Menu Ideas for 40th Birthday Party

Updated April 17, 2017

A 40th birthday party, also known as an "over-the-hill" party, can be a lot of fun. The decorations are easy -- tombstones, black balloons and geriatric devices -- but the menu can be a challenge. What should an over-the-hill party menu include? You don't necessarily have to use the entrée or dessert to tease the guest of honour. There are lots of menu items that are both kind and appropriate for a 40th birthday party.

Slightly Cruel

If you're determined to have some fun at the expense of the guest of honour, you can add a few crank items to the birthday dinner. Set up a dinner buffet with the cuisine the guest of honour likes best, such as a taco, salad or burger bar, but add a bottle of prune juice, boxes of oatmeal or a blender to "help Steve eat his steak." You could also set out retro-style candies from 40 years ago as candy favours, or, if you're feeling especially mean, you can decorate the birthday cake with sayings like "older than dirt/the hills/the dinosaurs/Methuselah."

Dinner of Decades

Assemble a four-course birthday dinner offering menu items representing food fads from each of the last four decades, such as ceviche from the '90s, chicken stuffed with goat cheese from the '80s, quiche from the '70s and lemon meringue pie from the '60s. Alternatively, you could choose all the menu items from the decade in which the guest of honour was born.

Wine Course

If the guest of honour is a wine aficionado, why not offer up several 40-year-old vintages as part of the birthday fun? If you go this route, choose the entrée and side items to complement the wines being served, such as fish with white wines, or beef with reds. You might serve a fine dessert wine with the cake, such as a Moscato d'Asti.

The Big 4-0

If your party theme is "The Big 4-0" you might uphold that theme by making the menu items very large. A sample menu might include jumbo shrimp appetizers, quiche or soup served in giant coffee cups and a huge sub sandwich followed by a monster birthday cookie.

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About the Author

Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.