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Any person should be proud and ecstatic to be turning 40. By the time you reach this age, you will have accomplished a lot of things, achieved your goals, fulfilled your dreams, and become wiser through experience. At 40, you are generally in a good place. And all these things should be celebrated in the most unforgettable way possible. So, you’ll need all the best 40th birthday party ideas to choose from.
And you’re in luck because I am sharing some of these ideas with you. I am turning 40 years old in a couple of months and have compiled fun and unique ways to celebrate the start of another decade. While I have planned parties for so many friends and family before, organizing my own as I hit the big four-zero definitely brings a different kind of excitement. So join me as I begin my 40th birthday planning journey.
My Bottom Line Up Front
With so many wonderful ideas out there, it is hard to pick just one. This is why it always helps to know the celebrant on a personal level. Parties, especially for people who are old enough to know the value of their time, should be centered around the things they love and enjoy. Anything that doesn’t fit the bill is considered a waste of time.
My 40th Birthday Party Checklist
I had decided to throw my own party even before the year started. I wanted to be in control of all aspects of the celebration, and I made this clear to my family before they could even create some secret group chat and plan some kind of surprise for me. So, after deciding, the first thing I did was to make a checklist of the things I needed to consider before finalizing anything. Here are the items on my party checklist:
When throwing your own 40th birthday party or planning one as a surprise for a friend or family member, you need to set a clear budget. How much would you be willing to spend on everything?
I understand that, sometimes, it’s very difficult to set aside a specific figure if you don’t know what you will be needing and how much these things cost. I suggest that you list down what your party essentials are, get a quote from suppliers or look into their rates, and settle on a rough estimate for your total expenses. Just remember to always set your budget with enough allowance to accommodate certain adjustments to your plan so you don’t fall short.
Family and friends may also offer to pay for a particular item, such as cake, wine, or food. You can tick this item off your list and allot your supposed budget for it towards something else. Or keep it in your savings account instead.
How Big Do You Want the Party to Be?
In my case, this is a no-brainer. I have managed to keep only a few great friends and find it kind of stressful to deal with too many people. So I’d prefer my party to be intimate and to be just a gathering of people near and dear to me.
Not everyone’s like me though. There are people who have big personalities and who are extroverts. Naturally, they have many friends and would enjoy having as many of them as possible. If this is the case, then a big party should be in order.
Of course, the next thing you’ll need to do is make a list of all the people you want to invite.
Celebrant’s Interests and Hobbies
If you are planning the party for a loved one, make a list of all the celebrant’s interests and hobbies. Whether it’s gardening, painting, photography, knitting, hiking, or baking, it’s always nice to incorporate these interests into the party to give it a more personal touch. This would make the celebrant feel more special and loved.
You can go the do-something-new-because-YOLO route, too. However, you still need to assess your celebrant’s own personality and brand of adventure, as well as that of the guests. For example, you can’t just arrange for a party that involves extreme sports because it’s something the birthday boy has never tried before. Especially not without knowing for sure that he and his friends will be up for it.
40th Birthday Ideas
There are endless 40th birthday ideas out there, but I narrowed down this list to make it easier and less overwhelming for you. Just to be clear, these ideas don’t just pertain to the ones I’ve shortlisted for my own party. I have taken note of party ideas that almost-40-year-olds would generally enjoy. I have also grouped these ideas under various categories, like indoor activities, outdoor activities, and cool party themes, among others.
If your birthday happens to be in the fall or winter, or if it’s during the rainy season, then an indoor party makes more sense. Your guests would surely prefer to stay warm and toasty.
Going to an escape room is the perfect activity for a small group of friends who love mental challenges. It will test how well we can listen to each other and work as a team in solving puzzles, figuring clues, finding hidden items, and basically getting out of sticky situations.
The good thing about this particular activity is that it’s something both the guys and the ladies could enjoy. Escape room venues also have different themed rooms for you to choose from. Some have zombie rooms, Egyptian excavation sites, chemistry labs, and studies.
Who doesn’t love music and singing? And even if some of your friends don’t really sing, they can surely dance along. What’s really great about karaoke is that you can create a safe space for everyone to sing their hearts (and lungs) out without being judged. Besides, we’re turning 40, so that means we’ve probably had our friends long enough to know who can and cannot carry a tube. This level of familiarity should make us comfortable enough with each other, whether we hit the notes or not.
