Monday, July 19, 2010

Things I have learned about parties for 90 year olds....

Here is the invitation that my talented friend Leslie designed for my mother's party. A few years ago, Leslie and Miguel did a painting day at our house and Leslie used my mother's tea cups (which I have, but never use) for a painting. She put the painting on the invitation - brilliant, don't ya think?

Here are some things I observed and lessons I have learned:
1. Even though the invitation requests "no gifts" - virtually everyone who replied, asked if they could bring a gift. Some of my closest family and friends really DID want to supply a gift - and I am grateful to them for their generosity. I realized that their gifts were helpful and very welcome. My mother did get some flowers, some chocolates and even some lottery tickets.... some people just wanted to bring a present! Lesson #1 - if people do want to help or bring a special gift - receive with gratitude.
2. The invitation requested that guests could bring a card, note or photo for our memory book. What do you think that means? My mother got four birthday cards signed "Love Doris" - there were four Dorises obviously in attendance. (I am pretty sure not one Doris is reading this blog - so excuse my cattiness) Which Doris signed which card? Who knows.... So - Lesson #2 - sign a birthday card with your first and last name if necessary - let the recipient know who you are.
3. This isn't just about the numerous Doris guests - it applies to lots of the guests.....write a personal note on the card. How about: "thanks for being a good friend", "thanks for playing bridge with me", "you are a very kind person" - something - say ONE complimentary thing about the honouree. This is likely my mother's last birthday - and it is a celebration of her life (with her in attendance) - but for anytime you send a birthday card or greeting - make it count - make it personal - make it show that you value the person. "Love Doris" just doesn't cut it....(sorry Dorises)
4. If the invitation says it is a "surprise" party - don't come half-way through the party and be surprised that you have missed the surprise entrance. I would reconsider my wording for the next surprise party - I would probably put "Please come at 2:00 for a Surprise Party" - is that clear enough?
5. Lesson #5 - setting up and taking down a party always takes way more time and energy than you can ever estimate. The day of my mother's party was one of the hottest days of the summer - and the air conditioning in the hall was certainly not working well. Not only did we need every minute of the 2 hour set-up, we were all frazzled, fried and sweating by the time we finished setting up tables, moving furniture, putting up decorations. Luckily my brother, sister and son were there to help - and we had hired help to manage the kitchen. But we could have used more help and more time - and a shower before the party to cool off!
6. My mother loved her party and we were happy to give her a great memory to help her through the painful and dark days ahead. I am reduced to a puddle of tears every time I think of all the nice things my friends did for ME to help me make the party a success. Two friends helped by making sandwiches and helping to serve at the party. My ex-inlaws provided the flower centerpiece, two friends flew in to attend the party, a friends made the invitations another served as photographer. Old friends of mine sent flowers and special notes and photos.... Wendy, bless her, sent a huge cake and fruit plate to my house for all the relatives who were in town for the party - it was a hugechocolatedeliciousgift. So - Lesson #6 - friends know what friends need (be it help OR chocolate) and every gift is cherished and remembered.

Oh yes - one more lesson - be sure to pack up left-over tea sandwiches, cupcakes and cookies and give them to guests as they leave.... everyone loves tea sandwiches!

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