What’s the best way to celebrate a fortieth birthday? These tips and ideas are for women who are a little sad and a little happy that they’re turning 40.
First, here’s a meaningful way to celebrate life, 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 ways to celebrate your 40th birthday 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 40th birthday with, make meaningful friendships your goal.
40th Birthday Ideas for Women
These tips for celebrating your fortieth birthday are more emotional than practical. I’m not celebrating 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 tips for turning 40 are about being kind and gentle to yourself, and making your life more meaningful. If you’re looking for gift ideas, read 8 Birthday Gifts for Women Turning 40 – From Extravagant to Easy.
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.
One of the most meaningful ways to celebrate 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.
Before we get into my tips for turning 40, check out Rob’s comment:
“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. 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!”
Those are some great tips for celebrating your fortieth birthday. Not “hippie” at all! (He called me a hippie in the comments section, and I don’t mind atoll).
Give yourself meaningful 40th birthday gifts, like decluttering and organization
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, I’m celebrating my 40-something birthday by taking good care of my future, my environment, the people I love, and my emotional and physical health.
Now that I’m 40-something, I’m finally learning how to set myself up for success and happiness! Those are my little birthday gifts and tips to myself.
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 and weaknesses, 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.
To celebrate my 40-something birthday, I am going to focus on what I do right and what I do well.
Join a band or orchestra
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 ways to celebrate turning 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.
March to your own drum
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 mothers. 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 40–something 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.
That’s how I’m celebrating my 40th birthday – by being kind to myself, even if it upsets other people, even if it sets me apart from the crowd.
Another way I’m celebrating my 40s is by going to grad school, to get my Master’s Degree in Social Work! If you’re thinking about going back to school, read Tips for Applying to Grad School.
If you have any tips for turning 40, please share below. Show me I’m not alone – I love my forties!