Planning a 50th Birthday Party: A Quick & Easy Step-by-Step Guide

A lot of work goes into planning a 50th birthday party to remember. And it can be stressful if you leave everything to the last minute. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Hosting a great party takes organisation, creativity and lots of lists that you’ll write and rewrite. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off items on that list. 

They keep you on track and you know exactly where you are at with your party planning. 

Planning for a 50th birthday party involves setting a date, deciding on a venue, creating food and drink menus, inviting your guests and much more. 

Feeling overwhelmed? There is no need to. We’ve got you covered with our Ultimate Guide to Party Planning ideas for a 50th birthday. 

We’re experts at planning 50th birthday party’s and we’re here to get you through this. Think of this as your 50th birthday party planning checklist.

Our planning a 50th party guide will take the stress out of the event. So you can throw the party of the year. 

Read this guide to help you get organised. Time to start.


Choosing a Date and Time

It can be tricky choosing a date and time, so think about the people you want to attend when planning a 50th party.

When serving snacks, early afternoon is a suitable time or if it’s a pizza party late afternoon is better. 

Holding a cocktail or dinner party for adults, then 7 pm on a weeknight may be suitable. You can even consider some fun dinner party games to make it even more entertaining.

If you’re planning to party late into the night then Fridays and Saturdays are most popular. Start in the evening and party until guests are all partied-out.

Lunch time on weekends is also another popular time, especially for the outdoors. It allows you all a chance to get an early night as well.

Make sure no matter what date you choose, it leaves you plenty of time to plan and your guests time to lock your party into their schedule.

Are you planning a surprise 50th birthday party for someone? In that case you’ll need to make sure they are free without breaking the surprise! We also have tips for throwing the best surprise birthday party in our article here.


Set a Realistic Budget

The very first thing you should do is calculate how much you can afford to spend. 

Setting a realistic budget is essential right from the beginning of planning your 50th birthday party. There is nothing worse than getting carried away buying party decorations and not having enough money for food and drink. 

To calculate your budget take into account the large costs such as food, entertainment and a venue if not holding the party at home. You also need to factor in how many people will be attending. 

The more people you want to invite, the higher the food and drink costs and you may need a larger venue. In fact you’ll need more of everything to ensure you cater for all your guests.

So if your budget is limited, you may have to limit the number of party guests. But don’t think you need to cut down on the fun, you can find tips for throwing a champagne party on a beer budget here.

For help planning your budget checkout our Project Party Budget Tool for assistance.


Decide on a Theme for your 50th Birthday Party

To have a theme, or not to have a theme? That is the question. 

It can be a lot of fun having a party theme. This means your guests can get creative and so can your party planning. 

But know that if you do choose a theme, you will need to put more time into planning your party to pull it off. 

Also, choosing a theme before you decide on a venue is essential as it can impact where you decide to hold the event.

Here are some tips to help you make a decision:


  • Choose a fun theme. Choose a theme that’s fun for everyone, especially when you want everyone to dress up. Put thought into your theme so your guests have fun dressing the part and don’t be too obscure.
  • A theme you relate to. Choosing a theme you relate to will make it a lot more fun to plan. When it’s a theme that is personal you are likely to be more creative.
  • Match your theme with the venue. Make sure your theme works with your venue. Holding a pool party without a pool will feel a little strange as an example.
  • Keep the theme specific. An international theme is vague, for example, and so is telling your guests it is a costume party. What does this sort of theme really mean? Be more specific.


At Project Party we love a theme. We love it so much we even created a tool to help you take it to the next level. We’ve got all the best 50th birthday party planning ideas in one place.

Checkout our Theme Builder to choose the best theme for your 50th birthday party. We will list all the best party suppliers who are specialised in bringing that theme to life. 

Find 15 more fancy dress themes that are still in fashion today right here too.


What’s the perfect venue for a 50th birthday party?

Now decide on a venue. It’s an important early step to check off your party planning list. You cannot send out invitations until you know when and where you’re holding your party.

You may hold an intimate 50th birthday dinner party in your home catered by you. But if you want to invite more than a few guests, consider finding a venue. 

Book early as many venues are booked out months ahead. 

You need to lock this in to add the date, time and party address to the invitations. The type of venue you are looking for will depend on your theme.


  • Bar / Restaurant A bar or a restaurant are good choices when you want a private space to celebrate. Food and drink is available so there is no mess to clean up.
  • Outdoors – A beach or garden party outdoors can be a lot of fun for a casual event. You will need to plan all the food, drinks and entertainment, and picnic blankets so everyone is comfortable.
  • Hotel – Hotels can be an excellent choice. They will do everything for you. You don’t worry about a thing. Any out of town guests can book in to stay overnight.
  • Rent a Local Hall – Renting a local can be cost-effective but you will need to organise catering.
  • At Home – Holding a party in your home is convenient, private and relaxed.


You can always cater yourself, guests will appreciate the time you spend cooking.

Foe help finding the ultimate venue checkout the best venues ready to host your party nearby.


Now it’s time to organise the guest list & send the Invitations

Now you have the finer details sorted, it’s time to nail the guest list and send out the invitations. You want to give people plenty of time to book your party into their busy schedules.

The best party planning will go to waste if your invitations do not go out early. So you need to stick to a party planning timeline to stay well organised. 

Choose invitations that reflect the party’s theme. If there is no theme, choose invitations that set the tone for the night.

