Some see the 40s as a time for sobriety, seriousness, and entrepreneurship. But they can also be a time for fun and letting loose. So, when you reach that milestone, you might want to peruse this list of 40th birthday party ideas. Each and every one of them will make your special day unique and memorable.
Furthermore, you can mix and match them, and don’t be afraid to suggest them to your group of friends who will also be turning 40 soon.
37 Different 40th Birthday Party Ideas
1. A Winter Wonderland
It’s the winter season; nature is on a break, and the cold makes life a bit harder to bear. But don’t let a little snow and ice stop you!
Instead, when organizing a birthday party, rent out a mountain cabin or go to a ski resort with your friends. While there, you can enjoy a whole host of activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, etc.
Alternatively, let your inner child come back for just a bit and make a huge snowman or have a snowball fight. And once you’re all done, you can get near a fireplace with some hot cocoa and talk about your hopes and dreams for the future.
2. Giving a Little to the Needy and Unfortunate
It might sound atypical to give to others when it’s your birthday. But think about it this way: you’re in your late 30s now, about to turn 40. You’ve already achieved a lot. However, there are some people out there who are suffering with nothing to their names. So, making that day a little bit special for them will buy you some good karma. Furthermore, it will feel amazing.
There are plenty of ideas you can consider here. For instance, you can visit a homeless shelter and donate some old clothes or food. Pick up a stray dog or cat and adopt them, giving them a warm home. Visit a charity and donate a sum of money to a cause you believe in. No matter what you do, it will definitely put a smile on someone’s face.
3. ATV All the Way
Some of you are quite adrenaline-minded. Speed, strength, and endurance make up a winning combo for the early 40s since they help keep the body in shape. And what can be more fun to an adrenaline junkie than taking a quad to a hilly area and letting loose?
ATVs are relatively easy to rent, and you only need a small squad of friends to enjoy the activity. Give one of these vehicles a ride across some rugged terrain, and you’ll see the results within seconds. Granted, you might end up soaking in mud or elbow-deep in a river or a ditch, but you will love every single second of it. It would be saying ‘goodbye’ to your 30s with an absolute bang.
4. A Trip Down Memory Lane
The famed verses from The Animals come to mind when you start planning this idea out. While being 40 isn’t necessarily being old, it’s still a fairly decent age. As established comedian Jimmy Carr would say, the only way a man in his 40s would be referred to as ‘young’ would be if he happens to die. ‘Oh, he died so young,’ he closes his joke to shattering applause.
But your own 40th birthday should celebrate life, as those are your best years. Instead, plan to talk about the times past with your friends and family. Crack open a few of those tin boxes with old photographs and reminisce about what once was.
Old VHS videos will also do the trick if you can get that VHS player to work, of course. If all else fails, simply regale your guests with the tales of you back when you were first blossoming into an adult.
5. Whiskey for the Lads
Now, men will probably enjoy this idea more than women, but don’t let that stop you, ladies. If you like a bit of hard liquor, this theme will definitely apply to you as well.
So, if you’re a lad that’s about to turn 40, you can have a quiet evening with your friends and crack open a bottle of some good old whiskey. What’s more, set the mood to go with the booze. Dim those lights, play some jazz or blues in the background, light up a Cuban cigar or two, and plump yourself into a comfy, soft chair. You and the boys can then reminisce, talk about daily events, or really anything.
As long as you have a glass of whiskey at your side, your birthday will be one for the history books.
6. The Backyard Is Where It’s At
A 40th birthday party doesn’t need to be a huge affair. You can have a small-scale party and still have an awesome time. And what better venue to choose than your own backyard?
Picture this scene: you have your barbecue ready, flipping burgers and sausages. Your neighbors and friends are chatting on your freshly cut lawn with a local band playing in the background. The kids are having a blast everywhere, and your spouse or partner is helping by serving drinks and giving you a kiss every now and again. And sure, there can be a cake in there somewhere.
To most, that moment right there is irreplaceable, the perfect way to welcome you in your 40s.
7. Time to Bowl
Bowling is one of the most fun activities for any age group. When you enter that bowling alley, you can see teenagers trying to impress the ladies, college students slamming drinks, and young adults blowing off steam from their daily grind. You can also see a few aged faces perfecting their game while enjoying their retirement. Really, it’s a sight to behold, and it’s a place where you will want to spend your 40th birthday.
