Your fortieth birthday is when you really start to Blossom! This isn’t your typical list of 40th birthday celebration ideas; here, you’ll discover ways to explore, love, and be yourself in exciting and meaningful ways.
These ideas will show you how to celebrate your fortieth birthday in meaningful ways and create memories that will last the rest of your life. I gathered these tips to help you remember that turning 40 isn’t just about finding the best 40th birthday gift and celebration ideas – those gifts are good 🙂 But, just like a marriage isn’t just about the wedding ceremony and celebration, turning forty isn’t just about having a great party. In this article, you’ll find a variety of tips and suggestions for celebrating a fortieth birthday in meaningful, joyful, and beautiful ways.
This list of 40th birthday celebration ideas isn’t about partying it up or trying to forget that you’re turning forty. Rather, I encourage you to live from your heart and soul, and BLOSSOM into the woman you were meant to be!
For example, here’s an interesting way to celebrate your 40th birthday from the bestselling author Alice Walker:
“Begin a circle of women. Meet regularly. Don’t have an agenda. Get together simply to Be together. Eat, drink, be merry. Dance if you feel like it. Lie about on cushions. Tell stories. Share secrets. Teach each other how to garden, how to build fires. But definitely do not ‘plan’ what you are going to discuss or do. Whatever work needs to be done will be done without your trying to make it happen.”
One of the best 40th birthday ideas is to relax into your female friendships. I have two close friends – not counting my husband – and I’d feel lost in this world without them.
If you don’t have friends to celebrate your 40th birthday with, make meaningful friendships your goal this year. If you’re too busy trying to juggle your social calendar because you have too many friends, give yourself the gift of freedom and peace. Start spending time with people you love, respect, and admire.
This is the most important gift you can give yourself: notice who fills you up with life and energy, and who drains your spirit and soul. Spend time with women who uplift you and help you be your best self.
Know that you can choose your own adventure in real life.
12 Creative 40th Birthday Celebration Ideas
These ideas for celebrating your fortieth birthday are more emotional than practical. They involve experiences, not just parties and gifts — though I included gifts because part of turning 40 is knowing when and how to treat yourself well. I didn’t celebrate my 40th birthday by throwing a big birthday bash, taking an exotic vacation (though I just got back from a two week trip to Jamaica!), or buying myself a new digital masterpiece such as a Kindle e-reader (though everyone seems to love them! If you want to celebrate your fortieth birthday by giving yourself a birthday Kindle, I am all for it. I hear they’re amazing).
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These 40th birthday ideas are about being kind and gentle to yourself, and making your life more meaningful and beautiful. I turned 40 several years ago, I look forward to turning 47 soon, and I am ready to enjoy my life fully and completely 🙂
1. Treat yourself to a luxurious 40th birthday gift
My 47th birthday was last week; I’m treating myself to a two-week road trip to California, for a Christian Writer’s Conference. That’s my luxurious gift this year; in the past, I bought myself an iPad, a MacBook Pro, and a treadmill. Those are gifts I never would’ve considered giving myself when I was in my 20s or 30s…but now that I’m halfway there, it’s time to celebrate my 40s by pampering myself with beautiful, quality items that make life easier.
Anuschka’s Genuine Leather Hand Painted Bags are one of my favorite 40th birthday gift ideas. Of all the ways to celebrate such a huge milestone, something beautiful and artistic is the only thing that will do! Anuschka’s bags and wallets are colorful, hand-painted, durable, and gorgeous.
While I’m not a believer in the idea that possessions and stuff make us happy (they don’t), I do believe God created us to enjoy art, creativity, and beauty. So, I encourage you to celebrate your 40th birthday by getting rid of old things that don’t lift your spirits, and surround yourself with beauty, joy, and light!
By the way – I also included this gift in 17 Gifts to Help Her Heal After a Mastectomy because while it’s not practical, it is uplifting and beautiful.
