Milestone Birthday Planning: How to Celebrate a Life Milestone
Everyone loves milestone birthday parties. The challenge is planning a party worthy of the milestone—a truly unforgettable celebration for your guests, especially the guest of honor.
"Go big" is often the mantra when it comes to celebrating a life milestone, which is the right idea, but that gives the party planner a lot to consider. Should there be a particular theme to the party beyond the age that's being celebrated? What is the color scheme? Which activities or games fit best? You'll want to consider all these questions and more when planning a milestone birthday party. To set you off on the right foot, we've created a starter guide to throwing a milestone birthday celebration that will help you get all the essentials right.
Why Celebrate a Milestone Birthday?
Perhaps you're thinking, "Why should a milestone birthday be much different than any other birthday? It's just another year, after all." Well, besides being an excuse to take your birthday party to the next level, milestone birthdays are a great way to celebrate the progression of life. They're an opportunity for the birthday celebrant, along with friends and family, to appreciate all the wonderful times they've shared and to make way for more good times to come.
There are a few big birthday milestones that you, your friends, and your family are bound to celebrate in your lives. These include 30th, 40th, and 50th birthdays and every decade after. It can also include ages that are celebrated more for their cultural significance, like 18th and 21st birthdays. But you don't need to stick to just these; many ages can be considered milestones deserving of special attention.
What Party Activities are Good for a Milestone Birthday?
The birthday activities should pay tribute to the guest of honor—the life they've lived and the life ahead of them. Find fun and creative ways to bring up shared memories and learn something new about the guest of honor. Or, use tried-and-true methods, like toasts and photo reels, to share stories and visuals that will have everyone walking down memory lane.
Here are a few milestone birthday activity ideas to get you going:
Put up a poster with a timeline spanning the whole guest of honor's life. Add some key events yourself, then at the party have your guests mark on the timeline when they met the guest of honor and how it happened.
Roast and Toast
There's nothing quite like a friendly jab followed by a touching tribute to make a heartfelt occasion the guest of honor won't soon forget. Arrange ahead of time with some of the birthday celebrant's closest friends and family to prepare a "roast and toast," where they make a couple jokes at the guest of honor's expense, followed by a toast in their honor.
Life and Times Trivia
Prepare a trivia game that's all about the life and times of the guest of honor. The questions should be about the guest of honor or about what was going on during their formative years. What was the name of their high school? Which sport did they play? Who was president when they were in 5th grade?
What Are Some Gift Ideas for Milestone Birthdays?
A milestone birthday is no ordinary birthday, and the same should go for the gifts! You'll need to take it up a notch when it comes to your gift, not necessarily in the price tag, but in how much thought you put into it.
Here are a few milestone birthday gift ideas that require a little more thought than usual:
First, consider the birthday celebrant's passions and pursuits. What customizable item will be something they can't wait to use? Once you've selected an item you're certain the guest of honor will love, it all comes down to the messaging. You could just do their initials, which is fine enough, but a little poetry, an inside joke, or a few heartfelt words will set your gift in the truly special category.
Nostalgia Gift Basket
Get a big basket (or box) and fill it with gifts that will fill the recipient with nostalgia. Have a mix of small things, like classic candy or trading cards, and big things, like tickets to an old band they loved or gift certificates to old haunts.
What They Never Got Around To
Use the guest of honor's past to launch their future by getting them something they have always wanted to do but never got around to. Did they used to dream of visiting some far-away place? Or, perhaps they always wanted to try a daredevil thrill, like bungee jumping? Well, now is your chance to make it happen for them!
Do I Need a Special Theme for a Milestone Birthday?
The short answer is no. In fact, a milestone age and what it represents is enough of a theme. It's important to do the milestone justice by putting it front and center. That's what everyone is there to celebrate after all. It's fine to layer in other themes, like summer luau or outdoor adventure, but you should make sure the decorations, activities, and any other key party element all center around the life milestone that's being celebrated.
What Should I Do For A Milestone Birthday?
Life milestone birthday celebrations should include a trip down memory lane with a life milestone video collection. Enjoy your guest of honor’s birthday with a collection of favorite stories which remind them of the good times and what’s come after their birthday celebration.
Play music that fits the guest of honor’s birthday milestone year. If your guest is turning 30, create a mixtape from the 90’s. Birthday milestones are all about celebrating the decade your guest of honor is born as well as reminding them that the good times aren’t over in their life.
What color scheme should I choose for a milestone birthday?
A milestone birthday is a big deal, and the color scheme should reflect that. That's why statement colors, especially gold and silver, are a staple of milestone birthday décor. For 40th birthday milestones and older, pair them with deeper, richer shades of the primary colors, like navy blue, royal purple, and burgundy red. For 30th, 21st, and 18th birthday milestones, you can lighten it up with rose gold or white gold paired with primary colors or lighter shades, like pink, teal, and butterscotch. Pairing your statement colors with black or white is a good option for any milestone age.