Worth the wait: Milestone party ideas for life’s biggest moments

A husband and wife celebrating their wedding anniversary sit at the end of a party table, clinking their vintage glasses of champagne in a toast; the table is set with Celebrate! partyware and behind them hangs a party banner in shades of pink, light aqua and gold that reads,

I’m the kind of person who just can’t let big moments pass by without some sort of celebration. I like to live like every day is a special occasion, which means for the big days I need to go all out. I want to make some memories.

But when those days come around and you need milestone party ideas, it can be hard to know where to start. Which is why I’m loving Hallmark’s new Celebrate! line of party supplies and decorations. They’re such a quick and easy way to elevate an event and really make the little details shine—something that hosting is all about! 

Of course, those big moments are about more than just looks. Read on to learn how you can make your people feel loved when celebrating the most important days of their lives.

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Whether it’s an anniversary, retirement, new baby, new house or some other moment worth celebrating, there are lots of little things I can do to make my party seem special. And I’m sharing all my secrets here—starting with how to put a little extra effort behind your decor.

Delight with the details  

A woman's hand signs the mat of a framed photo of the anniversary couple with a gold polka-dotted pen; next to the gold framed photo is a white and gold, heart-shaped Celebrate! dessert plate, as well as a vintage napkin holder filled with aqua and teal polka dotted Celebrate! napkins.

It can be easy to focus on the big to-do’s when coming up with milestone party ideas, like location, guest list and seating. But what makes or breaks a party is all in the little things. Small details in your milestone party ideas—like coordinating the place setting with the decor—show just how much thought and care you put into this event. 

And if you’re not a details person, don’t worry—this stuff can be incredibly easy with Hallmark’s new Celebrate! party supplies and decorations. Start with a pack or two that you absolutely love, then find accents to match to create a whole look.

Some more simple, thoughtful things that can make a huge difference: 

  • Having flowers around
  • Being intentional about the lighting in the room
  • Opening windows to air out a crowded house
  • Even better: setting the mood with essential oil diffusers
  • Designating a convenient place for guests to leave their coats and other belongings
  • Putting pets in their own space so that people who aren’t interested in spending time with your pet don’t have to (Bonus points: putting them in a space where those of us who do want to say hello can visit!)
  • Having an activity—like a frame or other sentimental object guests can sign—that gives people something to do and the person you’re celebrating something to remember the day

Plan ahead  

A husband and wife at an anniversary breakfast party sit together reading a card from a party guest; in the woman's lap sits a white gift bag with large gold polka dots.

If your life looks anything like mine and my friends’, scheduling an event at a time that works for everyone can feel like herding cats. So get your event on the calendar early and send out at least one reminder a few days before.

It can be as simple as shooting your guests a text like, “Eve! Looking forward to seeing you at Emma’s graduation party on Friday. I made sure to order a couple of those gluten-free pizzas we love.”

Not only will you give a little nudge to your less-organized type-B friends (guilty), but you get the chance to ease any anxieties before the event. Parties can be stressful for the guests almost as much as the host. A quick note reminding them that their presence is wanted and appreciated sets the scene for a good mood at the party.

It also gives you a rough head count for any last-minute party supply or food needs, and gives you time to shop for cards, gifts and gift wrap.

Bring it old school  

Keeping some things classic—like paper mailed invites and a slightly elevated dress code—makes the event seem more intentional and sincere. Here are two more favorite throwback ideas:


Having a retirement party for someone you love? Break out the vinyl and play music they would have listened to throughout their career. A great twist on this idea for an extra-sentimental golden anniversary would be playing the couple’s wedding music as they would have heard it—crackles, pops and all. 

Haven’t jumped back on the vinyl train yet? Even an old CD player and some cheap discs at your local store can be a more affordable way to bring a nostalgic flavor to your party. (I know—I can’t believe it either.)

Host’s attire

One of my favorite hosting tips is to match the style of the person you’re celebrating, in the right era. 50th anniversary? Dress in the style they would have had at the time they got married or how they would have dressed when they were your age. 

