How to throw the best photo themed 60th birthday party ever

Birthday parties are a lot of fun and a lot of work. I have known for a long time that I wanted a big birthday party to celebrate my 60th year, and it turned out to be more than I could have hoped for.

Everyone pitched in to create exactly what I dreamed of, and friends and family who couldn’t attend made sure I felt loved and honored as well.

My son, Adam created the invitation for me.

The invitation!

John and I spent hours building a giant 3D 60 that was covered in about 400 photos.

John creating the numbers
Okay, these are big!
Lots of tape holding this together!
The big 60!

My daughter-in-law, Amber helped create the menus.

Our idea was to have four tables set up, each with a theme and filled with finger food.

Table one: Veggie-Salad table with Cucumber Water

  • Caesar Salad lettuce cups
  • Cucumber roll-ups
  • Antipasto salad
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon aioli
  • Beet salad on a stick
  • Caprese polenta bites
  • Zucchini garlic bites
  • Bacon wrapped asparagus
  • Grilled red potatoes
Veggie-Salad Table
Beet Salad on a stick
Caesar Salad cups
Polenta Caprese – Bacon wrapped asparagus
Cucumber Roll-ups, Antipasto Cups, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Table two: Meats & Mains – Sparkling lavender lemonade

  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Spaghetti & Meatball Bites
  • Fried Ravioli
  • Steak wrapped fries
  • Mini-chicken lasagna rolls
  • Smoked salmon & cream cheese
  • Shrimp avocado garlic bread
  • Steak & zucchini skewers
Meats & Mains Table – Photo-bombed by Copernicus
Zucchini Steak bites and Steak Wrapped Fries
Mini chicken lasagna rolls
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese – Shrimp Avocado Garlic Bread
Fried Ravioli

Table three: Fruit & cheese (Fondue) – Citrus & Strawberry water

  • Savory goat cheese mini-cheesecakes with roasted tomatoes
  • Whipped ricotta toast with balsamic cherries
  • Watermelon canapes
  • Cheese fondue with bread/roasted veggies/bowtie pasta
Fruit & Cheese Table
Watermelon Canapes
Mini goat-cheesecakes with roasted tomato
Whipped Ricotta toast with balsamic cherries

Table four: Desserts – Coffee and tea

  • Chocolate fountain with fruit and pretzel sticks
  • Biscotti
  • Shortbread cookies
  • Mini lemon cakes
  • Mini tiramisu
  • Cherry bars
  • And the centerpiece: My cake
The Dessert Table
Chocolate fountain and lemon cakes
My cake had photos of me on it!!!
Everything was homemade…including the shortbread cookies with an L

My best friend, Estelle came up with a fantastic idea to create a giant wall of balloons as a photo backdrop.

She also put together a 60-candle “cake” that I somehow managed to blow out before the fire department was called out.

60 Candles Cake
That was a lot of candles to blow out!!

Adam created a custom Instagram frame measuring 36” x 48” that turned into more work than anticipated. The printer was supposed to print it on foam board but instead printed it on poster board.

But John and Adam made it work out and it looked great in photos.

Jacqueline, Me, Catherine and Barbie

I found a beautiful setting on 7-acres with three lovely cottages. My family and Estelle and her family stayed the weekend, which was exactly what I wanted.

What a lovely setting!!

For a couple of days I had my commune.

The night before the big party, on my actual birthday, Estelle cooked my favorite Italian dinner and the 14 of us had the best time chatting at the table long after dinner was over.

My birthday dinner!!
Say Goodnight, Gracie

The next morning we all hit the ground running.

Chef Amber took over the main kitchen and anyone with a free moment pitched in. Estelle’s daughter Felicia was Amber’s right-hand helper and stood for hours, side-by-side, prepping all the food.

Making it pretty!

Furniture was moved into exactly the right spot thanks to Estelle’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie, who created the perfect arrangement. My sons put together a photo backdrop and even made sure the lighting would be just right for photos.

