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50 Totally Inspired 50th Birthday Party Ideas

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Proof that things get better with age: fine wine, cheese, your 401(k) and, of course, you. Now that you’re entering your 50s, you know exactly what you want and how you like it. Except when it comes to how to celebrate the big five-oh in the midst of a (neverending) pandemic, that is. But don’t fret—just check your local health and safety guidelines, assess your personal comfort zone and choose how to commemorate this fabulous milestone with some help from our list of brilliant 50th birthday party ideas that includes both in-person and virtual options.

Editor's note: Per the CDC, the best way to minimize COVID risk and ensure that people can safely gather is to get vaccinated or get the booster if you’re eligible. And before gathering with friends and family, the CDC also suggests testing in advance and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.

Forty 40th Birthday Party Ideas That Will Make You Downright Excited for the Big Four-Oh


Twenty20

1. Go Out for Brunch with Your Besties

Stock up on orange juice and bubbly and start perfecting your baked eggs, or just set up a bagel bar and enlist someone else to do the fancy cooking (and the clean up). Either way, an intimate, preferably boozy, brunch with a few of your besties is a wonderful way to celebrate your fiftieth trip around the sun.

2. Host a Backyard Barbecue

Gather your nearest and dearest for a fun afternoon of delicious food, great music and socializing. Make it as casual (burgers and franks) or epic (roast a whole pig) as you like. But again, asking friends and family to help out is essential.

3. Do A Virtual Wine Tasting

Ideally, you would be chauffeured around Napa Valley while sampling the region’s finest offerings, but the current circumstances (ahem, Omicron) needn’t stop you from sipping the very best (and learning something along the way, of course). There are plenty of top-notch wine professionals around the country offering virtual wine tastings that can be experienced from the comfort of your couch—and that doesn’t sound half bad, does it?

4. Enjoy a Tea Party

Go on and host your own tea party. (Yep, you’re a real class act.) The event can take place indoors or alfresco, depending on your comfort level. Plus, the mini sandwiches, warm scones and pretty pastries can all be prepared or bought in advance and assembled just before guests arrive.

5. Try a Tasting Menu at a Fancy Restaurant

If there was ever a time to splurge on a Michelin-starred dinner (or a meal at any chichi locale), it’s on your 50th birthday—and it just so happens that some of the most exclusive restaurants around are currently offering outdoor seating or the option to have said fine dining experience delivered right to your door.

6. Hire a Personal Chef to Cook at Home

Want something a little more low-key (but still totally delicious)? Get a chef to prepare a mouthwatering meal for you at home for an intimate and stress-free soirée that’s sure to make you feel extra special.

Johannes Kaut / EyeEm/Getty Images

7. Check out a Brewery

Chances are good that a local brewery near you gives tours—and offers tasty eats. Call ahead to book your spot and ask about other perks (e.g., many are dog- and child-friendly and some even have live music). Bonus: Many breweries feature outdoor tastings.

8. Throw a ’50s-Themed Party

Go all in on turning 50 with a decade-inspired bash. Think diner food (like burgers and root beer floats), sock-hop decor and Elvis Presley or doo-wop on the record player. Bring on the poodle skirts and saddle shoes, all you T-Birds and Pink Ladies.

9. Have A Birthday Roast

We’re not talking about the kind you eat. Yep, you’re the one who’s going to get roasted. Our advice? Be sure to invite a diverse group of family and friends to the Zoom party, pour yourself a big glass of wine and get ready to swallow your pride…and do a few spit takes. This will be a birthday bash (pun intended) to remember.

10. Take a Cooking Class

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make sushi? Or marveled at those delightful macarons in the bakery window? Or maybe every time you carve a roast chicken you curse yourself for not knowing the proper method. A quick Google search will reveal numerous virtual cooking classes, as well as professional culinary educators nearby who will teach a class for you and a group of friends to attend in your very own home.

11. Plan a Murder Mystery

Why go to a regular old dinner party when you can enjoy an evening of murder and mayhem instead? Whether you host your own (you can get a murder mystery kit here) or book a professional party, this whodunnit evening will be an unforgettable birthday experience.

