My husband's mother recently celebrated her 80th birthday. In the past years, the whole family celebrated the special day with her by going on a swimming getaway. This year, her children wanted to make her birthday celebration special. So, instead of the usual swimming, they decided to have a party. The challenge is how to make the party a really joyful experience for Nanay Luz -- that is what everybody in the family calls her. Even her apo (grandchildren) do not call her lola (grandma) but Nanay Luz.
I would like to say that Nanay's party was a success. There may have been some things that could have been better, but overall it was a mission accomplished. At the end of the event, Nanay was very happy, plus most of the guests were happy as well.
I will try to share all the birthday party ideas we implemented in the 80th birthday party of my mother-in-law. I hope you can pick up some important tips to make any birthday party (not just for the 80th) a success.
1. Know your budgetBefore planning for the party, we looked at how much we can spend. Not all of Nanay's children can give the same amount of money. Those who can afford to give more actually gave more. One was in charge of collecting the money. More or less, our budget was about P40,000.
Having an estimated amount gave us an idea of how much people we can invite, how much food we can order and which event place in Pasig we can rent for the party. With our little budget, we thought of doing many DIYs (the invitation, decoration, etc).
2. Choose a party venue one to two months in advanceInitially, my sister-in-law was in-charge of looking for the party venue. When she was consulting his brother (my hubby) if Max's Restaurant is okay, we sort of had second thoughts. First, the place is limited in space. Second, we can't invite all the people we, especially Nanay, would want to invite because the food is a bit pricey and our budget is not enough. So, we looked for other options.
The problem is the party date is just one month away and most of the event venues were already booked. We resorted to asking my brother-in-law to ask about some places here in Pasig. He found one venue that was still open for booking -- the Pasig City Hall Garden. It was priced at P8,500 (if I was not mistaken).
We thought that all of the party venues at Pasig Rainforest and Adventure Park were already booked. Well, my sister-in-law asked them and all the places were booked. But when my brother-in-law asked again, the Rainforest Amphitheatre was still open for booking (or maybe someone cancelled). It was priced cheaper than P8,500, so we told him to book and confirm the place and date immediately.
3. Prepare a simple invitation
My sister-in-law asked her friend in the office to do the layout of the invitation. She just bought specialty paper to have the invitation printed out plus ribbons and envelopes. If you're going to DIY, there are many free programs online you can use to design invitations such as Canva. This is how the invitation looked like:
As far as I am concerned, I prefer a simple invitation. Nanay's invitation is actually a simple one. But, there were extra attachments - four lists of participants in the program (not shown in the photo). It was patterned after the celebration of a debutante. For example, if an 18th birthday celebration has 18 roses, Nanay's 80th birthday has 8 roses, which represents her age of 80 (8x10). So, there were lists for 8 red roses, 8 white roses, 8 lollipops and 8 candles.
4. Create a program for the eventA detailed party program lists the activities that will take place during the event. It is hoped that the activities will make the party more exciting and not boring. Usually, the activities depend on the occasion. In general party activities include song numbers, dance numbers, greetings/wishes, video presentation, games and trivia questions. Magic shows, ballon sculpting, and clown entertainment are sometimes included especially in children's parties.
|8 Red Roses|
For Nanay's 80th birthday party, we drafted a program of activities. The program below does not reflect how we really planned it but it is how it actually happened. It's okay to be flexible. Though our plans changed, it went well because Nanay was very happy.
- Song number - Doxology
- Opening Prayer
- Welcoming Nanay escorted by her brothers
- 8 Red Roses - dance with Nanay's brothers and sons who gave her one red rose each
- 8 White Roses - dance with Nanay's grandsons who gave her one white rose each
- Song and dance numbers by the grandchildren
- 8 Candles - Wish and lighting of candles which symbolizes light as we often say "Ang ina ang ilaw ng tahanan" (Mother is the light of the home).
- Video presentation - several video/slideshows like the one below were actually presented interspersed during the program
- 8 Lollipops - 8 granddaughters gave Nanay a kiss and a lollipop
- Greetings my some special guests
- Song numbers by the Band composed of Nanay's grandsons
- Prayer for the Food and Photo session with Nanay - the guests have their photos taken with Nanay on the stage before proceeding to get their food
- Buffet dinner
- Video greetings presentation - Nanay watched while eating
- Inspirational message by Pastor
- Song number by Nanay's children - they tried to practice this heartwarming song but oh well...
