birthday horns


5 Easy Pieces of Cake Plan

Planning an ordinary “cake, candles, and card” birthday party may seem feasible. Orchestrating a special “bucket list” birthday party – wowing the birthday honoree – may seem daunting.  If you’ve ever scratched your head and wondered how to plan a bodacious birthday party without losing sleep, worry no more.  With due diligence and a little luck, anyone can plan a  Happy Birthday.

Step #1: Know your guest of honor.

What kind of celebration might be on the honoree’s bucket list?  If the honoree doesn’t like surprises, scrap a surprise party.  What date/time is best?  What kinds of activities or venues are in keeping with his/her preferences?

Some prefer celebrating with one other person, some hundreds, others in-between.  What is the birthday person’s comfort zone?  What guests would be especially appreciated by the birthday person (family, friends, colleagues, etc.)?

Step #2: Take inventory.

Consider the honoree’s preferences in light of your resources.  Think about venue, food & beverages, entertainment, transportation/parking, technical/lighting equipment, rentals, photography/videography, decorations, invitations, and guest list.

Though staging a small, simple celebration or large complicated event may be costly, there are ways to incorporate the honoree’s preferences while staying within your budget.  Henry David Thoreau believed, “All good things are wild and free.”  Whether the honoree agrees with Thoreau or not, he/she will likely appreciate the endeavor.

If your resources don’t match the birthday person’s core interests, there’s an opportunity for creativity.  If, for example, the honoree’s ideal celebration is a romantic dinner for two in Paris, and your wallet doesn’t stretch to Chicago, “duplicate” Paris. Plan a romantic dinner for two with French food & wine, music, and ambiance.

Or, if someone’s wish is a dance party, and a five piece band is too expensive, arrange to meet at a club that features the kind of music that the honoree likes.  Or play recorded dance music in an affordable venue – home if that works.  Bottom line: honor the honoree’s interests in keeping with your resources.

Step #3: Research.

Ask friends for recommendations.  People you know are great resources for finding the best caterers, florists, or whatever kinds of services for your event.  Google.  Check reviews.  Interview service providers.  Get three references.  See Good Celebration, LLC blogs: “Happy New Year of Easy, Fun Party Planning,” “What is the #1 Ingredient of a Great Party?,” “Hire the Best Photographer.”

Step #4: Incorporate brilliant details.


Tips – “Dos and Don’ts of Throwing a Great Party,” by Brian Rafanelli, Huffington Post

Ideas – whimsical party elements for a milestone event by Anne-Marie O’Neill, Real Simple

Decorations – easy, low/no cost ideas by Nate Berkus and LuLu Powers

Toast – “Tips on Toasting Well,” by Michael Varma, ATMG, ALB, Toastmasters International

Presentation – “7 Lessons from the World’s Most Captivating Presenters,” by Marta Kagan, Hubspot

Gift Giving – true spirit of gift giving, photographer Lee Morris surprises his dad with his dad’s dream car

Gifts – Etsy or shop local

Scrap Book – by Martha Stewart

Memory Quilt – Pinterest photos

Photo Repair – Want to make a special gift using old photos but images are damaged?  Costco restores old photographs!

Step #5: Enjoy the process.

Whether you’re a “glass half empty” or a “glass half full” kind of person, planning a bucket list birthday celebration can be easy.  Plan ahead.  Choose the details that you enjoy pursuing, and if possible delegate the rest.  Keep track of details in excel or other reliable database.  Reward yourself for achievements.  Improvise when unexpected glitches occur.  You’re resourceful and resilient.  You can do it!  Piece of cake.  Toasts to you!

Life is short.  Celebrate!