While all birthdays are cause for celebration, some of them signify bigger milestones than others. When you have a family member that is approaching their 90th birthday, you’re likely trying to find a way to make their day extra special. After all, nine decades of memories is more than enough cause for celebration!
We understand that it’s not always easy coming up with ideas for 90th birthday gifts and parties, which is why we’ve created this list of suggestions for helping your parent (or grandparent) feel loved on their big day.
90th Birthday Party Ideas for Grandma and Mom
You’ve got the perfect gift for your grandmother or mother — now what? It’s time to decide whether you’re going to make any additional plans. You may have an elaborate birthday party already scheduled out in your mind, but you’ll need to first stop and consider whether your loved one wants a big extravaganza.
Seniors who have experienced health problems recently may not feel up to a full night socializing with many visitors, and it’s important to respect their feelings and their health needs. Some things to keep in mind when determining how many guests to invite and which activities to arrange include:
- Your loved one’s schedule: Be conscientious of your family member’s personal schedule. Don’t plan the celebration on a day when they’ve just had a long series of doctors appointments or after they’ve just returned from a hospital trip. Being met with a large group of friends and family when you’re feeling exhausted can add to stress.
- Their mobility: Before planning that fun birthday trip to the mountains, consider whether your grandmother or mother has any mobility concerns. For example, will your accommodations have an elevator? A ramp if she uses a wheelchair?
- Their diet: If your relative has been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ll want to make sure to include plenty of food options that are healthy for them, such as sugar free cake or cookies. Consult with her doctors if necessary to determine appropriate foods for other dietary needs, such as renal-friendly meals or soft foods.
Once you’ve checked in with your family member’s needs and wants, take the opportunity to get creative and decide how you’re going to celebrate!
- Ask your family members to design handmade birthday cards with heartfelt messages of love and appreciation. Present these cards at the same time for an extra special birthday delivery.
- Spend the day taking your grandmother or mom on a scenic drive to one of her favorite locations. Does she love the beach? The mountains? The lake? Stop at the destination for a picnic lunch that you pack with some of her favorite foods.
- Ask your family members to each cook a homemade dish for her birthday party. Together, you’ll all cook Grandma or Mom a delicious homemade meal. Chances are, she spent many years cooking for you, so why not return the favor? Surprise her with her favorite dessert afterwards.
90th Birthday Party Ideas for Grandpa and Dad
When it comes to celebrating your grandpa or dad’s birthday, you’ve got just as many options!
- Rent out a room at a local civic center and invite your family member’s friends. Ask their friends to bring any pictures they have of your dad or grandpa from his younger day, and then decorate the room with those pictures. You can also digitize the pictures beforehand and display the photos via a projector.
- Does your family member love a certain style of music, such as big band or jazz? Help them relive the music of their youth by hiring a local band to perform some of their favorite songs at the party.
- Get your family together for your grandpa and dad’s birthday and ask everyone to share a special memory they have with the birthday man. You can also ask that everyone’s gift reflect this memory. After the birthday has ended, he will have a collection of gifts honoring some of his favorite times with his family.
90th Birthday Gift Ideas for Grandma and Mom
Grandmothers hold a special place in our hearts, and celebrating their birthday is the perfect way to show them we care. Giving your grandma items to pamper herself (like scented lotions, a cozy robe, or jewelry) is almost always a sure hit. If your grandma has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, consider purchasing gifts that will make her daily life a bit easier. For example, some appropriate ideas for 90th birthday gifts include:
- A custom photo album: Consider buying a beautiful photo album filled with pictures of their friends and family members. Adding people’s names to the pictures can help a senior who has memory loss identify the people in the photos.
- Family calendar: Create a specially designed calendar that features photos from family events throughout the year. You can even print major holidays, birthdays, vacation days, etc. to help your grandmother keep track of the days. Other unique ideas for 90th birthday gifts include personalized mugs, picture frames, and wall art.
Finding the right birthday gift for your mom might take a bit of time, but when she realizes you spent time and energy trying to find a meaningful present, you’ll be glad you made the effort. All mothers are different, of course, but some suggestions include:
- Customizable apron: If your mother loves to cook, a lovely way to show her you appreciate all those meals she’s made for you over the years is with a custom apron. Whether it’s embroidered with her name, or you have it screen-printed with a special message, she’s sure to feel grateful for this unique gift.
