please help us plan birthday/anniversary party

gellchomMay 16, 2007

Can you help with ideas?

This July we will celebrate both my 50th birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary (bad planning on my part -- I saw this coming 25 years ago!). We just decided to have a party after all (we are taking a vacation to celebrate). Our anniversary is July 4, so we will have the party then (we'll be away on my birthday), for about 50 people. It will be at 6-9 or so to give folks time before to rest up from parade and brunch and time after to get to fireworks. Of course, the food will be hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs, etc., and we'll have a signature drink or two, beer, wine, and soda. My friend volunteered to make a rice and vegetable salad and her famous olive spread, too.

We will rent tables and chairs to put outside and either get nice disposable dishes or rent glass. We'll have a bartender and some helpers (the caterer provides them). We hope our son, the DJ, will be able to provide the music (whether or not he can come into town himself; he can make mix disks and tell us what kind of system to set up).

I can hardly believe I am doing it, because I am so opposed to any reference to gifts at all on invitations, but the invitations will say "no gifts, please" at the bottom. We were just torn between either (1) not mentioning the anniversary and birthday at all and not putting "no gifts' on it, or (2) the opposite. In the end, we felt like all the people we are inviting are close enough that most of them know anyway, and will or won't get gifts anyway as they choose (even if there had been no party), or don't know and would feel bad and sort of distanced if they found out at the party. Plus, everyone gets so many invitations for July 4, we wanted people to know that this is a special evening for us that we really want them to share with us, not just one more cookout to drop in on or not. And whether or not I like it, "no gifts please" has become the convention, at least in my community, when you give yourself a party for a gift-y occasion -- i.e., host a party for your own birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc.

So now I need ideas for invitations (fast!) and decorations. What can you think of that could make decorations a little different from usual July 4th stuff that somehow incorporate the anniversary and/or birthday? I was thinking of starting with something like red and white geraniums in pretty pots (that we can give to friends who help out at the end) on the tables.

For the invitation, I was playing around with something like

July 1957 - Gell is born

July 1982 - Chom and Gell are married

July 2007 - We count our blessings with our favorite people

Every 25 years, something wonderful happens!

Please celebrate with us




Gell & Chom

rsvp, ngp

Too gimmicky? Too obscure? I'm sure you all can improve on "something wonderful happens." Fortunately, wonderful things happen a lot more than that.

Thanks in advance for your help. It's a lot more fun planning with all of you!

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Something like...
Gold and silver......please celebrate a very precious occasion with us..Please don't mention gifts....people will bring what they matter what you say.
You might say " we need nothing but your presence"...or "if you want to give a present, please consider.."a charity"....and name one or 2.
Sounds wonderful!! Can I come??
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 12:26AM
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I personally would just invite them for and focus on your 25th Wedding Anniversary, decorate with silver (although you could throw in some red, white and blue, every now and then)... and not mention gifts at all. Trying to do an important anniversary, a b-day party, and July 4th all at once just seems like over kill.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 11:43AM
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Lindac, you are enthusiastically invited! I love your suggestion about "gold and silver."

You know that I agree with you about putting "no gifts, please" -- it's still a reference to gifts. But as I wrote above, it just has become such an ingrained convention here, we decided to put it on. A reference to a charity actually seems to me in a way pushier, because although not greedy, it still suggests that we were anticipating their generosity and trying to direct it in a little more detail than than the now-formulaic "no gifts please." But we will tell our very best friends (the ones that others will ask; you know what I mean) that we would greatly prefer contributions to or guests' favorite charities. It's true, too -- like most people of 50 and married 25 years, we have too MUCH stuff are more interested now in offloading than acquiring! More important, I think the best celebration of good fortune is sharing with others who aren't so lucky.

carla, we weren't planning on July 4th decorations or "theme," just the birthday and anniversary. (People will get plenty of July 4th stuff earlier at the parade and later at the fireworks, we figured.) Do you still think that's too much?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 10:43AM
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Just an idea on the gifts issue. When we remodeled our kitchen we had a "come see our new kitchen" party mainly because so many of my friends had heard many of the details along the journey and really wanted to see it. I did NOT want any gifts because I got everything I wanted including all my dishes and potholders and other accessories to go with my new kitchen -- the things I wanted to get.

