Is a close relative of yours turning 90 soon? That’s a significant milestone, and you should celebrate it in style! In the end, 90th birthday parties are about celebrating your grandparent’s life and spending quality time together as a family. But for such a big birthday, you might want to go a little above and beyond your typical festivities.
If you need help on what to give your grandfather on his special day, check out our list of 26 Gifts for Grandpa for some tips and recommendations.
But what kind of party should you throw? Of course, the first place to start is with your relative’s interests. Think about their favorite activities or some of the more impactful moments that have helped to shape their life. Rather than picking a theme first and trying to make it fit with your relative, focus on them first, and work backwards from there.
You could put together a complex and immersive themed party. Or, you could do something as simple as picking out a thoughtful, personal gifts and structuring the party around that. Either way, as long as you put in the thought and effort, your relative will appreciate it.
Once you’ve decided on the theme, you need to work out a budget. If you have the means, a 90th birthday is a great time to splurge. Celebrate your relative with a big blowout, if that’s something they would like, or take them to their favorite expensive restaurant. However, it’s possible to replicate the environment of a big fancy party without breaking the bank; it merely requires more time and effort. We will have more on that throughout the piece.
A 90th birthday party is a big deal! It’s worth it to take the time to think things through and put together the perfect party for your relative. Size and extravagance don’t necessarily matter; it’s about tailoring it to your relative, and what they would want. Here are some of our favorite ideas to help you get started!
“The Year You Were Born” Party
We’re celebrating your relative’s life, starting with the day they were born. What better theme for the party than to take things back to the beginning, in 1929. It’s possible to order a commemorative newspaper front page from the day they were born. You can even choose between a national publication or their hometown paper.
From there, decorate the party venue in a 1920s or ‘30s style. If you’re really going all out, family and guests can even get dressed up in costumes from that era. A dress-up party can be a big commitment, but what could be more worth it than your relative’s 90th birthday party?
This fun theme is sure to be a hit with guests. But it will also take your relative back to their young childhood, allowing them to reminisce and reflect on all they’ve been through in their lives. This could be an emotional experience, but they’ll be surrounded by friends and family. A “year you were born” theme could be a perfect way to help your relative celebrate everything they’ve accomplished in their life.
Instead of going all the way back to their early childhood, take it back to their youth with a 50s-themed party. Your grandparents endured the Great Depression and World War II. But they made it to the other side and got to spend their twenties in the more idyllic 1950s. A 50s party is a great way to recreate this part of their youth!
‘50s-style diners are still widespread today. If you choose to have your event at one of those, decorations are already taken care of! But if you would prefer to host the event at your home, you can simply order some ‘50s decorations, whip up some burgers and milkshakes, and put some Chuck Berry on the stereo.
If you want to go all out, this can be a genuinely immersive theme; deck out the house, and invite guests to come in ‘50s costume. Hopefully, that will get your grandparents right back in that 1950s mindset. That makes for an excellent opportunity to ask them to regale the guests with stories from their youth.
This party is all about celebrating your relative, but they might be uncomfortable in the spotlight. Many people that age just want to spend as much time with their family as possible. If this sounds like your grandparents, just try to gather as much of your family together as possible. Rather than a big to-do, they might prefer a casual day at home, spending quality time together.
One of the best ways to do this is to play games together. Board games keep everyone involved and engaged, but also leave plenty of room for conversation and laughter. They represent a great balance of structure without rigidity.
If you want to keep the party oriented around the fact that you’re celebrating their 90th birthday, one fun game you can play is trivia about what the world was like 90 years ago. Look up specific tidbits, like the population of your hometown, the price of certain items, or whatever else you can think of, and see who can come close to getting them right. That will be fun nostalgia for your relative, and help everyone else understand just how much has changed in their lifetime!
Favorite Sports Team Party
If your relative is a big-time sports fan, you could theme the party around their favorite team. If their fandom is still going strong at age 90, they’ve shown some impressive loyalty. Over the decades, they’ve almost certainly seen more downs than ups, yet they still watch the game whenever they can. How better to reward this loyalty than with a party based on their team?
The decoration is easy for this party—deck out the house in the team’s colors and logo (your grandparent might even have plenty of team decor already). To take it a step further, everyone can pitch in to get some team memorabilia as gifts. If you can track down an autograph from their favorite player, for example, that could be the perfect gift.
