Coolest Computer Themed 40th Birthday Party

by Liz Kelly
(La Jolla, CA, USA)

I recently threw a computer-themed birthday party for my software-developer husband. Our guests included his fellow programmer friends and colleagues. I'm not talking about 'geek-themed'. This occasion called for a more sophisticated theme centered strictly around computers. Sleek. High-tech. Professional.


I am pleased to report that it was a big hit. Even the guys appreciated the little details. Here's how I created it:

TABLECLOTHS

To make the "tablecloth", I did a Google search of a printed circuit board layout. A black and white layout seemed to work best as it is a nice contrast, the colors (non-colors') scream 'high tech', and black and white are very easy to work with when color-coordinating supplies.



After capturing the desired image on Photoshop, I sized it accordingly and sent it off to a print shop to have it made into banners (a small, medium and large).

Since the banners did not completely cover the surface, I purchased disposable, solid-colored tablecloths from party stores to use underneath them. I used gray for the indoor bar (our largest serving area) and white for the outside tables.

I wanted a playful computer-screen feel for the outdoor round table, so I used a plain white disposable tablecloth and sprinkled it with black binary code confetti ('1's and '0's). Of course, I was able to find no such thing on the market (unless I wanted to buy a bunch of bags of number confetti and pick out the '1's and '0's), so I had an artist make some for me. It was breezy outside so after sprinkling the confetti on the table, I actually applied a dot of Elmer's glue to the back of each piece onto the tablecloth wherever and however it landed. This task sounds more horrendous than it actually was.

CENTERPIECES

The centerpieces were the most fun to create and turned out much nicer than I had imagined. Plus, they were ridiculously easy to assemble, and I completed all three of them in about 45 minutes.



To make them, I bought a few silver foil starburst decorations from a party store and gray computer keyboard keys from someone who sells recyclable materials. I rolled pieces of adhesive putty (found at office supply stores) into tiny balls, inserted it into the back of each key, and attached the keys to each tip of the starburst decoration. The weight of the keys on the tips helped make the starburst spread out uniformly. Finally, I randomly super-glued some binary number confetti to some of the larger dangling silver stars. At the base sits a computer-shaped stress ball?, purchased from ebay.

BALLOONS

I started off with the black/white/gray/silver color scheme, so naturally I had to have plenty of latex balloons in these shades. The silver ones were 'pearlized'. But I wanted to do something special, something personalized. I bought a blank silver mylar (uninflated) star balloon from a party store. Using 2 vinyl numbers purchased from an office supply store, I spelled out 'Happy Birth Day Bill' (not 'birthday' due to space constraints) in computer code. However, I encountered a problem: When I inflated the balloon with my helium tank on the day of the party, the vinyl numbers weighed it down so much it wouldn?t float! So I had to get creative: I taped it to the ribbon of another balloon.



The night before the big day, I drove to the party store to pick up a balloon bouquet. My intention was to get a giant '4' and '0', the birthday boy?s age. They were out of '4's. The solution' More binary numbers. Turns out '011' stands for '3'. Incidentally, '101000' stands for '40', but at $9.99 per balloon not to mention the limited space in my Wrangler it simply wasn't going to happen.

PLATES, NAPKINS, & CUTLERY

As I said before, black and white are really easy to work with as far as color-coordination goes. I had black plastic dinner plates and black plastic cutlery to start.



I tend to brighten things up with matching napkins and appetizer/dessert plates when party planning. I can't tell you how much time I spent looking for some decent personalized napkins for this party. My original plan was to upload the printed circuit board design I used for the tablecloths and just get a bunch of those printed up. It was a good thing I couldn't get the online file uploader to work on one particular site because it was going to set me back a fortune anyway, and I was only half-heartedly into it. I wasn't gonna let it get me down, though. And I most certainly wasn't going to be using just plain black and white napkins. Boring! So the search continued.

Imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a company that actually offered a design of a computer among the sea of wedding bells and Christmas trees! And the price was right. I ordered a box of personalized napkins with the computer design.

Now the search was on for dessert plates. Plain black was out of the question. I came across some cool paper black and white square ones that had a unique grid pattern in the black area.