When at the alley, you and your guests can divide yourselves into teams and go for a few rounds. Don’t worry about being the perfect bowler. Chances are none of you in the group has held a ball properly in your lives. So, just enjoy the ride for what it is, laugh off the mistakes, and make some awesome memories.
8. The Mile-High Experience
Imagine spending your 40th birthday soaring high into the air. It’s really an otherworldly experience, especially if you’ve spent most of your life on the ground. Luckily, there are ways you can enjoy being above the clouds with the ones you love.
The most cost-effective and intriguing method is to rent a hot air balloon. In fact, millions of people around the world do just that. You can do it solo, with a partner, or in a small group. Some companies also provide lunch or dinner with their rental service. You can have an entire romantic spread if you want to spend your 40th with your beloved a mile high above the ground.
9. Gonna Step on the Gas
Racing is a way of life. Some people enjoy partaking in it, while others are pleased to watch it on the small screen. If you aim to burn some rubber, then your 40th birthday is the perfect chance to do so.
Before the big day, rent a sports car and allow yourself a bit of a joyride on the open highway. Naturally, make sure you’re perfectly safe. Some people, for instance, hire professional drivers to show them the ropes. That might be a good idea for you too, especially if you’re a complete beginner.
Who knows, maybe this one joyride in a fast car might spark a new interest and a potential hobby. After all, loving cars and driving them fast doesn’t have an age limit.
10. Pub Quiz Hotshots
Some pubs organize quizzes, and all pubs have drinks. If you’re eager to combine the two, then you should definitely take a group of your friends to a bar during quiz night.
Obviously, you will want to try and win, so pick a team of people who cover a wide range of topics. But even if you lose, you will still enjoy this particular activity. After all, you will all be quite inebriated, so the answers that come out might not always be accurate, though they will definitely be hilarious.
Before you know it, you will have a full day’s experience behind you, with lots of anecdotes and funny moments. Oh, and if you win, you get bragging rights and a triumph to remember.
11. A Museum Visit
Some people prefer to spend their birthdays in a calm environment, without any wild parties or excessive drinking. If you’re that type of person and enjoy a bit of culture, you might want to try visiting a museum. It’s an excellent way to fill your special day with activity and even learn something new.
Of course, not all museums are the same. You might enter a typical museum that covers the history of one place or one individual, and that’s fine. But you can also find a themed museum, i.e., one about cars, modern art, the plant life of your region, etc.
Alternatively, you can see which exhibits are on display on the day you turn 40 and check those out. And if you don’t want to do it alone, take your partner or a group of culture-minded friends and make a day of it.
12. Concerts and Gigs
There’s nothing wrong with having a quiet, relaxing birthday. Likewise, nothing is stopping you from having one that’s loud, energetic, and filled with music. As an individual who likes to rock out, see what concerts are playing locally and buy a ticket or two.
If it’s a band that both you and your friends like, you can go to the concert wearing band T-shirts, badges, and other items. But if the concert seems too pricey for you, check online for local gigs with unknown or upcoming bands. You might just discover something new and exciting. Indeed, learning about a new awesome band will be the best unintentional birthday gift you could wish for.
13. An Evening with the Boys/Girls
Some birthday party ideas are great for people who want to get a bit of culture or remind themselves of past days. And then there are parties where you just want to unwind with the crew, play some video games, pig out on snacks, and chug a few beers. Both men and women like doing that, so why not give it a go?
First, make sure that your apartment is nice and ready the day before. Next, get lots of snacks, beverages, and anything else in between. Then get your gaming rigs ready. Alternatively, whip out some board games, DnD sheets, darts board, and poker chips — anything that will make your day go by.
Finally, get the rooms ready in case some of your friends want to spend the night. The rest is fairly simple — game on and chug away!
One thing that most birthday parties have in common is awesome food. It doesn’t matter if you turn 4, 14, 40, or 44; you will want to offer your guests something delicious. Luckily, there is one Italian dish that most people of all ages like, and that’s the good, old pizza pie.
However, instead of ordering a few dozen boxes of the dish, make a few yourself. You can go with the classics such as Margherita, Capricciosa, Peperoni, Funghi, etc. Alternatively, try experimenting with your recipes and adding ingredients that your guests specifically ask for. You can even spice up the atmosphere by dimming the lights and playing some Italian music for that chef’s kiss moment of excellence.
