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One of my favorite aspects of being Shot In The Dark Murder Mystery Games Mystery Maiden is designing custom 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 honoring someone is very different from the alcoholic birthday party that some of us have become accustomed to. A party organized to honor another is an opportunity to present your accomplishments, milestones, and interests.
Throwing a party to honor someone else, whether it’s for a birthday, graduation, or anniversary, should be done carefully. Here are some tips to help you plan a party in honor of someone.
When I was young, I loved hearing my father order lawn flamingos to celebrate my mother’s 40th birthday (to my disappointment, the flamingos turned out to be plastic). Fortunately, Mom took the embarrassing joke well (but she got her revenge on our 16 years!). When she tried to return the favor for my dad a few years later, he didn’t 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 if the event will be a surprise or if the guest of honor will know in advance. In my parents’ case, my father would have reacted better if they had told him about the party in advance. Consider everything you know about the person when deciding if the party will be a surprise. I never would have guessed that my dad wouldn’t love a surprise party, and I’ve known him forever! How can you be sure? Bring up the subject of surprise parties informally with your honoree and gauge their reaction.
The next thing to do is find out everything you can about the honoree. Regardless of how well you know someone, someone else probably knows something that you don’t. Last fall I created a custom murder mystery game centered on 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 subject immediately. Think about the information you know along with what 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, invite the right people! Sure, I could probably throw a party for your Aunt Gertrude. I can garnish pretty green and orange decorations and order a celebratory flan cake. You could even fill your living room with guests simply by stealing your address book from its place next to your rotary phone. But how was I to know that “Big Barry” is actually Aunt Gertrude’s exterminator, Penny Marshall is the IRS agent who audited her last year, and that Hilda Harper was her best friend who ever stole her? favorite pair of high heels 30 years ago? ? The truth is that I won’t know. When Aunt Gertrude walks into the party venue, she will wonder why her bug boy, her auditor, and her evil ex-best friend are raising glasses to toast her.
However, there are always people who touch our lives that we would love to see at a party in our honor. A coach, teacher, mentor, or even a former boss might be on that list, but not in Aunt Gertrude’s address book. Hmmm … complicated.
First, I’d make a list of all the people I know that Gertrude likes: her next door neighbor; her best friend from childhood; the women of his skydiving club. Then I would call each of those people and ask if they can think of someone else they know who should be on the list, and so on. I’d have to do more than just steal her address book, but this is Aunt Gert, after all: if a blast party is worth it, it’s worth a few phone calls and an afternoon of my time. Inviting mentors, coaches, and others from your honoree’s life means the difference between a daily party and a true celebration of your guest of honor.
During the party, keep your honor in the spotlight. Select about five people on the guest list to write and deliver a speech about your guest of honor. Not sure who to choose? Choose one person from each part of your honoree’s life. For example: childhood, adolescence, 20, 30, etc. If your honoree is young, select between their work / school / social life and the clubs or activities your honoree belongs to.
Lastly, create memorabelia. To organize a classy evening, make invitations or programs to commemorate the event. Guests, as well as your guest of honor, will cherish the keepsake for many years to come. Not sure where to get them? We recommend: Nicola Jane Originals at http://www.nicolajane.net/.
Anyone should be honored that a party is thrown just for them. Follow our tips to make sure your guests, as well as your guest of honor, feel like this: Honored.
For more party planning tips and to share your own tips, visit the Shot In The Dark Mystery Games Dark Community.