I went back to the subject of napkins. I wasn?t sure I wanted to use plain black ones to go with the personalized ones. Silver/gray, at least, would be different from the black & white in the personalized napkins. I ordered silver napkins and cutlery to mix in with the black to keep things interesting. Before paying for my items, I stumbled upon the coolest black napkins that had an interesting white design, like different-shaped, square '0's. They were perfect. When they arrived in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to find the stripes in the pattern were silver.

FOOD

I'm no cook, but I can whip up some jello shots. In keeping with my theme, I purchased an 8-digit number stamper and black ink pad (non-toxic, natch) and stamped binary code on each jello shot cup.



The ink was high quality so it did not smudge at all, even when wet. It was difficult to maneuver the stamper, however, so it was inevitable that there would be 'missed' numbers and some stamps would end up crooked. '101000' stands for '40'. Of course, I did not learn this until I was half done stamping a pile of cups. Nevertheless, the finished product was a popular, tasty treat!

THE CAKE

Well, ice cream pie, actually. I ordered it from a professional, requesting it be topped with black and white icing. Can't divert from the color scheme now!



I used a computer-shaped 'stress ball' for the topper. I printed out the message on an adhesive label and cut it to fit the screen.

I super-glued more of the paper binary number confetti onto 8.5' thin white candles. I also used 6.5 skinny black candles, the kind that give off a little sparkle at the ends.

And so ends a great day! Everyone had a blast.



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May 29, 2015
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Oct 25, 2011
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veeery creative!
by: rhoyerboat

Your theme is really inspiring! While the whole concept is well thought out and executed I especially like the centerpiece with the keys and jello shots/cups. The only down side is outdoing yourself next year! Can't wait to see what ya' come up with so post it, 'kay?!! And thanks for sharing :-)

Sep 19, 2011
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Awesome!
by: carrie

Great ideas, Liz!

Sep 19, 2011
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Awesome!
by: Carrie

Great ideas!

Aug 27, 2011
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Simply creative and classy
by: Kelly Tiano

I love this party idea! My favorite part are the jello shots with the code on the cups! So creative and such a great idea. Every detail goes so well together. Well done!

Aug 27, 2011
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sweet
by: Spyder Alesi

totally radd!!

Aug 27, 2011
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Wicked cool
by: Anonymous

That's great! I love it!

Aug 26, 2011
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Computer Keys
by: Luuezz

This is awesome! You did a great job on your ideas and the theme. Thanks for purchasing my computer keys from my store http://www.etsy.com/people/UncommonRecycables. Liz you get a 10 star vote for me. You should do this for a living on the side and see where you go with it. Don't waste your creativity. Go for it!!!

Aug 26, 2011
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N) CRASHES HERE!!
by: S. Campbell

Having been given a kittle info ahead of the actual party,I expected great things but, this is amazing. I'd have been amazed if this had been written only but, the photos took it into a whole new realm. To say I am impressed would be an insult. Good job clever girl. Then, I never had a doubt.

Aug 26, 2011
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Fabulous Idea
by: Shirl

A lot of planning, and attention to small details. Had to make for a wonderful party feeling for all.

Aug 25, 2011
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What a great theme!
by: Anonymous

Getting the binary numbers right was a expert touch!

Aug 25, 2011
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This has to be a popular theme...........
by: Rich

Now that is a great idea. Everyone is tied into a computer in some way.

Sure gets my vote

Aug 25, 2011
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by: Anonymous


You are not only incredibly creative and artistic, but a magnificent writer!

'Loved the opening paragraph - and all the descriptions of your labor of love.

Aug 25, 2011
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starstarstarstarstar

by: Anonymous


You are not only incredibly creative and artistic, but a magnificent writer!

'Loved the opening paragraph - and all the descriptions of your labor of love.

Aug 24, 2011
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Great idea
by: Pam

Wonderful idea! This is one party idea that is not so easy to shop for decorations. Everything looks great! Very creative!

Aug 24, 2011
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I wish I knew computer code for FANTASTIC !
by: C. Norgaard

Who would think you could theme a party with computers ?
This is one clever lady !!!

Aug 24, 2011
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Amazing. Impressive. Original.
by: Anonymous

We have never seen anything like this. My husband & I were so blown away by the originality & detail of this theme. To be able to make a computer themed party "whimsical & beautiful," takes the work of a very talented & creative individual. Thanks for sharing!

Aug 24, 2011
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So Clever!! So Cool!!
by: Anonymous

What great decorations Liz

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