Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dad's 80th Birthday Bash

My dad's 80th birthday was last month, and we knew we wanted to do something big to celebrate. Mom and Dad planned the larger details like the venue, the menu, and the guest list, and Henry and I helped with some of the decorations. I love planning stuff like this, so I thought I'd share my most favorite things from the party.

1. The photo line
We collected photos from around my parents’ house and then went to Kinko’s to scan and print them in black & white. We ended up printing about 65 photos of my dad in various stages of his life—the oldest dating back to his 2nd birthday in 1932. My mom already had some twine for us to use, and we just bought a pack of clothes pins to hang up the photos. It was pretty inexpensive to do, but it made a huge impact in the room’s d├ęcor. Plus I think all of the guests enjoyed looking at the photos. So many asked, “Is that really Clyde?” 

2. Eighty sparkling candles!
Kind of a beast to get them lit all at once {that's my lil bigbro doing the job in the photo above}, but watching my dad and my 9-year-old niece as they blew them all out was priceless.

3. The memory book
This was Henry’s idea. We bought an 8’’ X 8’’ scrapbook album, a pack of jewel-toned scrapbook papers, and a couple of archival quality pens. We wanted all of the guests to pick a paper to write a message for my dad, but we also wanted to attach photos of them to the paper after the party {my next big project}. We had the guests trace where they wanted their picture placed on the paper. I typed up a step-by-step instruction guide, which we printed, framed, and sat on the “guest book” table. Unfortunately we only got one picture of the set up...and it just so happened to be in the background of another picture. Senior citizens like to be super punctual {read: 20+ minutes early} to parties, so things got a little rushed with the documentation of decorations.

I know, amazing quality, but you can see the papers, our photo template, instructions, the box, etc.

Here's a scanned copy of the instructions.

Approximately 80 of my dad's closest friends and relatives ended up coming to the party. I was so impressed by that. It was awesome. I think my dad loved every second of it. Arranging for all 80(!) guests to have their picture taken was a bit of a challenge because the room was packed, but I think we managed to get nearly everyone’s picture. I think it will be a really neat keepsake for my dad.

4. The prayer
Henry offered a prayer at the party in which he basically thanked the Lord for my dad's life and asked for continued blessings of health and strength. Henry said several people told him that that was the nicest prayer they'd ever heard, and I think that made him feel a little bashful, but it was a touching prayer. 

5. Love of family and friends
 That brings me to my fifth and final favorite thing. The party was a huge reunion of family and friends, and there was so much love there. There were people my dad knows from his career in real estate, church friends, barbers, plant coworkers {he worked in a plant for 40 years}, and the largest gathering of my family I've seen in a long, long time. Even more amazingly? There was no drama. It was such a happy weekend. I felt increased love for my dad, especially as I looked through those photos from his life. He is a good, honest man, and though he may be a bit grumpy at times, he is a wonderful example to me of loving, working hard, and serving others. (And heck, I’m sure I’ll be grumpy too when I’m 80.) So really, I guess my favorite thing about the party was that I came away realizing again how privileged I am to have him as my father. Love you, Daddy.

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