2. Declutter and surround yourself with simple beauty
Look around your home and work environment. How do you feel about what you see? Are you surrounded with color, beauty, simplicity, and things that make you feel good? If you’re a practical woman like me, a creative 40th birthday celebration idea might be to declutter and organize your home. If you’re more dreamy than practical, then decluttering and organizing aren’t creative things to do on your 40th birthday – they can wait until the day after you turn forty 🙂 .
Getting organized will help you feel better about your life and home. Think of this 40th birthday celebration idea as spring cleaning for your life.
3. Accept what you can’t change in your life
My husband and I can’t have kids, and I don’t want to try fertility treatments. Neither of us are keen on adoption. Now that I’m 47, I’ve accepted that it’ll just be the two of us. We’re our family. I did pray for a miracle and I did want children, but I learned how to let go and surrender to God’s wise and loving will for my life. It’s sort of bittersweet, to accept and even embrace this part of my life.
Surrender to your life as it is. Change what you can. This may not be the most exciting 40th birthday celebration or idea, but it will change your life in deep and fulfilling ways! Learn how to love yourself. Read How to Feel Better About Yourself if you struggle with abandonment, rejection, or even self-hatred. This is the best 40th birthday gift you could ever give yourself.
Also – one of the most meaningful things to do on your 40th birthday is to accept your present moment as if you’d chosen it. That’s one of Eckhart Tolle’s words of wisdom, from The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Are you unhappy or scared to turn forty? Acceptance brings peace.
4. Help yourself heal from old emotional wounds – by journaling
Writing in my journal is one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done for myself. I’m more centred spiritually and emotionally, more grounded, and more in touch with God. I really did start to Blossom after I turned 40 – and that’s one of the best 40th birthday celebrations I could ever ask for!
Where are you on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely spiritually and emotionally healthy? If you’re struggling with depression or existential angst, start journaling. Learn more about yourself, your life, and your relationship with God. Learn who Jesus is, and why He died on a cross. Let the Holy Spirit change you in healthy ways.
Get yourself a Classic Retro Vintage Leather Diary & Journal – or some other type of journal – and start writing your thoughts, emotions, experiences. Heal from old wounds. Reconnect with God.
5. Refuse to be your own biggest critic
I’m tired of beating myself up for saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and making mistakes. I’m tired of criticizing myself! What happened yesterday – and 10 years ago, 20 years ago – is done. It’s over. Instead of flagellating myself for my mistakes, I will focus on freedom and forgiveness. Instead of wishing certain people were in my life, I’m willing to let go of the past. I’ve done a lot of things right, and made a lot of people feel good about themselves. I’ve helped people, and cheered people up.
This is one of the best 40th birthday celebrations and gifts you could give yourself: focus on what you do right and what you do well. Learning how to accept yourself is one of the best ways to celebrate turning forty – even if you’ve been dreading this birthday.
6. Take good care of your 40 year old body
What does your body need? Is your neck sore, your body tired, your muscles flabby? Now is the time to make changes in your physical health. Don’t keep putting it off — yoga is a fantastic, healthy way to get your body long and lean.
I go for an hour-long walk/run most mornings and listen to sermons about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit on various podcasts. My treadmill is for checking email and setting myself up for my workday (I’m a full-time writer, and I walk for 30 or 60 minutes at the beginning of every workday).
And I do yoga three times a week, at home, with various yoga DVDs. Every part of my exercise routine is vital to my mood and physical health. If you don’t have an exercise routine, start with DVDs. They’re easy to pop in, and they only take 20 minutes or so — if you pick the right ones 🙂
Namaste Yoga: The Complete First Season is a fantastic DVD that will help you stick with a yoga program. I know “exercise” doesn’t seem like an exciting 40th birthday celebration idea, but trust me…your body, mind, and emotions will thank you.
The gift of health and fitness is so important. I know that working out isn’t often fun in the moment, but your body mind and soul feels so awesome afterward.
Find healthy, fun ways to move your body. You’re turning forty – maybe your goal should be to be fitter than you’ve ever been before!
