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Planning a 40th Birthday Party

If you are planning a 40th birthday party for a friend, you should be sensitive to the fact that many people regard this birthday as the beginning of old age; one they would rather not celebrate.

Party Recipes

For other people, like myself, it is barely a bump in the road. I saw my forties as a time of tremendous personal growth and was very satisfied with where I was in life. For me, I thought it was the perfect time to celebrate all that I had accomplished.

You should have some idea of where the guest of honor stands on the issue. Are they a little disheartened about the whole thing, in which case you may want to plan a more low key event? Or are they excited about their accomplishments and relish the idea of moving into the next phase of their life?

Before planning their 40th birthday event, find out where they stand and be considerate. For birthdays passed, it was not as important to factor in their feelings and you could openly joke about their age, but starting around the age of 40, you could really miss the boat if you are not careful. If it is a surprise, ask those closest to them.

Planning a 40th Birthday Party - Decorations

Planning a 40th Birthday Party

If the birthday person has a good sense of humor, you might think about throwing a mid-life crisis themed event. Decorate the walls with images of red sports cars, Desperate Housewives stars, Harley Davidson motorcycles and young mistresses.

Costumes can include dressing up in high school sports jackets or anything that suggests a misguided attempt to reclaim those "glory days." In fact, make sure Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" is on the soundtrack for any 40th birthday.

Your theme could also revolve around the decade when the person had their heyday. Was it the 70s? The 80s? If so visit these pages for more ideas on decorations:

80s Theme Party
70s Theme Party

These theme parties leave a lot of room for the imagination and allow guests to go rummaging through boxes of old clothes to find the gems. Consignment stores and resale shops are also great for finding appropropriate 40th birthday attire.

You may also want to think about hiring a unique venue for the event. One of the benefits of getting older is that you (hopefully) have more money to spend than when you were young. This allows for 40th birthday activities like hiring a boat or an interesting venue like an old manor or castle.

Planning a 40th Birthday Party - Activities and Games

40th Birthday Party Games Pack

The activities you line up for the night will depend a lot on the theme and venue for the party. For instance, if you hire a boat for a day you could include a fishing excursion, followed by a party at night.

One great idea for a 40th birthday comes from the "This is Your Life" TV show. You can either simply put together a This is Your Life style book and hand it over as a gift, or have certain people act out the TV show in front of all the guests at the party.

This is bound to bring up a few emotional memories and get some laughs from the audience.

If you are planning a house or yard party, printable games are always popular and are appropriate for most guests, especially elderly friends and relatives. You can either have guests play individually, or can team them up. Either way, have small prizes available for winners.

Our partner, Python Printable Games, has a nice selection of printables for a 40th birthday party. For one price, you can download several games and print them as needed. Learn more here:

40th Birthday Party Games Pack

Murder mystery games can also be fun, depending on the setting. If you want to extend the party beyond a night and your social group is into the great outdoors, you can reserve a country villa with a group of friends or go camping and take part in some nature activities over several days.

Planning a 40th Birthday Party - Food and Drink Ideas

Planning a 40th Birthday Party

Again, the food you choose will depend a lot on the theme for the party. A pirate theme, for instance, lends itself to seafood nibbles. 70s parties have their own food options like fondue.

Figure out well in advance if you'll be having a sit down meal with a smaller group, or whether you want to invite more people and provide a few snacks.

Find some of our favorite appetizer and snack recipes here including a great selection of fondue recipes.

Thoughts? Questions? Opinions?

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