Nearly a year before we needed to purchase it, my sister and I were already discussing 50th anniversary gifts for parents.

We talked about different items we could buy, or heartfelt gifts we could make. We discussed events and celebrations we could host. In the end, we, along with input from my mom, decided to celebrate their 5 decades together by planning a family weekend in Galena, Illinois. (More on that trip later in the blog.)

However, since we brainstormed a lot of ideas, I wanted to share them with others who might be searching for 50th anniversary gifts for parents or grandparents. We hope this list helps you choose a memorable and meaningful gift for your loved ones.

50th Anniversary Gifts for Parents

  • Fun Family T-Shirts – Custom t-shirts designed especially for our family to wear to a surprise anniversary party. Etsy has some amazing 50th anniversary t-shirt ideas.
  • Scrapbook or Fancy Album of Family Photos – Ask each sibling in the family for 10 photos and written memories. Collect them all into a beautiful scrapbook or a high-quality photo book.
  • Video Tribute – Use any of the online services, like Tribute, to create sweet and fun video messages for your parents.
  • Family Photo Session – Hire a professional photographer to take photos of the entire family together. Mothers, especially, love a good family photo to hang in their home.
  • Customized Billboard  – Sounds a little goofy, doesn’t it? But my family did this for my great-grandparents back in the ’80s. (I even have a photo to prove it!) Looking back, it is cool to see how many people were alive thanks to their 50 years together. So, maybe it’s not so goofy after all.
  • Custom Tribute Book – Hire a company like mine to create a customized tribute book for your parents’ 50th or other milestone anniversary. Before you ask, no, I didn’t do this for my own parents yet… I’ll get to it!
  • Family Dinner at a Restaurant – Surprise them with a special family dinner at their favorite restaurant, or at a restaurant that holds special meaning to them or your family. Or, recreate a special meal they had together at someone’s home.
  • Night of Nostalgia – My parents married in 1973, so we thought about hosting a ’70s party night where everyone dressed in vintage clothes, listened to music popular that year, and showcased all things 1973. (I think the grandkids would have loved this idea.)
  • Family Trip – Plan a weekend or weeklong vacation for the entire family. AirBNB and VRBO make it easy to find big rental homes or individual condos for each family. You can keep it simple and inexpensive or go big and make a dream vacation. The point is to spend quality time together.

Multiple images of a family celebrating together at a resort environment.

Our Recent Family Weekend

In mid July, we all left Iowa for a long weekend at the Galena Territory (which also had a 50th anniversary this year!) in Galena, Illinois. It’s an easy 2- to 3-hour drive for everyone and offered affordable housing, golf courses, swimming pools, and shopping.

With my parents, their four children, and 17 in-laws and grandchildren, we are a big group. However, one of my brothers and his family didn’t attend (it’s a long story). So, we needed housing for 17 people. Hotels can be great, but pretty expensive for a group this large. Plus, we wanted to be able to cook meals and hang out together. So we started searching rental options and found condos near each other. We started with two condos for all of us. But about a week before the trip, my sister and her husband wisely found a third option that had just opened up!

In my opinion, each sibling family should have their own home base to retreat to and recharge in after all that family bonding time. I know other families who happily stay together in one big home. Do what promotes the most happiness and peace for the personalities involved.

All in all, it was a relaxing and fun weekend. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and my parents spent a lot of quality time with everyone. There was even talk of making it an annual event!

Here are a couple tips I’ll share from our weekend together:

  1. Ask each family to cook a meal and host at their place. It is a great way to feed everyone without the expense and hassle of a restaurant. Plus, it’s fun to hang out in the different rental units.
  2. Encourage casual fun: We knew there were nearby golf courses, swimming pools, and an amazing shopping area. Tee times were schedule for mornings, but for the most part, the group had the freedom to do what each family or individual wanted.
  3. Plan a couple events: To ensure quality time together, plan for it. We ate most meals together. We hung out together each evening. One night we rented two pontoon boats on the nearby lake. You don’t need to spend every moment together (and probably shouldn’t!) but purposefully plan time for the entire group to be together throughout the stay.

Finally, since it was a 50th anniversary celebration, I wanted to plan a couple family activities to encourage people to share stories and memories about our family. One of the activities was going to be creating a family time capsule together. Every person fills out an “All About Me” worksheet to describe their life and personality at this moment in time. And then as a group, the entire family fills out worksheets about the community, society, and world events. The idea is to capture this moment in time with short memories and photos of your family. In 10 or 20 years, you open your time capsule and remember all the fun you had together.

It was a great idea. Too bad I forgot the time capsule kit at home…

Family Bingo Night

Next on my list, was a new product I’ve been considering: customized family bingo cards! My goal was to create an easy but entertaining game that everyone in the family (regardless of age or abilities) could play together. Family bingo night was a hit!

The bingo cards (see the image of them to the right) were personalized with names of family members, significant places, and items from our history. When someone got a bingo, they had to share two quick stories, using words from their bingo card. This simple game turned into a loud and hilarious evening of storytelling. Most stories were funny, but a few times, especially with the younger generation, they shared really sweet and heartfelt sentiments about our family.

After sharing their stories, the winners selected their prizes from a table filled with fun family “heirlooms” that my mom collected from her house. Each heirloom had it’s own story. There were pocket knives that belonged to different family members, a ceramic coffee mug my mom made for my dad, knick knacks from our childhood, etc. It was fun to see which prize each person chose and hear my mom’s story behind it.

At the end, we did a blackout round and the winner (my nephew Knox) was given all the remaining prizes! He was a sweetheart and passed out most of his winning loot to other people. It was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it for your next family gathering!

Celebrating Anniversaries and Other Milestones

To wrap things up, our parents’ 50th anniversary celebration was a testament to the power of love and family. Through various events and activities, we came together to create memories, strengthen our bonds, and celebrate the incredible journey of our parents. I hope this blog post has provided you with inspiration for your own special celebrations, filled with love, laughter, and cherished memories. Remember, it’s the moments shared together that truly make life rich and meaningful.

If you would like to work with Circa Legacy to plan a 50th anniversary gift for parents or grandparents, send me a message. I’d love to hear your ideas and get started!

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Different generations of a family gathered in the kitchen at Thanskgiving