How to Plan an Anniversary Party

What a Great Way to Celebrate and Honor Your Parents!

Few occasions are as special as a wedding anniversary, and when it is your parents’ anniversary, it’s time to celebrate.  They are still holding fast to the commitment they made many years ago, so it is important to honor them well.   When a couple reaches the 50th year anniversary milestone, what could be more special than to share an evening with those who have blessed them throughout their journey?

There are several ways you can do this.  You can write a heartfelt note, get them a special gift, or take them to dinner and tell them in person, but for the very special milestone anniversaries, a party with their friends and family may be the very best way to honor them.

Giving your parents an anniversary party can take a lot of planning but will be well worth it when you see the smiles and enjoyment on their faces when they are with you and the rest of their friends and family in the atmosphere of love and fun you have created.  Some important things to think about are what your parents and the other guests would enjoy most.  Here are some basic steps and ideas for planning the perfect anniversary party for all to enjoy.

Consider Budget, Venue, Food, and Catering for an Anniversary Party

Before going too crazy with party plans, first consider the limitations involved.  What will the budget be?  Typically, your three biggest budget categories are venue, decorations, and food.  Deciding how much to give to each category will help you throughout the entire planning process including where to host the party and how long your guest list can be.  How physically able are your parents and the guests?  Think about if stairs or a long walk from the parking area might be a problem.  How far will your guests be willing and able to travel?  Some groups might be willing and able to travel for a while to attend, while others may not generally travel out of town for an event like this.  Once you have a general idea of your limitations, you will be able to quickly decide what is feasible and what is not in the early planning stages.

Decide on a Location and Venue for Your Anniversary Celebration

Deciding on a location requires answering a lot of questions.  After considering the area and budget for your location, think about what type of venue would best suit the party you are planning.  It is best to roughly fit the size of the venue to the size of the guest list.  The party room should be large enough to not be too crowded, but also small enough to not feel sparsely attended.  Also, think about what you plan to do for food.  This will determine what type of kitchen facilities you need.  If individuals are bringing food for a potluck style dinner, you will need space to plug in slow cookers and refrigerators for cold items.  If a caterer is doing everything, this will not be nearly as important, and just a small, basic kitchen area will suffice.

As a final note about choosing a venue, personally visit the place before committing if possible.  Check out the condition of the facility, paying special attention to parking, walkways, kitchen, and restrooms.  Also, it will make planning easier since you can see how it can possibly be decorated.  You may want to note the number and size of the windows, if there are tables and chairs available to use, and if the facility has any party supplies available.

Decide on Decorations for Your Parents’ Anniversary Event

For many, decorating is the fun part, but no matter what your skill level is, here are some helpful decorating tips.  Begin with deciding how much of your budget can be used for decorations.  Next, decide your color scheme or theme.  Traditionally, there are certain colors already set for milestone anniversaries.  For instance, twenty-fifth anniversaries are silver, and fiftieth anniversaries are gold (The complete list can be found here:  While this can be a great starting point and may fit your parents’ taste well, don’t feel restricted to this theme.  You may want to choose a theme your parents enjoy, such as the beach or Americana, or you may also want to choose a different color scheme that your parents would enjoy more.

Once you have decided on a theme, start shopping.  This can be as simple or extravagant as you like and it can still be very elegant.  Begin with the table settings.  Tablecloths will be the biggest feature of your table, so you can choose to make a statement with a bold color, or simply use white or black as a backdrop for the rest of the table setting.  Next, choose a centerpiece for the table.  This will need to relate to your theme.  Last, choose the place settings.  These will depend on what you choose for food, but they may range from an elegant place setting with real silverware and glasses to disposable plates, cups, and flatware set beside hors d’oeuvres.  Just use what will work well in the environment.

Now that the essentials are in place, you can choose any other decorations you like to add to the aesthetic.  You may need to shop around to find the items you need at a price that works with your budget, but it will be worth it when the final look comes together.

Decide on the Anniversary Party Menu

The menu is where the budget and guest list really dictates what options are available, but with some creativity, most tastes can be easily satisfied with any budget.  Of course, the first thing to consider is what your parents would like best.  Center everything around their favorite foods.  Also, the theme may be helpful, especially if it is more than a color scheme (like the beach or Americana examples).  You may have the budget to have a completely catered gourmet dinner, but with many people, this is not the case.  Don’t worry, there are many options!

Look at your own talents and the talents of those around you.  Maybe a caterer you know (or an amazing home cook) would be willing to cater for a discount.  Also, look at the guest list to see if a potluck style dinner is an option.  Everyone could bring their favorite dish or dessert and get to experience each other’s best culinary masterpieces!

In many cases, the food does not need to be gourmet.  Some chicken salad sandwiches or cold cuts might be just the perfect menu for something a little more casual.  Complete the meal with some chips, fruit and veggie trays, and a bowl of your best punch.

If none of these are an option, consider if small tables of hors d’oeuvres here and there would be a good fit for the occasion.  In many cases, people there are going to be more interested in visiting than in the food, so small food items might make the occasion even more enjoyable as it gives more freedom to move around and speak with everyone.

Planning Activities to Make it Fun and Memorable

Don’t forget about some less traditional activities at your parents’ anniversary party.  These can make the event very special and personal to your family and can make the occasion even more fun and memorable.  These could range from signing a guest book or picture frame to playing group games.  These games might be like what is usually played at a bridal or baby shower, but customized to fit an anniversary.  Think outside the box, and put the perfect finishing touch on your parents’ party.

Giving an anniversary party to honor your parents’ anniversary is a big job, but with some simple planning, is definitely within reach.  Starting early will make it much easier to take it one step at a time.  In the end, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the time with your parents on this special day.  No one will remember the little details that didn’t go exactly perfectly, but everyone will remember the wonderful, quality time that was spent on this special occasion.