Photo decoration for a surprise party

As I mentioned a few times, Tim and I hosted a surprise 65th birthday party for my dad at our house. What I may not have mentioned is that my parents were staying in our house that weekend. We had less than two hours to get set up and ready after the end of Mass on Sunday morning before the first relatives arrived with some folding tables to lend us. (Dad actually threw a bit of a wrench in the works by coming back to the house after church, which led to some frantic scurrying to conceal a few things that Tim had already put in motion.) It took a little forethought to prep as many things as possible, but still hide them (or store them in some friends’ refrigerator, thanks again guys for bringing over the growlers and all the fruit for the salad!). Tim and I were busy-busy from the moment dad walked back out the door, but we accomplished it all and I was pretty pleased.

I knew it’d be a sprint on the day of the party and that most decorations would be a lot of hassle, but I also wanted to do something special to celebrate my dad. Obviously, I couldn’t hang it up ahead of time, but I figured I should be able to spare 15 minutes to assemble a collection of photos for him on the wall. I asked my mom and sisters to contribute digital photos and physical prints, and used a coupon to get all of the photos printed at CVS for a discount. (It helped that the party was on Father’s Day! Poppas love some pictures! Or at least the promotions department is banking on people loving giving pictures to their poppas!) Mom even smuggled in the car a few envelopes of pictures of my dad from earlier in their marriage, plus his childhood album that his mom assembled. I picked up a pack of Sticky Tack from the grocery store a few days before the party, the poster-hanging weapon of choice from my youth, so none of the photos would be damaged and I could easily reposition pictures as necessary.


Click to view the full-sized image!

I had seen this idea in the first issue of my subscription to Martha Stewart Living (thanks again, Mom, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!) a year and a half ago, and had filed it away in my brain to use. As nice as the sample image looks with all black and white photos, I liked having a mixture of b/w and color photos in our display. I tried hard to include pictures of my dad with all of the party attendees, as well as a lot of representative events throughout our lives (weddings, graduations, dad with each of the daughters at our 8th grade dinner dance), cherished family traditions (the cabins!), and trips. Organizing the photos took a bit of prep time, but to assemble the display took about 15 minutes (I think I might have adjusted a few things a little later in the party, you can see there are a few gaps here and there). It was a speedy decoration, but the people coming to celebrate my dad enjoyed looking at the display and since we held the present-opening in the dining room, it added a nice festive touch.


Click to view the full-sized image!

My mom especially enjoyed showing her granddaughter all of the photos!

Thanks to my mom and sisters who helped this happen. We learned that finding pictures of my dad is occasionally tough, because he tends to be the one wielding the camera, but we’re going to make a concerted effort to get him in more pictures in the future!

(Thanks also to Beth, who took these pictures of the display. My camera never made it out during the party!)


3 comments on “Photo decoration for a surprise party

  1. chiclygreen says:

    I wish I’d known about this decoration project! About 4 months ago I found a picture of you, Mel, and your parents from the Easter I spent with you guys in college. It’s a great picture of you guys, especially with you and Mel making crazy faces.

  2. […] from some pretty serious health stuff thanks to St Judes as well as my dad who celebrated his 65th birthday with a surprise party at our house! We explored Kelley’s Island with my sister during a […]

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