40th Birthday Ideas for Women Turning Forty

Written by on December 2, 2013 in Birthdays, Celebrations, Gifts for Women with 6 Comments

Not your typical list of 40th birthday ideas, whether you’re happy or depressed to be a woman turning forty! Learn how to celebrate your 40th birthday in meaningful, fun ways that will last the rest of your life.

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.



Ideas for 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.

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!”

If traveling is the thing to do for your 40th birthday, read The Best Time to Book Airline Tickets.

If you want to celebrate your birthday in Vegas, read How to Book a Hotel Room in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Give yourself meaningful 40th birthday gifts, such as 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, 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?

Read 40th Birthday Gifts for Women.

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.

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 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.

things to do for fortieth birthday

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 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.

That’s how I’m celebrating 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? If you see your 40th decade as a fresh start in life, read How to Have Faith in a New Beginning.

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  1. Laurie says:

    You’re welcome – I hope these 40th birthday ideas help you make fun, interesting plans for when you turn forty!

  2. Sammi says:

    Thank you thank you thank you

  3. Laurie says:

    Thanks for being here, Anna – it’s so great to hear from an Australian! That’s a great 40th birthday idea for someone turning forty – a trip to a beautiful country like Australia :-)

  4. Anna says:

    Hi there,
    This is Anna from Australia, I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your article. Wishing you all the very best and happy new year!

  5. Laurie says:

    It just occurred to me that these 40th birthday ideas are for women who are introverted. Extroverts likely want to celebrate turning forty in a whole different way!

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