Creative Things to Do for Your 40th Birthday

Turning forty years old could be the best experience of your life! This isn’t your typical list of things to do for your 40th birthday. These ideas will show you how to celebrate your 40th birthday in meaningful, fun ways and create memories that will last the rest of your life.

40th Birthday Ideas for Women Even though this isn’t your typical list of gifts for your 40th birthday, I have to share the Sterling Silver “Live The Life You Love” Pendant Necklace. The best birthday gift you can give yourself is 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?

Here’s a great thing to do for your 40th birthday – it’s a tip from 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 4oth birthday with, make meaningful friendships your goal this year.

Creative Ways to Spend Your 40th Birthday

These ideas for celebrating your fortieth birthday are more emotional than practical. I’m not celebrating 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 Kindle Fire with WiFi (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).

These 40th birthday ideas are about being kind and gentle to yourself, and making your life more meaningful. I turned 40 three years ago, and look forward to turning 44 in 2014! :-)

Accept what you can’t change in your life

My husband and I can’t have kids, and I don’t want to try IVF. Neither of us are keen on adoption. Now that I’m closer to 45 than 40, I’ve begun to accept that it’ll just be the two of us. We’re our family. For the past four years, I hoped for a miracle…but I’m letting go of it. It’s sort of bittersweet, to accept and even embrace this part of my life. Surrender. This may not be the most exciting 40th birthday idea, but it will change your life.

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.

Get fit! Zumba your 40 year old body

ideas for 40th birthdayIf you don’t feel fit or fabulous as you approach 40, try a new exercise routine. The Zumba Fitness Exhilarate Body Shaping System DVD is an awesome, fun, exciting way to burn calories at home. It’s like a rocking dance fitness party, but you won’t be worried about what people think of how you dance because you’ll be in the comfort of your own home! It includes over 30 dance styles from around the world, including merengue, salsa, reggaeton, calypso, cumbia and hip hop.

The gift of health and fitness is so important. I know that working out isn’t fun, but you’ll feel awesome afterward!

 Try something absolutely crazy on your 40th birthday

Here’s a reader’s 40th birthday idea:

“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!”

Give yourself meaningful 40th birthday gifts

Read Thoughtful 40th Birthday Gift Ideas for Women for a wide variety of possible gifts to give yourself! If you’re a practical woman, a creative thing to do for your 40th birthday might be to decluttering and organize your home. If you’re more dreamy than practical, then decluttering and organizing aren’t creative things to do on your fortieth birthday – they can wait until the day after you turn forty :-) . But, getting organized will help you feel better about being in your forties.

Think about how you want to spend your next 50 birthdays

creative things to do for your 40th birthday

Me in Jamaica, two years after my 40th birthday

Now that I’m in my forties, I’m 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, and when I choose to do things I love.

So, for me the thing to do on my 40th birthday(s) is to take good care of my future, my environment, the people I love, and my emotional and physical health. Now that I’m 43, 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 pamper yourself on your 40th birthday?

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? It’s time, my friend.

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. I’ve been a good friend to some people. That’s the best 40th birthday idea: 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 40.

March to your own drum for your 40th birthday

Creative Things to Do for Your 40th Birthday

“Creative Things to Do for Your 40th Birthday” image by RobertG via DeviantArt

I work at Big Brothers Vancouver, and am probably the oldest Mentoring Coordinator there – the rest of them are in their 20s. They’re super nice, but I’m old enough to be their mother. Some of our work activities and events highlight how old I am. For instance, we have a big bowling afternoon coming up, and we all have to dress up in Fiesta costumes. I can’t think of anything worse – 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 40th birthday gift to myself is not to go. I’ll be one of the only employees who doesn’t attend – it’s a fundraising event, no less. I’ll donate money, but I don’t want to bowl. I feel like I’ve earned the right to give myself permission not to attend events that make me feel tired and unhappy.

I’m turning 45 tomorrow, and I’m celebrating ALL my birthdays in my forties by being kind to myself, even if it upsets other people, even if it sets me apart from the crowd. Sometimes the best 40th birthday ideas last all year long.

What about you – how will you celebrate turning forty? Do you have any ideas for things to do for your 40th birthday?

Related to Your Search

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

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34 Responses

  1. lisacarter says:

    Thanks for the creative ideas on how to celebrate your 40th birthday!

