40th birthdays are a special occasion to celebrate; a milestone birthday that really does call for a party to remember. It’s also a great excuse to get all your favourite people in one room and reminisce about the wonderful years you’ve spent together. If you or a loved one are coming up to this landmark day, you will need some unique 40th birthday party ideas for an unforgettable celebration.
We’ve put together a series of 40th birthday celebration ideas for when only the best will do. What’s more, each party theme can be enjoyed in one of our luxury large houses for BIG celebrations in the UK and Europe, giving the birthday honouree and their chosen companions the chance to combine birthday fun with an inspiring break.
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From small and sophisticated soirees to big and bold events, along with surprise party ideas and ones for those feeling creative, these ten ways to celebrate a 40th birthday are sure to create a meaningful and memorable experience. Plus, your party theme wouldn’t be complete without some great 40th birthday party decoration ideas, so we’ve included a little inspiration to take your celebration to the next level.
40th birthday party ideas for women
Sometimes escaping the rigours of everyday life with a few close friends or family is all that is required to create those special memories and to celebrate a big birthday milestone. For ladies who would prefer a quieter way to celebrate turning 40, a weekend of indulgent pampering with the girls is the perfect option. Don your cosiest pyjamas, pop open a bottle of fizz and enjoy a good gossip. Some of our most luxurious holiday homes offer spa facilities such as hot tubs, saunas and swimming pools, and some can even arrange rejuvenating treatments including massages, manicures and facials.
Candles and aromatherapy oils for relaxation are all you need to add the spa-like ambience. If you’re feeling creative, you could have fun mixing up some homemade sugar scrubs.
Set within the private parkland of a stunning 5,000-acre estate in Suffolk, eight guests can make the most of a communal outdoor heated pool, a hot tub, tennis court, complimentary bikes - you can even try rowing on the lake.
Cook the night away
Celebrate the foodie in your life with a unique weekend learning extensive cookery skills whilst staying in complete luxury with beautiful surroundings. Choose one of our party houses, hire a private chef and put together a menu of the guest of honour’s favourite foods which you can all have fun whipping up together. Set the tone with chefs' hats and personalized aprons to create a 40th birthday bash that everyone wants a bite of.
Theme the party around the birthday girl’s favourite food/destination. You could go to Italy, Greece, Spain or India and have everyone dress up accordingly. For example, you could pick Spain and create a selection of tapas served with big jugs of sangria, while Spanish music plays in the background.
Not only is there an outdoor kitchen area with a fire pit and BBQ for summer cooking, but the indoor kitchen has been featured in Nigella Lawson's Christmas special 2018.
Escape to the beach
Lounging on powder-soft white sand watching turquoise waves gently lapping on the shore is an idyllic way to spend a milestone birthday, so enjoy some serious fun in the sun with your nearest and dearest in one of our stunning beach retreats. From Greek island villas to large and luxurious waterside retreats in France, Croatia and Spain, your party can look forward to private jetties, direct beach access and breathtaking sea views.
Find a lovely spot in the sand, decorate with pretty shells found on the beach and create a place where the birthday girl (or boy) can relax for the day. You could even draw out a birthday message in the sand and craft some cocktails in pineapples. A killer playlist won’t hurt, either.
Admire the spectacular sea views from the wood-fired hot tub or descend the 69 steps to the sweeping beach of Slapton Sands.
40th birthday party ideas for men
Let the man of the hour feel like James Bond for the night by hosting a casino party. Ask guests to dress up for the evening, set up a selection of casino games such as dice, blackjack and roulette tables, and serve cocktails and finger foods while everyone plays. You could even hire someone to be the card dealer and use pennies for gambling or fake money.
Bring the glitz of Las Vegas to your venue and create centrepieces for tables using playing cards, dice and poker chips.
The elegant dining room with views over the loch is the perfect place to play cards, sip a local dram of whisky and chat into the night. Step through into your own private bar and keep the cocktails flowing.
A birthday BBQ is a fitting party theme for the special man in your life when he turns the big 4-0. Invite his favourite people, gather in the garden and grill up a storm. Take your inspiration from the American South with a large firepit, gingham laden picnic tables, and the worship of chargrilled meats. Listen to some tunes, enjoy the sunshine and if you want to truly impress, organise some garden games like tug of war, sack races and the water balloon toss.
