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Do Boomers Throw Better Parties Than Younger People?


If your three-day weekend plans include dazzling a dozen guests with your culinary skills or barbecuing in your backyard with a few other couples, you’re in good company:  More than half of Americans 50 and up plan to entertain at home at least once this summer.  A recent survey by American Express shed light on how different age groups celebrate summer. Here’s what they found out about the 50+ set:

  • Intimate gatherings are in. Of those who plan to host a gathering this summer, the 50+ set says they’ll welcome an average of 13 guests, while the number jumps to 21 guests for those ages 30-49.  The top party activities for the 50+ set include hosting a special meal like a pig roast or seafood feast (29%) or serving a signature cocktail (23%).
  • Competitive games are out. Leave volleyball, croquet and limbo to the kids. Only 11% of those 50 and up plan to host a competitive game.
  • Frugality is popular. The 50+ set may have higher incomes than their younger counterparts, but they aren’t spending a ton of it on summer partying.  In fact, older Americans plan to spend 27% less on summer entertaining than the general population ($306 per party, compared to $422 on average).  What’s more, while food and drink costs top summer party shopping lists for all age groups, the 50+ crowd will spend just $144 on average on food (ages 18-29 average $171; ages 30-49 average $190) and $86 on average on drinks (ages 18-29: $102; ages 30-49: $106).
  • Self-reliance rules. Older Americans are less likely to hire a party planner, with just 2% saying they’d do this, compared to one in 10 people ages 30-49 and 12% of people 18-29.  What’s more, while 73% of people ages 30-49 (and 84% of people ages 18-29) plan to ask their guests to contribute something —  like food or beverages — to the party, just 66% of Americans over 50 will rely on their guests to bring stuff to the shindig.


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.