40th Birthday Bucket List: 50 Best Ideas to Party & Celebrate

Hey there, party men and women! Are you ready to celebrate the big 4-0 in style? Turning 40 is a milestone worth commemorating, and what better way to kick off a new decade than with an unforgettable birthday bucket list? Whether you’re the one hitting this fabulous milestone or planning a surprise for someone special, we’ve got you covered with the best 40th birthday ideas. From fun activities to unique ways to splurge, get ready to party your way into this exciting new chapter. Let’s dive in and make this milestone one for the books!

40th Birthday Bucket List Pinterest

The Best 40th Birthday Ideas to Party Your Way Into a New Decade

1. Send Flowers to Yourself

It is hard to find a florist that does not offer special birthday bouquets and there is no rule saying that someone else has to buy them for you! You could order the flowers in advance so that they arrive on your birthday and give you something pretty to decorate your home with. Hint: some celebratory bouquets even come with chocolates!

Annette White of Bucket List Journey sends Flowers to Herself for Her Birthday

2. Attempt an Escape Room

If you want to test your 40 year old brain and how effectively you can work together with friends when met with an obstacle, go to an escape room. The idea is to solve challenging puzzles and riddles in order to find your way out of a locked room in a limited amount of time. Everything in the room could be a clue to unlock the door. It may sound easy, but it’s not! 

3. Dine at a Michelin-star Restaurant

Michelin starred restaurants are the gems of the culinary world, and the perfect spots to celebrate a special occasion. They have them all over the world, just check Michelin Guide to find one close to you. I can highly recommend The French Laundry in Yountville, California who has THREE stars! 

Annette by The French Laundry sign | Getting Reservations at The French Laundry & What to Expect After

4. Create a Masterpiece at a Sip & Paint

Wine (or cocktails) + painting a masterpiece = F U N! This 40th Birthday idea will have you heading to a local café, bar or winery to be treated to adult beverages along with a hands-on painting class where you will walk away with your piece of art. It doesn’t get much funner than that!

5. Get a Psychic Reading

Surely the idea of seeing a psychic or getting tarot cards read for you has tempted you at one point of life. Will you find love? Will you get that promotion you’ve been dreaming about? Or maybe you’ll discover a new passion you never thought possible. Getting a psychic reading can open your eyes to possibilities you never considered and give you the motivation to make positive changes in your life. 

You can do this pretty easily online at California Psychics or you could even learn to do your own tarot card reading at home with the Wild Unknown Tarot Deck and Guidebook.

Get a Psychic Reading

6. Take a Helicopter Ride

It doesn’t get much more bucket list worthy than soaring over the scenic landscapes of  a destination in a helicopter! Fly high in the sky getting a birds-eye view of rolling hills, postcard-perfect beaches and/or stunning vineyards. 

Annette and Peter Volunteer Point Falkland Islands Helicopter Ride

7. Bar Hop Until Morning

Prove that being forty is not too old to bar hop until the wee hours of the morning. For extra fun you can create a local “bar bucket list” of all the hot spots you want to hit up and check them off as you go along.

8. Binge Watch Your Favorite Show/Movie Marathon

How about getting together with some friends or spending a night at home alone binge watching a fun TV series? Get some yummy snacks, comfortable jammies and spend time chilling on the couch. Just put on Netflix or Amazon Prime and stream one of your favorites or may try out a new one.

Schitt’s Creek, Friends and Grey’s Anatomy are pretty popular series, but if you are struggling to find a show, then our 100 best TV shows to binge watch will help you out.

9. Book a Luxurious Stay at a Boutique Hotel

There’s just something special about treating yourself to a fancy hotel stay on your birthday. Maybe it’s the plush robes and fluffy pillows that make you feel like royalty. Or maybe it’s the decadent room service that lets you indulge in all your favorite foods without ever leaving your cozy cocoon. Whatever the reason, this 40th birthday idea will be an experience that you won’t soon forget. 

