Despite the old saw that the biggest part of success comes from just showing up, a 40th birthday is a milestone worth celebrating well. No matter what kind of party you give, use your centrepiece to make a positive and unique statement about the guest of honour. You can use your table decorations to celebrate the events of his or her lifetime, personal accomplishments or favourite activities. Tell your birthday guest how wonderful and distinctive he or she is and express how glad you are that he or she kept "just showing up."
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Counting by Tens
Whether it's four centrepieces at a head table or arrangements at four guest tables, focus on the decades of your guest's life. Build a pyramid out of foam-core or gift-wrap a box that can be used as a backdrop for photos of your guest, newborn, around age 10, 20 and 30. Provide guests with disposable cameras and develop their pictures for your guest, to start his or her record of the 40s with a flourish.
New Friends, True Friends
If you became acquainted with the birthday guest through college, work, or a shared interest, use that as your decorating motif. Celebrate your shared passion for sports by turning your table into a hockey rink or baseball diamond (your big gift could be tickets). Honour a gardener with a new flower-filled work basket or watering can. Decorate a workbag for a knitter or quilter. Line any container related to a hobby or avocation--a fishing creel, a gym bag, even a paper shopping bag from a beloved but extravagant boutique--with plastic and tissue to support a temporary vase of flowers. Ask your florist about individual flower-holders to turn hard-to-decorate items into centrepieces, or load the container with cards from all your guests and maybe a gift token or two.
Still Kids at Heart
Center your party around what was happening 40 years ago. Day-you-were-born newspaper and magazine services and '70s collectibles sites can get you started. Find or make mix-tapes that include music from the '70s and add current favourites. If you know the birthday guest well, you will probably be able to ferret out a memory from child or teen years that can help with your centrepiece. A Sweet Sixteen party, using memorabilia from the '80s, makes a better past-and-present theme than the tired over-the-hill one flogged by retailers. Make your centrepiece glittery and glam with metallic party favours and streamers and even some light sticks. Choose an '80s teen movie theme for a guy--from Ferris Bueller to Back to the Future to Nightmare on Elm Street, your BG's teen years were full of fun movies for teens. Start with a poster from the film, hit the dollar stores, and check out model sites for miniatures to add to your centrepiece. Or make your centrepiece out of bags of popcorn and packets of candy, for guests to munch while watching a rerun of your theme picture.
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