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85th Birthday Party Ideas


Your favorite 85-year-old deserves a special birthday celebration with beloved family and friends. Browse this list of creative and fun 85th birthday party ideas for some inspiration. Whether you throw a big blow-out or host an small gathering, this party is sure to be remembered!

Fishing Party

Gramp's Fishing

If your 85-year-old birthday honoree LOVES to fish, but might not be able to get out on the water as easily these days, plan a fishing trip with him (or her) and a group of their favorite fishing buddies. Plan ahead to make sure that he/she’s up for it and prepared for the adventure. Enlist the help of other guests to choose an easily accessible fishing hole or body of water. Provide comfortable transportation and plenty of sunscreen and shade for everyone. Plan to grill the catch of the day when you all return from your fishing adventure. Make a cake in the form of a tackle box with lots of colorful lures and fishing bait like gummy worms Swedish fish. This fishing party is sure to be a “reel” success!

Dessert Party

Who says that you have to save the best for last? If your birthday honoree has a sweet tooth, cater to it with a delicious spread of irresistible desserts! You can keep it simple by focusing on variations of one item, such as “cookies only”, or you can lay out a spread of a variety of yummy delights ranging from pastries and cupcakes to frozen pies and handmade candies! Enlist the help of friends and family who are talented bakers— plan to get together beforehand for a fun day of prep and baking! Refrigerate or freeze your masterpieces ahead of time to avoid any last-minute stress. Choose a theme based on your birthday guy/gay’s favorite things or go with a color-scheme. Desserts lend themselves well to decorating with ornate serving dishes, footed platters, and doilies. Serve champagne and milk (especially if kids are invited) for the sweetest dessert party!

40’s Party

Is your 85 year old a history buff? Throw them a 40s themed party! From the end of the Great Depression and World War II, to the great advancements in technology, film, music, literature, and fashion, the 1940’s represents one of the most fascinating decades to date. Really take a tour of the era by choosing a venue like a museum filled with 1940’s relics. Or, if your 85-year-old would prefer a less extravagant location or to stay home, have your guests wear vintage 40s attire and decorate the room with 40s memorabilia. With everyone all gussied up make sure to set up a place to take pictures. The easiest way to create a photo booth is to drape a sheet up on a wall and then have some 40s props on a table. Enjoy playing 40s vinyl albums on a vintage turntable— everyone will enjoy hearing crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra or dancing the Swing to Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller! Hang vintage Casablanca movie posters or the famous “I Want You” posters around the room and make centerpieces with with war items (model airplanes, trench helmets, camouflage, etc.), glitzy candle holders, trumpets, piano sheet music, strings of pearls, mason jars, party blowers, and vintage radios. Serve ice cream cones, glass bottles of Coca-Cola, rock candy, candy buttons, and party favors in bags or jars tied with twine. Your “Bobbysox Brigade” is sure to have a swell time celebrating this special 85th birthday party!

Family Tree

Get everyone involved in your family’s history by making a family tree yourself! Cover a large blank wall with thick paper or poster board and draw the base and branches of a large tree on it. Or, if your 85th birthday party will be outdoors, use a partition or standing board and paint the tree trunk and branches. Have each family bring pictures and names to serve as the leaves on the tree and place them on each branch. For some extra fun, have each guest research a little family history trivia to share with everyone at the party. You are sure to discover fun and interesting family facts that you’d have never known otherwise! Prepare and serve your family’s favorite dishes or have each guest bring a family dish that’s been passed down for generations. For an extra-special keepsake, compile a booklet of favorite family recipes and hand them out to guests.

Aging Like a Fine Wine

Wine and Cheese Please!

If you’re on a budget, assign a particular country to each guest and ask them to bring a bottle of wine specific to that region and a type of cheese that pairs well with it. You supply the venue, wine glasses, breads, and fruit. Crackers are another great option to serve with the wine and cheese. Choose either a casual buffet or a more formal table setting by placing the cheese and wine on separate tables that are dressed in elegant linen. Give each guest a unique wine glass charm when they arrive. Give your guests an elegant “thank you” gift as a token that will remind them of this special birthday. Some options are a cheese spreader, personalized wine glass, wine charm, mini cheese grater, or wine stopper. Remind your birthday guy or gal that they get better with age— just like a fine wine!

Who am I?