You could easily search for a luxury hotel on booking.com, but if you’re up for having an epic travel adventure then checkout the Small Luxury Hotels website. They have some incredible places all over the world!

Annette at Beau-Rivage Hotel Bathroom

10. Brunch (& Day Drinking) with Friends

What better way to celebrate your fortieth, then with your friend squad and bottomless mimosas (or a bloody marys!)?

A beer toast and brunch

11. Buy a Piece of Tiffany and Co. Jewelry

There’s something about Tiffany and Co. jewelry that just makes people swoon. Maybe it’s the iconic shade of the little blue box that the brand is famous for, or perhaps it’s the way the diamonds sparkle when they catch the light. Whatever it is, there’s no denying that Tiffany and Co. has a certain je ne sais quoi that draws people in. So whether you’ve been eyeing a pair of diamond studs or a delicate necklace, go for it!

12. Create Your Signature Cocktail 

Unleash your inner mixologist and create something like the “Fab Forty Fizz” or the “Forty and Fabulous Flirtini” as your signature cocktail to celebrate your milestone 40th birthday in style. If you’re not much of a bartender, you can even use your favorite classic cocktail recipe as a base and just mix up an ingredient or two.

Annette mixing a cocktail on a cocktail class

13. Do a Birthday Photoshoot

Whether you want to dress up in a goofy costume or finally check a boudoir photo shoot off your bucket list, a portrait is a good way to celebrate a milestone birthday.

14. Donate to a Charity or Volunteer

Like the old adage says, it’s better to give than to receive. Walking dogs at the shelter, reading to children at the library or spending an afternoon feeding families at the soup kitchen? Determine what’s close to your heart and then make a decision to make a difference.

Don’t know where to start? Visit VolunteerMatch who has opportunities in many major cities or check the United Way website.

15. Eat Breakfast in Bed

It’s your special day—the one where you get to eat cake for breakfast without any judgment. But why stop there? Make it even more memorable by celebrating with breakfast in bed. Picture it: fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, and a huge slice of cake all within arm’s reach without even having to get out of bed. It’s a little piece of heaven.

Eat Breakfast in Bed

16. Find a New Hobby

It’s a new year and time to get out of your typical routine. A good way to do this is to mix things up with a new hobby? Whether it’s learning how to knit, taking up rock climbing, or even trying your hand at beekeeping, there’s something out there for everyone. Who knows, you might just find a new passion in life too.

Annette hiking in Point Reyes

17. Find the Perfect Little Black Dress

Ladies, you are forty now and it’s about time to find that perfect little black dress. You know the one: the dress that hugs your curves in all the right places, makes you feel like a million bucks, and is versatile enough to wear on many occasions. And it is so cherished it has its own initials, the LBD. 

One of my favorite places to shop for drop dead gorgeous dresses is Revolve. Another go-to for me is Lulus.

18. Get a Piercing

So, you’ve been thinking about adding a little extra sparkle to your body, huh? 

Whether it’s a tiny hoop in your nose or a daring piece of jewelry in your navel, piercings can be a fun way of expressing yourself and making a statement. The best part is that you will have a physical reminder of your birthday that year.

Looking for piercing ideas? Check out Glamour’s coolest ear piercings and Byrdie’s cool-girl ear piercings. If you want to venture beyond an ear piercing then see this list of types of body piercings for other creative ideas.

19. Get a Strike at the Bowling Alley

Let’s face it, bowling is a fun thing to do at almost every age, even when you only get gutter balls! But, it’s an especially fun thing to do on your birthday—you could even get a little competitive by splitting up into teams and having a full blown tournament. Though, at the very least make sure to bowl yourself a STRIKE!

20. Get a Tattoo

What if you could make your 40th last forever, in the most artistic way possible? Yup, I’m talking about getting a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. It could be something simple, like a date or a quote, or maybe something a bit more elaborate that really captures your personality.

For some birthdate tattoo ideas see the boy girl tattoos website or check out these meaningful travel tattoos.

