The ultimate guide to milestone birthdays holiday cottages

Party Ideas

The ultimate guide to milestone birthdays

Clare 01 April 2019

Milestone birthdays are those special landmark ages which are deserving of a little more attention than a simple card and cake. They’re a time to celebrate your life so far and look ahead to the future; they're a time to reflect on what you’ve achieved, overcome and enjoyed since the last milestone, and certainly not a time to lament growing older.

milestone birthday ideas

Look at a big birthday celebration like a cake. The design and flavour depend on individual taste, but the recipe for a successful milestone birthday should always include two vital ingredients: friends and family. Bind these together with a generous splash of time and love in equal measure and the taste of the memories will last a lifetime.

Whether it’s the excitement and wonder of a child’s first birthday or the fond reminiscence and family reunion of a 100th celebration, a group holiday is a perfect way to unite everyone and mark the occasion in style.

We’ve put together our top ideas for celebrating milestone birthdays, complete with the best ways to celebrate, suggestions for places to go and inspiration for planning your big event.

Jump ahead to our favourite party ideas for a:

1st birthday

first birthday ideas

“Let them eat cake!” Marie Antoinette

The time when all parents reflect on how quickly the year has gone, a child’s first birthday is one of the most special anniversaries in life. Having already achieved so much in their first short year, they’ve developed their own little personality and will love the thrill of a party just for them. Friends, grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins will all be excited to join you for party games, presents and the obligatory buffet, so a short break is a great option to get everyone involved.

With everyone under one roof, when the children’s activities have wound down for the evening and the little ones are tucked up in bed, the adults can continue to enjoy each other’s company and a well-earned rest!

Where to go:

Keep it local – it may be your first holiday with your one-year-old, so picking a UK destination is the ideal option. Simple and stress-free, you can pack the car with all the baby essentials you need, and rope in family members to contribute party items like the cake, balloons, entertainment and buffet.

Where to stay:

Highview House | Westward Ho!, Devon

Highview House

Activity idea:

When there are little ones around, one thing guaranteed to provide maximum excitement is the beach! Westward Ho! has one of the widest stretches of sandy beach in Devon and has plenty of family-friendly facilities.

16th birthday

16th birthday ideas

“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” Fred Astaire

Still a bit young to go on holiday alone, 16 is the age when you need to make the most of what may be the last holiday you have as a family. The teenager in question is likely to want to spend time with friends on their big day, so booking a large villa abroad is the ideal solution. Their friends’ parents could contribute a little to the cost, in exchange for a peaceful week at home and you can relax in the knowledge that everyone will have a good time.

Where to go:

The scenic island of Kefalonia has plenty to offer the adventurous teenager and their family, so you can plan an action-packed week of water sports, sightseeing and sampling the delicious Greek food. Fuel their adrenaline with water skiing and banana boating, and enjoy memorable activities together such as snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters and kayaking along the coast.

Where to stay:

Havriata Hideaway | Kefalonia

Havriata Hideaway, Kefalonia

Havriata Hideaway is set just 50 metres from the sea, so teenagers can enjoy a little freedom when they’re not making the most of the activities on offer in the villa. A stunning outdoor pool, games room and home gym will keep them occupied for hours and sea kayaking, snorkelling, mountain biking and horseback riding are all available to guests for free. Sleeping 10, there’s plenty of room to invite some friends of your own too!

Activity idea:

Plan a pool party and barbecue to make your teenager’s 16th birthday a memorable one.

18th birthday

18th birthday ideas

“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” Plautus

Your 18th birthday is the gateway to adulthood, and it’s only right it should be celebrated in style, preferably surrounded by all your friends and a plentiful supply of food and drink. If several of you are turning 18 in the same year, a group getaway is an ultimate way to mark your transformation into responsible adults.

Where to go:

London. It has it all – the country’s best nightclubs, trendy restaurants, rooftop bars and world-class entertainment. It’s a playground for the young and carefree, and the perfect backdrop for an 18th birthday celebration to remember.

