The big 5-0: tips and tricks for celebrating your 50th birthday

Turning fifty is a big deal. After five decades of wisdom and experience, you’ll need a birthday party to match everything you’ve accomplished thus far.

With so much life lived and so much more to go, turning fifty is the perfect excuse for an extravagant birthday celebration. If you’re in need of some planning ideas, we’ve got you covered. Read on for nine exciting 50th birthday ideas.

What do you do for a 50th birthday party?

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate your loved one turning 50, try one of these fun quinquagenarian party ideas:

 

Left: “On the Spot” invitation by Paperless Post featuring an illustration of a spotlight on stage on a crushed velvet background. | Right: Photo of a young girl playing guitar in a bedroom.

On the Spot” by Paperless Post

 

1. Push guests to their limit with a talent show

After five decades on this planet, you’re bound to accumulate a few talents. So, why not make them the theme of a 50th birthday party? Invite guests to show off their unique abilities for a celebratory talent show!

Of course, performing for this 50th birthday idea won’t be mandatory, but your invitation should welcome any willing participants to bust a move, belt a tune, or whip out those juggling skills. Highlight this portion of the celebration on your invitations, and use Paperless Post’s online RSVP tracker to figure out the evening’s talent lineup. You can even cap the night off with a grand finale presented by the guest of honor! 

Example wording for your talent show birthday party may include:


BIG BIRTHDAY, SMALL PARTY: SUSAN IS 50! 

Join us Friday, April 23 6:30 – 10:00 PM. 

Your Present = Participation in Susan’s 50th birthday wish: A Talent Show! 

*Talent not required, but performance is mandatory. 

**Dust off that baton, ladies and gents!

 

“The F Word” invitation by Cheree Berry Paper & Design for Paperless Post featuring graphic typography of the words “F*%# Fifty” on a beige background.

The F Word” by Cheree Berry Paper & Design for Paperless Post

 

2. Keep it relaxed with an open house

The older we get, the harder it becomes to wrangle all our loved ones for a birthday party. From conflicting obligations to busy schedules, guests may have trouble making a strict call time for a 50th birthday party.

If you’re planning a big bash with all your friends and family and you want to ensure you host a good party, it may be a good idea to host an open house event. This means setting a wide time frame—let’s say, between 6 PM and 11 PM—and encouraging guests to arrive whenever they’re able to.

Hosting an open house party will also give the guest of honor a chance to catch up with all their favorite people. Since 50 is such a milestone birthday, it’s the perfect excuse to relive your teen years with a good, old-fashioned house party!

For an added dose of humor, select an invitation that emphasizes this youthful party theme. For example:

 

F*%# fifty

Please join Karen to celebrate

being young AF.

Saturday, September 30 at 7:00 PM.

 

“Savoy - Gold” invitation by Paperless Post featuring a customizable photo opening and a triangle motif on a grey background.

Savoy – Gold” by Paperless Post

 

3. Send out save the dates

Speaking of busy schedules, you may want to give your guests a heads up about the party in advance. The best way to do this? By sending out stylish save the dates, of course!

When people think of save the dates, their mind usually goes straight to weddings—but save the dates can actually be used for a variety of different occasions. If you’re planning a big celebration with a long guest list, save the dates will help people plan for the party in advance. 

Your save the dates should include the date, time, and location of the event (especially if you’ve rented out a venue). Additionally, you’ll want to share a thoughtful message regarding the guest of honor and the age they’re turning. For example:

 

Stanley Webber is turning fifty. 

Join us in toasting his grand achievement.

September 6th, at 7 PM.

6 Panton Street, London.

 

“Champagne Glasses” invitation by Paperless Post featuring an illustration of two champagne glasses on a dark grey background.

Champagne Glasses” by Paperless Post

 

4. Plan a surprise party

No matter how many birthdays we celebrate, surprise parties never seem to get old. Surprising the guest of honor shows that you put time, effort, and planning into their big day—and what could be a better gift than making your loved one feel appreciated?