Now I’m not saying that when guests arrive you have to be decked out in a full hippie costume—although that would be fab. But wearing your hair down, rocking some florals and a longer dress can be a super subtle way to make the person you’re celebrating feel comfortable. Plus, you’ll keep getting told how much everyone LOVES your look today.

Play dress-up  

A woman hangs a lettered Celebrate! banner that reads,

Speaking of how clothes can set the scene, an opportunity to look your best can be one of the best parts of any party. But you don’t have to host a fashion show to get some fun out of what you wear. Here are a few tips to keep things easy:

  • Ask guests to wear a certain color scheme. Something straightforward works best—like all tan, blues and neutral hues for your friend’s summer engagement party. It makes for simply gorgeous photos, especially if it complements the décor! 
  • Pick out what you’re wearing early. When your closest friends reach out asking what they should wear, it’s nice to have something specific they can use as a reference point.  
  • Set up a simple photo backdrop. It’s an easy way for your guests to show off their outfits in photos everyone will want to share. We made the one above from Hallmark Celebrate! party supplies. It creates a focal point and gives people the perfect excuse to open their camera app. 

Get everyone involved  

A cake with white icing and topped with berries and baby's breath sits on a clear glass cake stand, surrounded by teal polka dotted Celebrate! dessert plates; a woman stands behind the cake, preparing to cut it.

This seemed counterintuitive to me for the longest time, but if someone reaches out to ask if they can help, the polite thing to do is to always let them. (Even if you think it would be easier on you to just get it all done yourself, your way. 😉)

If delegating is tough for you, start small. Ask if they can come over early to mitigate the awkwardness of the slow trickle-in of guests. Or request that they bring just one bottle of wine. Or help you cut and pass out slices of cake.

Simple tasks like these make people feel useful, wanted and included, and this is exactly the energy you want to bring to any event. Plus, getting everyone involved in celebrating that special person is the best way to make them feel the most loved. 

Keep food in mind  

A downshot of a party table set up, laid with varying patterns of Celebrate! partyware topped with breakfast foods like croissants, berries and macarons, as well as cups of coffee in vintage cups and saucers.

For big milestone moments, we often draw a bigger crowd than we’re used to. You may not know every guest, and even if you do, it’s important not to assume you know the eating habits of every guest. 

Some ways to prepare for this: 

  • Give a way for guests to inform you about dietary restrictions. It’s reassuring for them to know that you want to know, and they won’t have to stress about it. 
  • Make sure to clearly label the food. This is good practice even if after asking you don’t hear anything from your guests about food they avoid. Some people are forgetful, or don’t feel comfortable sharing. 
  • Keep in mind the most common allergens and lifestyles. Try to find at least a few things most everyone could have. For instance, both vegans and lactose-intolerant folks would probably love a hummus and veggie tray.

Make it mock  

The guests at an anniversary party sit at a long, rectangular table set with Celebrate! partyware, rattan placemats, and vintage glassware, with the guests of honor seated at the far end; next to this is a closeup of two hands holding up vintage glassware filled with champagne to toast while a Celebrate! place setting sits beneath.

On that note, it’s important to always have non-alcoholic drink options to serve. Even if you think all your guests will be drinking, you never know whose plans have changed, who woke up feeling sick, who’s waiting to announce a pregnancy or the multitude of other reasons someone may choose not to drink on any given day.

Having a few more options to offer people who aren’t drinking besides just a glass of water shows that you’re thoughtful of their needs and want them to feel included in the festivities, no matter how they’re celebrating.

If you need some ideas for nonalcoholic or mocktail options—or cocktails that can easily be altered for your event—check out our drink recipes here.

It’s important to remember when planning any milestone party that the ultimate point of any celebration is to make memories around this big moment in our loved one’s lives. So even if everything doesn’t go exactly according to plan, the only thing that really matters is being with the people who mean the most to us. 

Making memories will happen regardless of whether you manage to pull off the perfect photo backdrop. (But it certainly adds some fun!)

Bookmark this article for milestone party ideas when you’re planning your next big event. And remember—it’s your thoughtfulness and love that make a celebration one to remember. 

Want even more party ideas? We’ve got lots!