Where to stay:

Woodlands House |Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

You’re only 18 once, so don’t do it by halves. But once the bright lights of the city have worn off and you need a place to rest your weary selves, 50 minutes outside of London, this peaceful retreat awaits and after a night in the city, it’ll be peace and quiet you are craving! Complete with luxurious bedrooms to sleep 12 of you, and a hot tub to enjoy, the morning after the night before looks calm and relaxed. A minibus can be arranged before your night out to ensure you know how and when you’ll be getting home.

Activity ideas:

Dress to impress for a night you won’t forget in the big smoke! From sky bars to stylish lounges, there’s something for all tastes and plenty of Instagram-worthy establishments in which to party the night away.

21st birthday

21st birthday ideas

"You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred." Woody Allen

At 21, the world is your oyster, and you’ll be wanting to spread your wings and explore. A 21st birthday is just another excuse to pull out the passport, get out there and embrace new experiences. With youth on your side, you can afford to be adventurous and challenge yourself to new and exhilarating activities, surrounded by friends. Whether you’re looking for respite from studying during university holidays or taking a break from work, a short getaway or week-long holiday to bid goodbye to your 21st year is a welcome tonic.

Where to go:

Skiing is a great option for a 21st birthday break, as much about the off-piste action as it is about mastering the slopes. The French Alps are the obvious choice: easy to get to with long-lasting snow, the winter conditions are excellent, and the resorts are well set up for visitors.

Where to stay:

Mountain Chalet | Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Mountain Chalet, Savoie

Luxurious and welcoming, this stunning chalet in the Chamonix Valley is the ideal 21st birthday treat. Sleeping up to 12, it boasts a private hot tub and includes access to a heated swimming pool, sauna and hammam with showers, fitness suite, massage room, library, movie theatre and wine cellar. When it’s time to head to the slopes, grab your skis and take a short walk to the Grand Montets ski lift. In the evenings, make the most of the welcoming bars in the village of Argentiere.

Activity ideas:

Simple but fun, card games always go down well among a group of friends, so don’t forget to pop a deck in your suitcase amongst your ski gear.

30th birthday

30th birthday ideas

“Everything I know I learned after I was 30.” Georges Clemenceau

Bidding goodbye to your twenties can be difficult for some, but there’s nothing like a big 30th birthday getaway to take the edge off entering your fourth decade. You’re independent, young, and there’s still a world out there to explore. Life is settling down into a comfortable rhythm, weddings pepper your social calendar and families start to grow, so this time is all about inclusive holidays and widening your circles to include partners and children too!

A joint family holiday with several other friends and their little ones offers the perfect solution to babysitting woes. Book a large villa where each family can have their own space and privacy, with plenty of room for socialising after dark when the children have gone to bed, and leisure facilities aplenty to while away those sunshine-filled days.

Where to go:

Just under a 3-hour flight from the UK, Majorca is the ideal destination for a sun holiday with children. There are plenty of family-friendly beaches with soft sand and crystal-clear water and you’ll find a plethora of eateries where even the smallest fussy eaters will be made to feel welcome!

Where to stay:

Villa Alcudia | Alcúdia, Majorca

Villa Alcudia

Stunning Villa Alcudia is set just outside of the picturesque medieval town from which it takes its name. The swimming pool and terrace with far reaching mountain and sea views offer an idyllic spot to relax and unwind, while inside the vast, open-plan living spaces promote socialising and enjoying time together.

Activity ideas:

Book an experience to make your holiday even more memorable. Majorca has plenty to offer the adventurous visitor, from dolphin watching in the Bay of Alcudia, to an off-road jeep excursion in the Serra de Tramuntana Mountain Range. Perhaps you could take turns to stay in with the children in the evenings, so you all get the chance to go out and enjoy the nightlife.

40th birthday

40th birthday ideas

“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” Larry Lorenzoni

By the age of 40, you’re likely to have a family or be surrounded by people who do. You have a rich life experience and have seen a bit of the world. You know what you enjoy and who you like to spend time with, so your 40th birthday is the ideal time to embrace everyone and everything you love in your life and celebrate what you’ve achieved, and what you’ve yet to experience.

