40th birthday party ideas for an unforgettable celebration holiday cottages

Party Ideas

40th birthday party ideas for an unforgettable celebration

Kate A 26 July 2019

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 party houses in the UK and Europe, giving the birthday honouree and their chosen companions the chance to combine birthday fun with an inspiring break. Scroll through, take your pick, and then get planning!



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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

Pampering party

Pampering party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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.

Venue ideas:

Champagne & Ice, France
The indoor pool with Alpine views at Champagne & Ice

The Wood Barn (Suffolk, UK)- 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.

Gilpin House (Lymington, New Forest) – a charming thatched country cottage in the New Forest sleeping ten guests with a lovely outdoor pool, hot tub and summer house.

Champagne & Ice (Chamonix, France) – nestled amongst the breathtaking mountain scenery of the Les Houches ski resort in Chamonix, 27 guests can indulge in a heated indoor swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, gym, massage room and wine cellar.

Cook the night away

Cooking party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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.

Venue ideas:

Castaway Cottage, Suffolk
Cook up a storm at Castaway Cottage

Redford Farm Barns (Ludlow, Shropshire) – 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.

Castaway Cottage (Suffolk, UK)– bordered by its own moat with a rowboat available for sailing, this large country cottage boasts a stunning open-plan kitchen with sweeping countryside views through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The 19th Century Castle (Burgundy, France)- perched atop the prestigious wine-making village of Mercurey, this 19th-century luxury chateau sleeps 17 guests and offers a home cinema, salt water swimming pool and spa. Optional extras include a Michelin-starred chef to cook for you and organised wine tours.

Escape to the beach

Beach party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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.

Venue ideas:

Olive Tree Villa, Croatia
Total relaxation and private beaches that are all yours at Olive Tree Villa

Cliff House (Torcross, Devon)– sleeping ten guests, admire the spectacular sea views from the wood-fired hot tub or descend the 69 steps to the sweeping beach of Slapton Sands.

Olive Tree Villa (Otok Zizanj, Croatia)– offering the ultimate in relaxation, this Croatian villa is on its own private island and its empty beaches are yours to explore. Sleeping 14 guests, there is also a swimming pool and private mooring with a motorboat.

Seafront Villa (Crete, Greece)– oozing luxury, this idyllic beachfront villa sleeps 28 guests and features an infinity pool, BBQ terrace, SUPs and canoes, massage treatments and a private chef.

40th birthday party ideas for men

Casino night

Casino party for a 40th birthday

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. 

Decoration ideas: Bring the glitz of Las Vegas to your venue and create centrepieces for tables using playing cards, dice and poker chips.

Venue ideas:

Sea Haven, Portsmouth
Party on your own private fort at Sea Haven

Sea Haven (Portsmouth, UK)– set on a private island, this former fort sleeps 44 guests and features a helipad, twin rooftop hot tubs, a private spa, Scandi-style hot house with firepit, pool and billiard tables and open-air boule pit.

Maison de Montagne (Chamonix Valley, France) sleeping up to 14 guests, this stylish chalet on the ski slopes of Chamonix Valley welcomes guests for an active holiday. With a large, wall-mounted flat-screen TV, Jacuzzi and bar/restaurant just 50 metres away, your guests will feel like VIPs in no time.

Burgundy Castle (Burgundy, France)– not only are the opulent interiors in this extravagant chateau for 21 guests a perfect backdrop to a casino night, but there is also the added benefit of a spacious games room with table tennis, petanque table, darts, games, poker table, pool table and table football.

Family BBQ

BBQ party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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 wonderful food and great company – you can even ask guests to bring a dish each.

Venue ideas:

Cotswold Grange, Cotswolds
Dine al fresco in style at Cotswold Grange

The Lazy Sheep Barn (Dulverton, Exmoor)– for a BBQ with a view, this five-star barn conversion sleeping ten is tucked away within 60 acres of beautiful grounds on the edge of the Exmoor National Park. As day turns into night, sink into the hot tub and look out for shooting stars in this designated International Dark Sky Reserve.

Cotswold Grange (Dursley, Cotswolds)– 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.

Au Paradis Vert (Cote d'Azur, France)– light the locally-made stone BBQ and as it sizzles in the background, make a birthday toast with your 20 guests and soak up the captivating panoramas of the majestic Luberon Mountains.

Golfing tournament

Golf party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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.

Venue ideas:

The Fairways and The Links, Scotland
Your own private golf course at The Fairways and The Links

The Fairways and The Links (nr. St Andrews, Scotland)– an exclusive country estate sleeping 20 guests with a hydro spa and its own private and professionally designed golf course and driving range.

