Help Aging Parents: One-of-a-Kind Birthday Party Centerpiece Celebrating a Man…or Woman

IMG_4881Idea for a One-of-a Kind Centerpiece
to celebrate elders’–or anyone’s–birthdays

Today is a family birthday party. Aren’t birthdays an uplifting time–at least for the person who isn’t dreading getting older? Even then, having the kind of party older people want (Click here or Birthday Posts tab above) softens the reality.

Years ago I learned from Eloise that floral arrangements–in this case centerpieces with living plant material–can be put in anything that can hold water, if lined with a plastic bag (purse, box, burlap bag–only limited by our imagination). FYI–Eloise (mentioned in early posts) was a take-charge, smart, out-of-the-box thinker who died in her sleep at age 95. (Her husband predeceased her by 4 years whereupon she immediately put DNR signs everywhere in their home.)

Intergenerational dinner parties at home were the norm for Eloise and her husband, who did all the work themselves, until their mid-80’s. Being quasi-professional world travelers, Eloise’s centerpieces featured unpredictable objects from distant lands–or not. If you’re thinking Auntie Mame there are similarities.

The centerpiece for her husband’s birthday one year was astonishing–his old shoe! Filled with low-cut flowers, it proudly occupied the center of the table. A real conversation piece!! Eloise was like a mother, later telling me how she sanitized it (soap and water), placed a strong plastic bag containing soaked “wet” oasis inside, and poked in flowers and leaves.

I couldn’t wait to try it. The golf shoe centerpiece (above) debuted for one of Dad’s birthday dinners over 15 years ago (he was a golfer); next it took center stage, so to speak, for my husband’s birthday, which is when I added the artificial turf. I like the way it anchors the “centerpiece.” The shoe will do duty as a centerpiece again tonight. With left-over turf I cut turf “divots” which support the place cards–golf balls with guests’ names. Tonight’s guests’ ages range from late-30’s to 89. The intergenerational tradition continues.

If you’re creative, you can line a high heel shoe–or any other shoe– with a plastic bag, cut soaked-in-water oasis so that it fits snugly in the upper part of the shoe (forget the toe area), and stick in flowers and a few leaves or greens. Trim any plastic that’s hanging over the shoe’s sides and back, although you can leave a little plastic leaving drooping leaves or flowers to cover it. Should last a day, or longer, depending on the type of flowers and amount of time before the oasis dries out.

We do our best to help parents and the elders we care about age well. Having something out of the ordinary decorate the table for a party generates conversation and adds interest. When elders are among the guests they can’t help but enjoy. And doesn’t adding a bit of enjoyment to elders’ lives help them age well.
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Note: I found it easy to get old golf shoes from locker room attendants at golf clubs. It seems they have extras–either people forgot them or they keep extras around. Don’t know if it’s true at public courses.

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