The Six-Hundred Mile Party

October 6, 2014

Have you ever planned a party from a distance? I just finished planning a surprise 65th birthday party for my mom -- 600 miles away. It was a challenge, but SO worth the effort. Join me as I show you the Three A's in accomplishing this milestone celebration.

First and foremost, I needed a "partner in crime". Someone who could get things rolling without me being there. My friend, Ronda, helped book the church and coordinated the details of what we needed with regard to tables, chairs, etc. Later in the process, she helped to implement the "lure". At the suggestion of another friend of ours, I created a pretend party invitation designed to get my mom and stepdad to the real party. The pretend invitation was sent locally, as sending it from my location would reveal our plans. I used a different handwriting style, as well as the church's return address on the envelope. For extra effort, we enlisted the help of Ronda's mother-in-law and our good friend, Fran, to call my mom to make sure they were coming. All of these sneaky steps worked together to ensure the lure's success.

The who, what, when, where and how aquire everything you need for a long distance party is a detailed process. Do I buy or make the cake? Should I purchase the supplies here or up there? How far in advance should I invite guests? What about decorations? All of these questions I answered over several months. My planning began in January by setting up the venue and contacting guests who were the farthest away. Rather than describing every detail, here are a few tips based on the decisions I made.
  • Send invitations each week by geographic distance (far to near) beginning 6 weeks prior
  • Buying the cake locally to save time and stress
  • Purchase all supplies and non-perishables ahead, pack and take
  • Save money by making decorations from natural and upcycled materials, pack and take
  • Use cardboard boxes to transport so they can be thrown away (one-way trip)
  • Buy perishable food items and flowers the day of the party

Since we arrived the evening before, time management was crucial on the day of the party. We could enter the church at 2:00pm, so grocery shopping and cake pick-up needed to happen prior to arrival. Also, throw in getting five people ready, checking out of our hotel, and eating lunch. Eek! Thankfully, before leaving home, I created a detailed checklist (yes, literally with little checkboxes and everything!) for every task of the day including times. This kept us on schedule and prevented any lapses in memory. The last thing I'd want to forget is the candles and lighter for the cake, right?

Planning a party out-of-town may seem like a huge undertaking, but it can be successful and fabulous! Hope the Three A's were helpful to you. Please feel free to share this post with friends and family...well, at least the ones for which you aren't planning a surprise! Ha! Also, please check back as I will be scheduling a DIY about making the decorations. Stay tuned!

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