  2. Silvia Jasso says:

    I’m turning forty in a little over two months and this is exactly what I wanted to read. Thanks!

  3. Laure says:

    May all women who are turning forty find a renewed peace, joy, hope, and inspiration in their lives. May the 40th birthday be about more than a celebration…may it be the turning over of a new leaf, a fresh start, and a fresh hope for life!

    Happy Birthday to all women who are celebrating their 40th birthdays. May you find creative ways to celebrate your day, and your life :-)


  4. Margaret says:

    Finding meaningful ways to celebrate your 40th birthday makes it much easier to turn 40. Thank you! Also it helps to surround yourself with women friends who are over forty, who are happy and successful and healthy. I’m 49 now, and need tips for making a 50th birthday meaningful :-)

  5. Laurie says:

    Aloha Luana,

    Thank you for being here – and happy birthday! Turning 40 is awesome. I’m 44 now, and I am 100% sure life gets better as I get older, because I feel wiser, more centred, and more focused.

    I know how you feel about starting a blog — I struggle with feeling like I have nothing to offer, as well. I wrote myself a note, and it’s right here new to my computer: “You just need to show up. It’s as simple as sharing what you experience. Trust that God will reach out to people through you. Be a bridge, a conduit. Your gift is writing, sharing, healing, inspiring, encouraging, and even healing.”

    I read that every time I get discouraged by blog traffic, income, or even getting older.

    If you start a blog, come back and share the link. I’ll come visit! :-)

    In peace and passion,

  6. Luana Lavatai says:

    Aloha Laurie,

    Luana from the Big Island of Hawai’i. Thank you for writing your thoughts and suggestions. I will be turning forty in five days and I can’t describe how blah I’ve been feeling about it. Not so much the aging but the celebration part. Many of my friends and family live across the ocean which makes it very unlikely for me to plan the type of event I would dream to have. So when I read your post about “accepting what I can’t change in my life” really hit home for me. What I can’t change is depressing me. Therefore, your other suggestions of giving myself meaningful gifts is perfect! I have always wanted to blog but keep putting it off thinking I have nothing valuable to offer. But reading your blog gives me hope and makes me believe that I may never know who I may impact or encourage or even enlighten…if I never take on the challenge!

    Once again thank you so much!

  7. Laurie says:

    Hello Sasha,

    I’m glad you liked these ideas! I’m definitely more of a introvert, so I prefer the quiet, meaningful, reflective celebrations. It’s nice to meet a kindred spirit :-)

    One of the best parts of turning 40 is knowing ourselves well enough to know how best to celebrate our birthday.

    In peace and passion,

  8. Sasha says:

    I can’t thank you enough for these creative things to do for your fortieth birthday. Everyone seems to be doing “party extravaganzas,” and that’s just not in my cards. I wanted to do something quiet, reflective and more meaningful (to me). I really love what you’ve written here! Thanks again. :)

  9. Kesha says:

    Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself to help make others whole. You are appreciated Laurie.

  10. Laurie says:

    Dear Angela,

    May 40 be the year that you don’t worry about pleasing everybody! That’s the best way to celebrate your fortieth birthday: connect with your true self, and figure out what you really want in your life.

    What would you plan for your 40th birthday if money, time, and people were no object? Let your imagination go crazy – because even if you can’t do that thing for your 40th, you might be able to work towards it for 41, or 45! Start dreaming big for your life, and then break those dreams down into little achievable goals. One of my dreams is to go on a cruise….you’ve just inspired me to start researching the cost of cruises, so I have something to save up for and look forward to :-)

    May this 40th birthday be a blessing to you. May it be fun and interesting, and may you find the freedom to not worry about pleasing others. May you find peace in yourself, and allow yourself to fill your life with the things that mean most to you. May you be free of self-judgement, self-incrimination, and self-consciousness. May you be a free spirit!

