Holidays & Celebrations


Ultimate 40th Birthday Guide: 7 Ideas For a Special Day

40 years celebration festive background made with golden candles in the form of number Forty lying on sparkles. Universal holiday banner with copy space.

Ultimate 40th Birthday Guide: 7 Ideas For a Special Day

Turning 40 is a big milestone, and you should celebrate. When you turn 40, it is an exciting time. For many, it's time to focus on what is important and plan for new, exciting things to tackle in the future. Entering your 40s is a new chapter of life, and it is up to you to celebrate this new era in a way that is meaningful to you. If you are stuck on planning how you want to spend this important birthday, then you are in luck because we have put together the ultimate 40th birthday guide with lots of ideas to help you plan your special day and celebrate the way you want to with the people you love.

1. Do Something You Love

Fine dining
Spend your birthday enjoying your favorite things.

©KDR In-Focus Productions/Shutterstock.com

Your birthday means you get to do something you love. You do not have to negotiate plans or get stuck going along with what others want to do. You get to choose the restaurant or movie or whatever you want. So before your birthday, sit down and actually think of what it is that you love that you don't get to do often. If you have a favorite restaurant, make a reservation. Or, if you love to try new places, pick one that you like, and your loved ones will have to try something new with you. If you just want to spend time with your family, pick an activity that you have always wanted to do with your family. Maybe that's a short road trip to someplace fun. The destination isn't important. It is spending time together that matters.

2. Try Something New

What have you always wanted to do? Think big, revisit your younger self, think back about what you wanted to do then, and decide if you can do it now. It doesn't have to be a big or expensive thing unless you want it to be but do something new. Do something that will make your heart sing and make you happy for this milestone.

Often, aging puts us in a rut, and it's common to go to the same places and do the same things. At age 40, many people may feel stuck. We are not suggesting you change the life you have built; just assess if it is where you want to be and decide on your 40th birthday to try something new. It can be as simple as trying a new hairstyle, a new restaurant, a new car, or a new class. Bring a friend and embrace trying new things in celebration of the next chapter of your only precious life. 

3. Celebrate Life with a Party

Romantic african girl holding bunch of party balloons. Indoor shot of graceful black lady celebrating birthday.
You are never too old for a birthday party.

©Look Studio/Shutterstock.com

Throw a big party to celebrate you, your accomplishments, and your future. Choose a birthday theme like the 1940s, superheroes, or whatever sounds fun to you. Make a guest list and invite your favorite people. Get yourself a fabulous outfit and plan for an amazing party. Get a caterer to make your favorite foods, rent out a space, or turn your home into a party venue and throw yourself the best fortieth birthday ever. If throwing a party for yourself seems too indulgent, ask a friend or spouse to help you. It is your birthday, so live it up in the best way possible and celebrate you.

4. Challenge Yourself

Skydiving photo
Challenging yourself is a rewarding experience.


Turning 40 can be scary. Some may feel like life is over, and others may feel like life is just beginning; wherever you are on your journey, don't let fear sideline your life. Instead, take your 40th birthday as an opportunity to do something to challenge yourself. Face your fears and do something that scares you. This could be skydiving, salsa dancing, singing in public, learning an instrument, traveling alone, or any other number of things.

Challenging ourselves helps us face our fears and move to the other side of them. There is even research to support how important doing something new and scary is to our mental health and self-confidence. According to MIT research, committing to do something tells our brains that we have a plan, and our brain shifts from focusing on fear to focusing on the game plan ahead. So conquer that fear and challenge yourself to do something that scares you, like starting that business or strapping on those ice skates. Celebrate your 40th trip around the sun by building your self-confidence and learning what you are capable of doing, and you may just surprise yourself.

5. Treat Yourself

Are you one of those people that is always on the go? Every second of your day planned, from picking kids up to making appointments to work obligations, you probably never make time for yourself. You aren't alone; a lot of busy parents and caregivers feel tired and burned out. Being perfect all the time is exhausting, so celebrate yourself and all you do and have a day to pamper yourself on your birthday.

Pampering can mean something different to everybody; for some, it means getting your nails done; to others, it may mean a massage, a hike, or an afternoon of retail therapy. Whatever it looks like to pamper and treat yourself, do it on your 40th birthday. If treating yourself feels like too much and makes you feel guilty, invite some friends to pamper along with you. Plan a spa day, go wine tasting, get a couples massage, visit a retreat, just enjoy it, and treat yourself to something special.

6. Plan a Trip

Traveling and visiting new places is an excellent birthday treat.


Get out of town and celebrate your special birthday someplace new. Go to the beach, the mountains, the city, or wherever you feel good. Make it a friend trip, a family-focused trip, or even a solo trip; traveling is always good for the soul. It reminds us there is life and beauty everywhere.

If you have the means, consider planning an international trip to see something you have always wanted to see, like the Eiffel Tower, the ruins of Machu Picchu, the beaches of Thailand, the markets of Marrakesh, the stone castles of Scotland, the Northern Lights in Iceland, you get the picture. Start your forties off with an adventure because life is an adventure, and everyone should explore. And if we still haven't convinced you to hit the road to celebrate your birthday, Psychology Today has some great reasons why you should travel. Traveling is good for overall mental health. It reduces stress, boosts creativity, and combats burnout. 

7. Do Something to Help Others

Celebrate your 40th year by helping others. Maybe you have already traveled to all the places you want, and parties aren't your thing, and you feel like you have accomplished all of the things you have wanted to accomplish; maybe the best way for you to celebrate this birthday is to help others. Acts of service make us feel good. The American Psychiatric Association explains that doing acts of kindness isn’t just good for the community and those receiving the act, but it is good for the ones doing the act of kindness; being kind and helping others reduces stress, combats depression and anxiety, and boosts self-esteem. So, pick your favorite organization and volunteer.

Don't just give money, but give your time. Find and plan a way to connect with the community. Invite loved ones to volunteer alongside you to help your favorite charity or an organization that you support. Spend a day being selfless, then eat some birthday cake. Celebrate your fortieth birthday by being your best self and helping others. 

There was a time when 40 seemed over the hill. Every 40th birthday had black balloons and the constant jokes about being too old, but forty isn’t old. You are lucky to make it to forty; we are all lucky. Life is a gift, and you are too, so celebrate yourself in the best way and enjoy every minute of getting older because you get better and better with each passing year. A great philosopher once said, “40 is the new twenty,” or maybe it was Sex and the City; either way, welcome to the next chapter of your life where you get to be more you than ever before. 

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