Making of a Surprise Party: Grandma Turns 80

When you give your somewhat reserved grandfather a surprise party, it is a given that your legendarily outgoing grandma has to receive similar treatment. My Grandma Corrie is well-known throughout our small hometown for her love for Jesus, hats, pies, cakes, outgoing personality, and PUNCH (if you have had some of the punch then you know what I am talking about…some say it contains no water).

The sibling committee (my dad and his four siblings) revived their practice of weekly phone calls to plan the details and assign jobs. As per usual, I ended up on the decoration committee. After being given the color scheme, we centered on a theme based around roses which then evolved into the idea of her literally being given roses in a special ceremony.

Original Holloways and Spouses

My usual modus operandi is to make several trips to Hobby Lobby with my reluctant but supportive husband over the course of a few weeks. I design a general layout based on the number of people and tables which determines the number of centerpieces needed for a cohesive look.

Since my grandmother has hearing loss due to her former job, we wanted to make sure that the key elements were visual so that she could truly appreciate them. This led to me assembling a note (fond memory) from each of the children/grandchildren and compiling them into a decorated book. Always use books with inserts so that you can add in the last-minute email that accidentally went into your spam folder (oops!).


My grandmother was the queen of Polaroid pictures long after that was a thing and has now become the frequent user of disposable cameras. They know her by name at her local Walgreens. I went in to pick up an online order and they connected that we were related (#SmallTownLife). As her oldest granddaughter, I too inherited the picture-taking gene and have 1,000’s of pics in various digital formats.

I combed through my archives to find pictures from family events throughout the years along with pictures given to me by my aunts to create a clothes line inspired design. My grandparents used a clothes line for years before they converted over to a dryer so that seemed like a good way to incorporate their history into the decor.

Multicolored scrapbook sheets were mounted using stretchy silver wire and mini silver clothes pins. Note: Do not waste time with those roll on glue dots. The adhesive did not hold up and I had to reglue several pictures.

I ordered roses and rose petals in bulk from Sam’s Club. The at home delivery option and price were a plus but the heads of the roses drooped from the beginning. Since they were in the centerpiece, I used other items to prop them up. They worked great for the topiary. I only needed 1,000 rose petals instead of 2,000 petals. A little goes a long way with those.

If I’m not doing giant balloons, Dollar Tree works well for balloons. They look fine and the price is right.

The night before the event, my aunts along with my sister’s family and a cousin helped assemble the centerpieces and decorate the tables. It takes a family!



Theme: Give Them Their Roses While They Are Living (popular saying + song title)

Colors: Red, white, silver

Featured Items: Head table backdrop, photo spot, “clothesline” memory wall, family memory book, Rose Ceremony, South Carolina State Senate Proclamation plaque presentation

Supplies: Tall glass vases (Hobby Lobby), cylinder vases, floating candles, red roses, wet floral foam, stretchy string, mini clothes pins, glue, scrapbook, page inserts, stickers, note cards, wide net ribbon, fairy lights, satin for back drop, balloons, silver ribbon for tables, mirrors for centerpiece

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