Stephanie created this inviting setting!
My sons putting together the picture perfect backdrop

My granddaughters were busy helping Estelle and her team blow up and assemble close to 200 balloons.

The littlest helpers
How many balloons do you need, Estelle??

In the last hours before the event, I witnessed just how well Noah and Amber work together. It was like watching a couple of NASA engineers working in tandem, reading each other’s (sometimes unspoken) cues.

At one point, I was pretty sure Noah had about five different timers going on his phone and managed, somehow, to keep track of each one.

Brad set up Karaoke that would keep the party rockin’ and rollin’ into the wee hours. Estelle’s son, Kallon moved furniture and jumped to help anywhere he was needed.

Thank you, Brad!

Adam set up the bar and the cameras and tripods. John put together two new patio heaters and made sure we had firewood for the fire pits. Noah was on grill duty and sous chef, as well as occasional back and neck rubs to the chef.

Photo taken during set-up
Now we will be warm!

John’s son, Charlie showed up in the afternoon and immediately jumped in to help.

Me and Charlie

Estelle created the most amazing balloon wall…ever. Stephanie didn’t stop until everything was just right aesthetically. Felicia slaved away in the kitchen beside Amber and anyone else who came in to help.

Brad, Kallon, Stephanie, Estelle, Harrison, Felicia and Anthony

Chef extraordinaire, Amber spent the week prior to the party making most of the desserts and my amazing cake.

During the prep for the party, she somehow kept everything on schedule even when I had no idea how in the world it could possibly all get done in time.

My Cake!!!

And while all of this was going on, a group of my online friends created a surprise online birthday party for me. The week prior to my birthday they snuck behind my back and invited many of my friends to join in and leave wonderful messages and gifts of donations to my party.

What a lovely surprise!!!

I was so surprised, and when I started reading all of the notes I started crying and couldn’t finish.

There were hundreds and hundreds of messages – so many that it took me an entire week to read them all.

Molly Currie Watts
May 9 at 6:13 PM · 
It’s FINALLY here! How I wish I could be there to celebrate you in person. Seems like I should have met you in person at least a 1000 times by now, but you are a great example of how to build real, meaningful friendships over the internet. You have taught me so much, inspired me, made me laugh and are always willing to shoot straight, which I love! Hope you have a great day, a great weekend and the very best years ahead of you. Happy Birthday Loretta!!

Melanie Silk
May 3 at 6:35 AM · 
Happiest of birthdays dear Loretta!! May your special celebration be filled with lots of love, sweet memories, tons of laughter and a whole lot of hope for your future! Love you and wish you all the best!!

Barbara Hogan-Holmes
May 9 at 9:41 PM · 
Dear Loretta, 
The world became a much better place the day you were born!! In spite of all the obstacles and heartache you have always found a silver lining; your beautiful, resilient, and determined spirit has seen you through. I’m SO happy you decided to “Countdown To 60” because I got to meet YOU!!! I am honored to call you a very dear friend and look forward more fun times and adventures. Wishing you buckets of JOY, LOVE, LAUGHTER and HAPPINESS as you celebrate all things YOU!! I feel extra special to be fortunate enough to join in on the fun in person! Cheers to 60 and many more wonderful birthdays to come! Oodles of love, Barbie xoxo 😘❤️

Trudy Callan
May 10 at 9:33 AM · 
Loretta Sayers I am so thankful for your friendship. I appreciate your sincerity and how much you care and that you are sharing your stories with us and the community you have built. And thank you for being available and there for me when I’ve needed you, providing a listening ear and sound advice. I hope for you that this is your best year.

My family from all over the world sent me messages. Friends from high school gave me shout-outs of love and kindness. People I have known all my life and some I have just met took the time to send me the kindest words.

My good friend, Catherine was there to celebrate but she also shared a post about me on her blog. Sixty Years of Fierce!

My birthday party and my online party were more than I could have ever dreamed of.

So many of my friends came to celebrate with me. I had the best time and was up late singing karaoke with family and friends until 1 am.