So, instead of just putting "no gifts" I put something like, no gifts please but a bottle of wine will be welcome. Something like that. That way, anyone who felt like they just HAD to get me something (and there are always those) knew what to get. And you can pick up a bottle of wine for under $10 pretty easily. I got a lot of bottles of wine that night, not everyone brought some and only one person brought me a "gift" that wasn't wine.

I like the charity idea but I can see your point of view on that. The wine idea might not work for you either but just giving another perspective.

On your invitation wording, I don't like "Every 25 years, something wonderful happens!" because it sort of makes it sound like nothing wonderful happened in between. Of course I can't think of what to say instead. But I do like Linda's "gold and silver". I think I would decorate in gold and silver with some red & blue accents.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 5:44PM
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We sent the invitations out day before yesterday. Here is what we wrote.
The font for the first line was a pink 50s "diner" font, for the second line a green 1980s computer-y font, for the third a blue Red Sox font (we love them), and for the rest a violet script. The border was multicolor stripes

July 1957: Gell is born
July 1982: Chom and Gell are married
July 2007: We count our blessings with wonderful friends

Cookout and cocktails

Gell & Chom

R.s.v.p. by June 15 [e-address] No gifts, please

I liked the "gold and silver" idea, but my husband nixed it. We can use it in the decorations, though. I am having some geraniums put in pots for the tables, and I was planning on putting ribbon around them, so I can use gold and silver there, and maybe stick in some ting-ting if I can find it. That is so festive.

I told him to direct anyone who says they want to get something anyway to, and I'll tell our close friends, too.

Please share any other ideas you have. It will feel like you are all at the party.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 4:14PM
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Just a follow up on the "no gifts please" issue, because it is something we all always agonize over, isn't it?

It went as we predicted. Our very closest friends got me birthday gifts (in groups of 2 or 3). These are the people with whom we are so close that we give each other gifts for big occasions, party or no party, so we ignore "no gifts, please" if there is a party, because just as we aren't giving a gift because of the invitation, we aren't refraining from giving one because of the invitation, either. Our very, VERY closest friends also got us anniversary gifts (one from a group of three couples, one from one couple) -- same circumstance.

Most people either brought a bottle of wine, amaretto, or champagne, a small birthday and/or anniversary gift (about like you would give for a hostess gifts -- candy, a funny little purse mirror, etc.), or nothing. Several (whether or not they could attend the party) made contributions to various charities.

Another factor that may have made a difference was the gift my husband gave me -- the best ever. It is an album of stories and memories he asked people to send. Not only do I love it more than anything else he could have thought of, I like the idea that that would help people feel like their contribution to the album WAS a gift -- and they are right!

Anyway, the bottom line is that I think that whether or not you put "no gifts, please" on an invitation doesn't make much difference; those who would anyway will anyway, and others might bring something small, but about the size they would probably bring as a hostess gift anyway. The real function is for the hosts to avoid feeling embarrassment about giving themselves a party for a gift-y occasion. So I guess in the future I will stick to no reference at all to gifts, EXCEPT where we are both hosts and also the guests of honor.

I still feel, also, that people LIKE giving gifts to their friends. And I'll close with a funny story to that effect from this birthday: one day, about 11:30 am, a couple of weeks before the party, I called my friend G, on her cell phone, to see if she wanted to go to lunch. No answer, so I called A. No answer, so I called N. No answer - !!! "Why don't my friends take my calls," I thought, feeling very unpopular. So I called C, and she and I went to lunch. The next day, G called me, laughing. She said, "Sorry I didn't get back to you until today. I bet you wanted to go to lunch. I was out with A and N, shopping for your birthday present!" They had figured it out and wanted to share the laugh with me. (Good thing I had tried all three of them, eh?) They had fun shopping together, and I love the gift (it's a glass necklace) because it makes me think of them having a good time because of me.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 3:14PM
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