    In peace and passion,

  11. Angela says:

    I am 40 in 2 weeks and I am feeling very anxious. I am a mom of 4 beautiful daughter’s. They are planning to take me out to Solihull and I’m looking forward to it. So why am I dreading getting older? X there’s lots of things I still want to do, but don’t have the finances. I have moved away from family and friends so have nothing planned for my actual birthday. I wanted to go for a meal but that seems too much trouble to organise and please everyone. So I haven’t done it yet.what shall I do? Xxxxx

  12. Laurie says:

    I’m so happy to hear from you, Sarah – I’m glad this article was helpful. Happy fortieth birthday! :-)

  13. Sarah says:

    Hi everyone, thank you for your thoughts, ideas and support. My 40th is in less than 6 weeks and I have been dreading it for more than a year. I know that sounds like a waste of a year but honestly, that’s how I feel. I’ve asked friends in their 40s how they accepted it and they said it was no problem. That didn’t help me so I turned to support online. Your ideas, your reflections, your humor and your experiencing similar fears makes me feel less alone. I think once I reach 40 I will feel okayish, but the waiting part is hard. Thank Heavens for online tips about accepting these milestones!

  14. Laurie says:

    Thanks for your comments! I love being 40, even though it is a huge milestone in a woman’s life. If you’re nervous or depressed about turning forty, find ways to celebrate with people you love.

  15. cheri says:

    I am so happy I stumbled across this page, tomorrow is my 40th birthday and I been really down in the dumps over it. As I looked back over my life all I could see my was what I have NOT done instead of what I have done and what still awaites me. I have no children but was blessed with raising my husbands granson for the first 6 years of his life till his mother sued us for cousidity this past summer. The loss was too much for my husband (who was not in good health) and he died 3 weeks later in his sleep. At that point I thought I had lost everything. I have slowely put some pieace of my life back together and have tried to start over but with my 40th approching I just felt like I was going nowhere fast. I found your page I must say it has made me look at things very differntly thank you so much for writing it!

  16. Laurie says:


    Your fortieth birthday sounds wonderful! Full of self-care, things you love, relaxation, and fulfillment. I love it, and think we should have a “40th birthday” every month. A day of pampering and self-love :-)

  17. Poppy says:

    I love the fact that 40 gives you a licence to truly be you and thus your celebration should be true to who you are! I find putting on parties quite stressful and not that enjoyable [except fairy parties, which I convene and perform] so I am going to have a private yoga lesson under the trees, followed by cake with my daughters and husband and a pedicure with my children [to allow some good reading and bonding time]. The day will conclude with a nice dinner with family and a few friends. Low key, introspective but encompasses who that I am!

  18. Laurie says:

    Hi Faith,

    What’s your favorite thing in the world? That’s the way to spend your 40th birthday!

    My favorite things are travel, road trips, my dog, my husband, blogging, and living in other places for short periods. So….my ideal way of celebrating my fortieth (or ANY birthday) would be to pack up my dog, laptop, husband, and car. I’d go live in Whistler or somewhere beautiful for a month, and explore the area while blogging.

    The best way to celebrate your birthday is to do whatever makes you most happy. If you can’t afford it, then you need to cheat. For example, if your dream is to spend your 40th birthday in Venice, Italy but you can’t afford it, then maybe you could throw a party with an Italian theme??

  19. faith says:

    i missed my 4oth birthday , couldn’t celebrate 2 yrs. later wanted to know if anyone had any ideas what would be a really amazing idea to make up for birthday is coming up in late dec.

  20. Laurie says:

    I love being 42, and I don’t fear birthdays at all. I’d never hide my age, either.

    But I’ve only had one really good birthday in my life, in Africa. The rest have been ho-hum…I need to start reading my own articles and taking my own advice about how to celebrate birthdays better!

  21. louise says:

    There has never been a better time in our entire history to turn your life around at the age of 40. Women need to spread their wings and fly; to do that we need to create our own independence and it all starts with a makeover as part of the 40th birthday celebrations. The new person will feel confident and inspired; the new you will be determined and debt free; by the time you are 45 you will be in flying.

  22. Lori says:

    Hi all, I will be celebrating my 40th b’day in December.. Very much feels and look a lot younger. I have two boys,9 and 6. and this year means so much to me and my family.. I do not know that to do,should I throw a party inviting forty persons, or just best friends. I want it to be extra special, but not mess. will appreciate any one input. I do not want it to just be another day. Than you..

  23. Fran says:

    I loved your article. I will be 40 in Feb 2013, we cannot have children either, the IVF route is also something we do not want to do, the procedure is complicated and the success rate low, so we have embraced it. Children are not meant for us in this life, may be they will be in the next. For this life, we shall enjoy being child free, and enjoy the things other people give up. I am also studying for my masters next year and loving this newfound life. Thank youfor your beautiful thoughts.