For a surprise party, you’ve got three main options for venues:

 

— Their home – Luring your loved one out of their home for a surprise party can be tricky, but it’s one of the best ways to ensure they’re truly surprised. Offer to bring them out for an intimate birthday dinner, and have another person set up the celebration while you’re gone. This will throw off any suspicions of a larger celebration, and leave your loved one fully surprised when they return home.

 

— Your home – Another option for your surprise party location would be to host at your own home. Invite the guest of honor over under the pretense of a small gathering, and watch their jaw drop when all their loved ones jump out and yell “happy birthday!”

 

— Another venue – If you really want to make an impression on your guest of honor, opt for an interesting venue to host a surprise party. Ideas may include a banquet hall (for particularly large gatherings), or their favorite restaurant. This option may require additional planning and expenses, but it’s bound to leave a lasting impression for such an important birthday. You only turn 50 once, after all!

 

As for the invitations, it’s crucial that everyone knows the details of your upcoming surprise party. Be sure to include when the surprise will occur, what time the guests should arrive, and where the event will take place. Wording may look something like this:

 

Toast to turning fifty

Surprise party at The Grand

159 Barcelona St. 

Friday, June 1st

8 PM

*Tom will be arriving at 8:30.

 

“Confetti (Square) - Black” invitation by kate spade new york for Paperless Post featuring a black card with gold confetti details on a white background.

Confetti (Square) – Black” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post

 

5. Skip the gifts

At a certain point in life, material possessions start to feel like just that: material. For a 50th birthday, the best gift people can bring is their presence. When planning a party for this big year, consider amplifying this on your invitations. You’ll want to make sure guests understand that being there is more important than sending a gift in their absence. The party planner can even put together a charity donation in place of gift giving, particularly if the guest of honor has a specific charity in mind. 

Wording for an invitation like this may look like:

 

Join us to celebrate John’s 50th birthday

485 3rd St. New York, NY. 7 PM.

We request no gifts, only your presence on this important occasion

We will be accepting donations to one of the birthday boy’s favorite charities

Please reply with your contribution and RSVP.

 

As the party experts, we know that a little something for a big birthday is always appreciated. If you insist on gifts, head to our section below with ideas on the perfect gift for that newly minted 50-year-old in your life. 

 

“Tee Time” invitation by Paperless Post featuring an illustration of a big golf ball on a green. The card is on a red background.

Tee Time” by Paperless Post

 

6. Make a weekend of it

Turning 50 is a big deal, and celebrating this accomplishment shouldn’t be limited to a single evening. For a celebration truly fit for a 50-year-old, consider planning a multi-day excursion with a small group of friends and family.

To plan the perfect trip, consider your guest of honor’s favorite activities. Options could include:

 

— A golfing weekend – Book a stay at your favorite golf resort and spend the weekend hitting the green. To help break up the trip, make a reservation for a nice birthday dinner and enjoy any other perks the county club has to offer (spa day, anyone?).

 

— Yacht club celebration – Does your guest of honor enjoy the open seas? Opt for a weekend at your favorite yacht club. Invitations can request appropriate all-white attire, nautical gifts, and an itinerary for your sailing schedule.

 

— Beachy staycation – If your guest of honor has the luxury of a summer birthday, opt for a beachy staycation at your closest coastal hotspot. Book an AirBNB or beachside cottage to accommodate your guests and stay close to the sand and surf. 

 

For a multi-day celebration, you’ll need to send out RSVPs ahead of time. Doing so will help you get an accurate headcount and make the proper arrangements for a smooth, organized trip. Wording may include:

 

David turns 50, let’s celebrate.

Please join us on a two-day trip at the Kirkwood Golf Resort

Saturday, June 11th to Sunday, June 12th

Please RSVP by June 1st

 

“Around the Sun” invitation by Paperless Post featuring an illustration of a golden sun with the word “Fifty” written vertically down the center. The card is shown on a gold background.

