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A Surprise 50th Birthday Party BBQ

To celebrate my mom's milestone 50th birthday, my dad, sister and I really wanted to do something special for her.

Since her big 5-0 fell less than a year after my wedding we had to avoid the whole party in a hall approach we would have taken otherwise. This turned out to work perfectly - instead of stuffing an overabundance of guests into a room for four hours, we made her birthday a day of surprises.

The day kicked off with a limo showing up at the house mid-morning to carry mom, dad and a few close family members to the wineries in Long Island. She walked out the door to 14 smiling faces she hadn't expected to see, all lined up next to her limo for the day.

Their little day trip was then followed by a surprise BBQ in the backyard. Mom walked into the yard expecting a few refreshments for her and her fellow limo guests and was actually greeted by the rest of our family standing around cheering.

Because we weren't working with a single party theme for the day, decorating and embellishing mom's 50th birthday could have been a real challenge. Luckily though, I found these Celebrate 50th Birthday Invitations over at Pear Tree Greetings and they wound up inspiring the entire celebration.

Their pastel blue and yellow hues were ideal for the summer soiree out back, but they also put a unique celebration of 50 front and center for our guests.

Celebrating a 50th birthday is a milestone, so yes, it should be extra special, but it doesn't need to be a big bank blowout. Check out how we managed to make this celebration special on a budget!


  • Printed party banners can get costly. To add a touch of personalization to our buffet table, we made a DIY chalkboard party sign and worked in the colors and font styles of our invitation with chalk.

  • Since this was a surprise, party guests gathered a bit earlier to await mom's arrival. To keep everyone cool and their excitement in check, we offered up a signature cocktail topped with a custom FIFTY printables on striped straws that matched our invitation. The party punch recipe was inspired by mom's sweet and sassy attitude, and her love of lemon.

  • We also had plenty of waters on hand for guests. Rather than just plopping them all in an ice bucket, we created water bottle labels inspired by our party invitation to add a chic decor detail to the display.

  • As with any outdoor party, even in the middle of summer, you can't guarantee sunshine. We kept the yard bright and festive with DIY circle banners we made using the party's color scheme.

  • Pear Tree Greetings also had this great personalized confetti we were able to add mom's photo to as well as coordinate to match the color of the confetti on our invite. It was a total hit with guests, and mom. We used the confetti to embellish our buffet and burger bar, but also as a sort of table runner for the tables.

  • Though the rain held off throughout dinner, by dessert time, we had to move the party inside. Luckily, our boozy cake pops took care of any disappointment the temporary shower might have caused.

  • And of course, there was the cake I made mom. She's not a big fruit fan, but she loves lemon, so I went with a Lemon Chiffon Buttercream recipe I tried and tasted a few times. Check out the recipe , but also our tutorial on how to make the perfect birthday cake - it was super helpful for me to follow!

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