Keep it casual and fun with red and white gingham tablecloths, mason jars, hanging twinkly lights and a large display menu. One of our 40th birthday party ideas on a budget, this is all about the wonderful food and great company – you can even ask guests to bring a dish each.
If you fancy a grand setting for your BBQ party, then this wisteria-clad Georgian manor house set in 8 acres of gardens and woodland is the perfect venue for 26 guests. An outdoor heated pool and al fresco dining terrace offer a magical setting to get the coals sizzling and you can end the night with a favourite movie in the home cinema.
For those who appreciate a good round of golf, there’s no better way to celebrate a milestone birthday than with a golf-themed affair. Imagine spending a week or two in a large country house on its very own golf course where you can play from dusk ‘til dawn, before par-teeing the night away in lavish surroundings. From the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands to the sun-kissed shores of Portugal, we offer a fine selection of large villas on, or very near to a golf course.
You could create some personalised t-shirts, visors and scorecards with a variety of dares and challenges as guests play. For the evening, lay a table with AstroTurf and coordinate with golf paraphernalia.
This luxurious coastal retreat sits alongside the first green Gullane Golf Couse, one of four golf courses in Gullane alone, making it a true golfer's paradise.
40th birthday creative party ideas
Hollywood movie night
Whether you choose a venue with its own private cinema room or a big garden where you can set up a projector screen, a movie night is a great way to get everyone together to celebrate a special birthday. Perhaps you could theme the evening with movies from the era the guest of honour was born or let them choose their favourite flicks. Plus, guests can dress up as their favourite film star who is 40 or older.
If you’re planning on having your movie night outside, then blankets, lawn chairs, and string lights are a great idea, you could also look out for Hollywood-style props such as Oscar statues, film reels, directors’ chairs and a red carpet. And don’t forget plenty of popcorn with a variety of sweet and savoury toppings.
Roll out the red carpet at this private country house which features a home theatre with 16 cinema seats, surround sound speaker system and 3-metre screen, with a range of Blu-rays available.
Great Gatsby themed party
A 40th birthday party should be a huge celebration, so why not go all out and recreate the glitz and glamour of the 1920s with a Gatsby party? Suits, stilettos and flapper dresses, with jazz in the background, plenty of canapes and a champagne toast – you could even learn how to do the Charleston together. Hire some roving photographers and encourage guests to strike a pose for some added memories of the evening and complete the event by showcasing The Great Gatsby movie on a big screen.
Give guests the VIP treatment by transforming your venue into an Art Deco-style environment, complete with black and gold tassels, huge feathers, crystal chandeliers and even champagne sparklers and confetti cannons. You could go one step further and splurge on a band or a local dance troupe to provide entertainment in a classic cabaret style!
A magnificent Georgian manor house features a cinema room, tennis court and communal pool and hot tub. The Orangerie can seat up to 120 guests.
40th birthday surprise party ideas
Wine and cheese night
Nothing goes together quite like a robust glass of wine and a deliciously aged slice of cheese. Whether for a small group or a big bash, a wine and cheese party is a fun and easy surprise party to throw, mostly because there is very little to no cooking involved. If your budget allows, invite a sommelier to speak about the wines and recommend pairings. If you can’t stretch to that, then do a little research of your own and impress your guests with your knowledge of the grapes and cheese.
When decorating for the party, keep things simple and classy since you don’t want to draw focus away from the main highlights of the evening — the wine and cheese! Wine corks are a lovely way to add some décor, use them to fill wine glasses, and artfully spread the corks around the tables. You could also use old wine bottles as flower vases. Make cheese labels and tasting cards, and don’t forget cheese knives.
Where better to host a wine and cheese night than on a traditional Tuscan vineyard? Up to 33 guests are welcome to have a wine tour of the cellars and a full catering service is available.
If you are looking for the perfect venue for a 40th birthday party, then our portfolio of Large houses to rent in the UK and Europe offer up a plethora of possibilities. From rural retreats in Scotland to coastal hideaways in Spain or a chic city stay in Greece, our large and luxurious houses have everything you need to host a special celebration.
For even more top birthday party ideas, see our ultimate guide to milestone birthdays.