorm some ides of what your recipient would enjoy doing and what their likes are. This process can lead to choosing your theme and even location. Be creative and don’t necessarily restrict yourselves to just the party. Often people are open to make an event into a weekend (or longer!). Some of the close friends or family might be happy to do activities that the birthday boy/girl enjoys before or fter the party. This is a way to celebrate and do some fun things but not have to pay for it.

The Accountant was adamant he didn’t want to celebrate his birthday in our home town and indicated he would prefer a beach option instead. We tossed up many ideas of how to make this work, from renting a house and hosting a party there, (not possible because most have no party clauses), to an informal BBQ on the beach, but we finally settled on having the party in a function room at a golf club ten minutes from the beach.

One happy 40 year old at the beach!


2. Know Your Budget
It is an unfortunate fact that parties cost money. Work out how much money you are willing to spend on a party. This information can effect the guest list size, but doesn’t necessarily have to. If you want a large number of people, but only have a small budget, you can be creative and find some cheap and cheerful ways to deliver. Another option is to ask guests to not bring presents but rather pay for their own meal.

We had decided that we wanted to pay for our guests, especially since we were basically asking everyone to travel to it. You may be surprised that generally The Accountant is prudent with his money and expects me to be the same, but we don’t set detailed budgets. So for us, it was a case of finding what the prices were for various options and deciding what ballpark figure we were prepared pay. We had already decided on the guest list, so we knew that it was going to be a fairly small affair with his closest friends and family but with lots of kids. That allowed us to accept a per head figure that we may have first thought was unattainable.

The function room at Peregian Springs Golf Club was an ideal venue.



3. Choose Location and Food Wisely
Seriously, if you get this right, most other things will fall into place and your guests and guest of honour ought to have a blast! Make sure you are serving food the guest of honour enjoys! Sometimes a favoured food can determine the whole location and theme of the party. (eg. Mexican, seafood, high tea)

If you are catering yourself, make sure you factor in the time you will be able to commit to when planning your menu. You need to be careful to not overcommit yourself, so should always plan on the safe side. You can always add in extra later if you sore running ahead of schedule.

The location should reflect something about the guest of honour and be somewhere enjoyable for him or her.

We choose a BBQ menu for The Accountant’s 40th. This made the price range affordable and yet the food was of really good quality due to the location and venue we had chosen. The location turned out to be ideal, not only was it close to the beach, (big check!) but The Accountant also loves playing golf, so he actually played a game with his Dad, my Dad and a mate before the party. (Although they were a little disgruntled they missed out on the last few holes because the party had started!)

BBQ buffet waiting to begin


4. Create Special Moments
It is nice to arrange a surprise during the party if possible. A surprise guest, a video, presentation or activity are some examples of what can work. The surprise can make you guest of honour laugh or given the opportunity to pause and reflect.

My contribution on the night was a slideshow that I showed while making a brief speech. I also opened the floor and a few others also said some kind things about my awesome hubby. He has since told me that this was his favourite part of the evening. I know snoot of people don’t like giving speeches, but a few well chosen words and a humorous story can really be very touching.

Interviewing my son during the slideshow.


5. Pace Yourself
Start planning early! Don’t get overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks that need completing, tackle one job at a time. Prioritize and ignore the other jobs until you have the time. (Or until you can avoid them no longer!)Know your limitations and accommodate them into your action plan.

We actually started talking about what we were going to do and who the guest list was over a year before the event. Having a general direction was very helpful then when beginning research. Because I wasn’t familiar with what was familiar in the area, a lot of Googling was necessary as well as a reconnaissance mission! We did have plenty of time then to book the venue and then forget about it for awhile.

I had to keep realising that having the five kids, particularly the two year old triplets, and being out of town meant that it was wiser for me to outsource some things that I really would have loved to do myself, such as designing the invites and other co-ordination stationary such as placecards and a birthday banner as well as getting a local to make the cake. As always, it doesn’t seem to matter how early I start planning, I still end up with lots of late nights and last minute things to do. I highly recommend avoiding this, but cannot give advice on how to be that organised!


The co-ordina

ting stationary looked great! I made the giant freckles two nights before the big day. Nice and easy!


Have you ever planned a milestone birthday such as a 21st, 30th, 40th … 100th etc? What advice can you add?

Linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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9 Comments

  1. These are all such great tips. My son’s turning ten this year (I know that’s not really a milestone birthday!) so I will bear these in mind as I’m preparing for his special day. I really like the idea of adding an element of surprise to the celebration 🙂

  2. Opening the floor during speeches – nice touch. My mum asked me to speak at her 50th and I actually contacted all the attendees and asked them to prepare just one sentence to describe her. So at the end of my speech we went around the room. It was wonderful.

  3. I love hearing how other people plan their parties, seem that there are some things which are universally the same. I think budget is so important – maybe even the most important – for it can really change the direction of many decisions you need to make when it comes to party planning. Sounds like it was a wonderful event xx Josefa #teamIBOT

  4. Sounds like a great night Caitlin.
    We did a big thing for Boatman’s 30th a few years ago and that was a lot of fun, but basically that’s it. We haven’t really thrown many big parties.

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