At Kudoboard, we LOVE a party. We think everything should be celebrated, even if you’re in the camp that gets embarrassed by aging. If Carrie Fisher has taught us anything, it’s that it’s OK for us to age and that we should own it, people! When the 50th birthday rolls around, you should be celebrating how far you’ve come, all the good you’ve done, and everything you’ve been able to enjoy so far.
But the most important thing about your 50th birthday party is that it should be what YOU want. Not everyone wants an enormous party that ends with blowing air onto a cake we’re about to share. Maybe you want something more low-key, or a destination birthday party? Or perhaps you try not to think about 50 at all, and therefore have no ideas about how to mark this momentous occasion.
Today, we’re outlining a variety of ways to make the 50th birthday party special, regardless of how you choose to celebrate. From full-blown ragers to quiet soirees, we’ve got a 50th birthday party idea for everyone. Go ahead and forward this to your spouse or bestie—or take a leaf out of my book and plan your own birthday party. (Don’t knock it till you try it!)
50th Birthday Traditions
It’s helpful to begin with some general 50th birthday party traditions, which can provide some inspiration. In the past, 50 was a much deeper benchmark in the human lifespan than it is today. It was a milestone birthday because, often, it was a bit “downhill” from there. Thankfully, we live in a time where people can reach 50 and still have a lot of life ahead of them—good life. So instead of just a congratulatory achievement, 50 can now be a celebration and recommitment to life.
What is the color for a 50th birthday celebration?
Gold is the traditional color for the 50th birthday. It is symbolic of timelessness, value, and beauty. By 50, most people have reached a level of certainty and stability, possibly even wealth, which is signified by the richness of gold.
Gold party decorations make for a luxe birthday theme and experience. Gold also pairs nicely with almost any other color, so it can be used to accent your guest of honor’s favorite colors.
What is a traditional 50th birthday gift?
Not only does gold make a great color for your party theme, it is also a great inspiration for 50th birthday gifts (check out our 50th Birthday Gift Guide here). For women, gold jewelry is a common choice, as are gold watches and cufflinks for men.
In addition to gold gifts, it is traditional for people to mark the passage of time and the life ahead of them for the 50th birthday. Traditional 50th birthday gifts could include scrapbooks, photobooks, nostalgic gifts, or shadow boxes displaying sentimental items and memories. Looking forward, a great 50th birthday gift might help them create a bucket list or scratch off an item on the bucket list they’ve already created.
It’s a thoughtful and heartfelt way to show a loved one how much they’re cared about and appreciated! Learn more
Fun 50th Birthday Party Ideas
Anyone can throw a pizza-and-cake birthday party or set a restaurant reservation. Fifty years should call for something unique. Cooking classes are an excellent way to develop new skills, enjoy something fun with friends, and eat delicious food as your party favor. You may find cooking classes at a culinary school or supply store, boutique grocery stores, on sites like Groupon, or even individual instructors who can come to you. Consider specific types of cooking (or baking) that you’d enjoy and narrow your focus, such as cookie decoration, cake decorating, BBQ, or appetizers.
A Birthday Brunch is a perfect way to celebrate if you crave those intimate conversations with your closest friends. It's the top dog of adult birthday party ideas. Brunch is the best bougie development of the 21st century, and I think we’ve all been blessed. Create a guest list of friends (I recommend no more than 6-8 so it can stay intimate), and then figure out the best way to brunch. Get a reservation for a birthday brunch at the fancy new restaurant downtown, or have a potluck brunch at someone’s home or a beautiful outdoor setting (weather permitting).
Have you ever attended a tasting? I promise you’ll feel at least 50% fancier after you do one, and then you can flex on everyone the next time you go out to eat by calling the olive oil “earthy” or the wine “grounded,” or whatever. A tasting is such a fun way to try something new and take your birthday beyond just a dinner or party. Wine tastings are popular, but think outside the box. I’ve done a chocolate tasting and an olive oil tasting with my girlfriends, and I think about them all the time. Cheese is another common choice, and I’ve even seen a hot sauce tasting event! Fancy restaurants will often have a special tasting menu that’s perfect for a 50th birthday occasion.
Men, don’t scroll past this. It’s fun for you, too! High Tea is the perfect excuse to dress up a little, try some artisan teas, and try a variety of sandwiches and pastries. Who doesn’t love pastries?!!! Check the fanciest hotels or restaurants in your area to find one that hosts a high tea, and book a table for your crew. You can also recreate a high tea at home where you make or buy the sandwiches and pastries yourself.
