10 Inexpensive Surprise 40th Birthday Ideas

The time has come! It’s your loved one’s 40th birthday and you want to start planning to celebrate it in style. But looking for unique surprise 40th birthday ideas can be tough! That’s why we have put together this article on our top 10 unique and inexpensive surprise 40th birthday ideas.

With such a milestone birthday reached, it’s the perfect time to go all out and show them how special they are by celebrating them turning 40. If they aren’t planning an event, why not surprise them with a party? It’s a great excuse to get everyone together to raise a glass and have some fun. 

Make sure you start preparing with plenty of time in advance and a plan in mind. We’ve collated our favourite 40th birthday celebration ideas to help your night go off with a bang.

Before you start the party prep, carefully consider the individual and ensure they’d appreciate the gesture. Some people are strictly “no surprises,” so in this case, another sort of celebration is needed. 

However, if you can picture them being thrilled by the display, get ready to prepare a night to remember. If you want to split the load, find some of the individual’s close friends and family members and create a team. If you’re looking for party venues in Nottingham, Eastwood Hall is fantastic for birthday parties and events.

So let’s get started on our top 10 surprise 40th birthday party ideas…

10 Surprise 40th birthday party ideas

birthday party ideas

Never let your loved one think you’ve forgotten their birthday! On the night of the party, invite them to go to dinner or another event with you and instead take them to the party location. 

Why not choose an awesome party theme for adults for a really memorable night? If guests will be dressing up, prepare an outfit for your loved one so they can change when they arrive. Here are some of our favourite surprise 40th birthday party ideas.

Surprise 40th birthday idea #1: An era party! 

A fantastic surprise 40th birthday party idea is to theme your event around the era in which your host was born. For example, if they were born in 1980, have an 80’s theme with bright colours, leg warmers and plenty of Prince and Madonna! 

Invite your guests to dress up as their favourite 80’s icon and bring a photo of themselves during that year to hang around the room. Check out Pinterest for loads of inspiration!

Surprise 40th birthday idea #2: Film themes 

If the host has a particularly obvious film or franchise they love, set this as the party theme. For example, if they’ve always loved Star Wars, turn your event space into a galaxy far far away and invite guests to wear bold costumes. 

When the host arrives, they will love seeing everyone dressed up as their favourite characters. This sort of theme is particularly touching as it demonstrates how well you know the host and what they like. This will definitely be a surprise 40th birthday they’ll remember! 

Surprise 40th birthday idea #3: Garden Party

If you’re hosting the event at home and the sun is set to be shining, why not have a garden party during the day? This is a relaxed and fun surprise 40th birthday party idea. Set up a gazebo outside with chairs, fold-up tables and plenty of rugs on the ground. Grab a portable speaker, some beer kegs and jugs of Pimms for a sunny afternoon celebration. 

This option also allows for a more subtle way to get the unsuspecting host into the party as they will believe they’re popping into your house. As the evening draws, set up fairy lights and lanterns as party decorations for a whimsical transition from day to night.

Surprise 40th birthday idea #4: Dinner party

Invite a few close friends over and create a menu of the individual’s favourite dishes and drinks. If they love Mexican food and margaritas, they’ll be thrilled to have an evening with great company and tasting some delicious eats. 

Tell them that you will be going out to dinner, and when they arrive invite them in for a tailored soiree which they will love.

This inexpensive surprise 40th birthday party idea can be kept low-key and is also ideal if you have children as you won’t need to get a sitter! 

Surprise 40th birthday idea #5: Games evening

If your loved one likes nothing more than sitting down and playing some board games, why not host a games night? 

Grab everyone’s favourites or try some news one. We love Blockbuster: The Game, which is a must if you enjoy trivia and want a nostalgic element to your night. 

Prepare a buffet for dinner so everyone can enjoy some finger food between games.

birthday party ideas

Surprise 40th birthday idea #6: Murder mystery

Host a murder mystery party at your house! Perfect for those who love a bit of acting. There are loads of free murder mystery suggestions online, or you can buy a game set. If you’re feeling extra creative, why not try and design your own custom one?

For a more lavish surprise 40th birthday idea, why not become a legendary party host at our party venue? We can provide you with 3-course meal in between your murder mystery night and our party rooms can easily be decorated to suit your theme. 

We also have a range of bedrooms for you to stay in too, so you can host a 40th surprise birthday that goes on all night.  

Surprise 40th birthday idea #7: Go camping

If you’re in need of a surprise 40th birthday idea for someone who loves the great outdoors, then camping is always a winner. 

There are hundreds of campsites around the UK, some with breathtaking views. Simply reserve your pitch and pack up your tent and you’re good to go! You can also download apps such as AllTrails to find all the best hiking spots near you. 

If you’re not an experienced camper, but think it could be a great surprise for a 40th birthday, then you can give glamping a go! It’s not as intense as camping but you still get all the benefits of getting out of the town.

Surprise 40th birthday idea #8: Wine tasting 

One of the best surprise birthday ideas to ensure you celebrate the big 4-0 in style simply has to be wine tasting! Red, white or rose, whatever you desire, a good ol’ wine tasting trip will surely please the birthday guest. 

If the 40th birthday surprise is in the summer months, then visiting a winery or vineyard is perfect. You can relax in the sunshine whilst tasting all the fresh grapes of the year. 

If the vineyard is further across the country, then book a hotel so you have a place to stay after. You can make a full weekend of it and enjoy the 40th birthday surprise! 

Surprise 40th birthday idea #9: Spa day

There is nothing quite like a relaxing spa day. If you are looking for a girly getaway or a romantic surprise 40th birthday gift idea then a spa trip is ideal. 

Book your stay at a luxury spa hotel and with tonnes of packages available, you’ll be sure to find one that suits your needs. Afternoon tea, champagne included, 2 night secret escapes, there are so many spa days to choose you can’t go wrong! 

For the ultimate treat, you can even book a spa day that includes a massage or facial – there is no better surprise 40th birthday idea! 

Surprise 40th birthday idea #10: Hire a private chef

Finally on our list of surprise 40th birthday ideas is to hire a private chef! Bring along your closest friends and you’re in for a treat. Private chefs are a great idea if you have children and can’t stay out late. 

What’s more is that a private chef can whip up the birthday person’s favourite dishes whilst you sit back, relax and drink! 

Hiring a private chef for a surprise 40th birthday is an intimate affair and will create wonderful memories. It is a great experience for small groups and will be enjoyed by all. 

birthday party ideas

Surprise 40th birthday ideas: invitations

It might seem daunting to plan a guest list when you don’t know who to invite. This is the stage where you need to speak to their close circle, and together create a comprehensive list of who should be invited. Consider your venue and how many people you can feasibly invite, or just keep it to a family celebration.

In the planning stages, the fewer people that know the better. It can be difficult to keep a surprise at the best of times so just keeping it to a minimum whilst you plan helps keep the party a secret. When sending out the invitations, specify that the event is a surprise and no one is to mention it. Give everyone a point of contact for questions about the party.

Surprise 40th birthday party ideas conclusion

So there you have it, our very best surprise 40th birthday ideas! Which was your favourite? Throwing someone a surprise party can be a super meaningful experience for the organisers and the receiver, so why not give it a go and give everyone a night to remember. 

As a quick recap, our top 10 inexpensive surprise 40th birthday ideas are:

  • An era party
  • Film themes
  • Garden party
  • Dinner party
  • Games evening
  • Murder mystery
  • Go camping
  • Wine tasting
  • Spa day
  • Hire a private chef

If you have any of your own 40th birthday surprise ideas, then leave a comment! 

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