Whether you think 40 is “over the hill” or “the new 30,” it is still a milestone birthday. Sometimes, the person turning 40 would just rather forget about the whole day. For that reason, many people throw surprise parties to celebrate the momentous occasion. In this way, the birthday person is forced to commemorate her 40th year–whether she wants to or not. Alternately, some people throw a surprise party because turning 40 is such a milestone birthday that they want to make sure the birthday girl gets to celebrate with an all-out event.
Surprise parties are often held at a location other than the birthday person’s house, although this is not always the case. If you try to drag the birthday person to a new or unusual location, he may get suspicious, especially since the 40th birthday is such a momentous one. The same goes if you try to lure him out of his own house. If you do want to have the party at her house, try giving her a gift certificate for dinner out. Then, when she’s gone, set up for the party. If you want to have it outside the house, it’s best to try to choose a venue that is often visited by the birthday person. If you have dinner every Sunday at your parents’ house, for example, that might be the perfect place and time to hold the party.
Consider the personality of the birthday person carefully before you plan the party. People who have a good sense of humor will probably not mind decor that includes black balloons and a gravestone in the front yard. Other people may mind a great deal. Make the surprise party a truly special event by planning decorations and games that will appeal to the birthday person rather than appeal to your sense of what a 40th birthday party should be like. Or, create a theme around the decade in which the birthday person was born. A 1970s theme, for example, could include lava lamps, groovy music, and guests who come dressed in bell-bottoms.
Adult parties do not put an emphasis on gifts the way children’s parties do. Still, there are creative things you can do to celebrate the birthday person’s 40th year. For a meaningful gift, ask each guest to write one or more positive things about the birthday person, until you have a list of 40 statements–one for each year of the person’s life. If you are throwing an “over the hill” party, ask the guests to bring “old age” gifts, such as bottles of fake pills, bifocals and large-print books.
Games that focus on the age of the birthday person are perfect for 40th birthday parties. Trivia games that ask questions from the decade of the person’s birth are always a hit. Or, ask your guests to list as many popular songs from that decade as they can, or popular television shows. Put a time limit on the game.
Consider what the birthday person might enjoy best when planning the party. A woman who is turning 40 and feels like she is getting old might appreciate a surprise luncheon and day trip to the spa with her girlfriends more than a rowdy party at the bar. A man who is not comfortable being the center of attention would probably rather have a surprise party where the guests are limited only to a few close friends.
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