"This Is Your Life," a popular radio and TV show from the 1940s to the 1970s, surprised celebrities with pictures, stories and people from their past telling anecdotes about them. Honorees, who didn't know in advance that they had been chosen, had to guess the identity of the people just by hearing their voices. This format makes a clever surprise birthday party format.
Video of the Day
Fill a toy box with treasures that the honoree loved. Treasures might include sports memorabilia for the sports fanatic, ballet items for the dancer or CDs of the honoree's favorite music. It could be fun stuff like some headbands or jewelry she used to wear, a case of the "Double Bubble" bubble gum he always liked to chew, her favorite teddy bear, or his "Farrah Fawcett" poster.
Decorations and Music
Find music from the year the honoree was born to play during the party. Locate party supplies that are reminiscent of the decade that the honoree was born to use as decorations. For added fun, ask guests to come dressed in clothes from that decade.
Power Point Photo Display
Ask guests send their favorite pictures of their life with the honoree. Scan the pictures into a computer or have guests scan them and send them as e-mail attachments. Create a Power Point display complete with framing, special effects and funny captions. Set up a computer-based slide show to project the images of the honoree's life.
Guess that Guest
True to the TV and radio show, have a few people from the honoree's past stand behind a panel and tell an anecdote about the honoree into a microphone. Have the honoree guess who the mystery guest is. To make this even more fun, download a legal copy of the TV show theme and adapt the emcee's and the announcer's speeches to the party and the birthday person.
Ask guests to send a list of their favorite memories: their favorite thing about the honoree; the funniest thing they remember the honoree doing; the happiest they ever saw the honoree, their most memorable moment with the honoree and a list of five words that best describe the honoree. All the lists or just the best responses can be read out loud during the party.
"This Is Your Life" Scrapbook
Ask guests to write a short story, anecdote or a few paragraphs of special memories they shared with the honoree. Create a "This Is Your Life" scrapbook to store the guests' stories, the photos sent by the guests and the guests' favorite memories list. Add a CD of the pictures for the honoree.
"This Is Your Life" Home Movies
Ask guests with 8mm or VHS home movies of the honoree to have their favorite scenes transferred to DVD, and to send their DVD well before the party. Using any PC video editing program, edit the best scenes into a 30- minute DVD to be shown at the party. Create a second DVD with all of the guests' favorite home movies. Add the DVDs to the "This Is Your Life" book.