Birthdays at the Smithsonian

July is birthday celebration month for my family. There is at least one birthday every week, mine so happens to be today, my son’s next week, my daughters the following week, and of course we can’t forget Americas birthday on the 4th of July. So to say the least I have been making check lists non-stop making sure everything is in place. While doing this I thought I would draw on some inspiration through some of our photos we have at the Archives.  Below is my part of my “To Do” party checklist, accompanied with photos I found in our collections.

Former Secretary Dr. Charles Greeley Abbot blows out candles on a birthday cake at a Regents Dinner

1.  Theme of the Party: I personally don’t do a theme type party because with my kids being so close in birthdays we have joint parties, and getting a boy and girl to agree on something at their age is about pointless. However here at the Smithsonian the birthday parties’ range from Smithsonian wide birthday parties to parties for exhibits and right on down to personal birthday parties for employees. To say the least the Smithsonian loves to celebrate birthdays.An aerial photograph of the National Mall on August 10, 1996. The Mall is packed with people for the

2.  Guest List: Having a soon to be 6 and 7 year old I find this one of the hardest parts for planning a party because I never know how small or big to have it. If you are like my daughter a small simple tea party birthday party would be perfectly fine. However if you are like my son, inviting everyone under the sun like the Smithsonian did during its 150th Birthday Celebration is more the way to go.

Drawing Given to Helena Weiss for her birthday, Accession 05-112 -  Helena M. Weiss Papers, 1923-200

3.  Cards: This is always one of my kid’s favorite things to do when it comes to birthdays. Standing in the card aisle playing every singing birthday card they can put their hands on is almost like Christmas for my kids. But I don’t think there is anything more personal and fun then creating your own card like the one that was presented to Helena Weiss for her birthday.

Secretary I. Michael Heyman is standing behind a birthday cake shaped like the Smithsonian Instituti Mickey Mouse 60th Birthday Celebration during the Disney donation with Michael Eisner (CEO), Roy Dis

4.  Cake: In my opinion, my kids would argue otherwise, the birthday cake is what makes or breaks a birthday party. I would have to say the cake from the Smithsonian’s 150th birthday and the cake from Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday celebration are definitely crowd pleasers.

Native Americans perform ritual dances as part of the National Museum of the American Indian's parti Fireworks over Castle, for the 150th Smithsonian Institution Birthday Celebration. August 10, 1996,

5.  Activities: My kid’s favorite part of a party. Simple games such as pin the tail on the donkey or water balloon toss is sufficient enough for my kids now, but at the Smithsonian, we really like to throw a celebration. Native American ritual dancing and fireworks were just a few of the many activities that happened during the Smithsonian 150th birthday celebration.

Last insight on birthday parties, no matter how big or small the best thing to remember when celebrating a birthday is to have fun!

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