Fortieth birthday party, celebration and gift ideas. Happy 40th Birthday!

Fortieth birthday presents

A 40th birthday is, as we all know, an important milestone - and presents should reflect this. It’s the next big birthday after 21, really, and deserving of gifts that mark the occasion suitably. Some can be frivolous, of course, but the main presents need to be weighty (at least metaphorically!). Here are some suggestions for different types of present you can ask for for your 40th birthday/to give someone who is going to be 40. Whether you are the birthday girl/boy’s partner, parent, child, friend or acquaintance, and however much or little money you are able to spare, you’ll find there are many possible fortieth birthday presents that are all pretty well guaranteed to make the recipient happy.

Long-lasting and commemorative fortieth birthday presents

Active fortieth birthday presents

Frivolous fortieth birthday presents

Other ideas for fortieth birthday presents

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Long-lasting and commemorative fortieth birthday presents

If you want a gift that is going to last a long time, while being a bit different from your usual birthday present, you could consider:

A tree

A tree is a fabulous, long-lasting present to mark a 40th birthday40th birthday treeWhat could be longer-lasting or more commemorative than a new tree? You can choose from different types of tree, to suit the person's taste and where it's going to be planted but also according to the message you wish to be associated with it. Is your friend or loved one a strong, solid oak; a wise, nurturing beech or more of an enchanted willow?

For someone who loves the Mediterranean, how about an olive or a fig tree? With a bit of care, both are hardy enough to withstand the British climate. Or maybe an apricot, peach or nectarine tree?

Another way to choose a tree is to refer to the ancient Celtic tree calendar and find the one that matches the birthdate. If you're not sure where to locate such a calendar, fear not: Tree2mydoor has done all the research for you! (See here for trees by birthday)

Depending on the type you choose, a tree can be peaceful and calming or uplifting and joyous. A tree can symbolise longevity and building a happy future, it can symbolise sustainable living, it can symbolise love and beauty. It's one of the best ways to make sure this 40th birthday is remembered with a smile for many years to come.

For a wide choice of trees and plants, which you can order online and have delivered directly to the lucky recipient, have a look at what award-winning company Tree2mydoor can offer.

Another popular thing to do for a commemorative 40th birthday present is to have an item engraved. For example:

A clock

A nice clock for the mantelpiece, desk or bedside table can make an excellent 40th birthday gift. Either a modern-looking crystal clock or a more traditional carriage clock can be personalised with an engraved message.

A jewellery box or trinket box

It's always useful to have a place to keep jewellery, lucky coins and other treasures. Even better if it's beautiful and a constant reminder of a happy 40th birthday!

A silver-plated jewellery box or trinket box can be engraved with a special, personal message to commemorate the occasion.

A tankard or glass

An engraved tankard for a 40th birthday presentParticularly when engraved with a commemorative message, a tankard or a glass makes a very good long-lasting present for a 40th birthday. These can be ornamental or for regular drinking use.

In the latter case, if the person is a wine lover, you could add a personalised bottle to your gift. Or perhaps you and a couple of other people could each give a related present: a glass or pair of glasses, a bottle, a bottle stopper, a bottle holder, a wine-cooling bucket, a vineyard tour.

For a great range of 40th birthday presents to engrave with a name or message, Getting Personal has it wrapped.

These gifts include tankards, glasses, clocks, hip flasks, cheese slate, cheese knife, cuff links, boxes, pens, tie clips, compacts, key rings, paperweights, money boxes, photo frames, wall plaques...

Something else with wide appeal is:


Pearls make a wonderful 40th birthday giftA good quality necklace, bracelet or earrings with timeless beauty makes a lovely 40th birthday present. This is a gift that will last for decades and maybe even become an heirloom.

Pearls are an especially apt choice because they combine the symbolic associations of wisdom and of purity and sincerity. They come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes, to suit the style and taste of the person you're buying for.

For elegant classic and contemporary jewellery made from responsibly sourced pearls and gemstones, check out the Orchira collection.

For a gift that will be on display, a permanent reminder of a happy birthday, you might like to think about giving:


40th birthday artArt as a 40th birthday presentAlthough it may be prudent to discuss this with the recipient (or someone close to him/her) in advance, a replica painting, photograph or poster can make a very good 40th birthday present.

