40th Birthday Ideas for Women Blossoming in Midlife

When I celebrated my fortieth birthday over a decade ago, I didn’t just want a typical 40th birthday celebration. I was looking for meaningful, creative ways to enter and honor my forties. I knew turning 40 was a big deal, and I wanted to celebrate with gratitude and excitement.

These 17 ideas for a woman’s 40th birthday are creative, meaningful, and daring. Turning 40 is a milestone, and you’ve come a long way (which means you get to have your birthday cake and eat it too!). These tips will help you blossom in a new decade of life.

These tips will help you remember that turning 40 isn’t just about finding the best 40th birthday gift and celebration ideas – though that’s part of it! But, just like a happy marriage isn’t just about the wedding ceremony, turning forty isn’t just about celebrating a great night or event.

How will you make your 40th birthday meaningful?

I hope my ideas show you how to celebrate and enter into your forties in meaningful ways. I hope you create memories that will bring you a sense of warmth and love for the rest of your life.

how to enjoy your 40th birthday and blossom as a woman
Me, giving myself a “pixie cut”

This list of 40th birthday celebration ideas isn’t about partying or trying to forget that you’re turning forty. Rather, my blossom tips will encourage you to live from your heart and soul, and blossom into the woman you were meant to be.

1. Give yourself the gift you really want

What do you really want out of life? If you could have or do anything as a 40 year old woman, what would you create? Maybe – in order to blossom into who you were created to be – you need to be part of a good, strong, healthy group of women.

Here’s an interesting way to celebrate your 40th birthday from 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.”

2. Don’t dye your hair pink. Think bigger!

Maybe your 40th birthday means it’s time to accept an unexpected stage of life. Maybe you’re rebuilding after a loss, divorce, empty nest, unexpected career change or a life-altering health diagnosis.

A stressful life event (or two, or three) is a normal, expected part of being a forty year old woman. It can also be a time for you to experience midlife blossoming. A perfect life doesn’t exist, but a perfectly happy 40 year old woman can exist (if her source of joy, peace, and freedom is from her relationship with her inner being).

For some women, the best 40th birthday idea is to jump into adventure. It’s harder to make good friends in your forties; don’t get down on yourself if you don’t have close friends to celebrate your birthday with. Instead, make it a goal to make good friends this year — and for the next forty years of your life. Decide that you won’t get caught without friends on your 41st birthday, and you won’t be celebrating alone.

3. Create something new for your 40th birthday

My 47th birthday celebration was a two-week road trip to California, for a Christian Writer’s Conference. It was a brilliant idea because I met a literary agent and got a book contract to write Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back.

See how unforgettable a simple road trip to a conference can be? This isn’t a 40th birthday celebration idea you can plan. Rather, you have to be open to the possibilities and try new things. Don’t expect to have an unforgettable experience on your 40th birthday or even in your fortieth year. Rather, just be open to being surprised.

When I was in my late 40s I gave myself a buzz cut and posted my video on YouTube. This was meaningful and creative to me, and showed me how fleeting every moment is. My hair grew back a few months later, and I cherish the memory.

4. Take a risk that scares you

My midlife tips for blossoming when you turn 40 aren’t confined to one birthday. Rather, I encourage you to do something that lasts a few days, weeks, months or even years. The best ways to celebrate any milestone in life (including the big 4-0) involve experiences, not just parties and gifts. Gifts are good, but experiences are better.

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.

And what brings you alive and even scares you a little? I took a huge risk a few years ago. I was traveling in my camper van, and hated having hair to deal with. So I thought I’d give myself a little haircut 🙂

I didn’t celebrate my 40th birthday by throwing a big birthday bash, taking an exotic vacation (though I did get a few “Happy 40th Birthday!” hugs in Jamaica last week even though my birthday had passed). Choose ideas and celebrations for your 40th birthday that help you be more kind and gentle with yourself. Look for ways to make your life more meaningful and beautiful.