You may want to look in your area for a karaoke place or a KTV bar with private rooms. But if there isn’t any, you can transform your living room into one. To organize a karaoke party at home, all you need is to buy, rent, or borrow a karaoke player, get at least a couple of microphones, and set up LED lights for the perfect karaoke night ambiance. Make sure you have lots of food and beer because singing can make you hungry.
Spa Treatment or Massage
You deserve to feel fabulous on your birthday, so treat yourself and your friends to a mani-pedi, a facial, and a massage. Nothing will help you unwind and relax better than a spa treatment. You can make reservations with your favorite spa facility and head over there with your gang. Some spas have birthday packages that you can avail of. You can also bring the spa to your home. Some spas offer home service and their staff can bring their own massage tables. Or, you can get the supplies yourself and ask some trained massage therapists and nail technicians to come over.
This kind of party is perfect for the ladies.
See also: Sunflower Cake Ideas
If you live in an area with vineyards and wineries, you can book a wine-tasting tour for your little group. You can enjoy wine, and perhaps even cheeses, then enjoy the scenery.
If there are no wineries within your area or if you’re not up for a long drive to get to your nearest winery, then take the winetasting to your home. Get a few bottles of wine, prepare a charcuterie board with a selection of cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruits, pretzels, crackers, pickles, nuts, chocolates, and condiments.
Bowling is a great activity for 40-year-olds because it’s not too physically straining. Even your non-athletic friends would enjoy it because they’d just be sitting while waiting for their turn, which is most of the time. You can hold a mini-competition amongst yourselves and prepare prizes for the winners. Needless to say, bowling would allow you to catch up with those friends you don’t get to meet often and enjoy your food and drinks in between turns.
If you decide to have a bowling party for your birthday, make sure to call your favorite bowling center in advance, make reservations, and make arrangements with the facility regarding food and drinks.
Rent a Limo or Party Bus
Rent a limo or a party bus and celebrate your birthday on the road with a few handpicked guests. You can rent a limo if you invite a very small circle of friends. But to accommodate a bigger party, a party bus would be a much better idea. You can enjoy some champagne and some finger foods, as well as some dancing, while you are onboard. Then you can go bar-hopping or go visit a club or two. This way, you can all enjoy some alcohol, without anybody getting left behind just because they are the designated driver.
Bingo or Trivia Night
Host a Bingo Night for your birthday at home. Invite several friends over and enclose their own Bingo card in your invitation. Prepare special prizes to give away to the winners. Of course, you’ll need to keep the food and drinks flowing.
If Bingo isn’t your thing and you and your friends are more of trivia buffs, then make it into a trivia night. Prepare challenging trivia questions, insert some trivia about you, and don’t forget to attractive and enticing prizes for the winner.
What prizes are we talking about? A massage voucher, a gift certificate, concert tickets, free dinner-for-two, makeup, kitchen gadgets, books, or whatever you think your friends fancy. After all, you’re the one who knows them well enough. Of course, it also depends on what you can afford.
Hire a Private Chef
There are private chefs that you can hire to cook for you and your guests. So invite your closest friends to an exclusive gastronomic feast at home. You can also rent a yacht and your chef can serve you lunch or dinner as you go cruising. It will surely be one for the books!
If you’d want to hold your party somewhere where there’s plenty of fresh air, or where you can watch the sunset, then go for an outdoor activity. Here are some outdoor party ideas that any 40-year-old would enjoy:
Hold a barbecue out in your patio or backyard, or by your pool if you have one, to commemorate your 40th lap around the sun. This isn’t exactly a very unique idea, but you can spice it up with a really cool activity. Get your grill ready and stock up on meats like burger patties, hotdogs, and steaks, perhaps some kebabs, and, of course, an endless supply of beer. You and your boys can take turns working the grill. You can make it more fun by playing board games, card games, Pictionary, or charades while your food is cooking. You can even have a mini song and dance showdown!
Afternoon Garden Tea Party
Invite your choicest girlfriends to a tea party in your garden. Set up a little tent, get your patio furniture ready, and take your dainty little teapots and teacups out. Finish it up with lovely flowers and maybe some pastel-colored tulle netting for additional shade. Get some cakes, pastries, cookies, and scones to pair with your tea.
If you would love to have an afternoon tea party but don’t have a garden of your own, you can always rent a private garden venue.