12. Make It Black Tie

Take things up a notch and celebrate in style by asking guests to don their most sophisticated attire. Whether you hire a private space or turn your living room into a ballroom, formal evening wear is required.

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13. Enjoy a Spa Day

If you want to make it a social event, invite a few friends to your pad and either a) hire a professional aesthetician or masseuse to do their thing, or b) go the DIY route with a pre-party shopping spree for new products that you and your besties can test (while sipping on bubbly in bathrobes, of course). Feeling low key? No problem—just enjoy the pleasure of your own company at a local salon instead. Either way, a few hours of pampering is on the menu.

14. Go for a Weekend Away

Get out of town for a mini-break to check out some new sites, enjoy the local cuisine and feel inspired by being in a new place—physically and figuratively—even if it’s just a few hours away by car.

15. Have A Bake-off

Host your own Great British Baking Show spin-off featuring all your nearest and dearest. It goes something like this: You share your vision for the perfect birthday cake—keep it vague and supply no recipe—and your friends compete to see who can best approximate your dream dessert in the allotted amount of time. As for you…just sit back and watch the chaos unfold while sipping on a cocktail until it's time to swing by for a sample of each slice.

16. Check out a Virtual Comedy Show

Grab your friends and laugh your way into a new year with a virtual comedy show. The best part is you won’t even have to worry about being seated in the first row.

17. Throw a Fondue Party

A little bit retro, a lot delicious. Here are five cheesy ways to get started. (And don’t worry—your vegan friends can join in on the fun too.)

18. Have an Online Trivia Night

The bar scene isn’t exactly popping off right now, but chances are that isn’t your jam anymore anyways. Still, a lively trivia night is everyone’s cup of tea, so why not recreate the event online with a group of friends? Pro tip: Plan ahead and pick a theme if you wish (and yes, the theme can totally be you).

Sofie Delauw/Getty Images

19. Take an Art Class

Whether you’re a budding Picasso or your talents peaked in the third grade, getting in touch with your artistic side is fun and relaxing all at once. We’re especially fans of sip-and-paint events that allow you to sample chardonnay as you color, but you can easily take care of that yourself if you opt for a virtual art class.

20. Have a Game Night

There’s no need to learn the rules of bridge overnight. Instead, bring out the board games (we’re partial to Catan or good old-fashioned Trivial Pursuit) and play the night away.

21. Take a Food Tour

Calling all foodies: Check out some of your town’s best eats by going on a food tasting and cultural walking tour. Most big cities offer them, and they’re usually themed by neighborhood or cuisine, but you can also research your own route if you prefer.

22. Spend a Day at the Races

Mint juleps and outrageous hats required. (Note: Even if this one is outdoors, you should check with the venue beforehand about Covid-specific guidelines.)

23. Go on a Yoga Retreat

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a novice, both your body and mind will thank you for stretching your muscles with some yoga in a beautiful destination.

24. Tailgate

Does your birthday coincide with football season? For mega fans, a tailgate can be a fun way to celebrate—especially with elevated recipes like spinach artichoke squares or spicy glazed popcorn chicken. You can even recreate the sporting event experience at home with a driveway tailgate and home viewing of the game, if you so choose.

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25. Run (or Walk) a Race

We’re not talking about a marathon here (unless you want to, of course). Even a fun run will be, erm, fun. A slice (or two) of cake will definitely be deserved.

26. Learn How to Whip Up Your Favorite Cocktail

Take an online mixology class or hire an expert for an in-person lesson—either way, you’ll be able to impress friends and family with your newfound bartending skills. One Manhattan, coming up.

27. Throw a Casino Party

Bring Vegas to you by hiring a card dealer, dimming the lights and betting for cash (we’re talking pennies or quarters). You can even buy a felt poker table top to add to the ambience. For those who don’t want to learn how to play poker, keep things simple with a game of blackjack.

