Birthdays should be personal. They are about one person—a person who is very important to you. As party planner, you have the responsibility to tailor the party to the person it focuses on. Not everyone is alike, and therefore each party should be as unique as the person it is being thrown for. So, planner, you must brainstorm. Get out a sheet of paper and answer the following questions:
~ Is the subject of your efforts an introvert or extrovert?
~ Spontaneous or perfectly organized?
~ Do they like attention or thoughtfulness?
~ Being surprised or being in the know?
~ Do they have a bunch of friends or a few close ones?
~ Specific expectations or do they go with the flow?
Once you have answered these question you are on your way to creating a party with the perfect fit.
On my sister’s 15th birthday, I was placed in charge of the planning. I noted that my sister is, on the whole, an introvert and spontaneous. She appreciates thoughtfulness and loves being surprised. She has a few very close friends and is easy-going.
With this knowledge in mind, I tailored a party. I invited over two of my sister’s closest friends at 5:00 and sent the birthday girl and her guests off on a perilous scavenger hunt across the metropolis of Clemmons.
The hunt included the kidnap of our youngest sister at a local restaurant, a radio tornado warning, an armed robbery at a gas station, and two clue-bearing cashiers at IHOP and Krispy Kreme.
Finally, the search for the kidnapped sister culminated with a drive through the Tanglewood Christmas Lights, the rescue of the tied-up sister in the basement, and a citizen’s arrest of our now-cornered robber-slash-kidnapper. All of this was captured on camera by yours truly and compiled into a thrilling birthday documentary.
If this sounds like something your aging companion would enjoy, then by all means, go for it! However, if the series of traumatic experiences described above would place your subject in a state of continuous anxiety and fear, you may want to head in a different direction.
Here is another example.
For my sweet-sixteen birthday party last year I requested an Ice Cream Olympic theme. My dad, a former youth pastor turned child psychiatrist (yes, it’s a long story), rose spectacularly to the challenge.
The festivities began with an ice cream sundae relay race. The competition consisted of two teams with two brave volunteers from each group. The team members took turns running across our backyard to build an ice-cream sundae, complete with cherries, chocolate syrup, caramel, whipped cream, etc. There was only one catch…we were building it in the two volunteers’ mouths! Once the sundaes were complete, the two human dishes would race to see who could consume the sundae the fastest.
Next came the great M&M hunt. This relay required team members to search only with their mouths for an M&M hidden in a massive bowl of ice cream and toppings. They would then run back and deposit (uh, yeah…spit) their dissolving candy into their team captain’s cupped hands. Whichever team collected the most M&Ms by the time the timer went off won an Olympic medal.
This, along with many other ice-cream-related games (and the obligatory food fight) occupied the majority of the party. This party fit me well because it included a lot of the people I care about; and though I was included in the planning, the party still had a sense of spontaneity.
However you decide to do your party, make sure it takes into consideration the personality of your subject. Whether it’s a sleepover with twenty guests or a weekend trip to the beach with a BFF, take the time to think out of the box and show off how unique your special somebody is.