15. The Limo Lifestyle
It’s a bit of a movie cliche to see a bunch of high schoolers on prom night wearing tuxes and screaming through the rooftop opening of a limousine. But this elegant vehicle was tailor-made for people who like to feel important for that one special day. Be it a film’s opening night, a special event, a party, or even a wedding—people love appearing in limousines. And since your 40th is a special day, why not rent a limo and live it up?
You and your friends can cruise around the city in the limo, wearing tuxes and sipping on some champagne. Since you only turn 40 once, make sure it’s a night you will remember, with lots of photos and even an opportunity to meet a new partner, if need be. And if you already have a special someone, make the limo ride an intimate, subdued one for your pleasure.
16. Adventure Parks
What is an adventure park — you might ask. And how is it different from a typical theme park? Well, think of it this way. A theme park has all of those rides and attractions, usually takes place in an urban environment, and is a place for the whole family.
An adventure park, on the other hand, tends to be a nature-oriented spot that requires a lot of physical effort. It can also be for the whole family, but the adult sections are a bit more extreme.
So, if there is an adventure park near you, grab a few friends and spend your 40th surrounded by ziplining, hiking, tree-climbing, and other intense activities. It’s a perfect way to get the blood going, and you’ll have the time of your life there.
17. The Lives of the Famous
All around the world, and especially in the US, homes where celebrities and historical figures used to live have been turned into museums or tourist attractions. So, why not take advantage of the phenomenon and visit a few on your birthday?
Gather up a few friends and your cameras on your special day and pick a few spots that are easy to reach. Soon enough, you can walk around in the same rooms where James Dean, Buddy Holly, Barry White, Prince, and Alec Guinness used to move. It’s a breathtaking experience, especially if you or your friends happen to be diehard fans of certain celebrities.
And what better birthday gift than a souvenir to remind you of visiting your favorite celebrity’s former home?
18. Rent a Party House
If you intend on having a nice, large, explosive 40th birthday party, you will need to rent the right venue. And few venues are as desirable as party houses. That’s right, houses that are specifically meant to be rented for letting loose and enjoying your special day.
The cool thing about party houses is that they offer anything you might need for any kind of event. Furthermore, you don’t even have to clean them afterward, since the cleaning comes included in the rental price. All you really have to do is order the food and drinks and enjoy the day.
And yes, you can rent these homes during any season, with or without outdoor facilities. The sky’s the limit (well, that and your home budget).
19. Shiver Thy Timbers!
Let’s say that you have a group of friends who are kind of sick and tired of regular birthday parties and want to try something exciting. Something that will involve a bit of effort and a change of scenery. And let’s say that none of them has motion sickness or seasickness. The solution is simple then — do a bit of sailing.
For your special day, go to the nearest coastal town and rent a boat, then hire a seasoned skipper with years of experience. Bring your own food, drinks, snacks, and other necessary items. Plus, don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent, and muscle inflammation ointments.
While you’re on the boat, make sure to join the skipper and help out with anything. It will give you something to do in order to pass the time, plus you’ll learn a lot about sailing and keeping yourself busy on the open sea. It’s a unique experience perfect for men and women at the cusp of their mid-lives.
20. Back to the Club
Current 40-year-olds know the clubbing scenes well. After all, they were teenagers in the late 90s and early 2000s, so the atmosphere of a loud, energy-filled club is not exactly new to them. So, as a fresh 40-year-old, you can relive those old days by visiting your favorite club and hitting the dance floor. Alternatively, find a club that serves clients your age and bring a selection of friends.
Once at the club, you can even approach the DJ and ask for a few songs. Since it is your birthday, the DJ might just oblige you, as long as you’re not too demanding. The only thing left to do is order some drinks, do a little dance, make a little love, and get down tonight.
21. Themed Parties
Image source: Pinterest
Earlier, there was mention of theme parks. Usually, the theme revolves around characters, events, or moods. That’s why you have haunted theme parks, Disneyland, or Western-specific venues. But those themes don’t need to cost a lot of money to appreciate. Instead, you can have a birthday party that revolves around a theme special to you and your loved ones.
Here are a few examples you can consider, but they are merely a drop in the bucket. Really, the theme of your 40th can be anything you desire. Either way, the themes are as follows:
• Horror party
• Western saloon environment
• Elizabethan era party
• Alien invasion
• Pajama party
• Nothing but tuxes
• Costume party
• Cosplay party (for the nerdy ones out there)
• Star Wars characters (for the equally nerdy ones out there)
• Superhero party
• Caveman/Cavewoman environment
• Era-specific events (the 20s, 30s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc.).