- Meal kits: Mom doesn’t like to cook? Treat her to a monthly subscription to a meal kit like Green Chef or Blue Apron. The ingredients will come prepackaged in the correct portion size, making it easier than ever to cook a quick yet delicious meal with zero stress. Meal kits make fantastic ideas for 90th birthday gifts for seniors because there’s minimal cleanup and preparation involved.
- A she-shed: If you want to go all to celebrate your mother, consider helping her design a “she-shed” for her 90th birthday. This space can be just what your mom needs for a breather from the stresses in life while being surrounded with calming décor.
90th Birthday Gift Ideas for Grandpa and Dad
Buying a 90th birthday present for you grandfather is easier than you might think. As with gift purchases for any other special people in your life, you’ll want to think about what makes your grandpa unique. Does he love plants or anything related to the outdoors? Maybe get him some house plants to make his home feel cozy or herbs to grow on the windowsill. Other ideas include:
- Audiobooks: It’s not uncommon for seniors to have difficulty seeing up close. If your grandfather is a bookworm, why not give him a few audiobooks this year? He can listen at his leisure without having to strain his eyes.
- Historical item: One of the best ideas for 90th birthday presents is a newspaper, magazine, photograph, etc. from the day your grandfather was born. If you can’t find a vintage document, consider using a service like The Birthday Times, which creates a faux newspaper with real historical events to celebrate a date in history.
When you’re searching for ideas for 90th birthday gifts for your father, you might be unsure what to get. For those family members who are tough to buy for, choosing a practical gift that you’ve put some thought into can be just the ticket. Consider some of these items for your dad’s big day:
- Walk-in tub: Falling is a real risk for seniors, but their birthday is the ideal excuse to help them make their home safer. Covering the cost of a walk-in tub for a senior’s birthday can help minimize the risk of slips. Why not ask your father to pick out a design he loves while you arrange the installation process?
- Armchair caddy: If your father loves to hang out on the couch to watch the big game or binge on movies from his youth, you could buy him an armchair caddy that goes over the side of his favorite chair. This device is one of many great ideas for 90th birthday gifts, as some models have pockets for remote controls, notepads, and even phones. Seniors won’t have to get up and down so much to try and find the remote or their phone, helping them relax even more.
Which Guests Should You Invite?
Once you decide the general idea for your relative’s 90th birthday party, you’ll need to develop your guest list. Consider the people your relative cherishes, and once you have finalized the list, give all the guests enough time in advance to clear their schedules.
- Family members. Of course, you’ll want to ensure all of the birthday person’s family is invited. Consider siblings, children, grandchildren, cousins, in-laws, etc. Don’t forget about relatives that are out of state or at college, as they may need extra time to make travel plans.
- Friends. Just as important as family, friends are essential guests at any birthday party. If your relative lives in shared housing, ask them who their friends are. These friends may be just down the hall, making carpooling to a party location a breeze!
- Neighbors. Don’t forget to invite any neighbors your relative is close with. These guests can be especially meaningful if your relative has recently moved into an assisted living facility, as they’ll be an unexpected surprise on their birthday!
- Caregivers. Caregivers play a vital role in seniors’ lives. Keep them involved in your birthday party plans, as they’ll likely want to participate. If your relative lives in a nursing facility, consider inviting their CNA, nurse, and other staff to stop by and wish them happy birthday!
- Former coworkers. Many coworkers stay in touch after retirement. Does your loved one have any former colleagues they’ve kept up with throughout the years? Send them a birthday invitation and include them in the fun.
Locations for a 90th Birthday Party
As mentioned earlier in our post, when considering a location, you’ll need to keep in mind the mobility of your relative and their guests. Choose buildings or locations that are easily accessible if anyone uses a wheelchair, a walker, scooter, etc. Always visit the site beforehand to reduce the risk of unexpected surprises.
Here are some locations to consider for hosting the party:
- Their home. Obviously, the birthday person’s home is the easiest location. Consider the size of their house or room (if living in an assisted living facility or nursing home). Is there enough space for all the guests to safely move around? Will noise be a problem there?
- A courtyard. If your loved one lives in a multi-family complex like an apartment, assisted living home, or similar site, consider having the party on the premises. Courtyards can be good areas as well as gazebos and other covered shelters.
- A park. Many public parks have picnic areas that are accessible by car. Look for areas that are covered by a roof or awning, in case of rain or intense sun. If you’re having the party during summer, consider scheduling it for mid-morning, as you’ll avoid the hottest part of the day.
