Entertaining Family Party Idea: A 40th Birthday to Remember

So, I recently turned 40 years old…

A decade ago, I remember being in a real funk at the thought of turning 30 (my poor husband had to put up with a vicious emotional cycle that transitioned from sorrow to rage to sorrow again). I was entering a decade where, I felt, my carefree lifestyle was colliding with the expectations of adulthood and I was scared out of my mind. It turns out that I had nothing to fear! My 30s were a wonderful time of self-discovery.

In my 30s, my relationship with my husband blossomed from a passionate love affair into a true partnership and decade-long romance. My beautiful daughter was born and has grown into a smart, charming, beautiful six-year-old. As a family we’ve cultivated a loving home and an exciting travel schedule that has allowed us to meet new people and explore new places. My career has given me new opportunities to impact the world around me. I am settled and more peaceful than I’ve ever felt before, and I have more confidence in myself and more compassion for those around me.

In my 30s, I also matured through the losses I experienced. The greatest of which was the death of my dad, who was only 65 when he passed away. It was a very difficult time for me and my family, but it taught me about the resiliency of the human spirit and our ability to go on despite heartbreak. It also taught me that in our greatest sorrow we can learn life’s great lessons. For example, my dad never let a day pass without telling me how much he loved me. I didn’t understand how important that was until he was gone. It meant there was nothing left unsaid when he died, and no regrets between us. It showed me how important it is to parent from a place of unconditional love and acceptance.

That brings me to 40. I feel like I own this age – I am so proud of it and I am excited to meet it head-on. Ten years ago I wanted to hide under the covers in hopes that adulthood would pass me by, but today I am happy to be a grown-up. It is exciting to make informed decisions, to consider the implications of my actions, to work in the best interests of my family, and to nurture relationships that feed my soul. Being an adult isn’t the opposite of freedom and fun, it is the compilation of experiences that truly allows us to soar.

The Party

Theme: The Big Four-Oh

Number of Guests: 12

Advanced Notice: 4 Weeks

Invitation: Paperless Post Electronic Invitation

In celebration of this important milestone, my wonderful husband planned a 40th birthday party to reflect where I am at this point in my life. We opted for an intimate dinner with family and friends who have supported me in becoming the woman I am today.


To ensure the emphasis would be on spending time with our guests and not being tethered to the kitchen, my husband prepared simple picnic fair served in a celebratory setting. The menu consisted of grilled halibut with basil pesto, dill potato salad and quick pickled cucumbers.

The tablescape focused on my love of the garden. We set out fresh cut flowers (anenomes, rununculus, peonies, and tulips) to mirror the explosion of color happening outdoors. For the most special touch on the table, my daughter painstakingly created crimson name cards for our guests using linen paper, metallic markers, and stickers. They were precious!

After two hours of eating, chatting and laughing around the dinner table, my daughter served the birthday cake that she had helped make earlier that day (vanilla angel food cake with tart cherry sauce). She had the sweet idea that all of our guests should get a candle, that way everyone would get the opportunity to make a wish and make the world a better place. It was impromptu and it was perfect!

Shortly after, she went to bed and the adults headed out to our patio for cocktails around the fire pit. We discussed music, politics, travel, relationships….

DSC02942 DSC02914

It was the kind of party that grows late into the night without a concern for passing time. Good food, great friends, and lively conversations. It was lovely.

This intimate party was the perfect way to reflect, look forward, and celebrate the people who have made my life so rich and rewarding. If the party is any indication, 40 is going to be a terrific year and I have entered into a wonderful decade of love and friendship.

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