The 40th once was one of the most feared birthdays, but that has changed. It’s still the Big 4-0, but it also has been embraced as the New 30 – an approach that can inspire fabulous 40th birthday party ideas.
With an array of possibilities available, deciding what to do for the occasion can be tricky. Let us help you narrow down your options for a big bash with some party themes.
40th Birthday Themes And Ideas
The 40th birthday is a major milestone, and your event should reflect that. Whether you plan something intimate with those close to you, or you invite as many guests as possible for a massive shindig, you should put as much creativity and passion into it as you can.
1. A 1980s Party
A 1980s-themed event is not the most original idea, we admit, but it is relevant. Turning 40 in 2020 means you were born in 1980, and the event is a great opportunity to revisit your childhood. Décor-wise, think neon colours, black and white geometric patterns, and posters of the era’s pop stars. If one of those posters is of the King of Pop, you can offer Pin the Glove On Michael Jackson as a party game during the evening. Make sure MJ, as well as Madonna, Prince, Tiffany, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, the Eurythmics, Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys are on the playlist.
2. A Tiki Party
If you love the beach, retro Americana, or exotic island vibes, consider having a tiki theme for your 40th birthday party. The tiki culture craze began in 1930s California, and it was inspired by a romanticized take on the South Pacific.
If you can find a tiki-themed venue, go for it. Otherwise, be prepared to recreate a beach bar scene, with Mai Tai cocktails served in tiki glasses or coconuts, and with Polynesian dancers or musicians. Let the South Pacific inspire your catering choices, which can include dishes such as ponzu chicken and Kahlua pork. Remember to give each guest a flowery lei on arrival!
3. A Murder Mystery Experience
Invite nine friends for a bespoke murder mystery experience at a surprise location for your 40th birthday party. You’ll be transformed into characters with the help of costumes, make-up, and props. Each of the characters has a backstory as well as possible motives to commit the murder that must be solved. Whether you enjoy the experience in a dinner party setting, or you spread it out over a weekend, it’ll make for an unforgettable birthday event.
4. A Spy Mission In London
If you’re a fan of the spy genre in movies or literature, get six friends together and celebrate your 40th birthday with a thrilling spy mission in London. The event will give your group the chance to solve clues as your work together to defeat a criminal mastermind.
Professional actors are part of the experience, which can be held indoors or outdoors. Go for drinks at a favourite pub or enjoy a meal at a top restaurant when all the clues have been solved and you’ve managed to save the world.
5. Take A Hike
If you’re looking for a completely unconventional party idea, why not ditch the party altogether, and go hiking with friends instead? Pack your backpacks (don’t forget a bottle of bubbly and a mini cooler, if possible), put on your walking shoes, and head out for a couple of days of camaraderie and fresh air in the countryside.
6. An Over-The-Moon Party
If you love the magic of the night, include a lunar theme for this milestone birthday. Time your Over-the-Moon party for the night of the full moon closest to your birthday, and hold the event outdoors, if possible. Focus on white, silver, and other light colours that will reflect or glow in the moonlight.
You can set up a table in a garden or on a patio, decorate it with a white cloth and bunches of white flowers and silvery-green foliage, and hang lanterns inspired by the moon.Serve savoury half-moon pies, sweet MoonPies, and moonshine cocktails for a fun foodie touch.
7. Celebrate In A Country Manor House
Owned by legendary chef Raymond Blanc, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire is a 15th century manor house known for its Michelin-starred menu, luxurious accommodation, and exquisite grounds. Hire the manor for a 40th birthday party that is perfect for foodies and lovers of the good life. You can enjoy afternoon tea, tours, a seven-course dinner, and much more on your 40th birthday.
8. A Private Group Baking Class
Who said that a 40th birthday party must be all drinks, snacks, and loud music?
Invite up to 11 others to put on their aprons and join you and a Great British Bake-Off star for a private group baking class. You can choose from different classes, learn various techniques, pick up top tips, and make an array of delicious goodies to sample with a glass of prosecco. It’s a chance to live, laugh, love, learn and eat on your special day.
9. A Summery Garden Party
If your birthday is in one of the warmer months, take advantage of the fine weather by throwing a summery garden party for your 40th. Instead of sticking to the traditional yet fussy elegance often associated with garden parties, take a quirkier, more rustic approach.
Decorate the tables with an abundance of potted plants and garden-inspired décor (think flower frogs, gnomes, and terra cotta). Keep frosty jugs of sangria, home-made spiced orangeade and lemonade, and lemon verbena water on the table, and serve light, summery foods such as Le grand aioli, salade niçoise, and chorizo-and-manchego crostini.
