Mum's 50th TWO-PHASE SURPRISE Celebrations

by Imogen
(Sydney, NSW, Australia)

Just a couple of qu's.

Phase 1: Grandmother takes Mum out for a day in town, having planned an afternoon High Tea. They arrive at 1:30pm to find some of her closest girlfriends already there. They all have High Tea together and talk until 4:30pm (they will easily last this long). It's pre-paid, however everyone will pay for themselves - unbeknownst to Mum. Leaving the tea room, they walk around the corner and see a bar. It's voted that a 50th should be toasted and rung in with a glass of champagne. They enter approximately 4:45pm.

Phase 2: Extended family and friends have all received invite to event at bar, arrival time being 4pm, and commencement of celebrations and "SURPRISE" listed for 4:30pm. Everyone has parked in the parking structure 1 block down, so there is no suspicion. Canapes and a half-dozen/dozen bottles are provided (paid for by family), but guests buy their own alcohol beyond that. Speeches made at 6:30pm or 7pm. Scrapbook of photos and well-wishes-cross-guestbook presented. Cake will be served after this.

Advantages of a Sunday: Bar population will be less dense and noisy than a Saturday. As a Sunday, people will be inclined to leave at a reasonable time, say 8 or 9.


1. My Mother's actual birthday is on a Tuesday. She's dreading the big 5-0. Would it be better to hold the celebrations the Sunday before, or the Sunday after? I feel as though a celebration the weekend before might soften the blow a little bit.

2. I will be sending invitations out to all guests. Should I detail a basic overview of the two phases, car parking availabilities and details in this? Or wait for RSVP to collect emails and send this information closer to the date?

Reply from Cathy

Hi Imogen,

What a wonderful plan you have for your Mum!

I agree with you that having the surprise celebration before her actual birthday is best, and here's why: She will have wonderful memories of the surprise to counter her feelings about the big number.

Also, some of the older women will be able to commiserate with her about their feelings on being over 50, and it might change her outlook for her actual birthday.

Regarding the details in question 2, I think they should be shared after the RSVP's. That way you have a little more time in case small changes are needed. It will also give you another reason for being in touch and this will serve as a reminder so no one will forget the plan.

I hope this helps and thank you for visiting!

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