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40th Birthday Party Ideas: Themes, Supplies, Decorations, Gifts, and More

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

I had so much fun putting together 30th birthday party ideas for myself that I decided to see what was out there for 40th birthday party ideas. There are a number of excellent party themes as well as additional ideas for décor, food, gifts, and greeting cards. Whether you are simply attending the party or are hosting it yourself, there is something here for everyone. Happy celebrating!

A photo collage is a fun addition to any birthday party.

A photo collage is a fun addition to any birthday party.

Party Themes

Great 40th birthday themes include:

  • Southern picnic. Anyone who comes from a strong southern tradition will appreciate the throwbacks and other nostalgia that come with this theme. Have fun with the color scheme and the classic lawn games.
  • Prehistoric But Not Extinct. When you turn 40, it's important to remember that you're old...but not dead. The animal décor will be the highlight of this theme.
  • Fiesta Forty. Instead of wallowing in sorrow about hitting this big number, celebrate with bright colors, lively music, and your favorite Mexican foods.
  • Casino. There is nothing specific about 40 for this theme, but it's a classic party theme that is perfect for this milestone.

Other Decor and Food Ideas

I found a number of great 40th birthday party ideas that don't fit into any particular party theme and can be incorporated into virtually any celebration. They include the following:

  • Candles with letters spelling "Forty" instead of number candles.
  • Two cakes in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0.
  • Photo collage in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0.
  • Party hats with "40" or "forty" printed on them. If you make hats yourself, have fun with the font and colors.
  • Flags on toothpicks that have "40" on them for cupcakes, planters (décor or as party favors, etc.).
  • Take 40 balloons. Have each party guest write an inspirational message or quote for the recipient. Release the balloons as a group.
  • Cookies or other food in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0.
  • A matches display in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0 that you can light all at once.
  • Arrange 40 drink bottles (i.e. beer bottles, glass root beer bottles, etc.) in the shape of the numbers 4 and 0 and attach a message or quote to each one.

40th Birthday Ideas and Party Planning

Gift Ideas

If you are attending a 40th birthday and are interested in bringing a gift, you certainly don't have to bring a gift with a 40th theme. However, if you would like to do that, consider the following fun options:

  • Decorated "4" and "0" numbers. You can purchase large wooden or chipboard numbers at any big box craft store. There are numerous options for decorating and personalizing them. Consider recording favorite quotes or memories or decorating them ahead of time and then letting the party guest sign them.
  • 40 Sucks or 40 Blows. This is not one of my personal favorites, as I prefer to take a more positive attitude about birthdays, but it's one of the most popular birthday gift ideas out there. Many people choose to use suckers or blow pops to make this gift.
  • 40 Rocks. The less popular but just as fun 40 Rocks gift with Pop Rocks instead of suckers is also a great gift.
  • 40 Photos. Take 40 helium filled balloons and attach a photo of the birthday man or woman to each balloon with one picture from each year of his or her life.
  • Retro gift basket. Create a gift basket filled with nostalgia items from the recipient's childhood or youth.

Birthday Card and Scrapbook Ideas

If you are creating a birthday card, scrapbook, or scrapbook component (i.e. page layout), here are some fun ideas and messages to consider:

  • "40 is the new 20."
  • "40 and still hot."
  • "40 and fabulous."
  • "Can't believe we're flippin' 40."
  • "40 is not old."
  • "Lordy lordy look who's 40."
  • "As much fun as two 20 year olds."
  • "40 is the new 30."
  • "You're not 40, you're 18 with 22 years of experience."

40th Birthday Party Ideas

A Few More Turning 40 Ideas and Resources

Presentation of Slideshow at Tammy 40th Birthday

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Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 29, 2013:

Thanks, Sheri!

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on April 29, 2013:

Some great ideas!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 28, 2013:

Thanks, Vicki! Yes, for sure!

Cyndi, it's funny how life works that way sometimes. Thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on April 28, 2013:

Ya know, I have a friend who recently celebrated her 40th. Funny that your hub came across my radar as she was celebrating. LOL. This packed with lots of useful, fun ideas. :)

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on April 28, 2013:

These are such great ideas! I think they could be used for 30 and 50 year (and more) milestones, too! Voted up and more!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 14, 2013:

Yes, for sure! That's great. Thanks. :)

vibesites from United States on February 14, 2013:

As they say, life begins at 40, so it deserves some swell party. I love the ideas, I may follow your tips when I hit the big 4-0. Voted up, useful and awesome. :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 07, 2013:

Thanks, Jule!

jule729 on January 07, 2013:

Very useful hub. I like the ideas!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 30, 2012:

Thanks, Jamie! Yep, I do remember sea monkeys. :)

Glimmer Twin Fan, 30th and 40th have been well received so a 50th birthday article may be in the works. You're right that many of these ideas can be adapted for any age.

Claudia Porter on December 30, 2012:

Fun hub unfortunately I'll be needed ideas for my 50th in a couple of years. I like the cakes shaped in the number 40. That could be adapted for any age!

Jamie Brock from Texas on December 30, 2012:

Loving all the 4oth birthday ideas! Love the matching Tshirts and also the idea of the basket with all the nostalgic items in it. I immediately thought of sea monkeys! Do you remember those? Very useful hub, voted up!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 28, 2012:

Thanks, Audrey!

Audrey Howitt from California on December 28, 2012:

Fun ideas in this hub!!

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