28. Set Sail

You’ve been busy these past few years—take some time and relax. And what better place to do exactly that than aboard a sailboat surrounded by friends and family? Whether you go for the morning, evening or entire weekend, you’ll be ready to start the year in a tranquil frame of mind.

29. Throw a Dance Party

Because you’ve still got it.

30. Chill Out on the Beach

Spend the day soaking up the sun and then make a fire pit at dusk.

Daniel Milchev/Getty Images

31. Go for a Hike

Make a weekend of it and trek to the top of a mountain or just enjoy a leisurely stroll in nature. Either way, you’ll definitely deserve a piece of birthday cake when you’re done.

32. Ride a Hot Air Balloon

A champagne toast at 3,000 feet? Now that’s how you celebrate turning 50.

33. Root for the Home Team at a Sporting Event

If you can spring for it, score box seats and avoid the crowds. Also, we’re not saying your companions have to pay for a special message to appear on the scoreboard, but send them this list and they just might make it happen.

34. Throw a ‘Favorite Things’ Bash

It’s your party and you’ll eat cacio e pepe and watch Golden Girls if you want to. Make a list of your favorite things to eat, see, play or do and put them all together in a fabulous event.

35. Go Glamping

It’s the best way to enjoy Mother Nature. Research glamping sites near you that offer luxurious rooms (toilets and showers are a must) and upscale amenities.

36. Go Gallery Hopping

Discover the local art scene with a group of friends and see if you can find a piece to bring home to commemorate the occasion.

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37. Take a Museum Tour

You don’t stop learning just because you get older (but you knew that already). Call ahead to see if they offer private tours or try a virtual experience instead for an afternoon of learning and culture with your closest friends.

38. Try Your Hand at Glassblowing

Get crafty and learn how to make your own tumblers, trinkets and more with a glassblowing class.

39. Enjoy a Staycation

You don’t need to hop on a plane to go on vacation. Book a five-star hotel nearby, order room service and—ahh—relax.

40. Go See a Show

Whether theater, ballet or opera, a night enjoying the performing arts is sure to be a night to remember.

41. Get a Tattoo

A fun—and perhaps totally unexpected—way to celebrate this milestone. (Just imagine the look on your kids’ faces when you show them.)

42. Purge Your Closet

Organizing is fun. And so is shopping for a new wardrobe. Get inspired to find a new look here.

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43. Volunteer for a Good Cause

In lieu of gifts, ask your loved ones to give up their time to a cause that’s dear to your heart instead. It could be volunteering at an animal shelter, tutoring kids or helping build a home. You can even volunteer virtually these days. It’s a great bonding experience that you—and others—will be sure to remember. (And you can still go out for brunch after.)

44. Go to the Movies

Rent out the theater to make it a big event…or not. Watching a double bill at home also sounds like a great way to spend an evening. Pass the popcorn.

45. Arrange a Fetching Floral Bouquet

Flower design is an art form, but luckily, you can master it with a helping hand. Research classes near you and get ready to transform your home with your beautiful handiwork.

46. Make It a Costume Party

Dressing up isn’t just for Halloween, you know—and in case you missed it, masks are so in right now. (Psst: Here’s where to find N95 and KN95 masks online right now.) Pick a theme (your favorite film, a moment in time, whatever) or let your guests dress up however they choose.

47. Throw a Golden Bash

Fifty is known as the golden jubilee year, so go all in on the theme by getting shimmering decorations, serving sparkling wine, donning your finest gold gown and whipping up these champagne doughnuts. (And if someone wants to gift you a gold necklace, well, who are you to stop them?)

48. Go Bowling

This throwback activity just might become a new favorite with friends and family. Up the fun factor by making personalized bowling shirts to celebrate the birthday gal.

49. Host a Cocktail Party

Throwing a dinner party is a lot of work. But a sophisticated cocktail soirée, on the other hand, can easily be thrown together with the help of some day-before planning (and perhaps that virtual mixology class you treated yourself to).

50. Check Something Off Your Bucket List

Skydiving? Snow tubing? Adopting a puppy? Whatever’s on your bucket list, just go for it.