It's the sort of thing that, on the whole, people approaching 40 haven't bought for themselves for a long time - and yet, it's such a pleasure to have a new picture to brighten up a room.

For a huge selection of prints, photos and posters in all sorts of styles and genres, see Easyart.

A few more suggestions for commemorative fortieth birthday presents

Talking of photos, you could make a very personal present by compiling a photo book of the person’s life. As well as the pictures, you can add comments and captions. This can all be done easily online with PhotoBox.

To commemorate the decade the person was born, you could give some memorabilia, such as The 1970s Scrapbook.

What about tracking down the song that was Number 1 in the charts when the person was born? To find out what it was, there's a useful list on a website called When We Were Kids: No 1 Hit Singles of the 1970s.

Active fortieth birthday presents

Life begins at 40, so let's get out there and start living! An active fortieth birthday present may be one that supports the person making the lifestyle changes he/she wants to make, taking up a new hobby, expanding his/her comfort zone and /or having a fantastic day out that he/she will remember for ever.

Experience gifts

An experience makes a wonderful gift and, with so many different activities to choose from, you can be sure of finding one the person will love. Red Letter Days provides a wide range of experiences, including:

40th birthday adventure

Adventure - Thrill-seekers will be in their element with an adventure gift. All sorts of high-octane challenges are on offer, from mountain walking on Ben Nevis to skydiving to white-water rafting, via zorbing, segway rallying and paintballing.

Or perhaps your person would prefer playing spy games, driving a tank or even simulating a hostage rescue!

Browse adventure experiences

40th birthday pampering

Pampering - At the other end of the spectrum from adrenaline-charged adventures, you could give tranquility and relaxation with a spa day, a massage or a session in a flotation tank, or you could give an uplifting feel-good experience with a manicure & pedicure, couture hair styling or a makeover.

Or what about giving your person the luxury of a personal shopping experience and money to spend at John Lewis?

Browse pampering experiences

40th birthday gourmet experience

Gourmet - If the imminent 40 year old in your life is interested in good food, treating him/her to lunch at one of Gordon Ramsay's London establishments would make a very special occasion. Or, for something less full-on, perhaps a civilised afternoon tea somewhere?

If the person is interested in learning about food and drink, there are plenty of masterclass gifts to choose from: cookery, cocktail-mixing, chocolate-making, wine-tasting, beer-tasting... For more about these, see below, in the 'hobby' section.

Browse gourmet experiences

40th birthday wildlife experience

Animals and birds - Wildlife enthusiasts will be overjoyed with a chance to meet meerkats, feed lemurs or handle a falcon, to ride a horse or a camel or be a zoo-keeper for a day.

A llama trek makes a lovely day out, as does X. The more adventurous may relish the challenge of Western-style (ie, cowboy/cowgirl) horse-riding or enjoy scuba diving with sharks.

Browse animal and bird experiences

40th birthday London experience

London - If the person is planning to spend his/her 40th birthday in London, there are many London-based experience gifts you could give to enhance that trip.

Things you can do only in London include a tour of the Arsenal Emirates stadium, the Wembley stadium or Shakespeare's Globe Theatre; jazz at Ronnie Scott's; the London Eye.

Browse London experiences

And this is just an overview of the possibilities. A myriad experiences are waiting to be enjoyed by the person you care about whose life is about to begin at 40.

For more ideas and easy booking, Red Letter Days will look after you.

A new hobby (or taking a hobby to a new level), a change of lifestyle, an addition to the skills repertoire

Because turning 40 is such an important milestone, your friend or loved one may well be planning to make a few changes to his/her life and perhaps to spread his/her wings and explore new horizons. In which case, your present can facilitate and encourage this process. Here are some suggestions for areas that may be of interest to your person:

Cookery - Someone who wants to get inspired and serious about cooking would be excited to receive an experience gift of a cookery lesson from an expert. This can be general or specifically focused on Italian cookery, Spanish cookery, Indian cookery or on making a particular delicacy, such as pizza, sushi or chocolate.

He/she would also enjoy having some new recipe books and kitchen utensils and equipment. For some ideas about tangible gifts, you might like to read Lara Enderby's article about her domestic goddess 40th birthday presents.

Learning about wine - When we get to 40, it's nice to acquire some knowledge about wine. This is partly just because it's interesting but also because it's useful to be able to match wine with foods for the optimum taste.

wine-related presents for a 40th birthdayIf your person would like to find out more about what he/she is drinking, a winetasting experience would make a great present.

