Help Needed - Planning My Wife's First Birthday Party

Yep, you read that right. My wife, soon to be 36, has never had or even been to a birthday party. For that matter I haven’t really either except for the first few years of my life before my parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are not allowed to celebrate birthdays for two reasons, one because of course all glory goes to God and we would never want to draw attention to ourselves, and the other because the two birthdays mentioned in the Bible resulted in the death of someone righteous. So of course, that means we can’t celebrate birthdays today, according to their deluded reasoning.

We officially left the religion last September, resulting in losing everyone that we knew. All family and friends in the religion now shun us completely as though we were dead. No contact. No love. Just shunning by a cruel and manipulative religion.

So we started life over. Our saving grace was that in our cleaning business we’ve made friends with lots of our clients. They became our new friends and family and it has been amazing ever since. We’ve also reconnected with ex-JW’s that we haven’t seen in a decade or more since they had left the religion. And of course we’ve made new friends here and there, pushing ourselves to be social and out of our former comfort zone to forge a new life.

My wife’s birthday is in July. She wants to have a birthday party sooooooo badly. She wants a day to be about her for once in her life and to have fun with her new friends. With neither of us having experience in the whole birthday game, I’m doing my best to come up with ideas and to incorporate things that reflect my wife’s interest and I’m taking input from her on some ideas that she finds on places like Pinterest that she likes.

My two major concerns are:

  1. That because our friends are all disconnected from one another as we’ve pieced together a new life they won’t have fun. Very few of them know one another, and they don’t necessarily have common interests as they will just be a room full of strangers.

  2. We don’t want to throw a lame party, which is entirely possible since we’ve had nothing really concrete to base this on.

Our ideas are:

  1. My wife loves to color, as in the adult coloring books (no, not THAT kind of adult, lol). So we thought about having a large coloring poster and some markers out that people could all use collectively to color it for my wife to take away as a gift. Also, coloring books out on tables for kids to have fun with.

  2. An area where people could get pics with my wife. She found a thing online where people take a big old picture frame, paint it colorful, and then get pics taken in it.

  3. My wife has never opened gifts, other than for our wedding or surprises that I get her. She doesn’t really even care what people bring, but she’d like gifts, however small, just to have that experience.

  4. A cupcake bar where people can decorate their cupcakes however they like with lots of options.

  5. Some sort of guest book or banner to sign.

  6. Ask people to bring a game that they like playing hoping that maybe people will play and learn new games together. People like to share, I think.

  7. Remember “Show and Tell” in elementary school. We’d like to have the kids bring their favorite toy or whatever and show it off and tell us about it. My wife loves kids and would love to see them have a good time.

  8. This will be indoors to mitigate weather situations in July that could range from temperatures in the 90’s with high humidity to storms. We want to decorate with balloons and to have music that is appropriate for all ages.

So, is this a good start? Does anyone have more ideas? Is one of ours really lame? Will people that don’t know each other, or that may have a couple close friends in the group, mingle and interact? We’d hate for everyone to kind of keep to themselves and create an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Thanks for any input. I want so badly to see my wife have a great time. We clean houses for a living and have a limited budget for this, but I’d do whatever I could to give her a first birthday that is memorable. She has always wanted to be in plays and isn’t shy, although none of that was encouraged as a JW. Me, I’d rather not be seen in life and am more comfortable not being the center of attention, but I want to give her opportunity to have that moment for the first time in her life.

Birthday parties are great for getting strangers together because you can organize some kind of game where there are teams in which you purposely put people who don’ know each other and who are then forced to interact with each other. If you do it right, even stupid “kiddie” came can be fun for adults. Have some music, some good food, some interactive games and most people will make a party of it. Be an attentive host and introduce people to each other-- they will find their own connections.

Got any ideas as to specific games that are fun? I’m admittedly clueless. I’ve certainly never played them, lol.

If you want to–and this is a sensitive area–you could have a lot of fun with all the “First birthday party” bling you’ll find at a party store. You can find invitations, banners, cake toppers, etc. that are all printed with “Happy First Birthday!” type stuff.

Understanding that it IS a first birthday,and so very special, will make people a lot more likely to show up, bring presents, get into the spirit of the thing.

You should honor her with a birthday week. Or a whole month. That’s what most of my friends do.

I don’t think I’ve had a birthday party since college.

You should be honest and tell your friends about the situation. They’ll be able to help.

I’ve never actually been to a birthday party for an adult myself. They seem to mostly be thrown for children. Adults usually just get taken out to dinner or something similarly low-key.
So most of the birthday games I know of are for children. However, things like pin-the-tail on the donkey, musical chairs, twister, and sack races are hilarious at any age, aren’t they?

This is the sweetest thing I’ve read in a long while.

Adults absolutely can have birthday parties. Parties are a great way to bring people who don’t know each other together. I think what you’ve suggested sounds fun. Keep music playing and food and people will mingle and chat while coloring and taking photos with each other.

