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Birthday Party Tips

By an Award-Winning Professional Party Planner


How to plan a successful birthday party

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  • Hi, I'm Matt James, a professional event planner with 25 years experience
  • I've produced events for A-list celebrities, including:

    Elton John,
    Sarah Jessica Parker,
    Stella McCartney,
    Kevin Spacey...and more!
  • I've won 30 industry awards for my events
  • And I'm the author of Become an Event Planner: Secrets for Getting Hired by Employers, Recruiters, and Event Professionals

    On this site, I'll share...

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Matt James video title

Celebrate the person, not their age

A common mistake when planning birthday parties is to focus all the attention on the age someone is turning.

This inevitably leads people to reach for all those obvious party supplies, cliched themes, and tedious jokes, like ‘Over the Hill’, ‘Old as Dirt’, or ‘Oh Crap You’re Old’, resulting in a generic party—devoid of any personality—that really could’ve been thrown for anyone.

While they might not show it, many people can feel a little sensitive about the fact their getting older. They may not be where they expected to be by this stage of their life, they might have concerns about their future, or they might feel self-conscious about changes to their physical appearance.

Limit the gag gifts

All those gag gifts and bad jokes just re-enforce the idea that getting older is a negative thing; emphasizing all the things you might not have or be able to do as you get older, rather than looking back and celebrating all the things you’ve learned, achieved, and experienced in life.

Don’t get me wrong, a few jokes here and there are fine, but just don’t make them the entire focus or theme of the party.

Instead, celebrate the person, not their age.

Focus on the Feel-Good

Instead of poking fun at someone’s age, concentrate on making them feel loved and appreciated.

Birthdays should be about making that person feel good about themselves; treating them, reminding them what makes them special, and expressing what they mean to you. It’s an opportunity to communicate all the things we might often think, but seldom say.

People often focus on their own faults or failings and overlook or underestimate the good things about themselves. Friends and family are there to remind them of how amazing they are; the good they’ve done; what they’ve contributed, accomplished, and the effect they’ve have on others.

So, use their birthday to:

  • Celebrate their life; their background, their achievements, and what they’ve contributed
  • Celebrate who they are; their admirable qualities, characteristics everyone loves, and even their weird habits and obsessions that drive people crazy!
  • and also

  • Celebrate your relationship with them; take a walk down memory lane, share memories, funny stories, embarrassing photos, amusing anecdotes, fun facts guests may not know, and indulge in a little sentimentality.

You want them to look back and remember their birthday warmly, so focus on things that are meaningful, because that’s what they’ll remember.

Create Memories

Let’s be honest, looking back, they’re probably not going to remember that their birthday party had mango Mojitos or gourmet bacon & goat cheese sliders, or that the balloons were printed with 'Aged to Perfection'...

and all those gag gifts and joke are probably going to get stuffed in a drawer (or the bin!) the very next day...

but the ideas in the next section are the type of things that they’ll keep, treasure, and get enjoyment from re-visiting in the future...

because they’ll remember how they made them FEEL.

40 Messages from 40 Friends postcards
Framed 50 reasons we love you poster
60 years of memories photo book
70 years of memories letters
reasons we love you photo book
framed 30 Reasons We Love You poster with photo

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