Here’s a fun idea that is sure to get everyone mingling! Write the names of famous people (or infamous— the funnier the better!) on note cards. Choose well-known people who are relevant to your guest of honor. When each guest arrives, pin a note card to the back of their clothing. Have them circulate the room while asking everyone questions about who they “are”. Only YES or NO answers are allowed. Provide relevant accessories so everyone can dress up as their famous person for a photo op afterward. Make a Hollywood style backdrop on a large wall for photo ops. Print the photos out so guests can take home a memento of the best 85th birthday party ever!

Movie Night

If you or someone you know has a home movie theater with enough room for all of your guests, you’ve got the perfect venue for this special movie night! If that’s not an option, check into renting out a small local theater or rent a projector and show your movie on a large wall or outdoors on the side of your house. Surprise the birthday guy or gal by finding video footage, slides, and photos of their life by creating a life’s highlights reel. Such a sentimental gift with be irresistible and a great piece of family history for generations to come. Decorate your space like a real cinema by adding some red carpet to welcome everyone. Serve traditional movie food: pop corn, sodas, chili dogs, and boxed movie theater candy. This is a birthday they’ll never forget!

Southern Picnic

Turn up the southern charm and hospitality by throwing a good old-fashioned southern picnic birthday party. Decorate the tables with checked gingham and mason jars filled with fresh hydrangeas. Cast a warm cozy glow by hanging strings of lights from the trees. Serve everyone’s favorite southern dishes such as fried chicken, baked beans, mac-n-cheese, watermelon slices, and Arnold Palmers- a mixture of iced tea and lemonade. For a southern twist, serve birthday pie instead of birthday cake! Consider good ol’ apple pie or cherry topped with vanilla ice cream. Spray paint different colored circles in the grass for an instant game of Twister and don’t forget to bring the cornhole- an outdoor game suited for all ages!

85 Reasons Why I Love You

If you’re looking for a sentimental 85th birthday idea, ask family and friends to write down several reasons why they love your guest of honor. Better yet, send a blank sheet of card stock along with the invitation. Encourage them to include pictures, illustrations, and memories about the guest of honor. Make sure you give them plenty of time to send them back so you can bind them in a 85-page book as a gift. For decorations, use photos of the birthday person through the years (childhood, high school, wedding, birthday parties from years past). Everyone will enjoy the display. Have some tissues on hand for the waterworks that are sure to erupt when you present this touching gift.

Time for a Tea Party!

While this idea might be best suited for your birthday lady, you can substitute coffee or a favorite libation for your male birthday honoree. Create a cozy environment by keeping the guest list to around 10 or less guests so that the birthday lady can easily mingle with each of her guests. Cover a large table with a white linen tablecloth. Place the tea at one end of the table and make sure to leave plenty of room for yourself. Or set up several smaller tables that will seat up to four guests each. Place lemon, milk, honey, and sugar next to the tea, and the rest of the food at the other end of the table. It’s normal at tea parties for the guests to serve the food themselves while the hostess serves the tea. Tea parties are semi-casual affairs, but don’t be afraid to get a bit dressier than you would for a normal gathering with friends. Wear a pretty hat that you’d wear to carnivals, summer festivals, or any elegant event, such as a wedding or anniversary party. Choose a variety of teas, such as orange rind, lemon, green, chamomile, peppermint, berry, and peach. Typical foods include mini-sandwiches, scones, crumpets, biscuits, cookies, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, or quiches. Decorate with fresh flowers in pretty vases and ornate doilies. Whether you choose to have an “afternoon tea” between the hours of 3 pm and 5 pm, or “high tea” between the hours of 5 pm and 7 pm, you and your guests will be delighted!

Around the World Potluck

Celebrate and enjoy the best cuisine from different countries around the world. Assign a country or region to each guest as part of their invitation. You can ask them to bring a main dish while you provide the venue, side dishes and drinks. Turn it up a notch by asking each guest to wear clothing related to their specific country. Make a display with interesting facts about all of the countries featured. Play some worldly trivia games or have a geography “bee” for a fun way to learn something new about international cultures. Play a variety of music from around the world and do a little research to learn a few native dances to have fun learning with your party guests. Print and bind the recipes featured and give everyone a copy to take home. This 85th birthday party will be a global success!

Laurie is a busy mother of four who loves travelling and spending time anywhere outdoors from the Blue Ridge mountains to the sandy white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

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