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Celebrating A Milestone Birthday

A friend of mine turned 50 last weekend. And in honor of the occasion, his wife threw him a big shindig. There were people there from all different...

A friend of mine turned 50 last weekend. And in honor of the occasion, his wife threw him a big shindig.

There were people there from all different phases of his life, a live band, a roast pork with all the fixins’, and a huge pile of red, white and blue bespoke designer cup cakes – (apparently a reference to the rock band The Who…who knew?) – that we all took home at the end of the evening .

It was the first “50th” I’ve been to, (although I’ve been to plenty of other milestone birthdays along the way.) And what struck me most about it was how well the festivities suited the birthday boy in question. It was held, for starters, in a rugby club. (This is a gent who likes his sports.) It was also quite casual. (I’d been planning to wear a black evening dress when the hostess confessed that she’d be wearing “a fancy top with jeans.” Thank goodness I asked. Major wardrobe U-turn.)

But what most struck me about the gathering was that the guest of honor sang…at his own party. Together with a few of our more musically-minded friends (plus his sisters on back up and a professional drummer from the band), the entourage belted out no less than four songs, including (it must be said) The Beatles’ They Say It’s Your Birthday.

Which was simply awesome.

Now I recognize that not everyone would want to sing at their own birthday party, much less be able to. But it was *exactly* what this guy wanted to do… and lo he did.

And that got me thinking about how the act of celebrating something like this differs so markedly across the human species.

Another friend of mine who’s also turning 50 this year told me that he planned to spend it in a hotel room with his wife, a bunch of alcohol and some dirty movies. Well, ok then.

And I’ll never forget the friend of mine who confessed that while she was deeply touched when her husband threw her a surprise birthday party many years ago, she found it incredibly stressful to have people assembled from all the different parts of her life all at once in the same room.

All of which is to say that how we choose to celebrate these milestones as we get older says an awful lot about who we are as people:  our tastes, our predilections, our natures.

So spill it. What’s the wildest/most memorable/most interesting birthday party/milestone celebration you’ve ever attended?


Image: 50 Years Of Light by Micah68 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.



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  1. Elizabeth March 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    I still remember my mother throwing a surprise 40th party for my father: how much work she put into it, how surprised he was, and how much fun all the guests had. I was 11. The thing that strikes me most is how many of my friends still have very young children — too young to remember their parents before 40 — when the big day arrives. Does make it harder to celebrate the 40th, when a 2 year old will wake you at 6 am the next day.

  2. Lisa March 23, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Um, I’m not telling?

  3. delialloyd March 23, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    @elizabeth – totally agree. we got home before 12 midnight (miraculously!) and I was still totally zonked the next a.m. @lisa-LOL! (ps thought of you during my near wardrobe malfunction-would love to see a post on how to dress for such affairs…)

  4. Patricia March 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    I spent 10 years planning and saving for my 60th birthday event – my oldest daughter and I arranged a walking tour of Scotland with some London and Wales thrown into the event. That trip was cancelled 5 days before our departure and we ended up on a very nice 3 week bus tour of the UK. It was my daughter’s 30th birthday.

    Now I need to come back and do all the things that I missed from my planned event and I would have bought more theater tickets for London. I might have taken a day trip to Paris also…

    I also need to plan something to celebrate when we pay the last installment of the $250,000.00 we still owe on my one child’s surgeries and specialists! ( I would like to see the Smithsonian – my guy not so much…)

    I think the next major event I will plan is for what I want as a memorial when I am gone – I want celebration and not to have bankrupted my family and I think that will take planning and good communications!

  5. BigLittleWolf March 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Um. Also can’t spill… but… might I mention that it was a small party, and adults only? (And just what the doctor ordered, I might add.)

  6. delialloyd March 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    @patricia-wow- that does sound like a fabulous trip. sorry it was cancelled but glad that you got to tour UK anyway. @Biglittlewolf-wow I am feeling really lame here between you and Lisa….I need to get out more, clearly!!

  7. Paul March 27, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    As the 50 year old in question, I can tell you that the idea of being a rock ‘n’ roll star in front of my friends is an enduring fantasy from my schooldays… and I loved it. Most honoured to be mentioned in article by the coolest blogger on the planet (which you were before the article, by the way).

    • delialloyd March 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      @paul. you are too kind and I am most grateful. it is my fantasy too (er-in front of my friends, that is…) perhaps we’ll duet one of these days!

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