For some, 40 may seem like the brink of middle age, but instead of seeing it as a downhill slope, consider it the start of a new chapter, with new challenges and intentional forays outside of your comfort zone. You may be wanting to try a new activity or explore somewhere you’ve never been before: now is the ideal time!

Where to go:

The awe-inspiring landscapes of Croatia are like nowhere else in the world, making it a fantastic choice for an eye-opening 40th birthday break with friends. Discover the idyllic beaches and islands of the Dalmatian Coast, roam the stunning mountain region in the centre and relax in the rejuvenating thermal spas. You’ll return feeling younger than you left!

Where to stay:

Brac Stone House | Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Brac Stone House, Croatia

Sitting right on the coast with uninterrupted sea views, an abundance of outdoor terraces and balconies to take in the panoramas and an interior which oozes luxury, one thing’s for certain: you’ll never want to leave Brac Stone House. Sink into the jacuzzi under the stars, take refreshing dips in the glorious infinity pool and even take advantage of the additional services which include a chef and private boat trips. Sleeping 14 people across six en-suite bedrooms, surrounded by friends and family in this coastal paradise, you’re sure to have a 40th birthday to remember.

Activity ideas: When all your group is together, challenge your brains to a ‘turning 40 trivia’ game, with questions on movies, celebrities, news and everything related to being 40. If the quiz master prepares in advance, they can throw in some fun questions about the 40-year-old themselves!

50th birthday

50th birthday ideas

“Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.” Walt Disney

You’ve made it! Half a century on the planet and so much still to look forward to! Your social circles are flourishing, with friends, colleagues and family, some of whom have flown the proverbial nest, leaving you with a rich network of friendly faces across the country and maybe even the world.

It’s time to do something for you, take a break from work, stop the years speeding past in a blur and make this one memorable. Bring everyone back together for a few days or a week away and relish the warmth of a reunion with your loved ones. Here’s to the next 50 years!

Where to go: Portugal is colourful and welcoming: an intriguing blend of rich history, splendid architecture and an exceptional coastline. Soak up the culture of the capital, Lisbon, dine on mouth-watering local treats, or indulge in hobbies such as golf and sailing against the beautiful backdrops of this majestic country.

Where to stay:

Casa Olhao | Olhao, Portugal

Casa Olhao, Portugal

A big celebration calls for a big villa, and you won’t find many more accommodating than the sprawling Casa Olhao. Sleeping 24 across 12 sumptuous bedrooms, the property is impeccably designed and furnished. Enjoy wandering the cobbled network of streets in Olhao, meandering down to the water’s edge where you can sip a long cocktail while you take in the views, or dine on delectable dishes in the company of friends.

Activity ideas:

In the run-up to the birthday boy or girl’s big day, contact 50 of their friends and family to write a favourite memory, quote or a heart-warming message, then package them up as a touching gift. This is particularly good if there are people who can’t make it to the big birthday bash.

60th, 70th and 80th birthdays

milestone birthday ideas

“You don’t get older, you get better.” Shirley Bassey

At 60 and beyond your life is full, a rich tapestry of love, experiences and memories. Your children, if you have them, are independent and have their own families and your time is your own. You have so much to celebrate and so many people to celebrate with.

With each decade that passes comes even more reason to gather those close to you and cherish valuable time together. A holiday to mark a landmark 60th, 70th or 80th birthday will be full of smiles and laughter; old friends mingling with tiny new members of the family; cousins playing together; brothers and sisters sharing stories of their childhood which seems like only yesterday. An exceptional place is needed to set the scene for such a special event, and Big Domain’s collection of large houses won’t fail to disappoint.

Where to go:

The choices are endless. You may wish to stay closer to home, picking a property in the UK or Ireland in a central spot, convenient for family and friends of all ages to celebrate alongside you. Or for the ultimate celebration, why not head off to a European destination such as Italy, France or Spain where your milestone birthday can be an excuse to treat the whole family to a holiday.

Where to stay:

Villa Verde | Tuscany, Italy

Villa Verde, Tuscany

Enduringly beautiful, Tuscany is steeped in Mediterranean charm, the balmy air conducive to long evenings spent outside in the company of friends and family. Sleeping 32, Villa Verde sits within the heart of the Tuscan countryside, an attractive historic property with private swimming pool, vast reception areas and generous bedrooms, not to mention outdoor space in abundance. With room for all, nobody needs to be left out of the celebrations.