In What NOT to Do When Giving Yourself a Pixie Haircut (I Accidentally Gave Myself a Buzz Cut) I share how adventurous I became in my forties.

What NOT to Do When Giving Yourself a Pixie Haircut (I Accidentally Gave Myself a Buzz Cut)

5. Treat yourself to something luxuriously YOU

I love Anuschka’s Genuine Leather Hand Painted Bags. If I was making a list of 40th birthday gift ideas, they’d be at the top.

A purse that is beautiful and artistic is a creative way to celebrate a milestone in life. If you’re ready to blossom but don’t want to take a big risk, give yourself a beautiful gift. Anuschka’s bags and wallets are colorful, hand-painted, durable, and gorgeous.

Creative & Meaningful Ideas for Your 40th Birthday

While I don’t think possessions make us happy, I love surrounding myself with color and creativity. 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.

5. 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?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing isn’t exactly an exciting 40th birthday gift idea, but it will help you blossom. You’ll never be happy or free if you’re buried under a pile of stuff.

Creative Ways to Celebrate Your 40th Birthday

Make it a point to declutter and organize your life so that you can actually be free and happy as a forty year old woman. Getting organized can change your life. And if you’re searching for things to do on your 40th birthday, this will be the gift that gives all year long 🙂

6. Accept what you can’t change about 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 almost 50 I’ve accepted that we are a childless couple. I did pray for a miracle and I did want children, but I learned how to let go and surrender to how my life was unfolding. I accepted and even embraced my life exactly the way it is…and it’s best gift I could ever get on any birthday.

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. Better yet, learn how to love yourself even if you think you let you down. This is the best 40th birthday gift you could give yourself.

If you’re childless (or childfree) and struggle with your family, read Infertility: When Your Family Makes You Feel Worse.

7. Take time to heal your wounded heart

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 my own spirit. 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.

meaningful ways to turn 40 and blossom for women

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life is one of the best ways to let go of the past and heal from old wounds. This idea isn’t exactly an exciting gift for celebrating your 40th birthday, but it will change your life forever.

8. Help yourself blossom on your 40th birthday

Here’s one of the most interesting 40th birthday celebration ideas from a reader:

“My twin sister is terrified of getting old and turning 40 in three months. Not me! 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 planning my new business idea,” says Shannon on 5 Huge Life Disappointments (& Recovery Strategies).

“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!”

9. Refuse to be your own biggest critic

If you’ve been too busy to breathe for the past few years, here’s an unforgettable 40th birthday idea: start slowing down. Declutter your life. Focus on what really makes you happy, healthy, and whole. Give yourself the gift of freedom and peace. Start spending time with people you love, respect, and admire.

For example, 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 now focus on being here now. Instead of wishing certain people were in my life, I’m trust they’re here for a purpose.

Biggest Disappointments in Midlife (Plus Recovery Strategies
Blossoming in midlife despite disappointments

This is one of the best 40th birthday midlife tips for blossoming that you could give yourself: focus on your own heart, soul and spirit. The Creator put you here for a purpose, and is always whispering your name. Look up at the night sky, and know you were created out of stardust. Finding peace in your own heart, spirit and soul is the absolute best and most unforgettable way to celebrate turning forty.

10. 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 podcasts about being still and noticing presence. My life is unfolding exactly as it should be, and I am blossoming as a woman even when I don’t feel like I am.

A regular, healthy exercise routine is essential for a healthy body, mind, and heart. This isn’t exactly an unforgettable way to blossom on your 40th birthday, but it will change how you spend the rest of your life.

11. Write the story of your life (even though it’s only your 40th birthday!)

You don’t need a vintage “Journey of Life” writing journal to reconnect with yourself, but it can help. Where are you on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely spiritually and emotionally healthy? If you’re struggling with depression, loneliness, or existential angst, consider journaling as a way to learn why you’re so sad and how to get healthy.

Meaningful Ways to Celebrate for Your 40th Birthday and Blossom

Follow a spiritually healing book such as The Mindful Life Journal: Seven Minutes a Day for a Better, More Meaningful Life and a journal. Start writing your thoughts, emotions, experiences. This will help you let go of the past and heal from old wounds.

