One of my favourite aspects of being the Shot In The Dark Murder Mystery Games Mystery Maiden is designing personalized games for special events and parties. Usually, my clients ask me to design a game to surprise a loved one during an event held in their honor.
A party in someone’s honor is much different than the booze-up birthday party to which some of us have grown accustomed. A party thrown to honor another is an opportunity to feature their accomplishments, milestones and interests.
Hosting a party to honor someone else, be it for a birthday, graduation or anniversary, is something that must be done with care. Here are a few tips to help you plan a party in someone’s honor.
When I was young, I was delighted to hear my dad ordered lawn flamingos to celebrate my mom’s 40th birthday (to my disappointment, the flamingos turned out to be plastic). Fortunately Mom took the embarrassing prank well (but exacted revenge on our 16th birthdays!). When she tried to return my dad the favour a few years later, he did not take the idea of a surprise party well. The difference between my parents was that my mom liked the idea of a surprise in her honor. My dad felt the opposite. When planning your party, you must first determine whether the event will be a surprise, or if the guest of honor will know about it ahead of time. In the case of my parents, my dad would have reacted better had he been told about the party ahead of time. Consider everything you know about the person when deciding whether the party will be a surprise. I never would have guessed my dad would not love a surprise party, and I have known him my whole life! How can you be sure? Bring up the subject of surprise parties casually with your honoree, and gauge their reaction.
The next thing you must do is find out everything you can about the honoree. Regardless of how well you know someone, chances are another person knows something you don’t. Last fall I created a personalized murder mystery game centered around my aunt, who was turning 60. One night, while she was in the shower, I had a clandestine phone conversation with my uncle, who gave me such great ideas that we identified the theme immediately. Brainstorm the information you know along with that which you learn to piece together the details of your party.
The guest list will make or break your party. There are two things to remember when creating a guest list. First, don’t invite the wrong people, and second, do invite the right people! Sure, I could probably throw a party for your Aunt Gertrude. I can tack up pretty green and orange decorations and order a celebratory flan cake. I could even pack out her living room with guests simply by stealing her address book from its spot beside her rotary telephone. But how would I know that “Big Barry” is actually Aunt Gertrude’s exterminator, Penny Marshall is the IRS agent who audited her last year, and Hilda Harper was her once-best friend who stole her favorite pair of peak-toe pumps 30 years ago? The truth is, I won’t know. When Aunt Gertrude enters the party venue, she’ll wonder why her bug guy, auditor and evil ex-best friend are all raising glasses to toast her!
Yet, there are always those people who touch our lives that we would be thrilled to see at a party thrown in our honor. A coach, teacher, mentor, or even an old boss could be on that list, but aren’t in Aunt Gertrude’s address book. Hmmm…. tricky.
First, I would make a list of everyone I know Gertrude likes: her next door neighbour; her best childhood friend; the women from her skydiving club. Next, I would call each of those people and ask them if they can think of anyone else they know who should be on the list, and so on and so forth. I would have to do more than simply steal her address book, but this is Aunt Gert, after all – if she’s worth a blowout party, she’s worth a few phone calls and an afternoon of my time. Inviting mentors, coaches and other people from your honoree’s life means the difference between an everyday party and a true celebration of your guest of honor.
During the party, keep your honoree in the spotlight. Select around five people on the guest list to write and deliver a speech about your honored guest. Not sure who to chose? Pick one person from each part of your honoree’s life. For example: childhood, teen years, 20’s, 30’s etc. If your honoree is young, select from their work/school/social life, and clubs or activities to which your honoree belongs.
Lastly, create memorabelia. To truly stage a classy evening, have invitations or programs made up to commemorate the event. The guests, as well as your guest of honor, will cherish the keepsake for years to come. Don’t know where to get them? We recommend: Nicola Jane Originals at http://www.nicolajane.net/.
Anyone should feel honored to have a party thrown just for them. Follow our tips to ensure your guests – as well as your guest of honor – feel just that: Honored.
For more party hosting tips and to share tips of your own, visit the Shot In The Dark Mystery Games’ Dark Community.