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An 80th birthday is a momentous event in anyone’s life, so you’ll want to take extra care when planning a party that is sure to be enjoyed and remembered by the guests and the birthday celebrant.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning an 80th birthday party:
Start Planning Early
Many times the entire family and friends from far away want to attend an 80th birthday party. Even if you’re planning a low-key event, you’ll want to pick the day for the party well in advance so that any out-of-town guests can book flights and make reservations without getting dinged with last minute fees.
You can send out save-the-date announcements if you’d like, or you can informally pass the word via email or phone. Just be sure to let everyone know as soon as you can so no one is left out or misses the big day!
Set a Budget
How much are you willing to spend? If you’re coordinating with someone else, will you share costs equally?
There are so many amazing party ideas that it’s easy to get carried away and go over budget. It’s a good idea to keep an extra $50 or $100 in reserve for those “just can’t do without” items that you’re sure to run across.
The price of the party can vary from practically nothing if you’re planning a potluck or to do everything yourself. It can run into the thousands if you’re having an extravagant dinner or dance party.
When budgeting, consider the cost of:
- Venue Rental
- Paper goods (plates, napkins, etc)
- Party favors
- Salary and tips if you’re hiring servers or entertainers
You may not have all of these at your party; this list is just a guideline of costs you might incur.
Choose a Date
It’s best to have the party near the actual birth date, but if guests are coming from far away that might not be practical. Many times you’ll find it best to work around school holidays so that families with school-age kids can attend.
Type of Party
What kind of party do you want to plan? Your options are endless (and you can find more ideas in our Party Themes section). Would the guest of honor prefer a just-family event? A surprise party? An extravagant dress-up sort of affair?
You’ll need to consider the birthday celebrant’s physical condition. Hopefully he or she is one of those hale and hearty 80 year olds who show no sign of slowing down! But if he or she has some physical ailments you’ll need to keep that in mind when organizing the party.
Who to Invite
If it’s not a surprise party, you’ll want to discuss this with the birthday guest of honor. He or she may prefer to have just family, a smaller party with family and close friends, or an all-out bash that everyone he or she has ever known is invited to.
For a milestone event like this, you may want to consider inviting a wider group of people than you would for most birthday parties. Many people are thrilled to attend an 80th birthday party and are willing to travel quite some ways to do so.
You may want to consider inviting friends from long ago – an 80th is a wonderful time to reminisce and remember those golden years!
Choose the Location
Where is the best place to have the party? Some popular low-cost options include someone’s house, a church meeting room, recreation center, or a picnic at the park. If the birthday celebrant is confined to a nursing home, the facility will surely have a gathering room that you can use.
More expensive locations include restaurants, golf or tennis clubhouse, bar, tea room, or a hotel conference room.
Book the location as soon as possible; you’ll probably want to have the location set let everyone know the date of the party.
Food and Drinks
The type of party will frequently determine the food and drink options. Obviously, if you’re hosting it at a bar or restaurant you’ll need to use their menu.
You may wish to have the party catered, or you may decide to provide everything yourself. Many times family members and friends want to pitch in and bring their special dish
Either way, you’ll want to have a list of what you’re serving and who is responsible for providing it.
Order your invitations early, so that you have a chance to proof them well before they need to go out. You’ll also avoid last-minute rush charges that way!
Try to choose invitations that reflect the theme or colors of the party. For an 80th birthday, I think photo invitations are a great choice. Look for invitations that will allow you to add 3 or 4 photos so that you can show how the birthday man or woman has changed through the years!
Invitations should usually be sent out three or four weeks in advance.
You can choose whatever color you’d like for decorations (there is not an “official” 80th birthday color). You can choose a theme that reflects the guest of honor’s interests, or you can just choose colors that he or she likes if you’re not having a themed party.
Whatever type of party you choose, think about displaying lots of photos of the guest of honor at different points in their life. This is a perfect time to reflect upon and appreciate a life well-lived, and both the celebrant and the guests will enjoy a stroll down memory lane!
Are you planning any entertainment for the party? You might want to hire a musician, band, or DJ for the party.
You could plan a few low-key party games, especially if the guests don’t know each other well. Games that center around trivia about the birthday guest of honor are always popular!
You might want to make a short video or slideshow of the celebrant’s life to show at the party. If you do, be sure to make copies or provide a download link for the guests to keep and enjoy after the party is over.
Come on, it’s not a birthday without cake! And an 80th birthday deserves a steal-the-spotlight sort of cake. You may want to spring for a one-of-a-kind cake that reflects the part theme. You can also find some really amazing cake ideas in our Cake Ideas section – even if you’re not a super-skilled cake decorator!
Party favors are completely optional; however, they’re a nice little extra touch to any party. Look for ones that make a nice souvenir of the party. I especially like ones that incorporate a picture of the birthday celebrant.
Be sure to take loads of pictures at the party! If you can afford a professional photographer, then you should go that route. You might be able to find a high school or college student who would be a little lower cost.
Otherwise, you might ask a guest or two who enjoys taking pictures to be the designated photographers.
Make a Scrapbook
Now that the party’s all over with, why not make a scrapbook of the party. I’m sure the guest of honor would love to have a permanent souvenir of this fabulous event!
Free 80th Birthday Party Planning Checklist
I’ve created an 80th birthday party planning checklist so that you don’t miss out on any details. Just click on the image above and the checklist will open in a new tab, ready for you to print.