Around the Sun” by Paperless Post

 

7. Host a zoom celebration

Many people are continuing to enjoy the convenience of digital celebrations. If your guest of honor tends to live a busy lifestyle, consider opting for an easy Zoom toast to kick off their 50th birthday.

A Zoom toast can also make a great addition to other birthday events, particularly if the main celebration will only include a small group of people. Coworkers and long-distance loved ones will make a perfect guestlist for your virtual festivity. 

For wording ideas to help craft your invite, consider writing something like:

 

Mark Thackery is turning fifty,

Join us in toasting him!

Zoom link to follow.

 

A Zoom toast is an easy, inclusive way for everyone to celebrate the guest of honor, even if they can’t be there in person. Just make sure the WiFi is up and running!

 

“Come Sing the Hits - Blue” invitation by Paperless Post featuring a card shaped like a glittery karaoke machine. The card is featured on a yellow background.

Come Sing the Hits – Blue” by Paperless Post

 

8. Cocktails and karaoke night

Sometimes, singing happy birthday just isn’t enough. If your guest of honor is a fan of sipping and singing, give them the best of both worlds with a cocktails and karaoke night!

Many karaoke bars provide private rooms for small groups, and this will allow the perfect balance of privacy and audience to get your guests in the musical mood. From there, drinks can be ordered directly from the bar to keep the party going all night long. 

We recommend calling your karaoke bar of choice in advance if you’re planning a birthday party. This will give the staff a chance to reserve a room for the amount of people you’ve invited. You can also request access to the room beforehand to set up some celebratory party decor as a nice surprise. 

Wording for your cocktails and karaoke invitation can look something like this:

 

Bethany is turning 50, let’s celebrate!

Join us for singing, sipping, and dancing the night away at the Karaoke Lounge

Friday, April 25th

7 PM to 11 PM

 

Left: “Azalea Grove” invitation by John Derian for Paperless Post featuring illustrations of azaleas. The card is featured on a cream background. | Right: Close up photo of a cocktail with a pink flower in it.

Azalea Grove” by John Derian for Paperless Post

 

9. Floral fiftieth fête

Flowers take time to bloom, and so do people. With that in mind, what better way to celebrate your loved one’s 50th birthday than a flourishing, floral fête? Hosting a floral festivity will give you plenty of inspiration for decor, and lend to a number of other fun additions to the party. Stay on theme by incorporating:

 

Floral foods and cocktails – Add edible flowers to the evening’s dishes. Order fruits carved into beautiful, floral shapes. You can even opt for a delicious cocktail recipe that incorporates flowers, like this sakura martini with salted cherry blossoms.

 

Go all out with centerpieces – If you’re hosting a sit down dinner or cocktail party, adorn your tables with gorgeous floral centerpieces. Incorporate elegant blossoms—like roses, lilies, and orchids—for a look that perfectly embodies year 50. If you want to add an even more personalized touch, try incorporating the guest of honor’s birth month flower.


Give out birthday party favors – Send everyone home with their own floral arrangement for a perfectly on-theme party favor! This is a great way to thank guests for their presence on this special occasion. 

 

Photo of a gold necklace on a hanger with a linen shirt.

What is a traditional gift for a 50th birthday party?

Want to get your loved one something unique and special for their 50th? There are no rules when it comes to gift-giving, but certain items are considered traditional for a 50th birthday party. If you’re looking for some age-appropriate present inspiration, gold items are a common gift for people turning 50. Gift ideas for your loved one’s golden jubilee year may include:

 

— A gold watch

— Gold earrings

— A golden locket with a meaningful photo inside

— A personalized golden broach

— Gold plated cufflinks

 

Paperless Post: the new way to throw a party

Sending out invitations is an essential part of throwing a party—but snail mail simply isn’t the way to go in 2021. That’s why we created Paperless Post.

Paperless Post is a different approach to party planning. Our digital invitations make it easy to plan your next celebration. With elegant invitation designs, save the dates, and even online RSVP trackers, Paperless Post has everything you need to plan a modern birthday party.

 

 

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