Creative 40th Birthday Party Ideas for Men, Women, and People Who Have a Spice for Life

When it comes to birthdays, not everyone actually wants a party.  And if you are planning for someone’s big day then really, you need to make sure that you have got it right!

But for those people who really love parties, to miss the occasion of their 40th could lead to all sorts of problems. So let’s assume that you are going with the party, and you really want to throw the best ever, then what can you do?

In this hub I will be looking at some creative themed 40th birthday party ideas; how to tap into the inner child; and create some great 40th birthday party ideas at home which are quite within the ability of the normal person to throw!

40th Birthday Party Ideas: Themes

Depending on the sense of fun of the guest of honour, you can go childish with such things as the ever popular pirates party, or go a bit more upmarket with gangsters or spies! 

I could write forever about the various themes, but I want to explore the idea of Spies to draw out some key points.

The problems with setting up parties is that it costs a great deal of money.  Going with the casino idea is deliberately glamorous, and you may have to hire in, or buy, equipment like roulette and craps tables, card game tables.  And then of course there are the chandeliers, bling, and perhaps the odd sports car to ferry your guest of honour from wherever you have hidden them while you prepare! 

But with spies it’s different.  The guests don’t need to go to too much trouble, unless they are aiming for the James Bond 007 look with a silk dinner suit and bow tie.  And glamour for the ladies.  40th birthday party ideas for women at the party can oh so easily get very expensive very quickly.  No, the whole idea of spying is to wear fairly normal clothes.  Perhaps picking up something down the charity shop or thrift store.  Party gifts can be wrapped in hollowed out books.  And there are loads of gadgets and even a whole toy spy series that can be bought pretty cheaply.  Check out Amazon for some great deals.

It also makes it easy for people to get hold of the right kind of party going stuff.  I always find it challenging getting the right thing to wear so there are lots of individual options.

But it’s also great fun!  You can spend the whole evening having a different character.  And perhaps you could combine it with a murder mystery evening?

What do we learn from all this?  You can do a 40th birthday party on a budget; keep it easy for those invited to get together what they need to fit the theme…as well as cheap because they would probably have a fixed budget to spend on gift + costume.  It’s a great chance for role-play and getting including other party ideas.

Go with the year…they were a teenager

As someone who studies human nature as part of my job, I have discovered that the most significant influence on the character of a person is how they spent their teenage years.  Traditionally, for 40th birthday party ideas for guys and girls where people are choosing a decade as the focus of the theme for the party, it tends to be the year they were born.  Yes, it’s fun, but it’s not really something that will connect with them.  Instead, choosing the decade when they were a teenager will have so much more affect both for guests and the person of the night.

40 years ago that decade was the 80’s so lets have a look at birthday party ideas for the 80’s.


When you invite the guests, let them know what it is they need to wear.  Some people will remember the 80’s very clearly, others may not have even been born then!  So make it easy.  Search out Youtube and the net for old clips of Madonna and Duran Duran, as well as Miami Vice from the period.  You should also check out the original film version of Fame.

To get you started, get hold of leg warmers, neon colours, thin ties, and broad shoulder padded clothes.  Remember bat wing jumpers, ladies?  Again, this hits our criteria of thrift shopping.  Why not get the guests to help you scour the shops?  You could even get everyone coming in normal clothes and get dressed up as a kind of bring and share party of clothes.  Carefully managed it could be a good laugh.

And don’t forget the trilby hats, white socks with black shoes, black shirts with piano ties, fishnet gloves, big wigs and bows.  And gentlemen, you may just have to wear makeup!

Scenery and atmosphere

Get banners put up around the area, though I do suggest you check local by-laws first. You could put banners around the house too. But why not get hold of some hi-def images from the internet and get them printed up to poster size to put up around the house? Put some posters around the place: Blondie, Magnum, Knight Rider.

Cocktails were very popular and are quite easy to make up. Think Tom Cruise! Speaking of movies, why not have one room running a video projector on a wall or better yet up onto the ceiling and walls so that it become more of an art installation of one of the big films. I have already mentioned Cocktail, and Fame. But what about the A-team, and even Rocky Horror, which in itself could make a fantastic theme for the evening.

And how about having a Rubik’s cube competition running throughout the evening. You could send out solutions and cubes before the event so that people can learn how to do it, and then have solving speed competitions. I used to be able to solve the Rubik’s cube in 3 minutes and we used to have timed games at school…not sure I can remember now, but there are plenty of people around who would relish the chance to have another go!  How about for a 40th birthday gift idea you could give them a rubik's cube, and promise the recipient something special when they have solved it?


80’s music is making something of a comeback. Find out what the guest of honour used to listen to and get some of that on the cd-player. Wham could work well…But you could also download some of the old NOW albums if you live in the UK. Or even search out the old songs on iTunes and make up a special cd or MP3 package.

Other inspirations

Theme within a theme…to make it a ‘thriller’ of an evening

Why not learn to breakdance? Or how about this: Thriller.

The steps are pretty easy and the music is just great fun. You could expand on this really easy and turn it into a Zombie night, 80’s style!

Finishing touches and tips!

When you are coming up with 40th birthday ideas for men make sure that you plan with them in mind. It needs to be an adventure, but don’t leave them feeling out of control when they arrive. And make sure that they don’t get embarrassed! Mind you, that goes for women too…So you could blow up old baby photos and put them around the place, but that might not go down to well.

You certainly need to think about the people who you are going to invite as well. Make sure that you have a good balance of people who are conversationalists and listeners. Set aside somewhere in the house where people can go to be quieter. Think about the weather: it’s great planning to use the great out doors, until it rains!

In fact it’s the little details that really matter for how you can make any of these 40th birthday party ideas for a man or woman work! Don’t leave anything to chance. Here’s a list to get you started to think about.

  • Where will you send them away to for the day while you prepare
  • Will it be a surprise: where will people hide their transport?
  • Have you warned the neighbours?
  • What will you do if someone gets sick or ill?
  • What will the time start (these should go on the invitations)
  • What drinks
  • Will you have someone providing waitress service?
  • Will you get in outside caterers?
  • Start with a budget and stick to it
  • How much time will it take to prepare it all?
  • How will you announce it? Facebook is quite a good way…
  • Get your friend primed and prepared that they will help you to clear up at the end of the night…don’t leave it to the next morning!

Bottom line: enjoy yourself! You only get one shot at a 40th Birthday party but don’t get stressed out. You will do yourself no favours if you are so worried about it going wrong that you become a miserable party pooper.

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