Whether you love celebrating your birthday every year or you dread the thought of turning another year older, birthdays are one of those rare opportunities to gather your friends and family in one place and celebrate. And let's face it, you should be doing something fun for every milestone you hit, because what better excuse is there to get all of your favorite people in one room and reminisce about the past year or more you’ve spent together?
When you were a kid, it was so easy to pick a favorite theme or place to host your party, but as an adult, it can be trickier. As we got older, the themes tended to dwindle and it became “Meet me at that bar we love!” or “Let’s just all do dinner.” And even if it’s not a particularly special year—aka one of the “big ones”—there’s nothing wrong going all out for an adult birthday party.
All out of ideas? Make every year a milestone year with these 35 adult birthday party ideas.
Host a Game Night
Have everyone come in their favorite pajamas or athleisure and bring their go-to board game from way back when, like Dream Phone or Guess Who? And for an extra dose of nostalgia, have goody bags for the winners.
Do a Spa Day
Indulge in DIY facials (or sheet masks), massage trains, and at-home mani/pedis while watching a movie marathon. If you want to go the extra step, host the party at a spa instead, so you don't have to worry about getting anything set up.
Have a Cake Swap
Is it worth getting a year older without the frosting and candles? We think not. Ask each guest to forgo gifts and bring their favorite cake instead. We can't think of a better way to celebrate your day than indulging in multiple sweet treats.
Cook the Night Away
Let's face it: everyone loves a dinner party. If you don't want to ask everyone to bring their own food, create a menu of your favorite homemade meals, and then cook them for your big day. Whatever you do, don't forget cake!
Have DIY Wine Tasting
We love a glass of vino and learning a little something. Savvy wine clubs like Winc offer a wine tasting 101 kit that is perfect for parties and digging into the nuances of your favorite bottle. Not interested in signing up for a service? Just have your friends bring their favorite bottles and go from there.
Host a Film Screening
Rent out a theater at your local cineplex and ask them to play your favorite movie. Hand out the popcorn, candy, slushies, etc., as snacks. (PS: You can also do something similar at your own place for way cheaper.)
Host a Mixology Party
Hire a mixologist (try a local catering company or reach out to your favorite restaurant) to craft custom drinks for your friends all night long based on their favorite ingredients. Serve up some happy hour snacks along with the drinks and create a killer playlist. It's like having your party at a bar, but way better.
Opt for a Classy Affair
We’re talking suits and stilettos, jazz in the background, and plenty of hors d’oeuvres. Champagne toast optional (though we think you should go for it). Host at home or at your favorite neighborhood speakeasy.
Have a Wine and Cheese Night
Research the perfect pairings for wine and cheese, or wine and anything really, on a site like Wine Folly. If you want to go all out, offer wine flights to your guests. In lieu of birthday gifts, ask everyone to bring their favorite bottle instead.
When curating your cheeseboard, first mix flavors and textures (like brie, gruyere, and bleu), then add some cured meats, a touch of produce, followed by nuts, seeds, and crackers, and finish it all off with dips and fresh herbs.
Try an Urban Winery
Instead of staying in, head to the city for a wine tasting. Increasingly, the urban winery trend is making it more convenient for urbanites to get the vineyard experience without having to travel out of town. Plus many wineries offer great menus. Call ahead to reserve a birthday cake and plenty of seats for your party.
Create Your Own Bar Crawl
Choose your favorite cocktail or craft brew, whether it be mezcal margaritas or tiki drinks. Then, decide on a fun neighborhood and map out a walkable or ride-share route to various breweries or bars that serve the best of your chosen tipple.
Play Hostess at Your Favorite Store
Some boutiques will actually let you throw your birthday soirée on-site (as long as some guests purchase things, of course). Do you love shoes? Ask to have your fête right in the footwear department.
Get Dolled up at Your Place
Tell your friends to wear their favorite party outfits, and then call an at-home beauty concierge service like Blo, Dry Bar, or Glam Squad to come do hair and makeup. If you decide to go out, great—if not, no worries. Just make sure to snap some photos for posterity... and Instagram.
Have a Jewelry Making Party
Craft custom pieces together and take them home. We’re partial to Kendra Scott’s Color Bar (which has retail locations in some states). Customize everything from metal type to stone color for one-of-a-kind pieces for each of your guests.
Spring for High Tea
Find one at luxury hotels or your local tea room and channel the U.K. tradition, complete with cucumber sandwiches and bite-sized sweet treats. To make it feel more like a celebration, opt for champagne with your tea.