10. A Mushroom Foraging Experience
A mushroom foraging experience and feast is another 40th birthday party idea with a difference. You and your friends can join an expert on edible fungi to learn about identifying and gathering wild mushrooms. When you’re done foraging, you can celebrate your harvest (and your 40th birthday) with a special drink, before indulging in a five-course feast prepared with the mushrooms.
11. Private Island Getaway
Head to the Bahamas with five friends for a 40th birthday party that takes indulgence to the next level. Hire Little Whale Cay, a private island, and enjoy several days of sun, sand, and surf. There are water sports facilities available, as well as the services of a masseuse and a chef.
12. Wine, Champagne, and Caviar Tasting
Invite up to seven guests to join you for a taste of luxury on your 40th birthday. Indulge in gourmet caviar, champagne, and wine tasting with a renowned connoisseur at Wine Cottage. Other seasonal delicacies could make their way onto the menu, which will be finished off with something sweet.
13. A Michelin-Starred Private Dining Experience
A pub lunch doesn’t sound terribly exciting as a 40th birthday party idea, unless the pub happens to be Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred Hind’s Head. You can your nine guests can ensconce yourselves in the private Vicar’s Room, where you can indulge in a 5-course tasting menu in a setting that is dramatic and regal yet unbelievably comfortable.
14. An Afternoon Tea Experience at The Shard
What better way to celebrate than to indulge in afternoon tea at The Shard? Picture savoury, sweet, and a fantastic view of the London Skyline. Depending on your personal preference, you can choose between Aqua Shard, Oblix and Ting, three very different restaurants but all offering fantastic experiences. Invite your best friends and family along for a memorable 40th birthday.
15. Have a Potluck Party
Stress about having to throw a grand party? Make your life easier by getting everyone to contribute to the food! You’re in for little surprises and you never know what tasty new dishes you may get to try. Just make sure you know someone is in-charge of the cake.
16. Host a Costume-themed Party
Do you have a favorite character or show? Make everyone listen to you this time by getting them to dress up as characters from the show! Dressing up isn’t only for halloween, it’s your birthday and you’re the boss! Remember to take pictures of this fun-filled day!
17. Host a Games Night
Invite your closed friends and family for a night of board games, cards, video games, whatever you desire! Lots of fun guaranteed, and the best way to unwind at the age of 40!
18. Have a Sleepover Party
Sleepovers aren’t just for kids, adults can have them too! Consider putting the kids with Grandma Or Grandpa and invite your besties over for a fun night. Talk about life, watch movies, play games, eat pizza, whatever you want! If your 40 year old body can handle it, don’t sleep and spend the whole night up awake!
19. Volunteer at an Event
Rather than make your party all about you, use this opportunity to gather your loved ones to volunteer together. It can be for the children, the elderly, the underprivileged, the animals, whatever! Do you have a cause that you feel strongly about? Now’s the perfect chance to get your friends on board too and spread the joy of helping on your 40th birthday!
20. Watch a Local Sporting Event
Whether it’s football, basketball or hockey, consider snagging tickets for your home team and bring the family out for a memorable night cheering on your team! It’s guaranteed to be party mode, just don’t let them spoil your party should they not win! Remember it’s your 40th birthday!
Shop the Best 40th Birthday Gifts
Planning A 40th Birthday Party
A 40th birthday party requires careful consideration. As much as you may like the sound of a particular theme or activity, it may be impractical for that time of year. Keeping the following factors in mind can help you choose a party idea that you and your guests will love.
Time of year
Consider the season when your birthday takes place. If the celebration will take place in winter or early spring, it probably will be too cold for an outdoor event. If you were born in late spring, summer, or autumn, you have greater flexibility when it comes to where you have the party.
Time of day
Some 40th birthday party ideas are better suited to, or are available, only during the day. You’ll find it quite the opposite for others, while some ideas should work equally well, whether day or night.
The guest list
Pay attention to the guest list when planning a 40th party. Do you intend to invite adult friends only, or will it be a mix of family and friends of all ages? Will you invite your boss and your colleagues? Can everyone attend in person, or should you create a Group Video that can be presented during the party? Let your prospective guest list influence your choice of theme so that those who attend the event will not find it inappropriate. You probably wouldn’t want children at a Vegas-themed party complete with Blackjack, Poker and Roulette tables.
If you haven’t decided on a venue, remember that the location can be quite an important factor. A hired 16th century manor in the country wouldn’t be the best location for a decorations-intense event with a Tiki-inspired beach-party theme.
Your interests and hobbies
Your 40th birthday’s your special day and you should relish celebrating it. Your interests and hobbies, the things that you are passionate about, can be a fantastic source of inspiration for 40th parties.
Make turning 40 fabulous with any of these 40th birthday ideas and celebrate entering your 4th decade in true style!