15 Ideas for a Truly Memorable 40th Birthday Party

two women arm in arm


Fortieth birthdays should be a special celebration. It's a decade of increased confidence and wisdom where all of the hard work and initial decisions of youth seem to hit their stride. If you're coming up on this milestone birthday and you're unsure of how to celebrate it, we gathered some 40th birthday ideas to choose from. Whether you're looking to mark the occasion with a small, medium, or large group, there's a celebration idea right here for you. You could sit at the chef's table of a buzzed-about restaurant, or do all of the tourist-type amusements in your town. And, if you really want to, you can keep it simple and have a full-blown dance party in your own home. No matter what you choose to do on your big day, make sure you throw caution to the wind. Given that this is an important birthday, it's worth it to make a lasting memory.

Below, find our picks for the best 40th birthday party ideas you'll love.

01 of 19

Charter a Boat


 Andrew Neel/Unsplash

Sure, this sounds extravagant. But think about it like this: You're with your closest loved ones, with the fresh air on your face, and the gorgeous coastline in the distance. Sounds pretty nice, right? Now just imagine when someone pops a bottle of champagne in your honor.

02 of 19

Book a First-Class Seat

champagne on an airplane

 Flashpop/Getty Images

Plan a vacation where the one rule is that you have to get to the destination using a first-class ticket. Whether it's a short trip from New York to Miami or a longer jaunt between Los Angeles and Charleston, sipping complimentary champagne in A1 will start it off in style.

03 of 19

Request the Chef's Table

rosé and charcuterie

 John Canelis/Unsplash

If there's a buzzed-about restaurant in town and you want to treat yourself to a new menu, then make a reservation at the chef's table for a fresh vantage point, too.

04 of 19

See a Theater Show


 Sudan Ouyang/Unsplash

If you've been waiting and waiting to see Hamilton, or there's another playbill that has caught your eye, now is the time to treat yourself. Splurge for the closest possible seats, and go for cake after the final curtain.

05 of 19

Do a Dare That You've Never Been Brave Enough to Do

woman swinging in the trees

 Artem Beliaikin/Unsplash

What if you've always wanted to go bungee jumping or swimming with sharks? Whatever you've debated doing for fun over the years, but ended up talking yourself out of, now is the time to go for it. Just make sure one of your friends is ready with a camera.

06 of 19

Act like a Tourist for a Day

Babba C Rivera—Ideas for 40th birthday

Tourists have notoriously bad reputations, but really, sometimes they see the best a place has to offer. Instead of balking at the bus tours or waving off certain crowded landmarks, join in. See the view from the top of the Empire State Building in the morning before the lines are long, go white-water rafting in the Grand Canyon, or rent a convertible to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. It's worth it.

07 of 19

Book a Spa Getaway


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A spa is always an escape from the hectic pace of life, and that's why it can be particularly rewarding as a birthday present. Research spas that have the best massages, or soaking pools, or even views, and head there for a weekend.

If you're looking for a spa booking that's highly rated or a specific treatment near to your home, consider using Spa Finder to help you with your search!

08 of 19

Ask If Your Favorite Restaurant Can Create a Personalized Prix-Fixe Menu

Hanna Stefansson Group—Ideas for 40th birthday

If you've been going to the same restaurant for years, ask if you can create a menu of your favorite things to enjoy with a small group. It's a great way to indulge in a go-to favorite, while sharing some of your most delectable choices with all of your friends.

Try to secure a private room to dine in, so you and your friends have plenty of room to celebrate and make the space festive.

09 of 19

Get Box Seats at a Concert


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Again, this sounds incredibly extravagant. But if you're able to see a beloved band or performer—cough, Beyoncé, cough—then make it 40th birthday-worthy and splurge for the box seats. As you eat and dance in the privacy of your own space, you'll be glad you did.

10 of 19

Host a Casino Night

casino games

 Markus Spiske/Unsplash

It's possible to rent classic casino tables alongside professional dealers who will set everything up in your home. Invite friends and family to dress up, and then play to win.

11 of 19

Rent an Airbnb

austin, texas

Photo by Jeremy Banks on Unsplash

Gather your closest friends and take a trip to a new city of your choice, whether that's lively Austin, Texas or more relaxed Napa, California. Make sure the primary suite is all yours, and then go explore.

Primary Suite

The term “Primary Suite” is now widely used to describe the largest bedroom in the home with an en suite bath, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term “Master.” Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.

12 of 19

Host a Buffet Luncheon at Your Home


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This might sound like it could be a lot of work, but not if you designate a few close friends and family as organizers and cleaners. When the big day comes, you can simply head from your bedroom to the party.

13 of 19

Turn Your Dining Room into a Dance Floor

disco balls

Matthew LeJune/Unsplash

It's clear where this idea came from, but it still works. Use your dining table to display food and drinks elsewhere and even exchange your everyday lighting fixture for a disco ball. It'll truly be a night to remember!

14 of 19

Project a Movie in Your Backyard

string lights

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Think of a movie that always brings a smile to your face. Now imagine watching it from your decked-out backyard, which can be decorated with string lights, cozy blankets, and plenty of lawn chairs. Also make sure that there's enough popcorn and snacks for everyone, too.

15 of 19

Go Bowling


 Marc Mueller/Unsplash

This idea might just turn into a weekly event after your friends enjoy the throwback fun of this competitive game. Plus you get to pick the team name. Bonus points if everyone has a personalized bowling shirt to wear as they play, too.

16 of 19

Host a Brunch

friends brunch

Getty Images/Uwe Krejci

If you're looking for a way to celebrate over a meal, consider switching it up and hosting or going out for a brunch as opposed to a dinner or drinks. Pile on the eggs, bacon, mimosas, and Bloody Marys!

17 of 19

Be a Kid Again

ice cream sundae

Getty Images/kzenon

Throw an outdoor party with all the childhood fixins', just for fun. Cotton candy, ice cream sundaes, you name it! It's a great way to just hang out and celebrate with all of your friends outside and do something a little outside of your norm.

18 of 19

Get Away With Your Significant Other

couple in cabin

Getty Images/Luxy

If you have that someone special in your life, be it a romantic partner or simply your ultimate bestie, get away from life for a night or two and celebrate with the one you love. It could be a staycation at a local 5-star hotel, or getting out of town and taking a visit to your most sought-after cabin in the woods.

19 of 19

Throw a Surprise Party

surprise birthday

Getty Images/LWA/Dann Tardif

Ok, so this one is really for your friends as a tip-off, but it will benefit you all the more! Surprise parties are a great way to fête the one you love, especially on a milestone birthday like 40.