Host a DIY Night
You could choose any theme, but we personally love those home décor DIYs that aren't too challenging to make and everyone goes home with something for their space—like IKEA hacks. You'll have fun and get something new for your home in the process. We'll call that a win-win.
Take Over the Local Rollerskating Rink
Take a cue from the 70's and host a disco party at the local roller rink, even if you've never roller skated before. You can wear chic retro gear and knee socks while rolling away to the fun and funky tunes.
Take a trip with your friends to your favorite vintage or thrift store before the party to pick out your perfect outfit.
Throw a Great Gatsby Party
Celebrate your love of The Great Gatsby and get out those flapper dresses or old-school suits, and learn how to do the Charleston together during a Roaring Twenties-themed celebration. Or pick your favorite decade as a theme. Personally, we're partial to a '80s or '90s theme.
Throw a Margarita/Margherita Party
Most parties are all about the food, and this one is no exception. Make homemade margherita pizzas together and blend margaritas (alcoholic or not). Your guests will love the laidback vibe.
Host a Murder Mystery Soirée
Assign each guest a character to dress up as ahead of time; we’re partial to those pre-planned by Night of Mystery because they do all of the work for you. Simply download everything you need in advance and you're ready to host an unforgettable night.
Plan an Active Day
Choose your favorite way to move and round up your guests. Whether it's the bowling alley, swimming, rock climbing, or a group dance or trapeze class, there is a recreational activity out there for everyone.
Create a Destination Celebration
Pick your favorite travel experience and recreate it at home. For example, reimagine your vacation in Capri by playing Italian music, eating Italian food, and sipping on classic Italian drinks like Negronis. La vita è bella!
Use a Letter as Your Theme
We recommend using the letter of your first name and have everyone come dressed up as something that begins with that. To really commit to the theme, only serve food that begins with that letter as well. M is for milkshakes and marshmallows!
Throw a Coachella-Themed Bash
We’re thinking a flower crown–making station, flash tats, and inflatable floats for days. A killer dance playlist won’t hurt, either. Bonus points if you only play music from past and present Coachella headliners.
Host a Barbecue
Go casual with a grill and refreshing beverages while your best pals lounge in the backyard, the beach, or your favorite park. Don't forget s'mores and plenty of outdoor pillows and blankets for a comfy setup.
Have a Luau
This one's for our summer birthdays! Greet guests with homemade flower leis, whip up some cocktails in pineapples, and set up your own tiki bar. Bonus points if you throw this one on the beach.
Do a Tarot Reading
With the universe as guide, hire a tarot reader to guide your group through a collective reading and pay special attention to what the reading invites you to consider. Or, host your own tarot reading.
Take a Trip
Really feeling adventurous? Gather a few of your pals and take a road trip to a new locale. Whether it's a destination nearby that you've never gotten a chance to visit or a more luxurious trip, everyone loves an excuse for a vacation.
Throw a Massive Picnic
All you need is a bunch of blankets and your favorite people. Head to the park and ask everyone to pack their own lunch and snacks beforehand. Don't forget the portable Bluetooth speaker and sunscreen.
If there's a cause you're passionate about, ask your inner circle to spend the afternoon volunteering for your favorite organization. You can also request that any funds intended for your birthday present instead be donated to the organization.
Have a Self Care Day
Treat yourself and your friends to a full day of wellness. Whether that means getting in touch with your spirituality via a psychic, trying crystal healing, or DIYing sugar scrubs, it's totally up to you.
Belt It Out at a Karaoke Night
This is fun at home or at a local karaoke bar, and nothing beats belting out your favorite tunes with friends. To bring out everyone's competitive side, have a prize for the winner. You can also give out awards for "Best Cover" and "Best Britney Spears Impersonator."
Throw a Sleepover
You probably haven't had one since high school, so take it way back with a classic slumber party. Do face masks, eat junk food, catch up on celebrity gossip, and watch your favorite films from your youth.
Host a Dinner Party
If you aren't one to make a big deal about your birthday, we get it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate at all. Instead, throw a simple dinner party with a few of your closest friends. If you don't feel like cooking, order in from your favorite takeout spot.
Grab the glue guns, craft paper, rhinestones, and scissors. Have a craft night with your best friends and make homemade paintings, origami, or even bedazzle your clothing and accessories, just like you did in the '90s.