A Lorry Load of my 40th Birthday Ideas From The Simple Classic To the Down Right Bizarre, And Back Again

So you have a big celebration coming up, and everyone is looking to you to come up with some fantastic 40th birthday ideas.  You have a choice, run, or start planning.

With my wife’s birthday on the way soon as well as a number of my friends hitting the big four-oh, I have been putting my thinking cap on, and I hope to bring you hear what amounts to an organised brain dump.  So take a pen, sit back, jot down anything that helps!  Here goes…


So how far are you going to go with this?  Are you looking for a big party event, a trip, an experience, or just a big present?

If you are looking at a party then how about a themed party?  Don’t do something related to the year they were born, everyone does that.  Oddly, it’s the years when we were teenagers that really make us feel younger that we are, and promote lots of ‘do you remember…’ from 40 year olds.  So look at the mid 80’s to take a theme.  How about a Michael Jackson thriller theme?

Or maybe go glam and try for a casino night, or just have fun and get everyone dressed up as pirates. I personally think that inviting everyone to a spy night would be the best, and encourage folks to pretend to be some international agent, with false names and the like.  You could even say to people that they don’t need to get dressed up, just to bring some clothes that they are willing for other people to share.  You cold even get them to buy toy spy gadgets.

When you invite people, don’t forget to mention the time they have to arrive by if it’s a surprise party because otherwise they might arrive at the same time as the special guest, thereby messing it all up.

Are you going to get someone to cater for you?  Are you going to do it yourself, because if you are, why not ask your friends BEFORE the party to help you to clear up.

Getting back to the invitations thing, don’t just use boring old cards.  Get creative.  Casino night?  Print off from the computer large casino chips onto photo paper, or even use blank magicians playing cards.  These cards are blank on one side, and cost only a little bit more than normal cards.  Write on them with a sharpy pen, or print off large sticky labels.  Spy nights could use a code, but include the cipher!

What do you do about the guest if the party is at home?  When my mum was putting together the 40th birthday ideas for her husband together she decided that the best thing was to get him out of the house.  So she organised it that a friend would collect him and take him out someplace for the day.  Apparently he kept wanting to come home, but his friend just kept going on someplace else.  I think that he had been asked to advise on buying cars, so they toured car show rooms for a whole day!  The beauty of it was of course that because his friend was the driver, he couldn’t escape.  The friend just brought him home at the right time.

The other big thing that mum had to sort out was where people would park there cars, so they had to hide them on the other side of the block!  Certainly, it was a surprise.

Life begins at 40: famous people at 40 and all the things you could achieve!

Experiences for 40th Birthdays

40th birthday ideas for men have got to include experiences like adventures or motor cars.  You could make this all part of the surprise.  Why not pretend you are going somewhere, and then meet all of his friends down at the race track/car track/balloon lift off point…Or even to arrive when your husband or boyfriend or pal has finished.

40th Birthday ideas for my wife: an experience too…?

Women like experiences, but I have discovered they have more to do with things like shopping and pampering.  I confess, I had to ask my wife about this one, so if any men are reading this for their wives, then perhaps they won’t have to consult!  I asked her what she would really like to do, and she said that she would really like to take in a show.  Now I know that she loves the ballet, but we haven’t been for years.  She also started talking about going away for the weekend with the kids.  She said it was because women generally want to feel that they are important, and sadly they don’t always because they have spent so much time looking after everyone else.  Shopping is great, but it becomes the best when they shop for a purpose.

So, going away, shopping for an event…I think that the best thing to do is to take her away to London or Paris (I live in the UK) and give her a shopping day to remember, but tell her that she has to buy something to wear in the evening.  Take the kids?  No, which reminds me, I must tell the grandparents I need them to look after the kids for the weekend!

What about the best 40th birthday ideas in terms of presents and gifts?

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky because you so often want to find something that they will remember.  That’s why I love the whole experience kind of idea because you don’t actually lose a memory.  However, if you want a keep sake what do you get?

An idea for a man’s 40th perhaps would be a gadget.  Men love gadgets.  Try to make it relevant to their interests.  So, a diy-er would love a laser or sonar operated tape measure.  Or even buy him and his mates some nerf guns from the nerf range.  I particularly like the Nerf Stampede ECS, but some of the smaller handheld nerfs are just as good.  Some of them come with laser sights so you could get a smoke machine (hire or buy, they’re really cheap these days…have a look at Maplin if you live in the UK), loads of big cardboard boxes from the local superstore.  Hire a school hall and set your men (and women?) a whole night of nerf gun fighting.  Kind of like a laser tag game, only you can play for hours on end.  The only thing is you will have to time the games so that people can pick up more ammo!  Considering one gun costs half the price of a one person playing a 10minute game of laser quest, I think it’s a good deal!

Also, don’t forget the games that men used to play when they were kids.  For my generation in the UK buy them scalextric. 

How about an iPod or iPad…but please, make sure that you also give iTunes vouchers.  

Have a laugh at being 40!