Activity ideas:

Invite guests to bring along photos and memories which feature the birthday boy or girl. You can display them around the property for the duration of your stay and it makes a wonderful keepsake to take home.

90th birthday

90th birthday ideas

“With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come.” William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

90 is a real milestone. 90 whole years of living. In 90 years, you’ve witnessed so much change; technology and science have made huge leaps, the world has become smaller, our ambitions bigger. Families have spread further afield, yet we’re more connected than ever. A 90th birthday is an opportunity for those intangible online connections to become real, heart-warming hugs, face-to-face smiles and belly laughs which can only come from person-to-person interaction.

Friends and family will jump at the chance to celebrate such a major milestone, at the same time catching up with people from whom life has distanced them or even meeting new family members for the first time. Enjoy a short break or holiday and celebrate the person who has brought you all together.

Where to go:

Scotland, with its turbulent and vibrant history and awe-inspiring landscapes is an extraordinary location for a big family break. With flights from airports throughout the UK and Europe, it’s convenient for most, and the class of accommodation is like no other. Reaching the impressive age of 90 warrants a celebration in an equally impressive location, and a Scottish castle or stately home certainly fits the bill.

Where to stay:

Scottish Country Estate | Lockerbie, Scotland

Lockerbie Estate, Scotland

The majestic Scottish Country Estate will take your breath away with its elegance. Dating back to the 1700s, it can accommodate up to 41 guests and has an abundance of space for parties, relaxing and enjoying activities together. Fully staffed and catered, it is perfectly set up for a 90th birthday celebration, or any other occasion deserving of such recognition for that matter! Within the gardens are swings, a trampoline and an adventure playground for children, while inside a pool table, table tennis, Scalextric, Sky TV and games consoles provide no end of entertainment.

Activity ideas:

Choose a theme such as a decade in which the nonagenarian was in their prime and ask all guests to come in suitable attire. Combine with music, props, decorations and drinks appropriate to the era and you’ll transport your 90-year-old loved one back to their youth.

100th birthday

100th birthday ideas

“Today is the oldest you've ever been and the youngest you'll ever be again.” Eleanor Roosevelt

A whole century of life. A letter from Her Majesty the Queen. An elite group in which only 0.02% of the population find themselves (ONS 2016). A reason to celebrate.

100th birthdays don’t happen too often, so when a member of your family hits three figures and heads into their second century on earth, that’s something to write home about. Or maybe get away from home for! After 100 birthdays, there’s not much value in a material gift, but the gift of time and love from family and friends is worth a thousand presents.

Throw a party like your family have never experienced before and invite everyone from far and wide. Get together to share stories and memories and celebrate the impact that your loved one has had on you all over their 100 years of life.

Where to go:

You don’t have to go far to find a group property to accommodate 100 years’ worth of family and friends. The UK has an incredible selection of large houses to suit every party size, from intimate get-togethers with a couple of families, to space for more than 40 guests.

Where to stay:

The Victorian House and Cottage | Culmhead, Somerset

The Victorian House and Cottage, Somerset

A stone-built country house surrounded by 22 acres of landscaped woodland, The Victorian House and Cottage is a wonderful setting for a family celebration. One of the bedrooms in the Victorian House is on the ground floor, with en-suite shower room providing accessible accommodation, and a further two downstairs bedrooms are found in the cottage.

With 12 bedrooms in total accommodating 24 guests, everyone benefits from their own privacy but can come together in the beautiful reception rooms of the Victorian House. Enjoy a banquet around the grand dining table, ideal for singing happy birthday to the centenarian as they blow out their 100 candles!

Activity ideas:

Put together a display of photos, artefacts and news from the 100 years of the centenarian’s life. Ask other guests to contribute and present it as a gift.


We hope that’s given you lots of birthday celebration ideas for adults and inspiration for ways to mark those special milestone birthdays. To find the perfect location for your celebration, browse our collection of large houses across the UK and Europe. 

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