If their birthday happens to fall on a game day, even better: you can start festivities off with a watch party. And as always, use this as an opportunity to ask your grandparent questions. Have them tell stories about their favorite memories of watching the team. If fandom runs in the family, trading these stories can be an excellent way to get the conversation flowing for hours.
A 90th birthday calls for the celebration of a life well-lived, and the memories made along the way. A slideshow of photos and home videos of your relative and their loved ones can be a perfect way to celebrate those memories.
If you have access to photos from your grandparent’s childhood, you can quickly digitize them with a scanner, or even by just taking a picture of them on your phone. That will allow you to include them in a computer-made slideshow. Digitizing home movies can be trickier and a bit time consuming, but there are ways to do it without breaking the bank.
Once you have everything loaded up on your computer, you can put the slideshow together. You can assemble it in chronological order, to go step by step through your grandparent’s life, or organize it in whatever other order you choose.
If your grandparent has recently lost their spouse, emphasizing them in the slideshow could stir some profound emotions. But it can also be a great way to grieve and celebrate them. No matter what, this type of slideshow makes for the perfect centerpiece to a 90th birthday party!
Elegant Dinner Party
Are your grandparents the epitome of class? There’s no better way to celebrate the 90th birthday party of a sophisticated soul than by taking them out to an elegant dinner party. They won’t want anything too fussy, just good food, good company, and a classy, ambient atmosphere.
The first thing that comes to your mind when you think “elegant” is probably “expensive.” That can be true at times, but it’s not cost that creates elegance; it’s quality and atmosphere. There certainly are expensive restaurants that are stylish and sophisticated, with great food. But there are smaller, more affordable restaurants that meet those criteria as well. If your grandparent is a long-time resident of your area, they probably know a few!
Further, you don’t even necessarily need to go out to create this experience! You can transform your home into a classy restaurant! Bust out your best tablecloth, dim the lights and set up some candles, and bring the family over to cook the best meal you can. That can deliver on your grandparent’s sophisticated style while adding a personal touch. That’s sure to make their 90th birthday one to remember!
Here’s an exciting party idea to help your relative feel young again. With fancy clothes and games of chance, casinos represent a very different type of elegance. Your relative may not have been a big-time card shark. But if they enjoyed a weekly poker night, for example, when they were younger, this could be an excellent theme for them!
If you’re really going all out, there are green felt tables, roulette wheels, and so on available for purchase online. But if you’re on a budget, you can create this atmosphere with a few card tables, decks of cards, dice, chips, and some time spent on decoration.
For a family party, you don’t need any actual money changing hands, but each person can get a set number of chips when they arrive. Your family can take turns being “dealers,” and everyone can enjoy themselves playing whatever games they choose.
Much like a game night, this provides structure, without being so rigid as to restrict conversation and fun. It just does it so on an even larger scale!
Turning 90 doesn’t always mean you have to spend the rest of your life in a rocking chair! One of the most common ways for seniors to stay active is to get out and hit the links. If this describes your grandparent, a golf-themed party could be a perfect fit. Your relative can announce that a new decade isn’t going to slow them down by spending their 90th on the golf course.
A full 18 holes might not be the right fit, especially if the whole family comes out. But a driving range can be accessible to experts and novices alike. Your relative can hit some balls, and the newbies can have fun learning.
As an added benefit, many driving ranges are designed to host parties! They’ll handle the decorations, setup, and clean-up, leaving you just to enjoy yourself with your relative and the rest of your family and friends.
Aside from golf, another way that many seniors stay active is by gardening. Is your grandparent the type to spend hours each week (or even each day) planting seeds, plucking weeds, and nourishing their plants and flowers? If so, why not celebrate their efforts by hosting a garden party for their 90th birthday?
A garden party, in its essence, is a picnic with more structure. It often evokes the imagery of a party set right in the middle of an expansive, lavish garden, but as always, size and scale don’t really matter. Even if your relative’s garden is a smaller, simple plot, you can still use it as the setting of an excellent party.
Simply set up patio furniture around the garden, and prepare a meal for everyone. The setup itself is no more than an opportunity for family and friends to eat and talk in a pleasant, outdoor setting. And your relative will be able to celebrate their 90th birthday in the midst of the two things of which they are proudest: their garden, and, most of all, their family.
