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Fun 40th birthday ideas for men and women

Make 40 fun with these fabulous gift ideas for men and women
Make 40 fun with these fabulous gift ideas for men and women

When you’re looking for 40th birthday ideas, there seems to be an abundance of “over the hill” gifts, but what do you do when you want to be nice to the guest of honor? With a little planning ahead you can put together some fun surprises yourself, or with the help of party guests when you use the invitation to request what you need.

If you’re willing to do a little brainstorming, some research, or a bit of shopping, you can pull off a fun 40th birthday that the birthday guy, or gal, will look back on with fond memories for years to come. Just remember that if you are eliciting the help of guests, you’ll want to confirm who is definitely attending the 40th birthday party before the day arrives so that your gift isn’t missing any important pieces.

This list will give you some fun ideas to start with. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments section as well!

Beauty Products and Personal Care
Beauty Products and Personal Care Cindy Ord,Getty Images

Beauty Products and Personal Care

With help from friends and family, you can put together a “Keeping 40 Fabulous” gift basket that works for men or women. When the guest of honor receives a large basket filled with 40 wrapped gifts, it makes quite a memorable impact!

For ladies, include items such as nail polish and nail care set, lip gloss, lotion, scented shampoo or body spray, an eye shadow pallette, cute compact mirror or hair brush set, clutch purse, blinged out barrettes, earrings, bracelets, hand-held massager, and foot rub cream.

For men, wrap up gifts such as Aviator sunglasses, t-shirts, a ball cap, a watch, cologne, body wash, a spin toothbrush, protein bars, flavored water, men’s vitamins, fitness magazines, a trial membership to a gym, fitness games, or a pedometer.

Movies Justin Sullivan, Getty Images


Depending on how large your party guest list, you can have guests wrap up popular movies from the year the guest of honor was born, each year of his or her life, or a few movies from each decade of the birthday honoree’s life.

Candy Message
Candy Message Chris Hondros, Getty Images

Candy Message

For this project, you’ll need a large piece of posterboard or a sturdy board of some kind. You can decorate it as you wish, but you’ll need to collect the following brands of candy to put together your finished candygram message: Runts, Nerds, Chuckles or Snickers, Lemonheads, Good & Plenty, Peeps or Smarties, and Red Hots.

You’ll also need to gather a few photos of the birthday guest of honor. You should have a photo from when he or she was an infant or toddler, another photo that represents their “awkward years,” a photo that represents victory or an accomplishment such as riding a bike or winning an award, and a final photo of the birthday honoree looking his or her best.

Then, write or paint the following words across your board, attaching the candy package in place of the word it represents, and placing your photos as indicated.

Insert Infant or toddler photo
Write: You may have started out among the RUNTS

Insert awkward years photo
Write: And even spent some time with the NERDS
But no matter how many CHUCKLES (and/or) SNICKERS there were along the way

Insert victory photo
Write: You can forget all those LEMONHEADS
because in the end, it was all GOOD & PLENTY of PEEPS (and/or) SMARTIES can see

Insert final “at best” photo
Write: That you belong with the RED HOTS now

Your candygram will surely get a laugh and maybe a blush at the end!

Celebrity Celebration
Celebrity Celebration Mark Thompson, Getty Images

Celebrity Celebration

If there’s one thing that makes someone feel better about turning 40, it’s knowing that they are not alone. For this gift, do some research to find celebrities, authors, artists, or other well-known people who are also turning 40 this year. Then, have each guest wrap a gift that represents one of those famous people.

Gifts might include movies starring those celebrities, books written by turning-40 authors, artwork by those famous artists, sporting event tickets to the sport a 40 year old athlete once played, and so on.

Love and Wisdom
Love and Wisdom Morguefile

Love and Wisdom

Everyone gets down or feels a little lost sometimes, but a “40 Reasons We Love You” or “40 Things You Need to Know” box can brighten someone’s day again and again.

All you need is a recipe box or some other decorative box with a lid. When you mail out 40th birthday party invitations, enclose an index card or blank note card with instructions to write either a reason they love the birthday guest of honor, or if you’re making a “Need to Know” box, they’d include a piece of advice. It can be serious or silly. Either way, when the birthday guy or gal opens their box to review the cards, they’ll love it.

Shopping Spree
Shopping Spree Morguefile

Shopping Spree

For this gift you’ll need a large, wide jar or a clear container with a lid. On the bottom of the container, stack up gift cards brought by party guests. Once you have a layer of gift cards, fill the top half of the container with Spree candy.

Get a nice ribbon and tie a card around the jar that says “We hope you enjoy your sprees!” Shopping sprees, that is.

Top 40 Tunes
Top 40 Tunes Morguefile

Top 40 Tunes

All you need for this gift is blank CDs and time. Spend some time researching the top 40 songs on the chart the week of the guest of honor’s 40th birthday, or go back in time and find the top 40 songs for the week of their birth.

Record these songs on blank CDs, or if you have access, download them to the birthday guy or gals’ iTunes account. Or, if you’re the silly type, you could even put together a video montage of you or guests singing parts of all the songs.

40 New Faves
40 New Faves Suhaimi Abdullah, Getty Images

40 New Faves

Sometimes 40 can feel a little sluggish, like you’ve done all the exciting things in life already. A gift of 40 Faves can be just the “pick me up” the birthday honoree needs. The idea behind 40 Faves is to give the birthday guy or gal new experiences to spice up their life.

You can put together a basket of gifts or “experiences” that will allow the birthday guest of honor to try something new and possibly discover a new favorite thing or place.

Ideas to include might be gift certificates to a sno cone hut, ice cream shop, coffee house, tea room, candy shop, carousel ride, carriage ride, live theater show, museum, spa, bookstore, sporting event, rock climbing wall, laser tag arena, paintball place, pottery painting, cooking class, glass-blowing art class, or portrait studio.

If you’d rather give a basket of gifts, try to include things that many people haven’t tried such as unique flavored coffees, imported candy, scented lotion or body spray, logic puzzle games, new tech gadgets, or either classic or new release movies.