Buying for women

When it comes to buying for women, make sure that you are buying something sensible. In other words come up with 40th birthday ideas for her…not you!  So many men get into the mindset of buying a gift because it’s something that they want, rather then their wives.

I know it’s only slightly related, but I bought my wife a gift a couple of years back for Christmas.  She loved it, but when we told everyone else they thought that I was a terrible husband!  How could I be so horrible and thoughtless.  We had to explain that it really was carefully thought through.  What was so terrible?  I bought her a Dyson vacuum cleaner!  You see, it was something that she had said many times that she wanted.  She was fed up with fighting with the vacuum cleaner she had and she just wanted something that was far easier.  She almost cried when she opened it.  But you have to really know the person to get away with something like that.

I have gotten away with giving her a rubber band one year…well it was a year we were really tight in terms of budget, and so I gave her a rubber band saying that like our love it never ended and always stretched…

You may now put away the sick bucket.

My point is, don’t go buying a gift that is for you, and not for her.  Don’t buy her a computer because you want one.  At the same time, don’t dismiss something because you think that it is too ordinary.

So how exactly can you get the right gift?

Well I advise that you don’t leave it to the last minute.  I have said that I asked my wife what kind of things made a good 40th birthday present.  I asked her a year ago.  And her birthday is another year off!  I keep looking for the things that she values.  The things that mean a lot to her.  And I am compiling a list…

You can’t leave it too late, and if you start early enough then you can get some ideas direct from the horses mouth, as it were.

But what if you have left it too late?  Well now it’s time to get sneaky, you have to get one of her girl-friends involved!

Ask them to ask her what it is that she hopes you will buy her for her 40th.  Encourage them to go out for a giggle and a laugh at your expense, and get the friend to do some digging, and then let you know.

Just one caveat on that one, don’t let your wife catch you talking to her friend or she may get suspicious that something is going on!

40th birthday ideas for your sister

Now my sister isn’t anywhere near the age we are talking about here. But if I were to buy for her then I would make sure that her friends were involved. My sister would be most impressed if I paid for her friends to go off on a trip with her. But what kind of trip? Well I know that my little sis loves being pampered. She spends enough time getting herself ready to go out at night, and does the whole wandering around in her nightrobe and a towel wrapped around her head thing (though I haven’t told her she looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall!). If I sent her off with just 5 of her friends to a spa and champagne day she would love it!

Any other ideas?

Ok…personalised chocolates; a trip by train to a mysterious destination; a murder mystery weekend; a romantic meal for two in your own home with an outside caterer (send the kids to the grandparents).

Or combine many of the ideas you see here.

You don’t see it so much now, but there was a time when certain game shows had a prize fund which started with just the smallest of prizes. (321, Dusty Bin and the Price is Right, those in the UK of my age may remember). It would be a golf glove that led to a set of clubs, and then a holiday in some exotic place where you could play golf and be taught by top professionals, relax by the pool, then play casino at night. Come home to a Golf GTI…that kind of thing. Well how about you do the same thing with the presents you come up with.

Lets imagine that you are putting together a 40th birthday idea for your wife. Start by sending her a red rose a work. On the rose stem there is a pair of scissors attached.

Later that day there is a delivery of a plain package with string around it. She cuts the string with the scissors and opens it up to find a cuddly bear which holds in its paws a balloon. Inside the balloon are a pair of train tickets to somewhere, and they are timed for just 30 minutes after they arrive at her workplace.

You have already arranged with her boss that she can knock off early.

The courier, or even her boss, then gives her a card from you which says you will meet her at the station immediately. (remember to have the kids met from school!)

Meet her at the station, wearing a suit, and have another red rose in your lapel which you give to her when she arrives.

Catch the train and on the train give her a gift, a box, with a decent amount of cash in it. Say she will have to spend all of it. Make sure that you have been saving it secretly.

Your destination is a hotel, which has a spa and all the pampering trimmings. Perhaps a 4 poster bed, and a Jacuzzi in the room.

Next day you go shopping, but she has to shop for what will be needed for the evening. Over breakfast you give her a clue: ballet shoes. Plan the trip around the shops and, this is most important, to make her 40t birthday feel extra special she needs to know that you are happy to just stand outside the changing rooms and never complain. Book a table at a nice restaurant. Get back to the hotel for her to change into her new clothes, and give her a beautiful necklace that you brought with you.

And leave for the ballet.

A whole package.

Whatever you buy, and for whoever, the most important thing is this. Make that one person feel extra special. It’s their day. Make sure that they enjoy it. Don’t assume that because they are a noisy person they want a noisy party. Don’t assume that because they are quiet they don’t want a party! I have over 500 friends between twitter and facebook. Hundreds of other people know me. My day job sees my in front of hundreds, and occasionally thousands of people. I am what is classically called an extrovert.

But last year for my 40th birthday my wife bought me the most wonderful surprise gift ever.

She took me to an art gallery. I love them.

I just hope that I can give her something as wonderful for her birthday next year…

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