How to Celebrate a 100th Birthday

Three Methods:Honoring the CentenarianMarking the Occasion with an Extra-Special GiftMeeting the Needs of the Honoree and Guests

Experiencing life for one hundred years is a significant milestone that calls for celebration. While it’s tempting to throw a surprise party, consider asking the centenarian to help plan the celebration—the guest of honor likely has a specific vision for the event. Together, you can put together a fete for guests of all ages.

Method 1
Honoring the Centenarian

  1. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 1
    Create a video or slideshow presentation. Centenarians have experienced a lot of changes, events, and momentous occasions. Capturing their story in a video or slideshow presentation is an excellent way to preserve their memories and honor their life. Produce a video or slideshow presentation that contains photographs, documents, memorabilia, and video clips.
    • Ask your local historical society to conduct an oral history interview with the guest of honor.
    • Give your guests copies of the presentation as a party favor.
    • If you aren’t tech-savvy, create a handmade timeline documenting the centenarian’s life and achievements.[1]
  2. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 2
    Ask guests to sign a guest book. Sometimes the best gifts of all are words of appreciation and funny anecdotes. Throughout the party, circulate a guest book. Encourage guests to take a few minutes to write a personal message to the centenarian. At the end of the party, present the book of memories to the centenarian.
    • Instead of a traditional guest book, create a video guest book. Show the film at the end of the party.[2]
  3. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 3
    Put together a time capsule. On the invitation, ask guests to bring an item that reminds them of the centenarian. At the event, guests can explain the item’s significance to the guest of honor before placing it in a time capsule. Once everyone has put in their item, bury or lock the time capsule.
    • Let the guest of honor decide when the time capsule may be opened.[3]
  4. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 4
    Present the centenarian with a birthday cake. Work with a local bakery to create a custom cake for the centenarian’s birthday celebration. You may order a show-stopping centerpiece that commemorates different aspects of the centenarian’s life or purchase a simply decorated and delicious sheet cake. When you bring out the cake at the party, sing “Happy Birthday” to the guest of honor.
    • Make sure the cake you order has enough room to hold one hundred candles!
    • Order enough cake for all of your guests.[4]
  5. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 5
    Announce the occasion in your local newspaper. To commemorate the occasion, print a birthday greeting or announcement in your local newspaper. Send your guests home with copies of the newspaper at the end of the party. Following the celebration, have the newspaper clipping professionally framed and present it to the centenarian.
    • You could also print a birthday greeting in the guest of honor’s favorite magazine publication.
    • You could even ask a local news station to wish the guest of honor a happy birthday.
  6. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 6
    Create a cookbook with one hundred of the centenarian’s famous (or favorite) recipes. If the guest of honor is an excellent chef or a notorious foodie, present him or her with a book of one hundred family recipes. Dedicate the cookbook to the centenarian and send each of your guests home with a copy.
    • Collect the recipes from the centenarian’s personal recipe box and from other family members.
    • In addition to the recipes, include stories and pictures associated with each dish.[5]

Method 2
Marking the Occasion with an Extra-Special Gift

  1. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 7
    Request a birthday greeting from the White House. American citizens eighty years and older are eligible to receive a formal birthday greeting from the current President and First Lady of the United States. To secure a birthday card for your centenarian’s celebration, you must submit the request at least six weeks prior to the party.
    • You may submit your request through an online form, call the White House Greetings Office, or write a letter to the office.
    • All requests are sent to the White House Greetings Office. [6]
  2. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 8
    Purchase a US flag from the US Capitol Building. If you are searching for a unique keepsake for your guest of honor, consider purchasing a flag that once flew over the US Capitol Building in Washington D.C. You can request to have your flag flown on a specific date, such as the centenarian’s birthday. To secure a flag, contact your US Senator.
    • If you are requesting a flag that will fly on a specific date, you must contact your US Senator at least four weeks prior to the date.
    • Three to four weeks after the date, you will receive the flag and a certificate that guarantees your flag was flown as requested.[7]
  3. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 9
    Order a custom newspaper or book. Several prominent newspaper companies, including the ‘’‘New York Times’’, sell custom newspapers and special books that commemorate the day or year an individual was born. This keepsake is an excellent way to mark a momentous occasion, like a one hundredth birthday.[8]
  4. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 10
    Give the guest of honor jewelry. Mark the special occasion with an exquisite piece of jewelry. You can have the item engraved with their name, date of birth, or a birthday message.
    • If the centenarian is a woman, purchase her a necklace, earrings, and/or bracelet that features her birthstone.
    • If the centenarian is a man, buy him a watch, tiepin, or cuff links.[9]

Method 3
Meeting the Needs of the Honoree and Guests

  1. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 11
    Respect the centenarian's wishes. A one hundredth birthday is a momentous occasion. While it is tempting to surprise the centenarian with a wonderful party, the guest of honor more than likely has a vision for his or her celebration of life. Ask the guest of honor to describe their ideal celebration and do your best to honor their wishes. During your meeting, consider asking the following questions:
    • Do they want a party?
    • Do they want a small gathering or a large party?
    • Where would they like to hold the event?
    • Should you only invite family members or extend invitations to friends and acquaintances?
    • What would they like to do at the party?
    • Would they prefer cards or donations to a favorite charity over gifts?[10]
  2. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 12
    Schedule a short event at a time when the guest of honor is at his or her best. Every detail of the party should accommodate the guest of honor’s personal needs and desires, including the event’s time and duration. The event should begin at a time when the centenarian is at his or her best. If this is in the morning, plan a birthday brunch; if this is in the evening, host a dessert soiree. Ideally, the celebration should only last as long as the centenarian can stay at the party—if they have to leave sooner than expected on the day of, don’t panic.
    • Don’t schedule the party during the guest of honor’s normal rest time.
    • Plan the event around their schedule, not your schedule.[11]
  3. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 13
    Consider the dietary restrictions of your guests and centenarian. One-hundredth birthday celebrations draw guests of all ages. This means you are responsible for feeding guests as young as 1 and as old as 100. When you plan the menu, account for the ages and dietary limitations of your guest.
    • Offer your guests a wide variety of food options.
    • If the centenarian wants a dinner party, asks guests to bring a dish to pass.
    • Don’t forget the birthday cake![12]
  4. Image titled Celebrate a 100th Birthday Step 14
    Plan activities for guests of all ages. Guests of all ages will attend the one-hundredth-birthday celebration. As the host or hostess, it is your job to provide entertainment that appeals to a wide range of ages. You can achieve this by planning a variety of activities.
    • Set out paper and crayons for young guests. They can gift their masterpieces to the guest of honor at the end of the party.
    • Play a game that guests of all ages can enjoy, such as birthday party bingo.
    • Hold a trivia, bridge, bunko, or shuffleboard tournament.
    • Create word searches and crossword puzzles that feature clues about the guest of honor.
    • Ask guests to guess when and where pictures of the guest of honor were taken.
    • Watch your guest of honor’s favorite movie.
    • Host a sing-along to some of the centenarian’s favorite tunes.[13]


  • Don’t forget to sing "Happy Birthday" to them.


  • Some people might not be able to go! Don't lose hope if they don't come, it's only a matter of time and patience!
  • A surprise party may turn into a really bad idea for a hundred year old friend, family member, or relative.

Article Info

Categories: Event and Party Planning | Birthdays