Nope, I can’t sing to save my life!
Me and my sons
Pamela, Nicole, Barbie, Catherine, Brenna and me
John, Me, Catriona and Joe

There was so much excitement leading up to the party that when it was over I crashed.

But not like you may expect.

I didn’t crash from the high of all of the excitement; I crashed from guilt. For about three days after, I felt extremely guilty that my family and friends did so much for me.

I felt guilty that they gave as much as they did. I started telling myself I was selfish for wanting such a big to-do all about me.

Then I stopped listening to that voice and started listening to my family, my dear friends and my online community. Each and every one kept telling me they loved me and that I deserved it.

From the moment I started planning this party and fretting over the cost (both in money and in time), John kept saying the same thing over and over and over…

“You deserve it, honey.”

I stopped looking down in guilt and instead lifted my head long enough to see everyone else telling me the same thing. “You deserve it. We did it for you.”

I may not be able to see it through my eyes but I can through theirs, through yours, and that is the greatest gift of all.

Thank you all for such a lovely gift.

Brenna and Amber
Layla wore camera earrings just for me
Amber, Noah, Layla and Brenna started the singing off for the party
Adam gave me a new flash for my Canon…early morning posing for it!
Thank you, My John!! For so much…

Reader Comments

  1. jodie filogomo

    You totally deserved every ounce of love and fun that was put into this event and especially from us who loved watching it from afar!! You made us think about our decades of years as you went through yours. And Loretta, you just know how to make people feel so special. It was definitely your time!!
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and the ideas I have in mind for mine now. Except forget the food….I just need the desserts!! LOL

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Ha! Thank you so much, Jodie!! For everything.
      I am so lucky to have you as my friend, and I definitely feel the LOVE!
      Thank you for joining me on this journey…it has taught me so very much and I continue to learn with each step.
      On to the next adventure!! Xx

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Wonderful memories…and I’m glad I let go of the guilt that could have ruined it!!

      Happy birthday in one week!

  2. Susie Truett

    This is such a great post Loretta! For those of us who were not there, you recapped it so beautifully almost making it feel like we were there! I’m so happy it was everything you dreamed it would be and that you didn’t hold on to the guilt that you were feeling. You deserved it and now you, as well as your family & friends have a lifetime memory to cherish forever!💕💕

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Susie, thank you so very much!! I have never in my life experienced anything like this and I am still completely overwhelmed by the amount of love given to ME! I will cherish this birthday and all of the wonderful memories, forever.

  3. Amy Kennedy

    Oh Loretta! Thank you for sharing about your party! It’s the party we all dream about, and I am so glad you had such an amazing night! I loved seeing the videos! I loved the pictures in this post! I loved being a part of the online party! It was all so much fun! And that food looked amazing! Very fancy! That chocolate fountain- Swoon! What was your favorite food?

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you, Amy!!! It was sooo fun.

      Hmmmm…I have to say, I loved the cheese fondue the best. But everything was so good!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you, Barbie. It has been such a gift to see me through my family and friends’ eyes!! I’m starting to believe you all!! Xx

  4. Molly

    Wow Loretta! What a wonderful post. We can all learn lessons from you. Life is to be celebrated! We are all worthy of it and showing people how to truly make a LIFE event so spectacular is a gift indeed. ❤️

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Hi Molly! Thank you for reading!! It isn’t always easy to see our own worth….at least not for me. The greatest gift is being able to see and experience that!! Xx

  5. Anita

    How wonderful it was, and still is to have had such an awesome celebration of your life. You are so blessed with so many people who love you and for you to love in return.
    And what a party! That was SOME planning. Kudos to All!
    EnJoy being 60!

  6. marijke

    A party fit for a ‘countdown to 60 queen’! A winner in every aspect. So lovely to see. It even makes me from a distance a bit choked up. Welcome to the sixties because it is great up here!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thank you, Cindy!! I sure would have been even more over the top if you and Dray could have made it.

      Thank you again for my awesome groovy pants!! Xx

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