A milestone birthday is one worth celebrating. Turning 50 is an opportunity to draw a lifetime of beloved family and friends near for an epic celebration. But planning a party that’s a half-century in the making is no easy task. Not to worry, we’ve done the work for you with a how-to list that makes sure no important detail is forgotten.
We’ve got suggestions for which vendors you should hire as well as how to make your party personal (whether you’re throwing it for yourself or a loved one) and fun. Read on to learn how to plan a 50th birthday party that you and your guests will remember long after your next milestone.
1. Create a Budget
Begin your 50th-birthday planning by creating a budget. It will guide all of the decisions that you’ll make from choosing a venue to how many people you can invite. Some tips:
- Prioritize your non-negotiable vendors and details (don’t forget vendor tips and taxes)
- Leave room for special birthday party details, like a custom cake or balloon arch entrance
2. Make Your Guest List
One of your early decisions will be the size of your celebration. Choosing whom to include in your 50th-birthday party isn’t easy. Start here:
- Collaborate with partners, friends, and family
- Consider cost per person and overall budget
- Keep potential venues and their capacities in mind
3. Hire an Event Planner
While hiring a planner is optional, we highly recommend it. We’re here to help you find a top event planner. Event planners featured on PartySlate know the business – and the people in the business. They boast deep vendor networks and will be able to recommend not only the best spaces for your party but the best décor team for your vision, photographer to capture it all, and more. Also, a planner will focus on all of the in-advance and day-of details, leaving you free to really celebrate.
When choosing your 50th-birthday party planner:
- View portfolios to get a feel for style and approach
- Book an introductory call with 2-3 planners to see if your personalities align
4. Set Your 50th-Birthday Party Date
Set your date and give your guests a heads-up so that they can save the day to celebrate with you. Consider:
- Cross check other important events and dates
- Consider seasonality and out-of-town guests
- Select a few different dates to be flexible with your venue
5. Decide on the Type of Celebration
A 50th-birthday celebration can be any type of gathering, from a sit-down brunch or dinner to a dance-all-night party or activity-based get-together. Whatever you’re thinking, from a day at a ballgame or out on a boat to a dinner in the best private room in the city, a glamorous gala-type party or a destination celebration, PartySlate has inspiration and ideas for you.
Dinner Parties Foster Great Conversations Among Friends
Guests Will Always Remember a Dance-All-Night Party
6. Choose a Venue
Your venue should allow for the type of party you’ve chosen plus offer any extras you’re envisioning — from a view or dance floor to cocktail space or catering options. Find a venue now using these tips:
- Ensure the venue can accommodate your guest list size
- Review the portfolios of the venues on your shortlist
- Narrow down your options based on aesthetic, availability, and cost
- Schedule in-person or virtual venue tours
A Hotel Ballroom is an Elegant Solution
A Historic Space is Perfect For Honoring Your Personal History
A Destination Celebration Allows for Time to be with Friends
A Tent Can Turn Any Space Into a Chic Party
7. Decide on a Theme or Style
Consider favorite color combinations, hobbies and interests, places or time periods that hold meaning, and the potential dress code for guests. Have fun with it. See unique 50th-birthday party themes. Consider:
- Select a color palette to set the tone
- Choose a theme to inspire everything from the décor to the fare
- Include your personality, hobbies, and interests
Some popular 50th birthday party themes include decade themes (Great Gatsby, 1980s, Disco, 1990s), creative color schemes (monochrome, neon), themes that evoke another locale (tropics, Paris, space), or activities (casino, winter olympics, Candy Land), and pop culture themes (tv shows, zodiac). We walk you through all the steps of choosing your perfect theme with our Best Party Themes Resource Guide.
