To celebrate his 60th birthday, Allen Klein, a San Francisco-based author, put together an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter-themed tea party.
“The table ran the length of the ballroom with white-fabric-covered chairs on each side and a great big stately chair at the end for me,” says Klein, now 83. “It was covered with bright flowers and big pink flamingos that were used in the story as croquet mallets by the Queen of Hearts.”
Guests were also treated to a special appearance by costumed actors from a local stage production of the Lewis Carroll classic.
A milestone birthday, whether you’re turning 50, 60 or 85, can be the perfect occasion to organize a special party. “The elements of a great party are a good host, good or interesting food, great music — whether a band, DJ or playlist — fun decorations, something interactive for guests to do and be a part of, and a good mix of people invited,” says Lynne Goldberg, an event planner with Boca Entertainment based in Boca Raton, Florida.
You can plan the party on your own, hand the reins to a professional event planner, or ask a friend or family member to take charge. Regardless of who is doing the planning, there are a number of things to consider to ensure that everyone has fun — without breaking the bank. Here’s how to throw a milestone bash to remember.
Set a budget
“The first step is to figure out what you can spend,” says Amanda Hudes, a creative event and wedding planner with Smiling Through Chaos based in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Once you figure out how much you’re comfortable spending, a party planner can help you stick to that budget. Or, if you’re planning the party on your own, Hudes suggests that you start with the big-ticket items, like the venue and catering, and continue working down your list of priorities.
If you’re looking to stretch your budget, consider cutting back your guest list. This, says Hudes, allows you to spend more per guest on things like food. You might also consider different dining options.
“I realized that taking 65 people to dinner was not something I could afford,” Klein says. So he opted for high tea. “I saved money with not having alcohol.” And instead of serving an entire meal, his guests were presented with whimsical tiered platters of cucumber sandwiches and petit fours.