7. Try something wild and wonderful on your 40th birthday
Here’s one of the most interesting 40th birthday celebration ideas from a reader:
“I’m going to spend my 40th birthday racing exotic cars in Vegas, then flying to Mexico for a week, lying on the beach, golfing on perfect turf, going to see Mayan ruins, racing dune buggies in the sand, scuba diving, and chasing around my 26 year old wife. Forty is not old….you’re as young as you feel. IF you wanna go get all responsible for your 40th birthday….go ahead…..or you can embrace the fact that you’ve only lived 1/3 of your adult life and have plenty more to go!”
8. Get out of town – my favorite way to celebrate any birthday!
We celebrated my 46th birthday with a weekend getaway. This year, as I said, we’re driving to California for two weeks!
I always try to leave home on my birthday because I love exploring and traveling. If you’re a homebody, don’t push yourself to try this “40th birthday celebration idea” because you need to do what you love to do. But if you haven’t gone on vacation for awhile and you love to travel…treat yourself this year. Forty is a milestone birthday, and it must be honored.
A Packing Organizer Value Set for Travel is an adventurous idea for celebrating a 40th birthday – especially if it includes a trip out of town! This set of packing luggage “cubes” helps organize your clothes and toiletries, and keeps everything neat and wrinkle-free. The set pictured includes a toiletries kit, a shoes bag to protect clothes from dirty shoes, and an electronics organizer bag so you can keep all your electronic devices chargers, cords, and even batteries in one bag.
9. Think about how you want to spend your next 40 birthdays
Now that I’m in my late forties, I’m finally starting to put money away for my retirement. Better late than never! Every time I put $500 or $1,000 into my RRSPs, I visualize my future vacations. I used to think putting money away for retirement was a meaningless chore, but now I see it as taking care of my future self. Same with decluttering and spending my time the way I want. I feel good when I’m surrounded by space and simplicity, when I choose to do things I love, and when I take care of my present and future self.
So, for me the thing to do throughout my forties (birthday or not) is to take good care of my future, my environment, the people I love, and my emotional and physical health. Now that I’m 47, I’m finally learning how to set myself up for success and happiness. Those are my little birthday gifts and tips to myself.
How will you take care of your future and present self now that you’re turning forty? If you want to celebrate your fortieth birthday in an even more exciting way, start thinking about what to do with your life. Maybe you want to start over?
10. Take music lessons – or join a band or orchestra
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar – or any musical instrument – now’s the time to pursue your dreams.
I played the flute in high school, and have always wanted to re-learn it. I loved the rehearsals, concerts, and feeling of being part of an orchestra! So I bought myself a flute a few weeks ago, and am working my way through a self-instruction beginners flute book. It feels so good to play, to learn and practice, to hear my musical skills improving. It’s also very healthy to learn to play a musical instrument! For me, joining a band is one of the most meaningful things to do when I turned 40.
What about you? What have you wanted to do since high school, but haven’t gotten around to it? Do it now. Celebrate your 40th birthday by pursuing those old dreams and goals. If you don’t think you can play an instrument, read How to Play the Flute on Stage When You’re Nervous and Scared.
11. March to your own drum for your 40th birthday
A few years ago I worked at a social service organization, and I was the oldest counselor there. The rest of my coworkers were in their 20s. They were nice, but I was old enough to be their mother! Some of our work activities and events highlighted how my age.
For example, we had a birthday celebration bowling event, and we were all asked to dress up in Fiesta costumes. I couldn’t think of anything I’d dislike more! I’m a quiet, introverted, introspective writer. The thought of bowling in a Mexican or Fiesta costume with in a loud bowling alley with lots of young people makes me want to crawl under my bed with my dog.
So, my gift to myself was not to go. I was one of the only employees who didn’t attend the birthday celebration, and a wee part of me felt bad. But I just couldn’t do it…and so I allowed myself to march to my own drum. This is my ongoing 40th birthday celebration gift to myself! The idea is that if I can’t show up wholeheartedly, I won’t show up at all. I feel like I’ve earned the right to give myself permission not to attend events that make me feel tired and unhappy.