Travel Tattoo

21. Get Your Hair & Makeup Professionally Done

Who doesn’t want to feel their best on their birthday? Before you head out the door for a special night out get your hair and makeup professionally done so you are feeling spectacular. You can book a slot at a salon or hire someone to come right to your home. Either way, afterwards you’ll be looking (and feeling) pretty dang good. Plus, you’ll be looking extra amazing for all those birthday selfies.

22. Go Bungee Jumping

If you’re typically an adventure bucket list daredevil, or simply looking to do something out of your comfort zone, then going bungee jumping is a thrilling 40th birthday idea. Not to mention, the bragging rights that come with being a bungee jumper are pretty sweet.

23. Go Camping (or Glamping)

As far as things to do on your birthday go, a camping trip is something truly rejuvenating. Spending some time in nature away from technology and stress of daily life, roasting hot dogs and eating s’mores, and maybe finding a lake to chill by, is some of the best time you’ll spend.

Because camping requires a little more preparation than many other birthday ideas on this list, you might opt to go glamping instead where everything will be set up when you arrive.  

It’d be a bonus if there was a National Park nearby and you can make a checkmark off the US National Parks Bucket List: 61 Beauties to Visit in America

Annette Glamping At mendocino

24. Go Horseback Riding

Whether it be on a forested trail or along the beach, horseback riding is another amazing way to enjoy time outdoors and in nature. You can even take it a gallop further, spending some time at a dude ranch (I went to an epic one in Colorado called Vista Verde Ranch!), where you’ll be immersed in ranch life while learning valuable riding techniques.

Go Horseback Riding

25. Have a Progressive Dinner at all Your Favorite Restaurants

Progressive dining is like bar hopping for foodies! Instead of sticking to one restaurant for the evening, you move around to different spots for each course. You could start with appetizers at that cozy little Italian joint you love, move on to entrees at the fancy steakhouse down the street, and finish off with dessert at your go-to ice cream parlor. It’s the ultimate culinary adventure. 

26. Go Ice Skating

Remember those days when we were fearless and just went for it, no matter what? Ice skating was one of those things that looked so cool and effortless when we were little, but let’s be honest, it’s not as easy as it seems. Now, it’s been years since we’ve laced up our skates and hit the ice. But why not give it another go? Maybe we’ll surprise ourselves and still have the moves, or maybe we’ll just have a good laugh and a few bruises to show for it. 

27. Go on the Ultimate Shopping Spree

Let’s face it, you know yourself better than anyone, so you’re the perfect person to choose special (and maybe extravagant) gifts for yourself. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a fancy handbag, or the latest Nespresso machine, or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a far away destination. Whatever it is, determine how much your shopping spree limit is and go ahead and treat yourself! 

Bonus points if your shopping spree makes a checkmark on our Fashion Bucket List: 36 Must-Do Goals for Every Lover of Style.

A woman shopping during a Black Friday sale

28. Go on the Perfect Picnic

Picture this—a perfect day filled with sunshine, blue skies, and a lush green meadow. Now, add a blanket spread on the grass, a basket overflowing with your all-time favorite snacks, and a bottle of chilled wine. Sounds like a dream, right? A super chill and delicious activity to do on your birthday is to go on a picnic, in a park, by the rocks or on the beach—or wherever else your imagination takes you. 

You can even pack a traditional wicker basket with your favorite picnic foods and enjoy the feast. Real Simple magazine can help you out with their Picnic Packing Checklist. If you want to set up an Instagrammable picnic, here’s a cute red checkered picnic basket.

29. Go Skydiving

Like bungee jumping, skydiving is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you won’t forget in a hurry. You can start your birthday 10,000 feet up in the air and take in some spectacular views as you complete the dive. It may be wise to start with a tandem dive, where you’re attached to a professional, but if you want more of an adventure go solo!

If skydiving scares the daylights out of you, then opt for the much less intimidating indoor skydiving.