Why not plan a camping trip with your closest buddies for your birthday? Pack your tents, get your camping gears ready, and take them to a campground for some bonfire, smores, and storytelling. You can reminisce and look back on the old days over some beer and beef jerky. You can exchange horror stories, too.
If you don’t like getting your hands dirty, pitching your own tent, or making your own fire, then you can try glamping instead. Glamping is a glamorous kind of camping, wherein you can be one with nature and you get to fill your lungs with fresh air, but at the same time enjoy modern amenities and luxuries. Glamping sites offer a real authentic camping experience, but with all the amenities that you’ll need.
See also: Baby Shower Cake Ideas
40th Birthday Party Theme Ideas
If you decide to host a simple gathering of friends for your 40th birthday party, you can make everything cohesive by deciding on a theme. This will tie different elements or aspects of the party together, from the decor to the cake, to the activities. Here are some ideas for party themes:
This long-running TV comedy series is well-loved by our generation. So if you’re a Friends fan like so many 30- and 40-year-olds, this theme will suit you perfectly. We’re talking about elements that symbolize or remind us of the show, like Monica’s peephole frame, the FRIENDS title font, Monica’s couch, Central Perk’s sign, Joey’s stuffed toy penguin, Chandler and Joey’s pet duck and chicken, and the famous foosball.
All Your Favorite Shows or Movies
You can pick a theme that showcases all your favorite movies or TV shows growing up. Surely, friends your age can relate, or at least would be familiar with them. You can decorate your place with prints of the movie posters or leave famous quotes from your favorite TV show characters. Add symbolic items here and there, like Harry Potter eyeglasses and wand, dragon eggs, and messages in a bottle. You can also use figurines or Funko pop dolls if you have them. You can even host a trivia game about these shows and movies.
Your Favorite Books
If you’re a nerd and you love books, take advantage of the fact that it’s your birthday and invite your friends to get a glimpse of your imaginary worlds. You can go all-out on your decorations or simply add accessories or elements that would give guests a hint of these books and their characters. You can also throw in actual books from your own library.
Basing your party’s theme on a particular color or on various colors would also be cool. You can simply look for party elements that are in the particular shade you love. You need not buy anything, really. You can simply look around your house and gather all items that are in the color you love.
Superbowl or Sports
If you are into the Superbowl, or into sports other than football, then center your party around it. If your birthday falls on a day with a super big game featuring your favorite team, you can host a watch party, complete with beer, pizza, fries, popcorn, or whatever food you’re still allowed to eat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: A 40th anniversary is called a ruby jubilee. And since a 40th birthday is the 40th anniversary of your birth, then you can call it your ruby jubilee. And because of that, the official color of a 40th birthday is ruby red. Of course, you can opt for another color, too.
Answer: A 40th birthday is considered a milestone birthday. Milestone birthdays, which are also called landmark birthdays, are celebrated every 10 years after you turn 30. Before that, milestone birthdays are celebrated on your 18th and 21st birthdays.
Your 40th birthday is a milestone as it signifies the next stage and the next decade of your life. This is the age when you enter mid-adulthood, when you’re no longer too young and not yet too old. At this age, you have already experienced and achieved many things, learned many valuable lessons, made many memories, and established many relationships.
There’s also that saying that “life begins at 40,” simply because people this age are at the peak of their careers and their private lives. They’ve gotten adulting down pat, and are now starting to embrace other aspects of themselves. For some, this is a time they start reaping the fruits of their hard work and enjoy some luxuries, traveling, and a lot of self-love.
Answer: Sending out invitations to your friends about three weeks before your planned birthday party is good enough. But you can always send the invites a month before. Remember that at this age, you and your friends most probably have your own families, your own jobs, your own plans and schedules. We already know the value of our time and some of us may even be very protective of it. So giving your friends enough time to adjust their calendars for your party and get their schedules in order means that you respect your time.
However, if you plan on going on a trip with friends for your birthday, you should tell them much earlier. For example, if you want to go on a Caribbean cruise with them, then you better tell them about it months before and have them involved in the planning. They may need to file a leave from work, arrange for babysitters or dogsitters, or even save up for it.
Your 40th birthday is a landmark birthday, so you need to make your 40th birthday party count. Plan something you haven’t done before with your friends to make it memorable. For most of us, 40th birthday celebrations are spent with only the closest and dearest to our hearts, so that means a very small yet intimate party. This makes planning a lot easier since we’re talking about guests we are most comfortable with.