- Birthday song
- Prayer for Nanay and Closing Prayer
Don't forget about the music and video set up. Be sure that the necessary gadgets/accessories are ready such as the microphones, speakers, amplifier, projector, computer, the mp3s (songs) or mp4s (videos). If there's a music band, the instruments should be set up ahead of time as well.
5. Choose a caterer that provides good food at a good price.A big chunk of the budget for a party or event generally goes to the food served to the guests. To fill the tummies of our party celebrants, we chose Dories Catering Services. The buffet meal (good for 100 pax) included soup, rice, 3 viands, 1 pasta, dessert and drinks.
They also provided the tables and chairs with linen covers plus the simple stage backdrop (the curtains). At P300 per head, I think the price is already a good deal. The food was ok. I especially liked the beef caldereta and cordon bleu. My kids also liked the baked macaroni.
|The kids are already hungry and enjoying the food|
Here are just a few thoughts when it comes to dealing with caterers or the serving of food:
1. Be there when the caterer/waiters are setting up the buffet and guest tables or other decors, if any. It's possible that they have a different idea of how to arrange things. You may or may not like it.
We have seen some pictures of how the RAVE Amphitheatre looked like when other caterers arranged the guest tables. They were so far from the stage. It's not a good idea as we have the program going on the stage. So, we specifically requested the caterer to arrange the tables on the lawn where they're nearer the stage.
|This is how the place looked like in the evening after the party with the stage decorations already gone|
2. If you're serving lechon as we did, it's best to have someone you know to oversee the chopping and serving of the lechon. You might be surprised that some parts of the lechon that were not served to the guests are missing at the end of the party. It's a good idea to bring extra food packaging to keep those parts in advance.
3. The extra food packaging is also necessary if you have some leftover food. You can't bring them home if you don't have extra plastic bags or containers.
4. To minimize leftover food, it is recommended to confirm with all the guests if they are coming. We did not do this that's why we had a good amount of leftover food.
5. Don't spend too much (as in too much) on the birthday cake. Nanany's birthday cake is just a simple one. Practically speaking, the cake was not served to the guests anyway. It was just used for that part when Nanay blew her birthday candles after everybody sang "Happy Birthday."
|Oops! The cake is still in the box|
6. Serve the guests something to munch before or even during the program. The caterer had some peanuts and fish crackers served on the guest tables. Aside from that, the guests were served delicious Sumilang Ice Cream while the program was ongoing. We had a mamang sorbetero (ice cream man) with his cart of ice cream (3 flavors) there for 3 hours. The guests especially the kids and the teens were very happy to have unlimited ice cream.
6. Plan how to decorate the venue
We did not do a lot of decorations since the caterer took care of the buffet table set up, the guests tables and chairs, and the stage back drop made of white and red curtains to complement the table cloth covers. Initially, there was the idea of making a tarpaulin of Nanay's photo with birthday greetings, but we gave up that idea.
|The band was on the right side of the stage. See the @80 carton letter standee. The lights at night were beautiful.|
We just brought a wooden chair for Nanay to sit on during the program and the photo session. We also added some balloons on top of the backdrop and put a 3-feet carton letter standee spelling the phrase "Luz @80" on a prominent place on the stage. Adding some fresh flowers on the balloon decor would have been nice, too. We were supposed to put a blown-up gold metallic foil HAPPY BIRTHDAY greeting on the backdrop, but one of letters burst so we did not put it up anymore.
|Nanay and all her sons/daughters-in-law including me. See the wooden chair and simple ballon decor.|
7. Make lasting memories
Thanks to photography and videography, it's possible to make memories last. You could get a professional photographer and videographer or put up a photo booth. But if your budget cannot afford it, don't worry. With technology almost in the hands of every person, it's easy to snap pictures or shoot videos even with just a decent smartphone.
|Nanay and my family|
|Nanay Luz with all of her apo/grandchildren|
|The whole family after Nanay blew the candles on the birthday cake|
I collected all the videos and photos taken during the event plus the video greetings and photo slideshow presentations and saved the files in a USB. Nanay was so happy to watch again everything that transpired during her birthday.
It was a tiring birthday celebration but it was all worth it. I hope you got some ideas from what I shared in this post. Let me know in the comments.