The Country Manor (Somerset) - a vast English mansion sleeping up to 49, this 1500-acre estate features its own 3-hole golf course where you can tee off from the roof.

Casa de Campo (Algarve, Portugal)– boasting far-reaching sea views and a large outdoor swimming pool, this luxury villa sleeps 19 guests and is within a 5 to 15-minute drive of world-class golf courses.

40th birthday creative party ideas

Hollywood movie night

Movie party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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.

Venue ideas:

The Skyscraper, Suffolk
The Skyscraper: a venue with the wow factor

The Skyscraper (Woolverstone, Suffolk)– this unique venue sleeping 18 is sure to take your guests’ breath away; an 80ft high octagonal tower with a theatre-style cinema room for the ultimate movie night. If that’s not enough, there’s also a hot tub, games room and incredible roof garden with unrivalled panoramic views.

The Old Manor House (Ashby de la Zouch, Peak District)– 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. 

Emerald Villa (Aitoloakarnanias, Greece)– an outdoor cinema on its seafront deck makes this large Greek villa for 18 guests a very special venue for a birthday movie night. An infinity pool, mini-spa and outdoor bar add to the indulgence.

Great Gatsby themed party

Gatsby party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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!

Venue ideas:

Park Grange, Suffolk
Park Grange: the perfect stylish party venue

The Country Manor (Wincanton, Somerset)– sleeping 49 guests and featuring a ballroom that seats 150, this is an ideal venue for an indulgent Gatsby party. There’s a casino, snooker and disco room, swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, fishing lake and even a three-hole golf course.

Park Grange (Suffolk, UK)– a magnificent Georgian manor house sleeping 24 and featuring a cinema room, tennis court and communal pool and hot tub. The Orangerie can seat up to 120 guests.

Chateau d’Anjou (Pays-de-la-Loire, France)– when only the best will do, this luxurious château on a large private estate near Anjou sleeps 36 guests in incredibly opulent interiors. Enjoy usage of tennis courts, a heated swimming pool and the option for a fully catered stay.

40th birthday surprise party ideas

Wine and cheese night

Wine and cheese party for a 40th birthday

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.

Decoration ideas: 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.

Venue ideas:

Chateau du Vin, France
Where better for wine and cheese than Chateau du Vin, with its very own vineyard?

Severn Lodge (Lydney, Forest of Dean)– a stylish and sophisticated Georgian retreat sleeping 19 guests with open fires, sumptuous sofas and decadent interiors add the perfect backdrop to the birthday celebrations. There are also several vineyards in the area including Parva Farm at Tintern and the renowned Three Choirs at Newent.

XVIII Century Manor (Tuscany, Italy)– 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.

Chateau du Vin (Languedoc, France)– this 19th-century wine estate in the Languedoc Roussillon has 45 hectares of vineyards for up to 38 guests to explore. Book a cellar tour and tasting and make the most of the largest wine-growing region in the world.

Pool party

Pool party for a 40th birthday

For the ultimate surprise party for a 40th birthday, whisk your loved one to a large luxury villa with a swimming pool. If their birthday falls in the summer, then one of our UK properties with a pool would be ideal, or if you really want to push the boat out, choose one of our villas in France, Spain, Greece or Italy. Give your pool party a dress code and then decorate for the theme accordingly – break out the piña coladas, inflatable palm trees and coconuts for a tropical pool party, or choose all-white for a classic, dressier soiree.

Decoration ideas: Set the mood and let the party-goers know how big of a splash they’re in for with fruity cocktails, festive floats and frozen desserts.

Venue ideas:

Villa Mahon, Menorca
Cool by the pool: Villa Mahon

Luxury Manor House (Costa Brava, Spain)– this 14th-century Catalan farmhouse welcomes up to 28 guests to party by its indoor and outdoor swimming pools. When you fancy a break from the water, there is a private spa, tennis court and 345 acres of beautifully manicured grounds to enjoy.

Villa Mahon (Mahon, Menorca)– grab those flamingo floats and jump into the huge outdoor pool of this old Menorcan farmhouse. Sleeping 24 guests, there is a dedicated in-house concierge team on-hand to take care of all your birthday needs.

Havriata Hideaway (Kefalonia, Greece)– for a smaller soiree, this luxury Greek villa sleeps ten guests and is just 50 metres from the sea. The infinity pool is the perfect setting for an intimate pool party with close friends and family.

If you are looking for the perfect venue for a 40th birthday party, then our portfolio of party 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.



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