Turning 100 is a momentous occasion. Less than 2% of the US population reached their 100th birthday. Planning a birthday celebration for any centenarian takes sensitivity. Quite possibly they are frail and mobility challenged. The location of the party must take this into consideration.
Step 1. Discuss the party with the birthday celebrant. NEVER THROW A SURPRISE PARTY for someone this age. Together, work up an invitation list of friends and family members.
Step 2. Know all you can about the birthday celebrant. If she is in a wheelchair or in ill health, hold the party at their home. If she lives in a nursing home, coordinate with the administrator for this very special event. You need to know about all allergies and limitations. For instance, if she can’t hear, don’t waste money on music.
Step 3. Plan the food. There may be rules to follow if she lives in a nursing home. If you can hold the party in a private home, consider hiring a caterer. An alternative is to ask friends to bring a dish. The hostess supplies only the Birthday Cake and drinks.
Use the dining table with her best linens and china for a smaller group. Many centenarians are especially fond of their possessions and will have fond memories at dining table set with her beautiful china and silver.
Buffets will be difficult for senior citizens. If there is a large group of guests, put the food on a buffet or dining table, but have helpers serve the seated senior citizens-especially the birthday girl.
Step 4. Be sure to have a non-alcoholic punch or soft drinks as the celebrant or the elderly guests may need to avoid mixing alcohol with medicines.
Step 5. Bake her favorite Birthday Cake. Top it with letter candles spelling out H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y or put three large candles for 1-0-0 on the cake. Western tradition allows for 100 small candles on the cake, but she probably cannot blow them all out, and this will make her feel bad.
Step 6. Entertainment should be appropriate for senior citizens. Children’s choir is a favorite. A violinist or pianist could provide background music as well as a set program.
Step 7. Consider hiring a photographer or videographer. Copies of these mementoes will be cherished by all members of the family.
Step 8. Decorations make any location festive. Party supplies: banners, balloons, yard signs can be bought at your favorite party store or online.
Don’t forget flowers for centerpieces and corsage or boutonniere for the gentleman.
Step 9. Dress. Work with the birthday celebrant on dress for the day. Make sure has a current hair cut or hair style. Fix makeup for ladies and choose a great looking outfit. Buy a tiara for the birthday girl. Party supply places have fun ones with the number 100 prominently displayed. A funny hat for a birthday guy sets the party mood. They want to look and feel good for this special day.
Step 10. Gifts. Happy Birthday from the Today show and Willard Scott can be obtained by sending a request with a photo to: Willard Scott Birthdays, TODAY show, NBC News, 4001 Nebraska Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016. NBC requests this information be in their hands 6 weeks prior to the recipient’s birthday. They cannot mention everyone on the air, but it doesn’t hurt to send in a request.
Get a list of the birthday celebrants’ governor, US senators, and representatives, and mayor of their town. Write them with the details of the centenarians approaching birthday and ask them to send them a letter of congratulations. Most politicians have staff who tend to such matters.
Contact the local newspaper and the church where the birthday girl or guy is a member. They will print it in the paper or church bulletin. Be sure to say that the birthday will be celebrated with a small, private gathering of family. This way, you won’t get party crashers.
A favorite gift is a digital picture frame with family photos. Gather all photos together, add music, and set it up as a continuous slide show. It is a wonderful way to remind centenarians of their extended family. If you have access to photos from their past, include them as well.
Enjoy this very special party! You will make this person very happy on her birthday.
Sample letter to Mayor requesting a congratulatory letter for the Centenarian
Dated 6 weeks in advance of birthday
Mayor John Doe
City Hall Suite 100
City, St, Zip
Dear Mr. Mayor
It is my honor to prepare a birthday party for one of your city’s newest centenarians. Mrs. Jane Brown Smith has lived in your fine city virtually her whole life. She worked with her husband in his three businesses while raising her two children. She has been active in her church, name of church, and civic organizations, Kiwanis Club, Rotary, and Boy Scouts. List any awards or recognitions that she has received.
Mrs. Smith turns 100 years old on April 17, and it would mean a lot to her to receive a letter of congratulations from you, Mr. Mayor. Please send your letter close to her birthday to:
Mrs. Jane Brown Smith
123 ABC Street
City, St, Zip
Thank you in advance for making her 100th birthday special.
Very truly yours
Mrs. Smith-Jones, daughter