The Best-Friend’s Guide to a 40th Birthday Party

If ever there was a birthday where a self-indulgent, extravagant celebration was not only appropriate but, in fact, necessary, that birthday would be the 40th.

A woman turning 40 has a history of sexiness and glamour to celebrate with confidence. She has years ahead of vibrance and late-night-parties and fashion risks and diamonds.

Although we would all love to believe our significant other could get it together enough to take the lead on throwing something thoughtful like a surprise fete, I think for most of us such a scenario would result in disappointment. Not to sound bitter; it’s for the best. I mean, a 40th birthday calls for a meticulous attention to detail and a carefully curated ambience. [outrageously sexist assumptions unintended 😉]


One of the most fun options is to get together with your best girlfriends who also have 40th birthdays around the corner, and decide to throw them either with or for each other.

After all, the older a woman gets, the more clearly she realizes that her girlfriends are what get her through the changing seasons and ups and downs of her life. Perhaps the reason is plain old biology. Men simply don’t go through the same physical, hormonal and emotional upheavals in the short span of their lives that women do. We women experience dramatic ups and downs in our bodies, from our first attack of PMS to our first baby to our first hot flash. Sometimes all we need is a squeeze of the hand by a friend who can say, “I have been there. I am not crazy and neither are you.”

Perhaps it is this fact that makes us fall so fervently in love with movies and books and TV shows celebrating girlfriends.

There is a very special quality in the best-friendships of women that men don’t quite touch, neither in romantic relationships nor in their own friendships.

When you find yourself coming up to a birthday that, despite your best intentions to be strong, independent and non-cliche, is a little heavily-loaded with threatening emotions and implications… your best-friend will know better than anyone how to use this day to make you feel glamorous and luxuriously loved.

customized invites from Paper Source
customized invites from Paper Source

Fortieth invite
Paper Twist

Peony Party Invite, Custom
Peony Party Invite, Custom

Our favorite local custom paper shops – Swoozies, Paper Source, and PaperTwist – understand that the little details have the power to take a party from good to glam.

Details like custom invitations, for instance, which may seem old-fashioned or unnecessary in the world of Facebook invites and eCards… but which serve to prepare guests for the tone of the party (fancy, girly, wild, exotic, sexy, formal, what have you)… all the better to shop, gift and dress for, my dear.


pink glam

By making the choice to not skimp on paper needs, you elevate the feel of the party. Custom paper products are the ultimate accessory to throwing a party that feels personalized, attentive, and tailor-made for the birthday girl, even if you decide to host it at a favorite restaurant instead of your own home.

In such a case, beautifully crafted paper accessories are as essential as pretty flowers. Dress up the restaurant with details like these place-cards…

confetti placecards
Confetti Placecards (PaperTwist)

Confetti Coasters (PaperTwist)
Confetti Coasters (PaperTwist)


These custom napkins:

from Paper Source
from Paper Source

Or these:

Happy Gold Foil Napkin, Swoozies
Happy Gold Foil Napkin, Swoozies

Not to mention this fab gold sequin table runner:

from Swoozies

And custom-printed wrappers for chocolate bars or champagne bottles… and you have the chicest of parties, even at a restaurant. With no cooking or cleanup.

custom party favors
champagne place cards

Two birds with one stone – party favor and place card. Hey girl heyyyy.

mini champagne favor
mini champagne favors

… Sophisticated without being stuffy.

drink station, paper touches

Custom paper products are what effectively personalize a party.

drink menu

They stamp it with a label; they transform any celebration from Generically Cute to So You.

Another great thing about going the custom route for all the party paper needs, is the incredibly thoughtful gifting potential. One idea is to include (in the invitation) a request for each guest to find a treasured old photo of her and the birthday girl, and perhaps hand-write or print a favorite story symbolic of the friendship, to bring with her to the party. The hostess can provide a beautiful little photo album/scrapbook (this one from PaperTwist is gorgeous, especially in gold; or this one from Paper Source – *heart eyes*) to put it all together for a keepsake that will be treasured for a lifetime. Plus add to the decorating potential on the gift table with something like this:

Creative Photo Display
Creative Photo Display

Of all times in life that you would most want to feel unique, known, and celebrated for your uniqueness… I can’t think of a more important occasion for it than this significant birthday.

Best Friend Birthday card, $2.95 at Paper Source
Best Friend Birthday card, $2.95 at Paper Source

Happy Birthday Chalkboard Gift Bags, Paper Source
Happy Birthday Chalkboard Gift Bags, Paper Source

gold dot wrap
kate spade from Paper Twist

kate spade new york Rosy Glow Reversible Wrapping paper
kate spade new york Rosy Glow Reversible Wrapping paper from Swoozies

Lokta Chevron Gold on Cream Fine Paper
Lokta Chevron Gold on Cream Fine Paper, Paper Source

Such gorgeous wrapping paper can also be used for little DIY risers like the one below, perfect for staging and decorating an easy-to-clean-up party.

The ultimate 40th birthday party should remind you of who you are and what you love about yourself. It should make a woman beam with the thrilling knowledge that the golden moments of life don’t have to fade with the bloom of youth. In fact, it can be the opposite… with a richer background of memories and experiences, these moments reminding us to celebrate life and all that is surprising, powerful and beautiful about the people we love, should continue to overwhelm us even more.

A successful 40th birthday party should leave a woman with the renewed realization that life is beautiful, and so is she.


scoop team
This article was written by one of the many QC women who contribute to our website. They are out and about and around Charlotte digging up the latest & best scoop 🙂