My mom hit the big 60 birthday milestone last year (don’t kill me for writing that, mom!) and while I did something pretty huge for her 50th, I feel a little guilty that with work schedules and new babies I wasn’t able to give her a proper celebration. After losing my dad to cancer way too early, I’ve been more cognizant than ever of making each and every birthday more meaningful – whether it’s a “big” birthday or not.
So when The American Cancer Society asked us how we’d make birthdays more meaningful, I instantly thought of my mom, and then the other matriarchs, patriarchs, grandmas, and grandpas who we are so glad are still here with us. I think 61 might just be the new 60.
1. Create a Memory Book
You don’t need to be a scrapbooking genius to create a book that you and your kids (and even their kids) will treasure always. Just find a wire-bound sketch pad or composition book, and collect memories from each of your family members to print (or handwrite) on the pages. In fact, the more handmade, the better.
Add pictures, drawings, or even old cards or postcards, all of which are a wonderful way to pave the walk down memory lane.
2. Make a Photo AlbumWith most of our pictures stuck inside a hard drive, actual photo printing gets rarer and rarer. Services like Snapfish, Shutterfly or Blurb make it so easy to upload your photos and turn them into prints that you can then place in a beautiful photo album, or whip up into a photo book with captions, years and locations. .
You might even consider a theme like wedding photos, or a baby photo from every member of the brood. What could be more thrilling to a matriarch or patriarch such a heartfelt a reminder of the legacy they’ve created here on earth.
3. Paint Your Own Pottery
If you’ve got family close-by, schedule a family outing to a local “Paint-your-own-Pottery” joint and make a vase or decorative plate together. No art degree required. Use the paint pens (or enlist a pro) to write words that describe the lucky birthday gal or guy to create a lifetime of memories ready for display.
4. Order a Custom Collage
5. Buy Them Tickets to See You
Sometimes showing appreciation is just as simple as buying the grandparents a plane ticket (or two) for a much needed visit. Or–for you to go visit them. It’s easy to make up excuses and let life get in the way, but especially if they live far away, the best gift can just be time well spent with everyone they love
6. Throw a Party!
One of Liz’s greatest memories was her own grandmother’s 90th birthday party, in which she kept pointing to all the elderly friends around her and saying jokingly, “that one? Looks older than me? 83.” (Her grandma looked amazing for 90!) You can put together a slide show or a video for entertainment, ask each guest to tell one great story about the birthday girl or guy–or have nothing more than good company and a beautiful cake. It will probably be okay if you don’t use all 90 candles thoug.
Do you have a great idea for celebrating a 65th, 70th, 80th birthday or beyond? We’d love to hear it. -Kristen