You’ve made 50 trips around the sun—you deserve some relaxation. Many spas have packages for groups, or can easily put one together for your 50th birthday with a simple request. Get a massage, unwind in a sauna, get a facial, mani/pedis, and more. You can also set up a spa-like experience at your house or a friend’s with a quick trip to the grocery store (cucumbers, incense, a massage gun, moisturizing lotion, manicure supplies, and a steamer). By yourself or with a group, it’s the perfect way to celebrate your 50th birthday in a more low-key way.
Painting and pottery classes have grown in popularity (especially the ones that include a bottle of wine). Not only do you get to learn some new skills with your friends, you also get to take something home. I mean, mine would be so embarrassing I’d have to display it as a joke, but that’s part of the fun! You might also consider specialty classes like flower arranging, glass blowing, jewelry making, etc.
Does your birthday boy love to get out on the water? Find a speedboat or wave runners to rent for the day, or commission a sailboat for a day of leisurely sailing. A sunset sail is a gorgeous way to celebrate a birthday, or perhaps the best birthday gift would be a fish they caught deep-sea fishing.
Traditional parties tend to be very commercial, and indoor. That just doesn’t fit the style of many people out there. As Leslie Knope says “Why would I throw Ron Swanson an Ann Perkins party?” Birthday parties should be tailored to the interests and tastes of the guest of honor. If you prefer a more down-to-earth day, spend it in nature. Maybe it’s your favorite hike with a group of friends, picnicking at the top. Perhaps it’s a special or difficult hike that you’ve been wanting to do for ages (the big hiking challenge in my region is to summit a large mountain, starting in the middle of the night so you reach the top for sunrise).
50th Birthday Party Theme
Ok, so you want to have an actual, traditional party for your 50th birthday (shhh… me too). Let’s have some fun with it though! It’s not every day you turn 50, so your party should reflect that with some special style. We’ve got some fun ideas; the challenge will be narrowing it down to one.
Don’t let anyone roll their eyes at you for this. You’re 50—you get to boss people around. I LOVE a fancy party. Reserve a party room at a nice restaurant or event center, or even just your own home. Go sophisticated, or silly (think vintage prom dresses!) to make it a memorable evening.
50 in the 50s
The 50s were a TIME. Diners, sock-hops, Elvis, and Grease. Trust me, this will be the kind of party people will be talking about until 2050, and it will be so much fun. Poodle skirts and root beer floats are much more interesting than a generic bakery cake.
Have you ever attended a murder mystery party? You can go intense, assigning characters and storylines beforehand so your attendees can dress accordingly. Or you can keep it simple, with scripts or boxed props that walk you through the entire story. It’s perfect for the Dateline-loving, podcast-listening birthday boy.
Really, you can do any type of game night, but a casino night is extra fun. Think sequined dresses, custom cocktails, neon lights, and poker chips all around. You can reach out to event companies for a legitimate casino night experience, or buy your own set of chips and poker table top for the DIY setup.
I LOVE Favorite Things parties, and it’s such a fun way to have a birthday party without all of the focus landing on you. You can decide how to do it: food-themed, beauty-product-themed, favorite books, etc. Everyone comes with their favorite thing to exchange, and they go home with something. A birthday party where EVERYONE gets a gift? Genius.
Ways to Celebrate a 50th Birthday Virtually
Even before the pandemic, it was hard to get everyone you loved in one room for a special event. Now, it seems nearly impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with a virtual birthday party.
Here are a few ways you can celebrate a 50th birthday, no matter where your loved ones may be around the globe.
- Zoom Blitz: Set up Zoom calls for your birthday girl with all the people in her life that love her. Quick 15 minute chats with people she hasn’t seen in a while will feel extra meaningful. Create a quick signup sheet for the times she’ll be available and watch people roll in to share their love and birthday wishes.
- Online Birthday Card: Our virtual group birthday cards allow anyone with the link to add photos, gifs, videos, and kind birthday wishes. Once completed, you can print or send the birthday card virtually to the recipient (they can keep it forever!).
- Virtual Game Night: Thanks to the pandemic, there are now hundreds of online game portals where you can log in with friends, see their faces, laugh, and chat as you play fun games together.
- Crowdfund a Gift: Set up a group fund or gift card where everyone can contribute, then make sure your birthday person spends it on something purely fun and selfish.
Make it a Fun Fifty
After all this research, I’m already planning my 50th birthday party. It’ll have to be several days long because too many of these are too good to pass up. Whether your mom wants to completely ignore her birthday, or your work bestie wants to have a three-day-rager… we hope this has given you some good ideas for marking the very special 50th birthday for the people you love.