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It’s Party Time

Make your next celebration even more special with these crowd-pleasing  party ideas

Cheryl Perry loves a good theme party. Luckily, as director of recreation for CareOne at Millbury in Massachusetts, she gets to plan them all of the time. Each week, the center is celebrating something, whether it’s a holiday or a special birthday.

“Even if there’s nothing notable going on, we can always find a reason to celebrate something,” says Perry. One of her favorite annual celebrations is National Skilled Nursing Care Week, which happens annually in May. 

For that event, she works with residents to pick a theme and create a number of events to celebrate throughout the week. Last year, she says, she used the theme “Celebrating Life Stories” for one event and encouraged residents and their families to come and share colorful tales from their past.

Perry loves to include engaging activities in every event, ranging from make-up and photo shoots, or live entertainment, to a candy buffet featuring old-time candies like root beer barrels. “The key to planning a party is to include some unexpected activities and little details that make people smile,” she says. Here are some simple ways to inject some fun into your next gathering, whether it’s a birthday party or a milestone anniversary. 

Sing a Song. 

Everybody loves music. Bring in a music player and lead everyone in a sing-along. Choose vintage or classic songs that everyone will know. Have sheets with the lyrics printed for younger guests. Old favorites like “Help” by the Beatles” or “My Girl” by the Temptations will be fun for everyone to sing.

Have a luau. 

Warm up a chilly day by incorporating a Hawaiian luau theme into your party. Serve drinks with pineapple garnishes, hand out leis, and play “pass the coconut.” Have some Don Ho music playing in the background to get everyone in the partying mood.


“Nothing attracts a crowd as much as bingo does,” says Perry. Bingo is simple to organize. Just purchase some cards that have large-print markers and be ready to hand out prizes. (Hint: Candy is always a big winner. Ditto for handy toiletries.)

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