As we’ve said, a 90th birthday is all about celebrating memories. The audio-visual slideshow we discussed above might be a more immersive way to experience memories, but a physical photobook is also an excellent option. While you can’t have a video in a scrapbook, your relative can hold it in their hands, revisit it whenever they like.
If they’re not as comfortable with technology, this is an even more significant advantage; they might not be able to navigate a slideshow on their own, but a photo book should be entirely accessible for them.
Assembling the photobook can be part of the fun. First, you have to track down the old pictures. That can be a challenge depending on where your family has stored them, but this is an opportunity to go through old family belongings and rekindle forgotten memories. That can be particularly enjoyable if you don’t want the photobook to be a surprise, and involve your grandparent in the search. This can be an excellent way to spend quality time together.
Another fun possible feature is to leave a few pages empty at the end, so you can keep adding in the future. You can bring a polaroid to the party, and add new pictures right away.
Old memories are incredibly important; they represent the story of our lives. But a 90th birthday doesn’t just have to be about old memories. It can also be about creating new ones! If you’re able to afford the price (it averages a few hundred dollars for a day’s use), a photo booth can add loads of fun to a 90th birthday party.
Photo booth rentals typically come with a variety of props and backdrops, and the whole family can take turns posing together for silly photos and genuine ones alike. This is an activity that’s great for all ages!
If your party budget isn’t quite that high, no worries; you can create a similar experience for a fraction of the cost, with a DIY approach. Buy the props and costumes individually, from a party store. Then buy a few polaroid cameras. Instead of the booth, you can dress up and take turns taking pictures of each other.
The DIY setup gives even more flexibility than a photo booth, as they are portable and you can take pictures anywhere you choose. With either approach, this is a great party to help get your relative to show their silly side, while also creating new, treasured memories.
One of the more laid back party ideas on our list, but also one of the most fun! Was your relative the type to spend his summer nights standing out by the grill, having a few drinks, and making dinner for the family? This birthday party can be a chance to recreate those treasured moments.
Barbecues are also a perfect environment to get the whole family together. It’s outside, so you don’t have to worry about cramming everyone into limited indoor space. There’s lots of food for everyone, but there’s no waiting around for the food to be ready since cooking is part of the fun! Barbecues are also great for all ages, so every generation of the family can be included and come spend some quality time together.
Cookouts also allow your relative to be celebrated, and assume their position as the head of the family. Wearing the apron and holding the spatula during a cookout is akin to sitting at the head of the table at an extravagant dinner—they are both the center of attention, and the leader of the group.
Having a big barbecue, with your relative taking the lead as they did when they were younger, is a great way to show them that no matter how old they are, they are still valued, respected, and loved. Plus, it’s flat out a good time!
Involve the Youngest Generation
Here’s a party idea that is open-ended, but could be a big hit. For many 90-year-olds, their family is the apple of their eye, particularly the youngest generation. If this describes your relative, you could try involving those kids in the planning of the party.
Get the kids together (along with a few adults, of course) and have a brainstorming session. Have them think about the kinds of things your relative loves, and what the kids love most about your relative. One fun idea is to have them all write that stuff down, which you can include as part of a scrapbook as a present.
From there, you now have a great jumping-off point for picking the theme. The kids have laid out what their relative, or great-grandparent means to them; use these to come up with the theme of the party! After this, they’ll probably be excited to help with the setup and decorations.
No matter what type of party the kids pick, your relative will be overjoyed that they simply took the time and put in the effort. The theme itself will be secondary to the fact that the kids were the ones who picked it out!
The Final Word
Depending on your relative’s likes and dislikes, the memories you share, and the life they’ve lived, any number of different 90th birthday party ideas could be perfect for them. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive; rather, it’s just meant to help give you ideas to get started. If one of them seems like the right fit for your relative, great! If not, hopefully we’ve helped you to spark a jumping-off point.
Either way though, the main thing to remember is that it’s not really about the theme, or even about the party itself. This is all about celebrating your relative, and the life they’ve lived.
A party is a great way to do that, and a 90th birthday is certainly a time to throw a bigger, more cohesive party than you typically might. But in the end, what your relative wants the most is likely just to spend quality time with their family. No matter the theme you choose, the most important thing is to do your best to get as much of your family in one place, celebrating together.
If you are also looking for ideas on what to give your grandmother on her birthday, you may check out our list of 26 Gift Ideas for Grandma for the best tips and recommendations.