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40th birthday party ideas for an unforgettable celebration

Kate A 22 July 2020

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 for BIG celebrations in the UK, 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.

1. A pamper party at Shallows End | Somerset

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Shallows End

The perfect 40th birthday party idea 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

At Shallows End which is set in the historic village of Saltford near Bath, up to 24 guests can make the most of a sunken hot tub, barrel sauna and cosy fire pit in the garden – there’s even a games room with a bar, perfect to get the celebrations underway.

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.


2. Cook the night away at Redford Farm Barns | Shropshire

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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.

Not only is there an outdoor kitchen area with a fire pit and BBQ for summer cooking at Redford Farm Barns, but the indoor kitchen has been featured in Nigella Lawson's 2018 Christmas special.

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.


3. Escape to the beach at Cliff House | Devon

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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 idea:

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.

4. Casino night at Langman Manor | Somerset

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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.

5. Family BBQ at Cotswold Grange | Dursley, Cotswolds

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A birthday BBQ is a wonderful surprise party idea for when they turn the big 4-0. Invite their 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.

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.

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

6. Golfing tournament at Edgehill House | Gullane, Scotland

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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.

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.

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.

7. Movie night at The Old Manor House | Peak District

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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.

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.

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.

8. Great Gatsby themed party at Portmore Grange | Devon 

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Portmore Grange

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.

Portmore Grange is an impressive manor house in Devon nestled within 1.5 acres of beautifully manicure gardens. Overlooking Portmore golf course, wow your guests with the cinema room, games room with bar and hot tub.

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!

If you are looking for the perfect venue for a 40th birthday party, then our portfolio of party houses to rent in the UK offer up a plethora of possibilities. From rural retreats in Scotland to coastal hideaways in Sussex, 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.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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