80th birthday party -- planning, toasts and messages

Folks born in the 1940s are now in their eighth decade. So how can you make their 80th birthday party special?  By gathering friends and family, memories, perhaps some songs or poems and plenty of smiles to let the celebrated octogenarian know they are appreciated and cherished.

Remember, 80 is the new 70 and there are plenty of 80-year-olds still making their mark. As Mark Twain famously said, "Age is an issue of mind over matter; if you don't mind, it doesn't matter."  So read on for ideas on making the 80th birthday celebration a party to remember.

family celebrating 80th birthday party

80th birthday party: Forget about stuff

Most people in their 70s and 80s will tell you they have all the stuff you need. Don't worry about buying trinkets or gadgets they'll just have to find a place to store. Your best bet is to focus on sharing good memories and good food with friends and family. That's the best gift you can give an 80-year-old.

Another thoughtful gesture is to ask if they have a favorite charity. You could then suggest that those who wish to recognize the 80th birthday party with a gift could donate to that charity in the person's honor. Charities will notify the birthday person of donors but will not disclose the amount of your gift. That's a great way to promote a good cause and remain within one's budget.

You may be tempted to give gag gifts. That's okay but be careful. Unless you know the person has a great sense of humor, you risk embarrassing or humiliating them with gag gifts you think are cute but make fun of them or their age.

Choosing the venue - think about accessibility

Not everyone attending an 80th birthday party will be mobile. Depending on the size of the gathering and the health of those attending, the ideal spot is often in a home, a convenient restaurant or a community gathering place such as a church fellowship hall or meeting room. If most guests will be older or retired, you will probably want a daytime event. Or, if many of your guests are working during the day, opt for a weekend during the day or early evening. Remember, seniors may have difficulties driving at night.

Be sure to consider the accessibility needs of your guests who do not do well walking long distances or may have difficulty with stairs.

If the gathering is large, have a microphone is available for the sake of those who may have trouble hearing. Here's a list of factors to consider if when planning for accessibility.

80th birthday toasts and speeches

When you're planning an 80th birthday toast, think about the life experiences the person has had. If you had a special association with the person, reflect on one experience you've shared that is meaningful, humorous or suggests a quality that everyone would agree on.

Has there been a time when the person was generous, caring or involved in a secret that, in retrospect, is funny?

Another approach is to consider what people in this age group have in common. 

People who are approaching their 80th birthday most likely had a father who served in World War II. Their parents were formed by the Great Depression and the willingness to sacrifice personal needs for the greater good, giving them the moniker of the Greatest Generation. 

Children of these Depression-era parents grew up during a period of post-war enthusiasm and a sense of possibilities. Their parents wanted children to have a better life. And changes post-war in the society ushered in the Information Age which changed the way we looked at ourselves and others.  Those born 1946 or after were part of the huge Baby Boom generation that lasted through births in the early 1960s.

Major changes during the life of an 80-year-old

Early console televisionSilar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Hippies with Make Love Not War signJonnie Nord, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Early computerAnton Chiang from Cupertino, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

80-year-olds witnessed the introduction of television, interstate highways, migration from the farms to the big cities, the growth of manufacturing and dramatic social change with integration, the civil rights movement and women joining the work force.

They were present at the beginning of the space age with Sputnik and the first landing of a man on the moon. They remember life before computers.

The 80-year-old whose birthday is being celebrated might have been a Hippie, a civil rights demonstrator, a bra-burner or a Deadhead. Or they might have answered the call to serve in Vietnam.

80 year olds have also lived through the revolution in how we communicate with each other. Ten years ago it was rare for an octogenarian to be online but today, the vast majority will have email addresses. Many  will ask you to follow them on Facebook and some text grandchildren daily with photos of their cat.  

Yet some things never change: the love of family, the need for connection and the urge to do something to add value to the lives of others.

80th birthday party messages and poems 

Here are some ideas to send as greetings in cards if you want to leave a different kind of message at the 80th birthday party or send the person a card.

A light touch for one with a sense of humor
Cheers to our Octogenarian
Who’s anything but a contrarian.
He’s easy to please
Puts people at ease.
And healthy, though no vegetarian.

To a longtime friend
80 years young and keeping that smile.
That’s made me feel happy for quite a long while.
We’ve been such good friends for so many years
That on this special day, I will only say “CHEERS.”
Happy Birthday!

In praise of wisdom
At age 80, you’ve shown us both wisdom and grace
And that there is life beyond the rat race.
You’ve demonstrated how to be patient and kind
And how to be happy and have peace of mind.
Thank you and Happy Birthday to a very special person.

Shorter rhymes for cards
To one who is 80, and witty and wise
May your day be fun and filled with surprise.

Happy birthday to one who is funny and dear!
Cheers to you from your friends on your 80th year.

You’re 80 years old and have many talents.
My favorite is that you keep life in balance.

Special ideas to celebrate an 80th birthday

Collect memories

Although some guests will want to make a speech, everyone should have a chance to share special memories they have of the 80 year old. The best way to do that is to give invited guests some advance notice that you will have a memory book or cards for them to write their special memories on. Few of us are quick to think on our feet. People respond better when they  have a chance to think and plan ahead.

You should have something available near the entrance so guests can write or drop their memories into a collection box or plate. (Be sure this is some distance from the main door and  that  several people at a time can pick up a card so there will not be a bottleneck with guests coming in.)

Memory note cardLeave note cards or memory books where people can share their special memories or greetings.

Get birthday greetings from the elected officials or other leaders

Rule Number 1:  Plan ahead. 
You need to submit requests a minimum of 30 days in advance. And the higher the office, the more time you should allow. 

Birthday greetings from the Governor

Allow a month or more for your request. Go to your state governor's website. Search for Proclamations or Special Greetings and fill out the information. 

Birthday greetings from the Mayor or Declaration of a Special Day (in smaller communities)

Go to the website of the Office of the Mayor in your city.  Submit a contact form by email. Alternatively, you could contact the mayor's administrative assistant or executive assistant.

Birthday letter from past employer, minister or other significant person

Submit your request in writing by email or letter with details about the birthday person and how they are related to the organization. Use the contact link on the website or call the office. While such requests likely do not require a month, the more time you give these busy people, the more likely you are to get a good response from your request.

Collect memorabilia from the person's childhood or youth

You might have a collection of vintage items that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Such articles could include

  • Play-Doh
  • hula hoops
  • cloth dolls
  • toy trains or trucks
  • Pogo stick
  • Frisbee
  • toy drum
  • Mr and Mrs. Potato Head
  • Tinkertoys
  • Slinky
  • Viewmaster
  • Etch-A-Sketch
cloth doll

Amazing how many of these old toys had staying power for decades.

Source :What Was the Most Popular Toy The Year You Were Born? | Dusty Old Thing

Good luck with your party planning. And know that whatever you do, be it a grand celebration or a small family affair, your efforts will provide precious memories to the celebrated 80-year-old.