30. Play a Round of Mini Golf

Simply said, “the golf game is complicated”. On the surface it appears to be easy and relaxing, drawing you in with its spacious clubhouse, green fairways and refreshing beer carts, but you will probably end up frustrated. So INSTEAD try your hand at a fun game of putt-putt golf (aka: mini golf). From putting balls into clowns mouths to miniature windmills, a round of mini golf is a fun low-stress environment.

31. Go Wine Tasting

If you enjoy tasting good wine, this is another highly recommended gift for anyone (including yourself!). You can look for a winery that includes a visit to the winery itself, an explanation of basic notions from expert sommeliers and the corresponding tasting to put into practice what you have learned. If there isn’t a winery nearby then just go to a wine bar and order an intriguing wine flight.

This 40th birthday activity might be the perfect time to start a tasting notebook filled with all records of all your favorites— buying a wine tasting journal will help you along the way!

Annette at Bodega Dos Buhos Winery

32. Have a Pajama Party with Your BFFs

Who says pajama parties are just for kids? Invite your friends over, grab your comfiest PJs, and get ready to stay up all night having some grown-up fun! It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning on binge-watching your favorite TV show, having a home spa night or breaking out the best board games, the key is to just let loose. 

Don’t have a comfy and cute pair of PJ’s? Try Pretty Garden’s cheetah print pajama set or  the dreamy cloud set that can be monogrammed.

33. Indulge in Your Favorite Meal

Whether it’s your local Thai restaurant’s Tom Kha Kai paired with a Som Tum salad or grandma’s famous beef stew and apple pie, indulge in your absolute favorite meal. 

Annette eating a delectable cheeseburger

34. Laugh Until You Cry at a Comedy Show

Let’s be real, we could all use a good laugh, it is the best medicine after all. A close to 100% guarantee of this happening is by going to a comedy show. 

35. Learn a New Skill

Birthdays are a perfect time to expand your horizons, and a great way to do this is by learning a new skill. It could be as easy as learning a song on the harmonica or something a little harder like learning how to change the oil of your car. Either way, dedicating your day to accomplishing something new can be very rewarding.

Annette playing a Harmonica

36. Make a Bucket List

Every bucket list is born out of one’s own dreams, goals, and aspirations. So if you haven’t made one yet, then on your fortieth birthday is the perfect time to do it. Whether it’s a simple list or an elaborate vision board, this allows you to brainstorm, dream big, and visualize the experiences you want to have.

We have plenty of articles to help you on your Bucket List Journey:

37. Play Old School Games at an Arcade

Remember when the biggest decision we had to make was whether to spend our allowance on a round of pinball or a few games of Pac-Man? Those were the days, and it’s time to relive them. Find the closest arcade or one online and challenge yourself to Galaga, Donkey Kong and whatever else reminds you of your youth.

38. Redecorate Your Bedroom

You spend a third of your life in your bedroom, so it’s natural to want it to feel like a cozy sanctuary. But let’s face it, after years of staring at the same walls and the same curtains, it can start to feel stale. That’s why it’s time for a refresh. 

39. Rent a Limo

There’s nothing quite like getting dolled up for a glamorous night out on the town. And what better way to make the evening even more special than by renting a limo to take you and your crew wherever you want to go? It’s the perfect way to celebrate a milestone b-day!

40. Reread Your Favorite Book

There is great comfort to be found in books, so if you’re looking for a more low-key celebration then rereading your favorite book at home is a fantastic idea. Whether your go-to is “Harry Potter” or “Pride and Prejudice,” you’ll get to remind yourself of something you love and get some quiet time to yourself. You could even make it a tradition to read your favorite book every year on your birthday.

If you love the classics then check of the Classic Books Bucket List: 25 of the Best Must-Read Novels

41. See Live Theater Show

Yes, there’s Netflix and Hulu, but nothing compares to the energy and excitement you feel when you’re sitting in a dark theater with a crowd of people, all sharing the same live show. You could opt to see a local performance or splurge on tickets to a Broadway show.

