Parties & Entertaining

Birthday party ideas for adults

By Jean Sanders
Info Guru,

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adult in birthday costume
An important consideration when planning a birthday party for an adult is, of course, the honoree.
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Some great birthday party ideas for adults

Whatever your age –or the age of your spouse or parents or best friend—just because it's an adult that's having a birthday, it doesn't mean it isn't a celebratory event worthy of a party! So, we've put together some birthday party ideas geared to those past their teenage angst years.

So much depends on the celebrant's likes and dislikes. If the individual really, really doesn't like big parties, then what's the sense in going to the expense and time of a big bash if you're going to have an irritated and disgruntled guest of honor? The best thing to do first is discuss your plans with him/her. This of course, would be difficult to do if you were planning a surprise party! If you're the one planning the party, we can assume you know the individual best, so you judge accordingly—a small intimate dinner for two, or a blow out party for everyone.

A dinner party for close friends is always nice and is appreciated (hopefully!) by the honoree and the guests. You can check out the Food Network online site to get some sophisticated menus to help you celebrate in style, whether it's an intimate evening for two, a small dinner party or an all-out birthday bash. There are many more internet sites that you can peruse to get the perfect menu, or, if you do not have the time, but do have the money, hire a caterer and have her/him come up with a list of suggestions from which you can select.

You don't necessarily have to go the route of an elaborate sit down dinner party—you can go completely casual. Have an outdoor bar-b-que—(depending on the season of the year). Or, how about a hay ride? No one is too old for the fun of a hayride. There are many companies that specialize in this type of event and even provide food and entertainment. Once again, the web is your source of information for wonderful birthday party ideas for adults.

While it's easy to select from a vast variety of themes for kids parties, adults are often left blank trying to come up with a theme for the celebration of someone reaching a milestone age of 30, 40, 50, or 75, and beyond (and today, there are a lot reaching well beyond!). If you want a specific theme relating to a specific time, you can always rely on "the good old days" approach. Say the honoree was in college in the 70's or80's (or earlier)—so choose a 70's or 80' theme. Tell your guests to dress appropriately—whatever was popular during that time. You can also award a prize to the best dressed individual or couple. The party would have the greatest appeal if all invitees were of the same approximate age.

A luau is one of the most popular adult birthday party ideas. Once again, let your browser assist you in getting all the decorations you need and help in planning the menu. You can go as elaborate or as simple as you want. Be sure to stipulate in your invitation that dress should be appropriate to the theme—from Hawaiian shirts to sarongs, and don't forget about grass skirts and coconuts! 

Plan to award a prize to the best dressed individual and/or couple. This type of party is good for any size group.  All birthdays are special, but some are more special than others. For adults, these are the milestone birthdays; the ones that make you feel the passage of time. They arrive when it's time for the human body odometer to turn over to the next decade. 30, 40, 50 etc.)

You can approach milestone parties - kindly or humorously. If you take the humorous approach, be sure your guest of honor has a sense of humor. The purpose of this party, is to make the guest of honor feel loved and cherished. You want to cheer him/her up and highlight the positive side of aging, e.g. all the friends acquired over a lifetime, accomplishments (or not), college pranks, etc.

Another variation on the"over the hill" party is the mock funeral party. This is tops on the list of birthday party ideas for adults IF THE BIRTHDAY PERSON HAS A REAL SENSE OF HUMOR. If not—forget it! Request that guests come dressed in clothes of mourning. Ask some of them to read a eulogy. Set an obituary at each place. You can even use it as a place card. Decorate with lilies and play organ music during the party. Black is, once again, the color scheme for this celebration. 

Make a cake in the shape of a tombstone. This is easy to do by attaching a rectangular cake to a half of a round cake with a diameter that matches the width of the rectangle. Frost it in gray or white and write R.I.P. on it with black decorator icing. (One word of advice for this particular party - be sure that the birthday celebrant has not recently experienced any deaths of a close friend or family member. This party loses its humor if it hits too close to home.)

If the birthday person isn't young enough, or funny enough, to appreciate an "over the hill" party anymore, go with a kinder approach. In this case, design the party around activities or a theme that the guest of honor enjoys. For example if you're throwing a party for your wife and she loves gardening, make that your theme. You could suggest that guests bring little things to help with the garden such as seed packets or fertilizer spikes. 

Ask guests to dress in gardening clothes with big straw hats. Have a local bakery create a cake with a profusion of real or sugar flowers on top. Serve snacks in clay pots (after covering the hole in the bottom with some foil). This would rank high on the list of birthday party ideas for adults that won't cause problems for the party giver.

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