Draw Inspiration from a Favorite Place, Like this Italy-Inspired Soirée
Honor the Celebrant’s Passion, Like this Nautical-Themed Party
Evoke a Decade & Have Guests Dress the Part
8. Select & Send Invites
In addition to your 50th-birthday party invitations (and save-the-date notices), your stationer can design signage, menus, napkins, and more for your celebration. Some tips:
- Find an invitation designer once you’ve settled on your party’s date, location, and theme
- Share your colors or theme to inspire the design
- Send or mail your invitation with a minimum of 6-weeks notice
9. Hire a Photographer
You’ll want to remember this time with friends and family. Note: find a photographer soon, as they book fast. How to make sure you capture every moment:
- View photographer portfolios to get a feel for their artistry and style
- Share a shot list to help your photographer stay organized and ensure that you get the shots you want
10. Decide on a Caterer & Set Your Menu
If your venue doesn’t have in-house catering options, you’ll need to find a caterer. When setting your menu:
- Consider the time of day, theming, and seasonality of ingredients
- Include some of the guest of honor’s favorite dishes to personalize the menu
Consider a Mix of Passed & Buffet Bites
Add an Interactive Station
Bring Your Theme to Your Fare
11. Select Entertainment
Your 50th-birthday party entertainment options are endless. For an engaging and interactive activity, consider a cocktail workshop or mixologists who are also showmen, serving up cocktails with flair. Think about including an MC to ensure that your celebration runs smoothly. Additionally:
- For musical entertainment, think about the vibe you want and tone you want to set
- Consider additional performers to add interest, like dancers, magicians, acrobats, or live artists
The Right Music Engages Guests, Whether it’s a DJ or Live Band
Consider Acts That Tie to Your Locale or Theme
12. Work with a Design, Décor & Floral Team
View design team portfolios on PartySlate and work with your planner to choose a design team, then:
- Schedule a walk through at your venue to visualize your designs
- Customize designs to your theme or style; consider: the entrance, tabletops, bar, dance floor, etc.
Make a Grand Entrance
Deck Out Your Tabletops
Include a Dramatic Ceiling Installation
13. Ensure That Your A/V Needs are Met
If you’re working with a good planner and design team, you can go ahead and cross this off your list.
- Confirm that you have the sound system and equipment needed to support music and speeches
- Make sure there’s the right lighting for the aesthetic of your celebration
- Hire an A/V and technology team to augment your venue’s in-house systems as needed
The Right Lighting Creates a Party Atmosphere
Set the Stage for a Fun Party
Don’t forget an epic (and on-theme) dance floor
Make Sure Those Meaningful Speeches Can be Heard by All
14. Consider an Immersive Activity
Add a Unique Touch, Like an Illustrator or Cigar Roller
Engage Guests with Fun & Games
Include a Photo Spot with a Styled Backdrop
15. Make it Personal
Whether it’s napkins with fun facts, an entrance to a favorite song, a photo montage, or a cake that incorporates interests and hobbies, ensure that the party expresses the guest of honor’s personality.
16. Sweeten the Party With Dessert
Make sure there’s an opportunity to blow out candles with fanfare. Theme the cake to the party and offer additional sweet moments like a macaron tower or an ice cream truck. Locate a bakery or food truck nearby.
Don’t Forget a Cake to Perch Candles On
Curate a Full Dessert Spread
17. Take Care of Your Guests
- Arrange for guest transportation and a hotel block if you have out-of-town guests
- Be clear about your dress code
- Offer party favors to remind your guests of their good time and how much they mean to you
…Then End the Night in a Memorable Way
People Also Ask…
What is a good theme for a 50th-birthday party?
When it comes to 50th birthday party themes, the options are endless. PartySlate offers limitless party inspiration with real event albums, idea galleries, and informative articles; discover the best ideas and inspiration.
You can also click to see more fun and creative party themes for an unforgettable 50th birthday or other milestone celebration below:
Where should I have a 50th-birthday party?
An incredible milestone birthday party requires an incredible team of party vendors — as well as an amazing location. Use PartySlate’s venue directory to find the perfect spot for your celebration. Here, you’ll find everything from rooftops in your home city to destination locales worth the trip. Make sure to narrow your search by filtering by location, amenities, and more to find the best fit for your party planning needs.