42. See Your Favorite Band in Concert

If you are passionate about a band and they happen to be in town for a gig, snagging tickets may turn out to be the perfect birthday gift to yourself. Or you might also go big and attend a music festival with several bands to jam to.

Go To a Concert

43. Sing at a Karaoke Bar

When it comes to karaoke it doesn’t matter how good your voice is, it is all about having fun. Plus, your birthday is the one day of the year where singing off-key to “Sweet Caroline” should be embraced with open arms. 

44. Take a Cruise

So, you’re about to hit the big 4-0 and you’re feeling like you need to do something extra special to celebrate. Sure, you could have a party or take a weekend getaway, but why not opt for something a little more extravagant? Taking a cruise for your 40th birthday is exactly what you need. Imagine waking up on your birthday to the sound of waves crashing against the side of the ship as you sail off into the horizon. 

Annette on the Campari Bar onboard Costa Smeralda Cruise Ship

45. Take a Road Trip

This might take some planning to work out the perfect route, or just pack up your bags, take time off work and hit the road with choosing your destinations on the fly. Either way, the road trip will be epic. It doesn’t even have to be a long trip, it could just be for a day or two, but make sure you have plenty of entertainment along the way.

Try these 16 road trip games that will surely keep you occupied for the duration of the trip or just buy some road trip bingo cards!

Take an Epic Road Trip

46. Test Drive Your Dream Car

Imagine driving down the highway in your dream car, the sun shining bright and the wind blowing through your hair. Would you choose to be driving a Porsche, Lamborghini or Maserati? Even if you can’t really afford the car, for one afternoon it’ll be so much fun for you to experience firsthand what it could be like to drive around in one. Some car rental companies or raceways will offer rentals for the day.

47. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Imagine soaring high above the world, feeling weightless and free. That’s what a hot air balloon ride feels like, and why it’s an adventure worth adding to your birthday bucket list. It’s not every day you get to float gently through the clouds, taking in breathtaking views of the world around you. 

48. Travel to Your Dream Destination

You’ve always been dreaming about your vacation, and now is the time to make it happen. Whether you’re looking for a tropical paradise or a bustling city, the possibilities are endless. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of sipping mojitos in Havana or hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. With so many options out there, it can be hard to decide where to go, but one thing’s for sure—you’re in for a trip of a lifetime. 

Annette with Las Palenqueras in Cartagena

49. Treat Yourself To a Spa Day

Sometimes life gets stressful and there’s nothing better than taking an entire day to relax. Decide you need some pampering and go book that spa day, either at a local spa or make it an overnight trip over the weekend to a great spa in a different region.

50. Write a Letter To Your Future Self

It’s up to you how you’ll write a letter to your future self, but the typical topics contain sharing your current life situation as well as your dreams and hopes for the future. It’ll be so much fun for you to open up the letter in the future, on a date of your choosing, and see how much you’ve changed and which of your dreams you’ve by then achieved.

It may even work as a great reminder to get back to working on those dreams your younger self dared to dream. It would also be a little kick in the butt to make sure that she was heading in that direction and in order to limit life’s biggest regrets.

Make your letter even more special by picking some pretty paper (like this Japanese Stationary) and handwriting it.

We’ve explored some of the best 40th birthday ideas to help you party your way into a new decade with a bang. From bar-hopping adventures to signature cocktails, laughter-filled comedy shows to learning new skills, the options are as diverse as your personality. Turning forty is a milestone worth celebrating, and with these ideas, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. 

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Birthday Bucket List: 60 Fun Things to Do on Your Birthday!

4 thoughts on “40th Birthday Bucket List: 50 Best Ideas to Party & Celebrate”

  1. Have a wonderful Birthday! Your plan sounds packed. I challenge you to make paper crane as for #20. It could take up to 30 min if you have never done it before! I look forward to reading all about it. When is it anyway?


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I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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