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How to Plan an Appreciation Dinner for a Family Member

by Molly Thompson

Families often gather to celebrate special events, such as holidays or birthdays. Your family may also honor Mom or Dad on their special days. Why not start a new tradition in your family, by throwing a "Thanks for Being You" day for a family member? Plan a fun dinner in her honor, whether it's for the 85-year-old family matriarch or your 4-year-old daughter whose smile brightens everyone's day. Surround the guest of honor with her favorite foods, colors and music and give her an appreciation dinner she'll always treasure.

Set a date and invite other family members to the appreciation dinner. If the party is supposed to be a surprise, be sure to tell the invitees know not to spill the beans to the guest of honor. Ask each guest to bring a card or a short hand-written note about why he appreciates the guest of honor. Kids can color a picture, others can write down their favorite memory of the honoree and the family writer can make up a clever poem about her.

Decorate the dinner table and surrounding area with paper goods and decorations in the honoree's favorite color. Adjust the types of decorations based on the age and gender of the guest of honor -- Grandma might prefer flowers, while a younger honoree might get a kick out of colorful balloons.

Plan the menu based on the guest of honor's favorite foods. You can follow a "theme" or type of food if that's meaningful to the honoree -- French food for the teenager who just mastered her French final, for example. Don't worry about having a balanced meal or pleasing everyone. If Grandpa really wants all his fave, old-fashioned comfort foods, great. And it's OK for the meal to consist of hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac 'n' cheese and ice cream with gummy worms if that's what your 4-year-old would pick if he were king for a day, because that's what he is!

Start the meal by going around the table and having each guest say something he appreciates about the honoree. Record the comments so the honoree can listen to them later. Put the cards, notes and pictures the guest brought into a home-made album or binder after the event so the honored family member has a special memento of the occasion.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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