About 50 people will pack her house & yell surprise. Need decorating and appetizer tips on a Dec. 22 shoestring. Thank you & Happy Thanksgiving!!
Look at the recipes from here and see what you think she'll like. http://www.food52.com/contests...
Birthday cake and coffee work, too. For my mother's 80th, we did a slide show of photos interspersed with some of her more pithy quotes (there are a lot of them.). We ran that on a large screen TV in the background. It was all the decoration we needed.
I would have trays of one-bite appetizers that are not too spicy and easy to digest. Lightly toast some bread, cut off the crust and cut into 1" squares, top with devilled egg, or a slice of cold cut meat with a dab of mayo, or whatever your imagination dictates. Even a cracker with a smear of cream cheese and slice of prune is nice. And a cake with one of those candles that never blows out.!
One thing about those trick candle is that yes, they never blow out. I've seen people take them off the cake and put them on a napkin and they re-ignite. Drop them in a glass of water.
First, I veto anything with prunes! Even though they are delicious, the implications may not be what you want for this occasion.
I would think of nostalgia foods. Are there foods she made for the family that are especially loved (that would suit this kind of gathering). Does she have a recipe box or Betty Crocker Cookbook that you can borrow for ideas? Here's a recipe from my mother-in-law, born in 1917 -- http://www.food52.com/recipes..., that might work for you.
All of these are great and easy ideas:http://food52.com/blog...
As far as decorating, I'd go for a combo of flowers and framed pictures.
For my grandmother's big birthday her daughters made a timeline of her life with copies of pictures of various stages. It was really sweet and made a good conversation piece for people to ask her about various events and places she had been.
This was also a surprise party - she knew she was having a little party, but the arrival of her kids from out of state was a surprise and she was thrilled. Maybe you can soften the surprise just a little....50 people jumping out to yell surprise is a bit startling at any age.
This white bean and fennel dip is cheap and delicious with bread http://www.food52.com/recipes...