Seeing a loved one celebrate their 100th birthday is pretty impressive, and certainly deserves an exceptional celebration. The number of people reaching their 100th birthday is continuously increasing. However, it’s still rare to get to the century mark – in the United States, only one person in 4500 is a centenarian. Your centennial has already achieved and celebrated milestones, including the 80th and 90th anniversaries. But each new decade brings changes that can be incorporated into the celebration. Here are the best ideas for activities you can plan to celebrate this milestone.
If you wish, you can write to the White House, and they’ll send the guest of honor a signed letter from the President congratulating them on their birthday. You can also have your local television and radio stations honor centenarians on their birthday. Find out which programs are doing this and make sure your dear ones are congratulated.
Share photos of the Guest of Honor from the most recent days until today. You can also prepare a slideshow of these photos, which will be played throughout the party.
- Look for older photo albums and scrapbooks that the guest of honor has and include them in the celebration. If these have not been transferred to digital format, do so to preserve them.
- Assemble posters of photos from each decade of the person’s life and put them up around the easels.
- Frame photos and use them as table centerpieces and hang them around the room.
- Create a handout for all guests that lists all the memorable events, milestones, and accomplishments of this person’s life. Include photos on the front and back of this brochure.
While inviting guests, ask them to bring a written memory of this person to put together a scrapbook of memories later. You can send them a template to use, either digitally or on paper, appropriate for each person. If time allows, read aloud some of the memories during the party.
Play music and sing songs from the guest of honor’s favorite decade or genre. Music has a fantastic way to please even those who have memory problems. Find all the recordings where the Guest of Honor sings or plays an instrument he wants to play. Be sure to record the Guest of Honor’s singing, as it can become a valuable memory for the family.
Create collections of 100 items to demonstrate the magnitude of this number visually. It could be a centerpiece with 100 flowers, a basket filled with 100 favorite cookies or candies, or a bouquet of 100 balloons. Or ask everyone to bring enough of one useful item to make 100 in total. This could be pennies from the year of birth, buttons, sugar packets, twines, nails, paper blocks, etc. Serve a large platter of fruit or vegetables. In the middle of the plate, make the number 100 from one of the ingredients.
Ask guests who can’t travel to take a video of themselves sharing their good wishes and favorite centenary memory. You can compile the videos into an excellent presentation to be shown at the party and enjoyed by the honored guest later. Film the guests during the party and ask them to share their favorite centennial memory. Present the video in a format that the centennial will consider as a gift at the party’s end.
As video formats change, check the guest of honor’s old videos and transfer them to the last format. For example, they may have old videotapes, audiotapes, CDs, and DVDs. You can find a local video company that can help you with this.
100 Years Ago
Research facts about the year the guest of honor was born. Put together a short and fun presentation about what was happening that year. You can further make some notes about each decade and see if it elicits some memories from the guest of honor that you can record and save.
The Family Tree
After a century, your loved one may now have three, four, or even five generations of offspring. A family tree with a photo of each person can show this dramatically.