12. Say “Meeeoowww” and Blossom like a CAT
I recently spent 5 or 6 days wandering around Los Angeles, meowing like a cat. It wasn’t a 40th birthday celebration idea; it was an experiment in acceptance and non-judgment.)
“Meeeoww!” said I out loud every time I caught myself judging a person, place, or thing. For example, some areas of some Hollywood streets are smellier than others. When I found myself wrinkling my nose and wondering how the glamorous men and women of LA could stand the disgusting smell of old urine baked into the sidewalk, I would let a big loud “meeeeoww!” leap from my lips. Even if people were nearby.
Why meow? Because that’s what cats do. And I am becoming more catlike, like a pussy willow Blossoming into a flexible reed that may bend but won’t be broken by the winds of time or happenstance.
And because fighting stuff takes energy. More specifically: trying to fight the past, or stuff I can’t change, or my regrets and mistakes, is draining the positive energy, joy, peace, and freedom from my life.
CAT is Curious Accepting Trusting
When I find myself judging myself or others, I say “meeeeoww” and remind myself that my energy and time is best spent being Curious, Accepting, and Trusting. This isn’t just a 40th birthday celebration idea; it’s how we should live our lives.
Instead of assuming I know everything, I ask myself questions.
“Why are some streets so smelly? Maybe because people and dogs pee outside, and there’s been a drought in LA for 5 years, and they’re not wasting water washing the streets.”
When you find yourself judging yourself or others, ask yourself a few gentle questions. Who is this person you’re criticizing, what do you know about her, where has she been, what has she experienced, and why are you assuming you know better? Are you sure your way is better?
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought her back.
Be gentle with yourself and the person, place or thing. Let go of your expectations, your “shoulds”, and your assumptions that you know better. Adopt an open mind and heart.
When you find yourself criticizing yourself or others, remind yourself how much time and energy you’re wasting on your own unrealistic and ignorant expectations. Instead of fighting reality (yes, some streets and people and situations are super stinky), just allow the thing to be. It has as much right to exist as you do. Who are you to say something should not be what it is? You may be forty, but you don’t know everything.
Everything Belongs, even if you can’t see why or how. Everything Belongs, even if you didn’t put it there.
There is a reason your life is unfolding this way. There is a reason you chose to take that action, say those words, or go down that street. Trust God that even if you don’t know why something happened, it is there because it is supposed to be.
My 40 year old birthday girl, you don’t have all the answers. Worse – your unmet, unfulfilled expectations are tripping you up and bringing you down. Your expectations are wasting your time and energy. Your “shoulds” are distracting you from the peace, joy, and freedom that being catlike offers.
So, say “meeeoowww” out loud when you beat yourself up for this or judge her for that. Memorize and recite CAT to yourself – and I guarantee you will be surprised at how quickly your judgements and criticisms fade away! Peace and joy will be yours, you precious little kitty cat.
Meeeooowwww and Blossom. Out loud. Boldly.
Bonus 40th birthday celebration idea: Live for today
Are you ready to live for today? The Sterling Silver “Live The Life You Love” Pendant Necklace is one of the best 40th birthday gifts you can give yourself, because it’s a visual reminder or symbol to “learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.” What better gift could you give yourself, than to live in the moment and cherish every second you have?
I love being forty. The best way to celebrate any birthday in your 40s is to be kind to yourself, surround yourself with beauty and creativity, and stay connected to your heart and soul. What about you – how will you celebrate turning forty? I hope this post has given you a few 40th birthday celebration ideas.
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.
May your 40th birthday bring joyful memories, countless blessings, and peaceful thoughts. And may you reach upwards to God, and hear His still small voice telling you who He created you to be. May you accept the love and salvation of Jesus, and may your life be filled with the joy and peace that surpasses all understanding.