What to do about the big Four-Oh!
January 14, 2011 1:31 PM   Subscribe

My wife's 40th birthday is coming up. She dreads that number! For her, it's the age when people become "old." Help me make her birthday a fun event she will love!

So my wife is turning 40! I have no problem with this as I love her dearly and on most days, despite being a younger man, I look and feel older myself. I think she's a loving, smart, classy woman and I love to be around her. Her circle of friends also adores her. Unfortunately, they all happen to be younger (20's and 30's) On top of that she's likely one of the more overweight ladies in the group and she has other self esteem issues that she's been working on.

She's got a great sense of humor (a little biting at times) so sometimes she comes off a little sharp - but she's such an empathic person she really cares about her friends and doesn't want to hurt them or their feelings (I wish more people were that considerate)

In spite of her good sense of humor, she is dreading the potential gag gifts and "old" and "over the hill" stuff that's bound to come out.

I am looking for party ideas and ways to head off this sort of thing. So that's it Mefites - tell me your favorite party ideas for either a girl's night out, or a mixed couples party (probably no kids in either case) to celebrate the love of my life and either embrace the age or help her forget, for the first night anyway, that she's "old"!

Location-wise, we are near Orlando/Daytona and may have a few people from out of town join us.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Find a dive bar that has locals. Not hip, young locals, but the type who come in at 9AM for the greasy spoon breakfast the bar serves, and sit there drinking cheap beer all day. The career alcoholics. You will never encounter a friendlier scene, but these people will make anyone seem healthy and young. I've never felt more robust than I did after hanging out in such a place.
posted by mikeh at 1:35 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Can you afford Victoria & Albert's?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:36 PM on January 14, 2011

If you're having the mixed-couples party at home, maybe make it a youthful theme? Like "40 is the new 21" and have jello shots and a goofy drinking game, red plastic cups, that sort of thing, only serving far more Quality items that will be appreciated by those with experience and discernment?

I was going to suggest a party where you just drop the 0, with party hats and all, but only you would know if she'd like that.

If it's girls night out, our local drag bar can be a lot of fun, and the ladies will be sure to make her feel celebrated.
posted by ldthomps at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]

I very much enjoy my birthdays (and plan to enjoy my 40th this year). My strategy is to plan the day to involve only the things and people I like best. For me, this would definitely _not_ include a party with people who are going to give me annoying gag gifts, but would be more likely to be an outing of some sort with just my husband or a few very close friends. For a more social person, it might be a party with everyone they know (preferably warned by you in advance that anyone bringing an "over the hill" balloon will be punched in the nose).

I recommend considering what your wife most likes to do, and which people she'd most like to spend time with, and going with that.
posted by LadyOscar at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

My husband organized a "40 Days of Cooker Girl" wherein he got all of our friends and family to either make or buy me something (anything, really) for the 40 days leading up to my birthday. I got something new or a new experience every day and it was absolutely amazing. Not only did it make the countdown easier to bear, I got to realize all over again how blessed I am to be surrounded by creative, loving people. Just some examples of the things I received: a knitted scarf in my favorite colors, a hand-made bag from a seamstress friend, personalized art, a HUGE dinner party, photographs, cookies, books, etc.

It was stressful for him to plan it all out but he really pulled it together and made me feel like the most special person on the planet.
posted by cooker girl at 1:49 PM on January 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

Awww you're a great husband! Here are two ideas we are looking at for our 40ths.

1. for DH he's throwing himself a huge party with friends from wayback when til today. We're renting a back room at a nice Irish bar, doing DJ/Karioke, guestbook to enter memories, photos, pizza, memories, stories, cake, etc. Too many people to have in our house.

2. for me, I LOVED roller skating as a kid and I always wanted to rent out a roller rink and totally do an 70s/80s throwback music/skating machine. Even encourage people to dress that way.

Just two ideas. Find what she loves from way back when and maybe do that sort of theme? But I hear you about "over the hill" b.s. How depressing. :)
posted by stormpooper at 1:49 PM on January 14, 2011

Oh. Huh. I didn't read the question fully enough. Okay, then. My suggestion for a party is a dinner party with your friends bringing all the food to your house (or, if your wife would be freaked out by all those people coming over and she didn't clean, OHMYGOD what did you do??!!, have it at someone else's house). Have them make her favorite foods, maybe play silly board games...I don't know about that part. It depends on what she and you and your friends like to do.
posted by cooker girl at 1:52 PM on January 14, 2011

Don't think fun -- think elegant. Its unlikely she will forget her age, especially on her birthday. So you may be best off landing on the embrace it side. And elegant is something we generally get better at with age. Fine dining, dancing, theatre, etc.

Or you could go completely the other route and drive down to Miami, take a bunch of ecstasy, go to the Ultra Music Festival, and revel in being the oldest ones there. Either one works.
posted by rtimmel at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a no-gifts, bring chocolate 40th birthday party. Lots of fun!
posted by Carol Anne at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2011

My lovely wife turns 41 today, and I'm remembering how it was for us last year. Let me tell you, it's not just about that night and it's not just about the party. One party, while possibly fun and uplifting, isn't going to make a whit of difference in the medium- to long-term.

