What Can Our Preschoolers Do for Grandparent's 50th Wedding Anniversary

QUESTION

My parents 50th wedding anniversary is this year. I'm hoping/planning/wanting to throw them a party, but on a budget. I was wondering what things I can do with this theme in mind.

I keep thinking I'd like to make a special scrapbook for them, but I know time will be an issue for that. I was thinking instead, maybe just a more simple photo album with pictures.

I also keep wanting to make them a memory quilt, but I don't know if I would really have time to do that either.

I also would appreciate ideas that I can use at the party to keep the kids occupied. There are so many kids in different age ranges that would likely be there -- preschool through teens and even young (or older) adults -- that would be interested in doing something, if we had it available.

I haven't picked a location yet, but the top choices are outdoors at a park, or the church hall for a reception there (if we can use it) or the community center. I think we would have over 100 people there, maybe more. I know people will help out in bringing food and a single rose/flower (to make a bouquet for them), and maybe a photo (I'm really not sure) instead of a gift (my parents keep saying there is nothing they want). I'm not sure how to exactly word that in the invitation though.

I'm hoping you can help me. Thanks again,
Bonita

ANSWER

Bonita,
50th Anniversaries are such a wonderful time to celebrate family. My grandparents had a great party for their 50th and my in-laws had a special event for their 60th. I'll answer the simple questions first. Wording on an invitation for no gifts can be something along the lines of "You presence in the only present we need." The ideas of bringing photos or the single flower for a bouquet are perfect! You could use that in the invitation instead of the line above.

"Instead of a gift, please bring a rose (or flower) to add to a collective bouquet from all of their loved ones who will gather at the celebration."

or

"Instead of a gift, please bring a photograph with a special memory to share with the anniversary couple."

Provide a special vase to collect flowers or a special photo album where photos can be placed when guests arrive.

If it will be at a time of year when the weather is likely to be lovely, the park could be wonderful and allow space for children to have fun. I don't know how it works where you live, but here, if we will have a large group at a park, we can reserve ramadas in advance. This not only gives us areas with grills for Bar-B-Qs but also shelter from the sun or rain. And since you have reserved them, you can go in and decorate before everyone arrives.

Church halls are usually available for a reasonable fee, as long as they aren't already scheduled for another function. If you have the event indoors, there is no concern for the weather and you can use helium balloons for decorations and just let them go up to the ceiling with long ribbons so you can retrieve them when the party is over. They create a really festive atmosphere for a very small investment. You would probably also have more advance time for set-up and decorating in a hall or community center. Most such halls also have kitchens and tables/chairs available too.

Regarding the two gifts you mentioned -- both time consuming: a scrapbook/photo album or a quilt: Both could be handled in a way that would involve family and friends and make either/or incredibly special gifts.

Ask each family member to create a single scrapbook page with special photos etc. showing their family members with the anniversary couple. Friends can submit pages, too. After everyone submits their page, it's easy to assemble them all into a one scrapbook. All you have to do is make one page for your family, assemble all into the book and maybe do a unique cover design if you like.

A quilt can be handled in a similar manner. There are quilt kits where you can put a photo on each quilt square. You could use those and give one to each family member or friend and have them put a photo on their square and quilt it according to directions. Or you can supply each family with the measurements and perhaps, a color scheme, and they can create an individual quilt square in any manner they wish.

If you don't have time or experience to piece the squares together, there is a good chance that if you ask around you will be able to find a family member or friend who will actually enjoy doing something like this. If that happens, all you have to do is create one square and organize the project. If you can't find someone to quilt them all together, you might consider a "tie-quilt". It is a much faster method. You still have to sew the squares together to make a single fabric quilt top. Then you sandwich the top over quilt batting and a bottom fabric. Place them in a quilting hoop to hold the fabric tightly and tie through the layers with yarn or embroidery floss at regular intervals to keep everything in place.

For the kids, try simple carnival-style games that they can play over and over. Set up items that they can knock over by bowling or tossing a ball. Set up baskets or bowls and let them toss items and try to get them into the containers. Do a "fish pond" game and other things of this nature. Maybe someone in the family knows how to do magic tricks or can dress up like a clown and entertain children with balloon animals. (Watch out for balloons with little children. They are a serious choking hazard.) You can come up with a wedding or anniversary theme for the games by using items like flowers, rings, hearts, plastic champagne glasses, turtle doves etc. as game pieces in some way. Adults can be welcomed to join in the fun.

For everyone, choose background and dancing music. Try for some favorites for each generation, but gear it primarily for the older friends and family members. Live entertainment is not necessary (although great fun if possible) and someone in the family is likely to have the talent to put event music together.

Make time for some speeches! They can be entertaining and free too. Let family members share memories. You can also do a slide show with music behind. There are companies that do this for a fee, but if you can figure out PowerPoint or similar program, it's not at all difficult to do on your own (or, once again, there might be someone in the family or friend circle who is knowledgeable in this area.

Finally, try to come up with simple but treasured favors for all the guests to remember to occasion. There are countless options available. Even just a photo of your grandparents in a small frame or on a printed bookmark will work. Tie some chocolate kisses together with a ribbon and tag that lists their names and the anniversary date, with their photo on the tag. It doesn't have to be fancy and expensive. Something like this can be produced on your computer with very little effort.

Make it a celebration for all ages and everyone will have a memorable time, especially the anniversary couple who will enjoy watching their loved ones have fun together.

Enjoy!
Kas

Kas Winters

Kas Winters, the "Mother of Family Ideas," provides resources to help families thrive. An author and public speaker, this grandmother creates books, offers hundreds of family activity articles on her website, EverythingFamily.net, and does workshops for parents and children. Kas is passionate about helping children develop a positive self-image, providing hands-on experiences to give them confidence, and building strong supportive relationships. Her basic philosophy is: children learn best when they think they are having fun. Discover more than 5,000 activities for toddlers through teens to keep them busy while helping them become successful and happy adults in her book, "Motherlode." Jump-start children's imaginations with unstructured materials and possibilities. Encourage creative play that builds skills, confidence, and relationships with active fun, the arts, science, literature, life skills, and hands-on experiences. Ideas use everyday materials, usually free, which help make parenting easy. Winters has written, illustrated and/or published almost 100 books for families and writes family articles for magazines. As the "Family Activities Expert" for Pregnancy.org, Kas posts articles and answers questions related to this topic.