A 50th birthday is a milestone in anyone's life, so when someone you know or are close to is approaching 50, you naturally want to put on a party to celebrate. It does not mean the party must be grand and expensive; many times, a low-cost, even cheap, party is raved about for weeks after. The birthday party is about the person turning 50 years old, and your party most importantly should reflect the birthday person's personality. A 50th birthday party needs to be fun, not expensive.
Having a theme for the 50th birthday party will help you stay within your budget, and the birthday person and guests will have more fun, too. There are many very cheap theme ideas, but it is important that you choose one that fits the birthday person and will have him or her feeling good and having fun.
A "clone" theme, in which all the guests dress and act like the birthday person, is a lot of fun and can be held at your home. During the party, the guests share stories about the guest of honor and can write them down on poster boards you have made about the guest of honor or in a memory book. Video it and give it as a gift to the birthday person.
A musical party theme that features either the music of the decade the person was born or the decade he or she was a teenager is cheap and provides the entertainment, too. No need for a DJ; make your own CD or borrow or rent a karaoke machine. The guests can dress to match the decade, and the gifts can also reflect the era.
If you know an interest or hobby of the birthday person, you can use that as the theme. It makes it easy for the guests when you have them dress the part. An example is gardening. Everyone dresses in gardening clothes and brings gifts related to gardening, and the decorations are about gardening, including hoses, shovels, rakes and fake or potted plants.
Invitations and Decorations
Although it is always nice to mail invitations to a 50th birthday bash, to save money, you can call or email your invitations. Do it three or four weeks in advance and make sure you include a RSVP to the emails so you know it was received.
Mailed invitations are better, and they do not need to be purchased or in an envelope. Send postcards instead by getting colored card stock paper, printing them on your computer or hand writing the message. The postage difference is almost half of what an envelope mailing costs.
You can order decorations from an online party supplier inexpensively (see Resources), and many of them have free shipping with a minimum order. But your decorations do not need to be fancy. If you are having a theme party to reflect something about the birthday person's personality, borrow some items from his or er spouse such as gardening tools or fishing equipment and use those as part of the decor. For musical themes, go to a thrift store and buy cheap vinyl records to hang with colored cords or ribbons.
Crepe paper streamers, balloons and other party supplies and decorations are available at any dollar store.
Food and Drink
To save on food costs, hold your party in the afternoon or after 7 p.m. That way, you only need to provide snack-type foods rather than a full dinner. You might even have the party as a pot luck with guests bringing dishes and snack platters. Bowls of munchies, dips and vegetable platters will satisfy your guests.
You can order an inexpensive sheet cake from a bakery or grocery store. The expensive part of ordered cakes is in the decorating, so order the cake plain and decorate it yourself. Cheap kits are available for writing with frosting on cakes. Also add some small items you found at the dollar store that go with the theme, such as toy cars for a car enthusiast or doll-size or small kitchen items for a cook. You can also bake your own birthday cake for your party. If you are having a large crowd, bake two, one for the candle blow-out ceremony and the other so everyone has a piece.
There are several cheap ways to handle drinks, the cheapest being a "bring your own booze" request on the invitation. You will still need to provide the mixers like soda and seltzer. Punch, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, is an alternative. Kegs of beer are less expensive than buying individual bottles or cans, and box wine or buying the wine by the case is cheaper, too.