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Grown up party ideas?

550 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  just_lily
The kids party thread got me thinking that I need to start planning. My parents 40th anniversary is coming up in June.

We have a place to have it: either their house or the clubhouse at the home owners assc or our house for free.

I am thinking there will be maybe 50-70 people.
What do you all think would be smart to serve? I'd like to make the food myself so I would need at least a couple of make ahead dishes on the cheap. I can make a killer cake for cheap.
I'd also like to have some activities and maybe a something to comemorate their years together. Any ideas?
For the paper products and decor I will probably dollar store it. Any better ideas?
Please, Throw me any ideas you have. Man, I feel like we should have a bar, but I feel like making it byob(
) to cut costs. I do have a brother and a sister who will help with the inexpensive part, but I have another sister who is more involved who will want it all store bought and "easy"...any advice on this too?
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A picture slideshow is cheap and easy to make and always goes over well at an anniversary party. Windows XP & Vista have software that come with them that will do it, if you have a DVD burner, all you need is a blank dvd and you are set. If you know anyone who might own a projector and a laptop, you could borrow that (this is what we've done in the past), otherwise, just throw it up on whatever TV seems to make the most sense.

I recommend you think up what you want, divvy up the stuff that would be significantly easier to buy at the store and give those things to your sister who would rather go that route, the rest divy amongst the workers.

I would just do appetizers. A lot of hearty ones, but I wouldn't go nuts on a sit down dinner or buffet for that many people. It also makes the whole seating arrangement easier if you don't need a place for everyone to sit at once.

Personally throwing a party BYOB for a 40th anniversary seems very tacky to me. If your budget doesn't fit beer & wine, then don't serve it. Having a BBQ byob or potluck with a few good friends is one thing, having a 40th anniversary with 70 people BYOB is in my mind tacky.

I would just pick out a few beverages, and get them by the case at BJs, etc (if you are serving beer, wine). See what you can fit into your budget. If you have a local liquor store, you could ask them if its possible to return unopened bottles. We have done that for a lot of big parties, but the owner of the liquor store is my dad's good friend, I don't know if a typical one would do that.
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Trader Joe's and Costco are good places to look for low prices on good-quality alcohol. TJ's Charles Shaw wine, aka "Two buck Chuck", sells for $1.99 a bottle in most regions, and is decent. Costco pretty much always has some kind of beer on sale.

I agree that BYOB seems tacky. You *could* do something like a "wine exchange," where if people want to participate, they bring a bottle of wine, and then all those who participated get to sample the wines everyone else brought. If your parents are at all "into" wine, and have friends who are, this might be a really neat idea that would lower the burden on the budget... but I'd *definitely* serve some table wine for those who aren't participating too.

You could also get a variety of sheets of nice paper, some good pens, and let people write out a page that commemorates the couple. A memory from the last 40 years, how their marriage has been an inspiration for others, that sort of thing. Then you take them all, laminate them, and bind them together (Kinko's and places like that can do this) to present to your parents as an anniversary gift.

The slide show is a nice idea, too. Irfanview is free software that can do this for you, if you can't get it working in XP or Vista. (It's also just generally great photo viewing software.)

I agree on appetizers. You could do a crudite (pronounced "crew-de-tay" but I can't figure out accents in this OS) platter, which is basically a fancy vegetable platter; sometimes some of the veggies are lightly steamed, like asparagus and broccoli, and there's usually a greater variety than in your typical Costco veggie tray. Here's a pic that might get you inspired:

There's a higher-end supermarket around here that uses red cabbage as the dip bowls, too.

Meatballs work well with toothpicks, and as a plus, provide a meat item that doesn't have to be solid meat (they usually have breadcrumbs or some other filler in them). You could also do a chicken, tuna, or salmon salad served in endive cups or on crackers for a finger-worthy meat treat. Bean dip or hummus provide a vegetarian protein option (and hummus is soooo easy to make!).
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I'm totally on the other side of the fence on this byob tack business. I am all about the potlucks. People love to bring stuff. We usually provide basic stuff, like beer, wine, plates etc & something to eat and more beer shows up with even more food.

In this case I'd probably buy a case of sparkling wine and some scotch and make a few bites. Let people bring stuff! They want to!

If you all know 50-70 people close enough to invite them to an anniversary party they'll probably enjoy bringing an appetizer.

Go easy on yourself!

LOVING the slideshow idea!

As for shopping ideas, dollar store is awesome. I am also a Grocery Outlet shopper, compulsive craigslist free stalker, freecycle member & go to Value Village/Goodwill at least 1/week. You can get crazy useful stuff there... like invitations, decorations, stationary etc

Good luck lady!

You should definitely have a place people can write wishes to your parents. What a fantastic event!
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Only one suggestion, instead of a fully stocked bar, just offer punch, both spiked and not. Punch has a festive and old fashioned feel. Let people know that this is what you are doing and beer/wine drinkers will bring what they like. I agree with previous poster that people do want to bring something.

Originally Posted by mizlizzy View Post
Only one suggestion, instead of a fully stocked bar, just offer punch, both spiked and not. Punch has a festive and old fashioned feel. Let people know that this is what you are doing and beer/wine drinkers will bring what they like. I agree with previous poster that people do want to bring something.

I like this. Themed drinks are always great. Or if you want to stay away from potluck do a fiesta with a taco bar.
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Theming seems to help party we did we served paella, sangria and had gypsy kings music playing. Decorations were simple white lights. Or, for more fun, we did a "luau" for dh's bday - served hawaiian punch for the non alcoholic drink and mai tais for the was in the same vein...I went to allrecipes and found a bunch of hawaiian recipes...the main course was pork shoulder...super easy and super cheap to feed a group (of course we only had 20 people) - games were planned but we never did them...limbo and the like. could do margaritas, chips and salsa, mexican is a blast for a fiesta party! And yes, a slide show is a GREAT idea. Photo books are great gifts too (though not so public) but definitely wait for a coupon!
a couple of activity ideas for fun:

"how well do you know [mom's name] and [dad's name]?" game
you can get a good pict of mom and a good pict of dad (2, separate) and make a copies. get a bunch of sticks and make those sort of paddles that are used @ auctions (the proper name escapes me at the moment) by placing 1 pict on each side of the stick. this is a lot easier than it sounds and you can use it as a craft project if you have kids to help.
at the party you have bunch of questions or stories or whatever that are told to the attendees and each time they have to raise the paddle showing the side w/ the picture of the person they think did/said whatever was described. sounds kind of corny, but i promise it's a lot of fun and you'd be surprised how much folks learn about ppl they thought they already knew really well. you can ask mom & dad for stories or maybe clear them with them first so no secrets are divulged.

another game or games:
crossword puzzle with clues all about mom & dad or bingo game with same.
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I think the big question is how formal do you want to have it? What would your parents be most comfortable with? Is your guest list mainly family and close friends, or are you inviting people further removed?

Clearly something more informal is cheaper. BBQs are awesome. But it has to fit your parents' style.

I remember there was an episode of Kids by the Dozen on TLC once where this family was throwing a party for 100 people and wanted to keep their food costs under $100. They managed to get some whole turkeys on the cheap, and made bbq turkey sandwiches. Not for a formal event clearly, but they stuck to their goal.

I am not a big fan of having to play games at parties, personally, but I am also all over the slideshow idea. I am planning on doing one for my daughter's first birthday.

I was going to mention sangria, but a pp beat me to it. It is basically fancy punch, and has the advantage of making wine go further while allowing you to disguise a less expensive vino. You could always buy enough champagne just to do a toast, and then go with less expensive drinks to be served throughout the rest of the party.
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