22. Shopping Day Made Special
Once again, it’s likely that the ladies might enjoy this type of celebration more than the gentlemen. But we all love shopping, so it’s the kind of party anyone will want to throw. And yes, shopping is most definitely a party when done right.
The ladies out there might hit their favorite stores and stock up on outfits, shoes, handbags, accessories, makeup, beauty products, and the latest foods. Furthermore, they can visit the nail salon, the hair salon, and, if possible, a photo booth to commemorate the moment.
The gentlemen, on the other hand, might enjoy a different type of shopping. For instance, visiting an electronics store for some of the latest tech marvels. Alternatively, they might buy a new suit or two, get an extra PS5 controller, or enjoy an awesome sandwich at the local SubWay.
23. Relaxing at the Spa
If you ask anyone what their favorite spot is to relax and unwind, chances are they will mention spa centers. And really, what’s not to like about a spa center? You can let your worries melt away in a few hours and come out a revitalized man/woman. So, get some rejuvenation for your 40th.
Be it sitting in a sauna, receiving a decent massage, or dipping yourself in the jacuzzi — it’s definitely a day you’ll enjoy. Depending on the spa center, you can enjoy a wide variety of services, including manicures, pedicures, hot or cold showers, steam rooms, etc.
24. Costume Parties
Image source: Pinterest
Yes, costume parties do belong to the themed party section, as you saw earlier. But they deserve a section of their own simply because of how varied they can be.
For your 40th costume party, you can make it into an event. Instead of regular costumes, for instance, try to have your guests dress up as you from various points in your life. Alternatively, organize the party so that the costumes get rated. There are lots of options you can choose from, and no matter what route you go, you’re bound to have a good time. As are your guests, of course, and your loved ones.
In fact, if you have a family, make yourselves unique themed costumes, e.g., dressing up as The Incredibles or The Simpsons.
25. Open Mic Night
Karaoke remains the staple of some of the best parties out there. Bars, clubs, and restaurants across the US have karaoke machines all set up for the customers to enjoy. In Japan, karaoke is a bit of an institution in and of itself, and there are entire bars based around the activity.
So, as a host, make sure your 40th birthday party has a karaoke machine. You and your friends can let loose and sing your favorite songs for the enjoyment of everyone. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the lyrics or it comes out wrong — that’s the whole point! Just relax and go with the flow of the music.
Sporty types can have awesome 40th birthday parties too. It all depends on what type of sports they prefer and how they intend to spend their special day. If you count yourself among the sports crowd, you’ll love this idea.
Group sports are perfect for this occasion, so rent a court or hop down to the park with your mates and enjoy a bit of basketball, football, soccer (i.e., actual football), or volleyball. On the other hand, tennis or table tennis can work for birthday folks who prefer to spend the day with their loved ones. Furthermore, consider stuff like climbing, running, hiking, baseball, cycling, and if you feel especially adventurous, boxing or wrestling.
27. Whipping Up Some Cocktails
Ever wanted to feel like a bartender? Well, with your 40th on the way, you can make that dream come true. A homemade cocktail party might be just what the doctor ordered.
Firstly, you will need the right tools, such as glasses, a tumbler, an ice machine, and a scooper. Next, you’ll need some ingredients, i.e., lots of liquor and lots of extracts. Finally, get a decent recipe book or an app with a list of some of the best cocktails.
Or, if you feel adventurous, some lesser-known ones. Your friends will love tasting the new beverages, and you’ll get yourself in high spirits before the first glasses are downed.
28. A Trip to the Restaurant
Sometimes, an event like the 40th birthday requires a touch of class. You are, after all, a mature person and feel that you’ve deserved some glamor after four decades of inhabiting God’s green earth. So, the best capstone of those four decades is a dinner at a fancy, pricey, high-rated restaurant of some repute.
In that one day, you get to feel like a wealthy individual with a history behind them. Put on your finest wear, be it a tux or a diamond dress, and order the best item on the menu. Don’t fret about the expenditures — it’s your special day, and you deserve no less than the very best. A several-course meal with the finest drinks in an atmosphere that screams high-class is indeed the finest way to start a new chapter in your life.
29. Traveling With Style
It’s been a while since you’ve visited a new place alone, right? Maybe there’s a special town, city, region, or country that you wanted to see? Well, there’s no time like the present to make that trip and make it worth your while.
