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11 Memorable 40th Birthday Party Ideas

Turning 40 is a remarkable milestone! Old enough to know better, young enough to enjoy the good life. Celebrate a renewed sense of self and a new set of open doors with one of these 40th birthday party ideas. Once you’ve found your inspiration, visit Peerspace to select your perfect-fit venue and enjoy the benefits of a Concierge service to assist with renting A/V gear, furniture, and catering services.

1. Vintage tiki party

Decorations can be a huge undertaking, so instead, find a tiki-themed venue on Peerspace, such as this hidden gem in San Diego. There’s no way to go wrong with this bright and cheerful, energetic theme. Want to go all-out? Offer an evening of entertainment with authentic Hawaiian and Polynesian dancers and music. At the very least, opt for luxurious flower leis and greet guests with mai tai cocktails served in coconuts. Your caterer should provide a menu of a whole Kahlua pork, crab rangoon, ponzu chicken, and coconut-lime sorbet. Grass skirts optional but Hawaiian shirts are required!

2. Poker tournament

By the time you reach 40, you should have a decent poker face, and if you don’t, there’s no time like the present to develop that life skill. Hire a dealer and a couple of cocktail servers; provide guests with chips to gamble away or cash in at the end of the evening for great bottles of wine or casino-themed mixology sets.

3. Sail away

Invite a dozen of your closest friends on a domestic river cruise! Memphis to New Orleans; Charleston, SC, to Jacksonville, FL; the Great Lakes or the Islands of New England. Pack a carry-on for your guests as a party favor: sunscreen and bug spray; candies and gum for those sensitive to motion; an emergency solar-powered phone charger; and matching hats or tees. Spend an evening or a whole week celebrating with regional food, drink, and entertainment.

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4. Ruby red

The traditional color for a 40th wedding anniversary is such a striking color, why wouldn’t you use it as a 40th birthday party inspiration? This theme is a feast for the eyes: set dining tables with dinner dishes made of deep red-colored glass, Kate Spade black-and-white stripe table runners, black napkins, and saucer-style champagne glasses. Place centerpieces of elegant white candlesticks and bursts of fresh flowers in colors ranging from red to red-black. Rhinestones and silver accented napkin rings will add sparkle! Your menu should be constructed of ingredients that are bright in color and will contrast well to the serving pieces. No pink or orange allowed, not in flowers or sauces or desserts.

5. Mid-life crisis

At first, this sounds kind of dark for a 40th birthday party idea, but hitting the very middle of your life evokes all kinds of feelings. Embrace the stereotype and your inner badass at the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee, WI! Rent a bike of your choice and allow the experts to outfit you and your friends in the very finest in stylish safety gear. Take a guided tour (after a lesson, of course), then return to the factory for a tour of the museum and the works.

When you’re ready, adjourn to their event space for an American heavy metal-inspired party. Enjoy in-house catered dinner of hearty comfort foods with unique presentations. Serve craft beer to your guests in personalized pint glasses. If budget allows, Harley tees, lighters, and other logo items abound.

6. May the 40th be with you

Star Wars has a theme for every generation. To ride the wave of this 40th birthday party idea, start with a black backdrop with projected stars and proceed from there. If you’re a purist, reenact the Cantina scene from A New Hope, Jabba’s Palace from Return of the Jedi, or Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. However, if you’re like every other fan, simply choose components that work for you! A perfectly respectable theme can be created from food and drink graced with Star Wars puns and light sabers for everyone. 

7. Take a calculated risk

A guided whitewater rafting trip is a safely scary way to celebrate your 40s! After you’ve navigated the rapids, meet less-adventurous friends on dry land for an upscale picnic. Reward your fellow risk-takers with giant towels and waterproof bags filled with snacks and themed water bottles.

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8. Dollywood-esque

Perhaps budget and timing won’t let you travel to Pigeon Forge, but that doesn’t mean Dolly can’t make an appearance! Invite a crowd for your very own honkey tonk shindig. Serve Tennessee BBQ alongside live country music, if you can get it, although bluegrass is a nice substitute in a pinch. Guests should dress flashy and fun, women with big hair and full makeup. With Dolly, there’s no such thing as too much.

9. Club 40

Ring in your fourth decade with sequins and spangles. Go to an existing Club or create your own: all you need is a large, open space, a DJ and disco ball and you have a party! Serve drinks in a rainbow of colors and food in tiny, salty bites that are high in protein: scallops wrapped in bacon, skewered shrimp, chimichurri steak bites. Provide glow necklaces and LED inflatable balls to elevate it to the right level of weirdly wonderful.

10. Brunch

In some circles, brunching is an art form. Everyone should learn to do so by age 40! Create a memorable 40th birthday party with a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar, Belgian waffles to order, individual savory souffles, and decadent finger desserts. 

11. Sparkling wine tour

Visit Napa for a custom visit to the sparkling wine trail. Sweet and salty snacks in the limo to ensure high energy levels — and don’t forget mini bottles of diet soda. Gift bags filled with things to keep everyone hydrated and happy: reusable water bottles, mints and gum, wine-themed tee shirts (“I’ll be there in a prosecco!”), packets of relief for pain and tummy aches. Hey, we don’t bounce back the way we used to. Stop along the way for a West Coast-friendly dinner at sunset and toast the second act.

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