Wedding

Unique 40th Anniversary Party Ideas and Tips

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2018

Celebrate 40 years of life and love with your partner by hosting an unforgettable 40th anniversary party. 40 years of a marriage is a major milestone, one that many wish to make it to. Also known as the ruby anniversary, your 40th anniversary should be a joyous occasion filled with family and friends who’ve been apart of your lives over the years. Whether you’re honoring your parents or friends of the honorees, use our simple guide on 40th anniversary party ideas below to get started.

40th anniversary photo invitations

How to Plan a 40th Anniversary Party

While many people look forward to the golden 50th anniversary, don’t underestimate how special a 40th anniversary can be. Whenever a couple has been together for decades, planning an anniversary party is a must. Follow the suggested timeline below on how to plan a 40th anniversary party:

Step 1: Set a date and time. Get your party planning started by setting a date and time for your anniversary party. Be sure to check schedules with the couple and any children or grandchildren if you’re hosting the party for the anniversary couple. You can also choose an alternative date just in case your original date doesn’t check out with your prospective venue.

Step 2: Organize guest list. Before finding a location or purchasing invitations, organize the guest list and come up with an estimate of how many people you’d like to invite. Consider the married couple’s immediate and extended family, along with friends and past co-workers.

Step 3: Find a location. Now that you’ve organized your guest list and have an idea of how many people you want to invite, you can find a location to fit your party size. If you’re hosting under 50 guests, you can consider a smaller venue or host the party at the couple’s home or a friends home. If you’re hosting a party of 50 guests or more, you should consider renting out a venue, hotel ballroom, gallery, or local recreational center. Find more venue ideas using our guide on how to plan an anniversary party.

Step 4: Set a budget for food, drinks, and decorations. After estimating your party count and finding a location, you can set a budget for how much money you need to spend on food and decorations. If you’re hosting a large party, your best option is to hire a catering company to handle the food and drinks so you can spend time planning out other tasks. If you’re hosting a party at home for under 50 people, you can team up with loved ones to cook and prep dishes the day before. If you’re planning on cooking, remember to confirm help from family and friends in advance so you’re not swamped with the party menu. Setting a budget for decorations will depend on the size of the venue or party space, along with how casual or formal your party is.

Step 5: Choose a theme. For the 40th anniversary party, you can stick with tradition by choosing a ruby theme and incorporating shades of ruby across decorations, desserts, and tablescapes. You can also opt for fun themes like recreating the couple’s honeymoon or taking them back in time to their favorite decade. You can also set a dress code such as a ‘Black & White Ball’ or go with the couple’s original wedding colors to guide the theme.

Step 6: Choose anniversary party invitations. After selecting a theme, you can choose 40th anniversary party invitations to coordinate with your theme or color scheme. Be sure to order 10-20 extra invitations just in case you forget to invite a few guests. When it comes to design, always opt for a photo of the couple or two photos that show the couple “then” and “now”. A photo anniversary invitation appears more heartfelt and may even become a keepsake for some of the guests. Lastly, make sure your invitations include any dress code specifics, RSVP info, and the number of years the couple is celebrating (so guests know which number to write in their anniversary cards).

Step 7: Find entertainment. When it comes to entertainment, book a DJ or live band in advance. If there are any popular wedding anniversary songs you want the DJ or band to play, make sure you provide references along with cues in advance. You’ll also want to consider if you want to bring a special guest to perform, if your budget permits. Keep in mind that the special guest doesn’t have to be a celebrity but can also be a friend or family member that sings.

Step 8: Book a photographer. Don’t forget about the photos. Documenting such a special occasion is an important step during the actual celebration. Do your best to meet with a photographer a few weeks in advance and go over your photo checklist so the photographer knows which moments to capture. The photos from the anniversary party will make for the perfect anniversary photo book among family and friends.

then and now anniversary party invitation

Decoration Ideas

Decorations can make your anniversary party come alive with a mix of personalized touches and key party decor. Keep in mind that the type of decorations you buy will be based on how formal your event is. For formal parties, you’ll want to pick out formal tablecloths, table runners, drinkware, place cards, florals, centerpieces, candles, and balloons that coordinate with one another. For casual or less formal parties, you’ll want to consider balloons, garlands, banners, table confetti, paper lanterns, and anything else that will enhance the atmosphere. Whether formal or informal though, be sure to include photos of the honorees throughout the party. You can even go as far to turn a wall area into a fun photo timeline of the anniversary couple.

Food and Drinks

Your food and drink menu will depend on two things: the size of your guest list and the formality of your party. If your guest list is large, you’ll want to allocate more budget to food and drinks so you can make sure there’s enough to go around. If your party is smaller, you can buy food for up to 15 extra guests to account for people who may show up last minute.

You should also evaluate how formal your party is since this will help determine the type of food to buy. If you’re hosting a more casual celebration in your backyard, you may opt for a BBQ party where the food is less expensive. If you’re hosting a formal celebration at a ballroom, you’ll want to consider more formal dishes to match the party’s environment. Whichever route you take, always provide a vegetarian option to make all guests feel comfortable.

When it comes to drinks, you can decide on a full bar or save money by offering three to four custom drinks.  Be sure to include non-alcoholic beverages and provide plenty of water and tea for guests who don’t drink.

Anniversary Party Favors

You can send attendees off with personalized party favors to cherish this anniversary moment. You don’t have to go all out for party favors and there are plenty of ways to stay within your party budget. Consider a candy bar where guests can take bags of personalized candies to go, or custom photo coasters with a timeless picture of the honorees. You can also give guests mini-bottles of champagne with custom gift tags on them, or opt for small personalized candles or tea light holders. Whichever party favor idea you go for, your party favor selections should be small and charming with a bit of sentiment.

Honoring The Anniversary Couple

Honoring the anniversary couple is another important step in adding a sentimental touch to the anniversary celebration. You can have children and grandchildren toast the honorees by giving brief but heartfelt speeches about the couple’s impact. You can also put together a slideshow or video that highlights the anniversary couple over the last 40 years, using a projector. Be sure to include any major milestones in the slideshow and incorporate photos of the couple with some of their children throughout. When it comes to music, have the DJ or live band play the couple’s wedding song so the honorees can experience their first dance all over again.

Planning out 40th anniversary party ideas can seem overwhelming but the time and effort is worth it. At 40 years of marriage, the honorees have made a huge impact on their children, grandchildren, friends, and family. You’ll want to craft a fun and loving atmosphere for everyone to celebrate this incredible milestone.