Birthdays are like seasons—some are welcomed with open arms, and others may take a little warming up to. But really and truly, 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 years) you’ve spent together?
When you were a kid, it was so easy to pick a favorite theme or place to host your party. There was the dance studio party, the circus theme party, the Discovery Zone party (does anyone else remember jumping into those massive piles of rainbow-colored plastic balls?). 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.
Elevate your celebration by sending invitiations, dressing up, even throwing confetti.
Taking some cues from the little ones, we’ve rounded up 35 totally awesome adult birthday party ideas to celebrate another year. Scroll through, take your pick, and then get planning!
THE FRIENDS' NIGHT IN
1. Get into board-game bliss. Have everyone come in their pj's and bring their favorite board game from way back when. Dream Phone and Guess Who? are required. And as a throwback, have goody bags for the winners.
2. Host a pampering party. Indulge in DIY facials (or sheet masks), massage trains, and at-home mani/pedis while watching a movie marathon.
3. Have a cake swap. Is it worth getting a year older without the frosting and candles? We think not. Ask each guest to forego gifts and bring their favorite cake—and then taste them all. (Side note: This may be our favorite adult birthday party idea ever.)
4. Cook the night away. If you don't want to ask everyone to bring their own food, create a menu of your favorite homemade meals, and then cook it all together.
5. Host a wine tasting. We all have so many questions about wine from the grape variety to the flavor and wouldn't you just love to be an expert? Well, Winc has a new wine-tasting 101 kit that is perfect for parties and everyone will leave as sommeliers in the making.
6. Have a movie night. You could even theme it and watch romantic movies all night or 90s favorites.
7. Host a casino night at home. You could even hire someone to be the card dealer and use pennies for gambling or fake money.
THE COCKTAIL PARTY
1. Host a mixology party. Hire a professional mixologist to craft custom drinks for your friends all night long based on their favorite ingredients. It’ll be just like going to your local speakeasy.
2. Opt for a classy affair. We’re talking suits and stilettos, jazz in the background, and plenty of hors d’oeuvres. Do a champagne toast to thank your guests.
3. Have a wine and cheese night. Research the perfect pairings of cheddar, cabernet, and so forth. If you want to go all out, offer wine flights to your guests.
4. Go wine tasting at a local vineyard or plan a weekend getaway to the wine country.
5. Have a themed cocktail night indoors. Everyone can bring a bottle of liquor. I would choose tequila or mezcal and make new versions of margaritas all night.
6. Mix up drinks from a specific era. You could choose the prohibition era or the ’70s, either way, this is a fun way to enjoy a variety of drinks you've never tried before. And you could even dress up!
THE DRESS-UP PARTY
1. 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.
2. Get dolled up at your place. Tell your friends to wear their favorite party dresses, and then call an at-home beauty concierge service like Vênsette to come do hair and makeup. If you decide to go out, great—if not, who cares? It’s all about getting ready together.
3. Have a jewelry-making party where you craft custom pieces together—and take them home. We’re partial to Kendra Scott’s Color Bar (which has retail locations in some states). If you’re not near one, don’t fear: You can still host a Color Bar party with a few tablets and wine at your place. Your guests can literally customize everything from metal type to stone color and much more online.
4. Dress for high tea, and then head to a local tea café to sip your favorite kind and munch on cookies.
5. Host a DIY night. You could choose any theme but we personally love those DIYs that aren't too challenging to make and everyone goes home with something for their house—these IKEA hacks could be fun.
6. Host a ’70s disco party at the local rollerskating rink. You can wear chic gear and high-knee socks while rolling away to the funky tunes of the decade.
THE THEMED PARTY
1. Throw a Great Gatsby–themed party. Get out those flapper dresses or old-school suits, and learn how to do the Charleston together. Or pick your favorite decade as a theme.
2. Have a margarita and margarita party. Most parties are all about the food, and this one is no exception. Make homemade margarita pizzas together—and blend margaritas (alcoholic or not). The dress code? Something with drawstrings.
3. Plan a murder mystery soirée. Each guest is assigned a character to dress up as ahead of time; we’re partial to those pre-planned by Night of Mystery. Simply download everything you need in advance and you're good to go. Hollywood, the rodeo, and royal mysteries are all theme options!
4. Pick a sport to plan the day around, from attire to baked goods. You could head to the bowling alley, beach volleyball court, rock climb, take a group dance class or even learn how to trapeze.
5. Theme it around your favorite destination. You could go to Italy (in your own home) and have everyone dress up as their favorite Italian celebrity or musician, while you play Italian music, eat Italian food, and sip on classic Italian drinks like Negronis.
6. 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.
THE POOL PARTY
1. Put on a Coachella-themed bash. We’re thinking a flower crown–making station, flash tats, and inflatable floats for days (our favorites are from Sunnylife). A killer playlist won’t hurt, either.
2. Throw a barbecue. Beer, burgers, and hot dogs (and some veggie kebobs!). Guests can take a dip whenever they so please, but the food is the star of the show here.
3. Have a luau. This is the time to greet guests with homemade flower leis, craft cocktails in pineapples, and set up your own tiki bar.
4. Plan a mock Olympics tournament. Assign everyone to different countries, and then put fun twists (inside jokes are welcome) on each of the water-based challenges.
5. Have a swan float party. Fill your pool with all the cool swan floats (and various others you love). You arrange your guests into teams and have a pool war. The winners get to take theirs home.
THE OUT-OF-THE-BOX PARTY
1. 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.)
2. Have a star-gazing party. Ask everyone to meet outside under the stars and pick out their favorite constellations. Guest favors? Name a star after each of your friends.
3. Throw a massive picnic. All you need is a bunch of blankets and your favorite people. Head to the park—ask everyone to pack their own lunch and snacks beforehand. Listen to some tunes and enjoy the sunshine.
4. Treat yourself and your closest friends to a day of self-care experiences. Whether that means getting in touch with your spirituality with a psychic, trying crystal healing, or taking mud baths together is up to you.
5. Have the ultimate cheeseboard party. Make the longest ever cheeseboard with everything you could possibly want on it and cheese varieties from all over the world.
6. Have a karaoke night. This is fun at home or at a local karaoke bar, but nothing beats belting out your favorite tunes with friends.
Up Next: 20 Fun Things to Do at a Party When You're Bored of the Same Old Bar Routine.
This post was originally published on February 24, 2018, and has since been updated.