  24. Danielle says:

    I will be turning 40 on Oct 2, I guess I feel as though I am more mature and I am ready to figure out who I am and start a new chapter my kids are grown now its time to start living for me again!!!

  25. Laurie says:

    Hello Yoya1068,

    How about a trip to a destination you’ve always dreamed about? I’d go to Vietnam or Bora Bora :-)

    Turning 40 is a big deal, and should be celebrated with something meaningful and exciting. Not necessarily a material possession (though who wouldn’t be excited about a new car or house or iPad??), but something that makes you feel good and happy to be alive.

    I hope you come back and tell us how you celebrated your fortieth birthday!

    All good things,

  26. Yoya1068 says:

    Well, I will be 40 on Oct. 8th and I am truly looking forward to celebrating it. I feel extremely young, have 1 adopted daughter who is 23 now and two boys of my own (14,12) and I feel as though I have grown up with them. Although, I am waiting anxiously for my birthday, I still don’t know what to do. I feel as though I shouldn’t let this birthday go by just lume that. I don’t know but it just feels different.
    I have accimplished a lot in my life so far. Married young, had my children, went to college, own a business, am in the Coast Guard of the United States, but I feel like I should celebrate my life.
    Hopefully something to comes to mind…
    Happy Birthday to all!

  27. Laurie says:

    Cheers for the fun, exciting ways to celebrate your fortieth birthday, Rob!

    I’m test driving a Mini Cooper tonight. I test drove one earlier today and LOVED it. If you’re turning 40, I think you should buy yourself a fun, zippy, exciting little car. After all, you only live once….

    I want to put your tips for the 40th birthday in the article itself! They really are too good to get lost in the comments section :-)

  28. Rob says:

    LOFL….where is the “Buy a fast car” or “Live to excess” or “Spend a weekend in Bangcock”? I dont know about you hippies, but I’m going to spend my 40th 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.

    40 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 to date and have plenty more to go around.

  29. Laurie says:


    Thank you for your comment, and for sharing my tips for turning 40 on your Facebook page! Very sweet of you :-)

    Yes, life is like a book with chapters, isn’t it? Sometimes I even think my life is actually a series of books. For instance, I’m in the Book of Marriage right now – I didn’t get married until I was 35, and I feel like I lived so much before I got married! Maybe that’s why I was happy to celebrate my 40th birthday.

    And, when I was 27 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and didn’t think I’d see my 30th birthday. So turning 40 is a gift!

    I wish you all the best as you turn 40 and celebrate your anniversary in August. And I’m happy to hear you have a little ‘un who is turning 4 in July :-)


  30. Kelly says:

    Oops. NOT my 21st wedding, I meant to say “wedding anniversary”. While turning 40 doesn’t make me feel old, I am quite certain that being married that many times would do the trick!

  31. Kelly says:

    Love your blog and I shared the link on my fb page. I turn 40 on August 25 and celebrate my 21st wedding on the 3rd. (August is a big month for me.) We also have a son turning 4 in July so I feel very much like my life is a book and each chapter approx 18 years. First chapter childhood, 2nd chapter marriage, third chapter parenthood. When my son graduates and moves out we will be experiencing empty nest/husband’s retirement, and if the good Lord be willing….I can enjoy some golden years chapters RV’ing with the hubby and spoiling grandchildren after that!

  32. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    If you’re worried about turning 40 – or you hate the idea of aging – maybe you should think about why it’s so stressful for you. What associations do you have with your 40th birthday (or being in your forties) that are negative? What negative associations do you have with aging?

    Since you can’t fight age, you might as well learn to embrace it :-) I embrace it by focusing on the wisdom, strength, and courage I’ve gained over the years. I was a dumb 20 year old, and wouldn’t want to be that young again!

  33. April says:

    I’m turning 40 in 2 weeks, and I’m dreading it. I’m one of those people who thinks forty is old, and I don’t want to celebrate that birthday. Got any tips for turning 40 for someone who hates aging???

  34. Kristi says:

    I LOVE my 40’s! I’m just extremely frustrated with all my friends calling themselves old. What an insult to the truly elderly! Myself, I was hit in the mouth with a bungee cord on my 40th birthday and spent the day looking like pouty lip injections gone bad….But back to enjoying my 40’s- I’m having tons of fun and hopefully leaving an impression on my own children so that they will NOT be calling themselves old when they reach middle age.

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