Learning more about yourself, your life, and your relationship with your own heart and spirit is a wonderful way to blossom as you enter your 40s as a woman.

12. Do it now. Or at least start dreaming!

When I first turned 40 I realized I really wanted to buy a camper van and go on road trips. It took me a decade, but I finally bought Ruby. I was married, but we weren’t really that happy together so I traveled by myself for over two years. Being alone on the road showed me that I’m much happier on my own, and now I’m separated and living alone.

How Do You Sell a Camper Van?
Ruby, my Tofino camper van at Miracle Beach

I recently sold my camper van. If you harbor a secret desire to go on road trips, my blog post will give you an idea of how much camper vans cost. Should You Sell Your Camper Van Privately or on Consignment? 

If you’re a homebody, don’t push yourself to leave home for an “unforgettable idea for my 40th birthday.” It’ll disappoint you 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, then seriously consider going away for your birthday this year.

13. Take good care of your future self

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.

14. Join something new: a team, choir, band or group

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar – or any musical instrument – what better time than now? Or, consider joining a church or community choir. Music will bring joy and laughter into your life, and help you learn not to take yourself so seriously.

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.

15. Embrace your forties – you’ve come a long way!

Wear a “Fabulous Forty” Bracelet with 40 delicate beads – it’ll remind you to learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow. A visual reminder or symbol to “learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow” is priceless. What better gift could you give yourself, than to live in the moment and cherish every second you have?

meaningful creative birthday ideas for 40 year old woman

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 article has given you a few 40th birthday celebration ideas.

16. 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.

17. Buy a condo. Or start a YouTube channel

In Buying Your First Condo After Your Marriage Ends: 7 Mistakes Women Make I share the most common condo-buying problems many women make during a separation or divorce. My tips include three tours of the condo I bought in Lethbridge, Alberta after my marriage ended.

Buying Your First Condo After Your Marriage Ends: 7 Mistakes Women Make

You may not be separating or divorcing – or buying a condo – but you might be itching to try something new. Why not be creative, and start a YouTube channel or a blog? It’s fascinating to see yourself on camera – you’ll get a whole new perspective of who you are as a woman. And this, my friend, will help you blossom in your 40s.

May your 40th birthday bring joyful memories, countless blessings, and peaceful thoughts.

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  1. I’ve been looking for ideas, trying to plan a small chic cocktail for my 40th and wanting to celebrate, yet I didn’t feel deeply convicted about any of the ideas my sisters and friends suggested. Not until I came across your article was I reminder of what I needed to do. Thank you for being that audible voice through which the Lord Himself has made known to me. I will give celebrate my 40th giving all praise and glory to God and in doing so, bringing others to know Him.

  2. Thank you for this! I’m turning 40 tomorrow and it’s been bittersweet getting older. I’m really trying to embrace it. I know it’s a blessing, it’s just hard to accept sometimes. I’m also accepting that it’s likely I’ll never be a mother to children of my own. For whatever reason, being parents may not be part of our future. I’ve cried many times because I wish I could give my husband a child of our own. Fertility options are too expensive. I adore my fur babies and being a second mom to many of my students…and maybe that’s part of God’s bigger purpose for my life. Thank you for reminding me how exciting getting older can be if you embrace it. The 40’s are going to be great! ❤️

    1. Good day my sister,
      Never give up on your dreams and desires, God is in control and still in the miracle business. I feel your pain. Please do not give up the Lord will do it at his own time, no matter your age and all will see and rejoice with you to his glorification. This I can promise you.
      God bless you

      1. Beautiful, as women we have to be reminded of our greatness and the promises of the Lord. He always has a plan that is bigger than us. I am mother of two, with a husband, but at times I still feel lonely. I am renter at the age of 39 because my credit is horrible, but I am holding on to His promises and I know that MY DAY is coming! Again, thank you for those words of encouragement. I receive it.

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