If I’ve learned one thing in marriage it’s that women love flowers for some reason, work some flowers in there somehow. Another thing that my wife loves anyway is maybe as a prelude to the birthday party give her an early present at the house, but don’t just give it to her, make it like a little game with clues and notes so she has to go all around different areas of the house to find it.

In my experience it’s not common for adults to have elaborate birthday parties except maybe for “milestone” years. It’s more typical for people to just go out to dinner in a restaurant or have some friends over to watch a movie or something and eat cake.

However, by the time they’re your wife’s age most people have had a lot of birthday celebrations and it’s not such a big deal. I think if your friends know that your wife has never had a birthday party before they will be happy for her and want her to have a great party. As Manda JO said, if you and your wife would be comfortable with this I think it could be fun to play up the “first birthday” angle. Otherwise you could just mention to people that because of your religious background your wife has never had a birthday party before.

You should not need to plan a whole lot of activities for a party scheduled for 2-3 hours (with many people likely either arriving late or leaving early). The coloring poster, with coloring books for the kids, some board games, and of course food sound like enough to me. A guestbook at a birthday party seems odd to me, but considering that this is a special birthday then a large birthday card for everyone to sign seems appropriate.

As for games, it’s hard to recommend anything without knowing how many people you’re planning to invite. I often play board games with friends and in fact my last birthday was a board game party, but most of the games I know can’t be played by more than 4-6 people. If you’re planning a large party you may want to set up two gaming tables plus the coloring area, although there will likely be some people who’d rather eat and mingle.

Great feedback so far! We have no problem playing up the first birthday thing. We aren’t sensitive about any of this. Our lives are an open book and our friends all know what we’ve been going through in leaving the religion and our lives within it. They’re all happy for us and encourage us to have fun. Last year we went to our first ever Thanksgiving celebrations at a couple of families homes that we’ve cleaned for over the years. We’ve been welcomed into their families, so we have a lot of people rooting for us.

I have no solid numbers on how many people will come, but we’re thinking of inviting 80 or so. We figure maybe 40-50 will come, but it’s just a guess. I was thinking of putting out a pre-invitation on Facebook to our friends and seeing who thinks they’ll be able to come. I can nail down the date and a rough time frame, but I can’t nail down the venue yet. I’d like to know how many would like to come before settling on a venue. I am looking currently, as I type I have many browser tabs open to various places.

Thanks for the advice and kind words. Every bit helps. We realize that adult birthday parties are typically a dinner or something with friends, more low-key, and when mine comes around in August that’s probably what I’ll have for my first birthday as that’s more my style, but you only get one shot for a first birthday and this is more my wife’s style. I hope she has a blast like a little kid if she wants.

This is so incredibly sweet. I’m glad she has you and all her new loved ones to celebrate.

As to taking pictures… you could get you a cardboard box, cover it in wrapping paper and put a whole bunch of props in it (funny hats, glasses, mustaches on sticks, etc.) from a dollar store or resale. Then take that painted picture frame you’re talking about and have whoever hold it up against a printed sheet as your background. Voila. Instant photo booth. Trust me, hilarity and awesome pictures will ensue.

And a game I’d recommend for a “first” anything is Twister. Not only is the outcome funny, but it really gets folks to loosen up and mingle.

Best of luck!

You beat me to this ! I was going to suggest Twister too ! :slight_smile: I agree this a great ice breaker game .

Something my one sister did at her wedding reception was have a plain white cloth on the cake table, and put out a bunch of colored magic markers so everyone could sign it or draw a little doodle. You could do that for the table where you set up the food or pile up the gifts. It could even become the “offiicial” birthday tablecloth for future parties, my sister uses the one from her wedding for anniversary dinners.

I like the cupcake bar idea, but I bet your wife would be tickled to have her very own birthday cake topped with a big 1 candle :smiley:

Also, if you have one of those paint-your-own pottery places get a cake plate and a ceramic pen. Have everyone sign the plate and you can fire it yourself in your oven, as a keepsake.

This sounds like a party I would love to attend! (I don’t suppose you’re in northern CA by chance? ;))

It will totally not be lame, that’s for sure.

You could try and buy some popular toys and music from the 1980’s for your wife gifts . How her very first Barbie ??

Yeah, but first birthday?

She probably won’t remember any of it.

Obviously it needs to be at a place that’s used to having (kids) birthday parties. Think about something like a Bounce U (pummeling the snot out of each other with the oversized, to-your-elbow boxing gloves is a blast!) or a Skyzone. There are also party places that rent bumper balls. The one that I know of has at least a dozen of them in both adult & kids sizes & will either host it at their converted warehouse space or bring them to you.
Of course you’re planning on getting the upside down ice cream cone hats & noise makers, right? :wink:

For a fun card game, try Fluxx.

Search google.com for the following words…

girls birthday party

Then browse through the various web pages. Also click on videos and see what all is done for other parties.

My suggestion would be to do “kid things” and make up for what you missed as kids. Like play pin the tail on the donkey or maybe have a piñata. Heck if you have a yard, rent a live pony ride for all the girls!

Anyway you only live once, so live it up and be kids for a day! (But be sure to add alcohol to get everyone in the party mood.)