- A relative’s home. Planning a surprise party? Hosting it at a friend or relative’s home will provide you plenty of time to decorate in secret. The birthday person will be none the wiser.
- A senior center. Many senior centers have rooms that can be rented out. Ask a local senior center if you can reserve a room for the day to celebrate your loved one’s special day.
- A religious facility. Does your relative follow a certain religion? Consider asking their preferred worship center if you can host the party there. These sites often have plenty of meeting space and spare chairs and tables.
- Your backyard. If the weather forecast looks clear, why not hold the party in your backyard? If yours is too small, ask a friend or relative if they mind if you use the space. Outdoors, you’ll be able to incorporate games, music, and other activities. A backyard is also a great option if little ones will be attending, as they can run around.
90th Birthday Decorating Ideas
Part of the fun of a birthday celebration is decorating. Nothing makes a day feel extraordinary like a splash of colors and sparkles. Consult this list for ideas on how to decorate for your loved one’s birthday:
- Birthday banner. Places like Walgreens and FedEx can print banners that give a birthday shoutout.
- Streamers. Brightly colored streamers are an easy and inexpensive way to spruce up a room.
- Paper lanterns. Paper lanterns are an eco-friendly alternative to balloons and are simple to set up.
- String lights. Thin, LED string lights are perfect for creating a cozy party atmosphere.
- Photographs. Often, birthdays are all about celebrating memories. Print out pictures that conjure great memories for your loved one.
Want to go the extra mile? Ask the birthday person what their favorite decade has been so far and make that the theme of the party. Give your mom or dad the chance to relive their favorite time! You can ask all the guests to arrive dressed in clothing from that time period. You can decorate with items associated with the decade and play songs that were popular then.
Activities for a 90th Birthday Party
The party room’s decorated, the guests have all arrived — now what? It’s time to party! Give the birthday person and their guests several activities to choose from on the big day.
- Photo booth. Make even more memories by setting up a photo booth station. This activity can be as simple as draping a pretty backdrop and creating fun props to hold and take pictures with.
- Bingo. Who doesn’t love a fun round of Bingo? Buy a set of large font Bingo cards that are easy to read. Don’t forget to pick up a few prizes to award the winners.
- Board games. Bring several board games to set up around the party room. You can play chess, checkers, Monopoly, Connect 4; the list goes on.
- Card games. A few decks of cards will give guests plenty of ways to occupy themselves. From Rummy to Go Fish, there are countless card games that people can play.
- Karaoke. Want to break the ice at the party? There’s no better way than karaoke. Rent a karaoke machine and encourage everyone to sing a song in honor of the birthday person.
- Shuffleboard. A popular game many people like to play is shuffleboard. If you don’t have your own shuffleboard, some party rental agencies offer them for rent. REI offers this affordable travel version.
Food and Beverage Ideas
With all the fun everyone’s having at the party, it won’t be long before hunger strikes. Don’t let the birthday guest of honor or their own guests go hungry. Put some thought into the party food and beverage choices ahead of time. Make sure you serve a variety of items so that everyone has something to eat. Consider any special diets your relative or guests may need to follow. For example, who needs soft or pureed foods? Is anyone vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, allergic to peanuts, etc.?
- Vegetables with hummus. This combination offers a bit of crunch and protein. You can easily create a vegetable tray with broccoli florets, cauliflower pieces, carrots, tomatoes, and so on.
- Pizza. You won’t find many people who don’t love pizza. Besides being easy to chew, pizza is an affordable way to serve large numbers of people at a time.
- Pasta. Another food that’s convenient to prepare in bulk is pasta. Whether you go with a couple big pots of spaghetti or lasagna, pasta is a versatile food that’s a safe option for many seniors.
- Brunch foods. If your party is earlier in the day, why not cook a nice brunch? Consider serving scrambled or poached eggs, sausage patties, and lightly toasted bread slices to provide food options that are easy for seniors to chew. If you want to get fancier, make a simple quiche Lorraine.
When it comes to beverages, the sky is pretty much the limit. Classic choices include:
- Infused water
Celebrating a 90th birthday is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Make this event special for your family member this year. Even if you’re not able to see the birthday gal or guy in person, make time for a video chat or a phone call to let them know you appreciate your relationship with them.
My Caring Plan provides dedicated care professionals to support families that need help caring. To learn more about our services and how we help seniors and their families, please visit our Families page.
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