Try to avoid the boring, mass produced invitations. There are lots of places who will create individualised party invitations. 

This will automatically let your guests know you have something special planned. It also plants a seed of excitement for the upcoming event.

Don’t forget to include the important details on the invitation — date, time, venue address, theme for the night. Keep it short but inviting.

For bespoke and impactful invitations and designs checkout the best suppliers in your local area here.


Plan the Perfect Food and Drinks Menu for a 50th birthday party

What food you serve at your 50th birthday party makes a huge difference to your guests’ party experience. 

A three course meal is an excellent choice for a 50th birthday dinner party.

When planning the food for your party, keep your theme in mind and create a menu that sets the right atmosphere. 

If you plan for the party to last for more than a few hours, you need to feed your guests otherwise they will end up starving. And you don’t want that. 

Where you don’t want to cater full meals, consider setting up a table of homemade snacks if you have a tight budget. This will impress your friends and get them talking about all the trouble you went to. 

But you may not want to cook yourself, so hiring a caterer or a food truck can make your food offerings more interesting. And these are an excellent choice when hiring a venue with limited cooking options.

Keep in mind the theme of the party and venue. Some venues will have limitations on food preparation so check this out before making menu decisions.

Don’t forget about the drinks. Set up a table with a good selection of soft drinks, water and alcohol and ice so people can help themselves. 

Or you may want to set up a formal bar with cocktails on the menu. Hire bar staff to wow your guests with their skills creating exciting drinks.

To make sure you plan the right amount of food, and leave as little to waste as possible, check out free party food calculators online like this.


Hire Everything you Need

You can ask your catering team to hire the tables, chairs, cutlery and crockery and all the tableware. Or you may decide you hire it yourself. You’ll need:


  • Tables and chairs are essential for a sit down meal. And they can help to create a party atmosphere. 
  • Cutlery comes in all different types from rose gold to silverware and stainless steel. Choose the cutlery that best suits the food you are serving and the party theme.
  • You will need enough glasses for your guests. Depending on the type of drinks served, they can include champagne flutes, cocktail glasses, whiskey glasses, and short and tall glasses for mixers, water and soft drinks.
  • Hiring crockery is more cost-effective than buying it for a party. You’ll need enough plates for starters, mains and desserts.
  • Linen for your tables is important. It will help set the atmosphere for the night. Rich colours or crisp white linens, the choice is yours. Let your imagination run wild.


If you’re starting to worry about how you will get everything you need, never fera! Find all the best suppliers in your local area here for party supplies.


Should you use a party planner for your 50th birthday party?

There’s no hiding that perfect 50th Birthday Parties take a fair amount of planning. But we know that effort is always worth it.

But if you’re looking to take the stress out completely, should you consider using a party planner for help planning 50th birthday party ideas?

We are big believers in leaving things to the experts wherever possible. And that is the case for parties too.

A party planner will organise everything, and they will also be up to date on all the finer details that make parties extra special.

If you’re looking for the ultimate party check out party planners in your area here. Find 5 reasons why a party planner can help here too.


Organise Party Decorations

When you are party planning decorations are an important part of creating the right atmosphere. It will totally transform your party space. 

Streamers, balloons and flowers are just a few details that will create a party atmosphere. If you are stuck for decoration ideas, search online for inspiration.

Make sure your decorations are tied to your party theme directly. Checkout Pinterest for ideas on how to make your theme come to life as well. 

Do your shopping online. It can save you a lot of time and frustration when looking for specific decorations. You can also find some gems from smaller suppliers online that you might not be able to find in stores near you.

Where your budget is tight, try making your own decorations. 

For the perfect party decorations for your 50th birthday party check out suppliers near you here.


Plan Fun Party Entertainment

Are you planning entertainment of some sort for your 50th birthday party? If you are, make sure it fits with your theme. 

Book your entertainment early. All the good entertainers need long lead times as they book out quickly. Plus, as most parties fall on weekends they book up their Fridays,  Saturdays and Sundays well in advance

Do your research and meet up with the entertainers long before the day of the party. Talk to them about your requirements.

Read reviews online and try to get recommendations from others who have used them.

Not sure what sort of entertainment? Here are a few ideas that will impress your guests:


  • Fireworks
  • A DJ or a band
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Petting zoo
  • A themed dance-off
  • Karaoke
  • Fortune teller
  • Outdoor cinema
  • Murder mystery.


Find the best entertainers in your area here.


Make a detailed plan .. and a Plan B with a 50th Birthday Party Checklist

Plan ahead. This is probably the single most important thing. Create party planning lists to keep you on track. Use our ‘Planning a 50th Birthday Party Checklist’ in this article to prepare.

And don’t forget to tick off each item as you go. 

It will help you stay organised and cut down the stress levels so you feel in control.

Your list for party planning should include all the equipment, furniture, decorations, food, entertainment and everything else you need to do. 

Tick each item off as you go.

When you are the caterer, you can buy a lot of food a week in advance. Even cook it beforehand and reheat it when ready to serve. 

Checkout the 10 things to check off your birthday party planner checklist here.


Conclusion … Don’t forget to order the cake 

This is just a final public service reminder .. order the cake early when holding a birthday party. 

All the best cake makers are busy, so the sooner you get your order in the better.

Finally …

You have got this. Everything is set up. The party space looks amazing. Relax. Get dressed and have fun with your guests. 

Check out our Ultimate Guide to throwing amazing parties for more ideas to make your party extra special.