As well or instead, you could get him/her a book that offers and introduction to wine - and perhaps a personalised bottle to go with it. As mentioned above, you and some other people could co-ordinate your presents and give other wine-related gifts, such as a set of glasses, a bottle stopper, a bottle holder, a wine-cooling bucket. You might like to get one or more of these engraved with a 40th birthday message. (Wine gifts here)

Getting fit / losing weight - If this is your friend or loved one's stated aim, there are plenty of gifts you can give to support this. For example, he/she might like a subscription to WeightWatchers, some exercise equipment, membership of a gym, a helpful book (healthy-eating recipe books or a training manual such as The British Army Fitness Guide).

Fit at 40You can also assist the person to achieve his/her goals by, for example, going with him/her to the gym or a dance class - or by becoming his/her personal trainer for a while (though, if you have no experience of physical training, it may be sensible to get hold of some sort of book to guide you).

For inspiration, you may like to read Roberta Trevelyan's article about her fit and healthy 40th birthday presents.

Music - Is your 40-turner a good singer? Does he/she play a musical instrument? If the answer to either question is yes, would he/she be excited at the opportunity to lay down a track or two at a professional recording studio? This is an experience you can bestow.

Music: a new hobby at 40If the person hasn't yet learnt to sing or play well but would like to do so, as a new hobby for his/her fifth decade, you can support this with a teaching CD, DVD or book. For example: You Can Sing, Guitar for Beginners, Adult All-in-One Piano Course.

Or perhaps your person is a budding DJ, in which case he/she might relish the chance to hone his/her skills and learn from some of the best coaches in the country. DJ Academy experiences are available in London and Manchester.

Photography - Taking photos is an excellent hobby to take up at 40. Apart from a state-of-the-art camera, it's useful to have some reference resources, such as the Collins Complete Photography Course.

As an oblique approach, you could give the budding photographer a camera lens mug.

Other ideas - Would your person be interested in creating his/her own fragrance?

A short break, a night or two away somewhere, is a fabulous present to give. This can be luxurious, adventurous or just to make a nice change and create a special occasion around the 40th birthday.

What about a subscription to a magazine about a new hobby or interest? Browse Great Magazines about photography, golf, fishing, motorbikes, cars and other hot titles such as Closer, Grazia, Heat, Yours, FHM, Kerrang!, Q and Empire.

Frivolous fortieth birthday presents

A fortieth birthday is an important enough occasion to warrant some silliness and some presents that are just plain fun.

Personalised gifts are always nice to receive. For more serious, commemorative personalised presents see above but if you're thinking of something more frivolous, there are lots of great little presents to choose from. For example:

For 40th birthday fun everyone can join in, you could all play the The 40th Birthday Game.

Presents don't come much more frivolous than a pair of Simply The Best 40 Year Old socks.

Depending on the person's taste, he/she might enjoy a T shirt with a 40th birthday message.

For someone who's always on the smartphone, an App Cube might be fun. It's just like the old Rubik's cube but instead of plain colours it has icons of apps. Reminiscent of schooldays while also being definitely twenty-first century.

For the 40-turner who loves travelling and has resolved to do more of it when life begins, a Scratch Map of the world is an excellent present. Slightly frivolous but also interesting, decorative and supportive of the person's ambitions.

Other ideas for fortieth birthday presents

Giving your time

If you are short of money or know that the 40-turner would particularly appreciate what you can do, you could give him/her a voucher for services to be rendered. For example, you could give a voucher for:

A lot depends on your relationship to the birthday girl/boy and on your own interests and abilities but a present of this sort should not be underestimated. (Of course, don’t give a voucher for something you would do anyway – that’s cheating!)

And if you're still not sure what to give as a fortieth birthday present...

You can, with just a few clicks, have delivered to the imminent 40 year old's door a nice case of wine. This is very easy and makes a very good impression!

A case of wine is a fitting present for a 40th birthday

Majestic Wine offers a range of wines of all types and prices and is known for its personal and reliable service. You also get free delivery to practically anywhere on the British mainland, at a time convenient to the recipient.

Normally, the minimum order is a dozen bottles, which can be any mix of wines and spirits. This makes a magnificent present but if you can't push the boat out quite that far, Gift Solutions are available - smaller cases of preselected bottles.