As a fresh 40-year-old, you can take a single-day trip somewhere to relax, or you can go for a whole week and enjoy some high-tier traveling. Visit that famous spot in Europe, Asia, or Africa, or treat yourself to some faraway little island nobody can locate on a map.
No matter the choice, you will love the outcome, and you’ll come out of the experience a fresh, eager gentleman or lady ready to take on the world.
30. Rafts Ahoy!
Slap on a life jacket, get down to the nearest rapids, get a crew of eager adrenaline junkies and do a bit of rafting on your 40th.
Rafting is perfect for people looking for a bit of action. It’s an intense sport not meant for the faint of heart, plus it might result in a few injuries if you come in unprepared. But seasoned adrenaline heads know the excitement and the beauty that comes with rafting, so don’t let fear or insecurity keep you down. Enjoy that fast-paced trip down the steep river and steer clear of the rocks!
31. Hole-in-One Hijinks
Ever wanted to feel like Tiger Woods or one of the many US presidents during their time outside of the White House? If so, your 40th might just include a gentlemanly (or ladylike) game of golf.
Owning a set of golf clubs is, of course, expensive, but it’s your birthday, so you can afford to splurge a little. On the other hand, you always have the option of renting a set. Whatever choice you make, you’ll be ready for a fun-filled day at the golf course. And most courses also offer restaurants, bars, and other facilities where you can relax and enjoy a beer with your friends.
So, book an entire day at the course and let your birthday go by swinging. Literally and metaphorically, of course.
32. Going to a Game
Some sports fans like to engage in the game, while others prefer to simply watch and enjoy. Are you the latter type? Then take your friends to see that all-important ball game in a city near you. It can be the Knicks game, the Superbowl, or really anything that gets your blood pumping.
And since it’s your birthday, spring for some courtside tickets and enjoy the action in the most direct and spectacular way possible.
33. Enology 101
Are you the kind of 40-year-old that enjoys some fine wine straight from the cellar? If so, why not visit a winery or a vineyard?
Lots of vineyards offer their guests the opportunity to taste their wines, as well as enter their cellars or visit their facilities. Spend your birthday surrounded by some fine Sauvignon or potent Chardonnay by inviting your friends and booking a tour. Not only will you get to taste some of the best wine on the market today, but you may also learn about the winemaking process itself.
34. Pitch That Tent
Camping trips are fun, no matter what age you might be. Going to the great outdoors, putting a tent up, and lighting a fire for those late-night chats is one of the best experiences in anyone’s life.
So, in order to celebrate your 40th, get a crew of like-minded folks and visit your local patch of nature, be it a forest, a reserve, or a field near a lake. Make sure that you get all of the necessary equipment, the proper food, and some drinks.
If a friend or two plays an instrument, recommend taking it for those fireside songs. Spending your first 40-year-old’s night under the open starry sky is an experience you will not soon forget.
35. Point and Paint
Indeed, if there was ever a competitive sport that kept you on your toes, it’s paintball. Though it might be pricey and physically demanding, it’s definitely something you will want to experience as a 40-year-old.
The cool thing about paintball is that everyone can enjoy it. So, bring a mixed batch of both men and women among your crew and start dealing out some multicolored damage. But remember to dress well since those balls can leave nasty bruises on the unprotected skin.
36. Straight to the Source
As stated earlier, visiting a winery or a vineyard is an excellent experience. But lots of 40-year-olds are a beer crowd, and beers get made in breweries. Luckily, lots of those breweries tend to host tours, making them the perfect spots to spend one’s birthday.
So, picture this party scene. You’re in a craft brewery with your buddies. The tour is paid for, and the local expert is there, taking you on a quick walk through the company’s history. The rest of the tour is just you and your buddies, mug in hand, exploring the place and taking a sip from different brews of beer.
And yes, indeed, there is food served at the brewery just in case you had a bit too much to drink. Overall, it’s an excellent way to spend the day, especially if you’ve just turned 40.
37. The Classic Grill-and-Games
At the end of the day, you really can’t beat the classics. You, your wife or husband, the kids, some extended family, and maybe a neighbor or two are all sitting in the backyard enjoying the day. There’s a grill ready, with you prepping all the meat for the meal that’s to come.
Plus, you play some of the party games with the kids, like cornhole, musical chairs, limbo, horseshoe tossing, or a fun little board game or two. It’s a wholesome way to end the fourth decade, but one that you will surely remember throughout the decades to come.