A couple of things worked with us to make the stress and sadness go away:

1. I made it a point to joke around with her about her age any chance I got. So, beginning with the months leading up to her 40th, I'd joke with the kids in front of her: "Hey, guys, we need to get mom a special birthday present this year. She's turning FIFTY." Add in the requisite AARP membership jokes, and pretty soon it was something she was laughing about.

2. She has organically (through her church) built some really great friendships with women that are older than her. That helps immeasurably. I'm certainly not saying she should ditch the 20something friends she has. But if there are any really awesome 45-year-old women in her life, she should make it a point to get coffee with them every now and again, for perspective.

3. OK, since you asked for party ideas, here it is: septuagenarian male strippers. That are instructed to hit on her and flirt with her constantly during the party.
posted by jbickers at 2:26 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

For my dad's 40th my mom threw an "0-4" party. It was like he was turning 4 instead of 40. We played silly games that you'd find at a kids party and had cake and punch (you could always spike it) and lots of candy. Everybody who came also got a goody bag filled with fun, cheap little toys and games. It was a lot of fun.

Maybe you could do something similar. Go mini golfing or race go carts. Hit Disney World and party like it's 1981.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:30 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like the idea from TooFewShoes directly above. This would make turning 40 fun and play with the age ("0-4") without making her feel like she's having one last "young" fling. I really don't like the idea of a 21 year old party with Jello shots and all of that. I go with the "embrace it" side and the "0-4" could still make it fun.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:50 PM on January 14, 2011

This admittedly doesn't answer your question directly - but it may be an idea you could work with.

We celebrated my fortieth birthday (ahem - two years ago) as the 10th Anniversary of my 30th Birthday (which, since I was born on the thirtieth, had been dubbed "30 on 30" - so we called it "40 on 30") and my husband basically re-created my thirtieth party, which I'd loved. Same bar; same band (though one guy had to fly in from PEI); same bourbon all night for me (though I consumed considerably less of it this time around and had to parent the next day); and everyone from the former guest list was invited, along with some new friends. It was great - and I wish I could say I'm looking forward to "50 on 30" - but I'm only just now able to say fuh...ffff...for...forty-two out loud. It's like how Fonzie can't say he's wr...wro...wrong.
posted by peagood at 3:03 PM on January 14, 2011

Not really an answer to your question, but you might be interested in this article which talks about why after a certain point it seems people get happier as they get older.
posted by philipy at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2011

No party suggestions here. I simply wish to address the age thing.

Bunch of crap.

I am 62, single, recently retired, and this is a WONDERFUL age. I feel younger than many half my age. No, not in my body, but in my spirit.

Aside from physical issues, there needn't be anything called "age." Sure, I have a statiscally better chance of dying tomorrow than you do. BFD. From birth, every breath could be our last for myriad reasons.

Nah, I'm not going to get into the "40 is the new 30" thing. Many are old at 30. Just wanted to add my voice that this ageism stuff is all nonsense. I would not trade my age for any other. I have Viagra and glasses... I would have to give up all I have experienced which is of far greater use to me than all the muscles I used to have.

posted by private_idaho at 6:38 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

I had a party with younger n similar aged friends for my 40th. We opened up our house from 4pm-4am with big sofas n cocktails outside under umbrellas. On the way in the front gate, we had a cocktail fountain set up [we bribed younger relatives to serve food and make cocktails]. We had the disco ball and dance floor inside. It was great - the people with kids came and left early or when they needed to; the partiers came for dance floor n mountain of cake; the stoners stayed til 4. We warned or invited our neighbours and paid for one neighbour with kids to stay in a hotel. It was a classy party as with various people moving in n out of it, the emphasis was on proper conversations and connection.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:04 PM on January 14, 2011

My suggestion is less a "quick fix" and more long term. If you can both use her 40th as a "marker point" to begin doing a lot of keep-fit and healthy eating, the physical effects will make her feel much younger. I'm by no means unfit, in fact I've competed in a lot of endurance running events etc, but I'm in my late 20s. I have a friend in his late 30s who takes fitness really rather seriously. When we go running together he, out of kindness, slows down to my pace. He can if he wishes leave me in his dust and without much effort on his part either.

My point: Good fitness and healthy eating can make you feel a lot younger.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:37 AM on January 15, 2011

A close friend is turning 40 next month, and her plan is to rent a massive beach house on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland for a week. Invites say that people can drop in and out as they please. By renting it for a week, she experiences the following:
- A massive party of family and friends on the Saturday night, the evening most likely for people to show up
- Closer friends staying at the house for the entire weekend, to endure hangovers/go to the beach/have impromptu rave
- Couples time with the husband only on the shoulder days before and after the weekend. This involves lots of good food and massages, and whatever other details she hasn't shared.

An option that combines the best of a few worlds. Looking forward to sharing it with her.
posted by chronic sublime at 5:06 PM on January 17, 2011

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