A 70th Birthday Party He’ll Never Forget

by Sam F Posted on November 01, 2010

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I just threw a 70th birthday celebration my dad he will never forget. There are few things I can do for my dad, but this was something I knew he would really appreciate. Who wouldn’t enjoy having all the people that love you come together in celebration?

I planned this New Jersey event from 3,000 miles away. Despite the geographic challenges, it was just perfect. People are still talking about it and my dad is just so touched that he keeps thanking me.

It went so well, in fact, that I wanted to share 10 things that made it great for your benefit:

1. Venue
I was fortunate to secure a private room at the popular Brownstone in Paterson, NJ. This venue has special meaning because my parents had their wedding reception there in 1965 and their 25th anniversary party there in 1989. This venue has recently gained popularity due to its being featured on The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Bravo TV), so I was lucky to get my preferred Saturday date. I must say that the family that owns this venue was amazing at providing fantastic food and a great end-to-end experience.

2. Invitations that Set the Tone
Invitations set the tone and I wanted mine to let everyone know what a special event this would be. For this, I chose a fun Shutterfly invite that included a featured photo of my dad.

3. The Photo Book Gift That Took His Breath Away
This is among my favorite books ever. I presented it with a toast to my dad to pay tribute to him on his 70th birthday and he was blown away. This 70 page book summarizes his 7 decades. It also contains very personal, heartfelt letters to him from every family member and close friend. These letters show photos of each person who contributed and shares what my dad means to each of them, the qualities they admire, favorite memories with him and personal birthday wishes. I also created a spread that summarized all the kind things that people feel towards him – the foundation for my toast at the celebration.

4. Photo Posters on Rigid Boards
I created seven 20×30 rigid posters and propped them on easels. The first one was an adapted version of the invitation displayed as you entered the room. The rest were vintage and current photos of my dad that told the story of 7 decades in authentic moments. The rigid boards were from Costco at $24.99 each and the easels were from Amazon at only $20.99 and free shipping.

5. PhotoShow DVD
I used the whole sequence of pictures from my dad’s photo book and created a PhotoShow DVD in minutes with a soundtrack. The venue also provided me with a flat-screen TV to play this.

6. Music Playlists
I created three playlists on our iPod which set a great mood. We started off with 60’s cocktail music for appetizers and drinks, moved into general music from 50’s – 70’s for dinner and moved into upbeat music for later evening. All the music was drawn from decades my dad would appreciate and the songs were curated to appeal to a wide range of ages.

7. Share Site
I took all the photos and videos from the party and shared them to all the attendees days after the party so everyone could relive the experience.

8. Party Photo Book
From the best photos on the share site, I easily created a book to preserve and relive the joy of the evening.

9. Thank You Notes
I took a photo of my dad holding his 12×12 photo book gift and make beautiful thank you note cards. While not a person who writes thank you notes, he was so thankful that he actually send out over 30 notes within the week after the party.

10. Family Photo Framed
It was unusual to have our whole immediate family together for a group photo, so as a follow-up gift, my dad received a framed picture to remind him every day.


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  1. Earl J Says:

    What an event, and what a terrific amount of work that contributed to its success. An absolute thrill to read and view.

  2. Joey Says:

    Sam I love this idea and the book you made your dad was so heartfelt and wonderful. Personal messages from loved ones really add that extra touch to a book and one can tell your dad is well loved and admired. What a great venue you had this big celebration at. I Love the 20×30 posters and the easles. Such a great and clever idea, the invites and thank you’s were top-notch. What a thoughtful thing to do. I love the family photo – what a treasured gift. I can see why your dad would be continuly thanking you. This is really great!
    I did something similar for my sister’s 40th, i made the invites through Shutterfly (should have done thank you’s), i made her a book and asked her friends and family to write a special note and send a photo. I also left spaces for people to write in the book. She loved it. It was the first time in a long time that my mom’s side of the family were all together, except a few of my cousins. So i made each of my aunts, mom, and uncle a book showcasing pictures of their side of the family. I did the same for my dads side too. They all LOVED the books. Its amazing how a small gesture can really make someone so happy!
    Loved this article and all the fun ideas to pull off a great party!

  3. TonetteB Says:

    This birthday party you planned for your dad’s 70th birthday was amazing! I loved all the details and special touches you added! The invitation is gorgeous! Who wouldn’t be excited to go to your dad’s party getting that awesome invitation! I love how you made the poster board with balloons at the entrance way! The photobook gift was priceless! You put your heart and soul in that photobook and I know you dad had to love it! Then after that amazing party you should have a photobook to remember all the hardwork, energy, & effort put into it! Then of course to see everyone having fun at the party! I’m so happy it was a huge success! Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  4. AnnAbbott Says:

    From start to finish this party was perfect. All of the tools you used to make your father birthday unforgettable were so easy to use. I love every step you took to make this day perfect. Your father must have felt like the man of the hour, as he should. Incredible… BRAVO!

more about Sam F

My name is Sam and I have been using Shutterfly since 2005. Since my first Mickey Mouse camera in 1970, I have been obsessed with taking photos. Now with three kids of my own, I have even more reason. In my home, I am the chief photo taker, organizer and the guy who does stuff with them. I have made many Shutterfly share sites (family, soccer, school), photo books (for self and gifts), holiday cards, birth announcements and more. I have a million ideas of what I want to do next. I love Shutterfly. Ask anyone.

View all articles by Sam F »

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