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The Best 50th Birthday Party Ideas for a Major Celebration

From cheese tasting to booze cruises, there's no shortage of fun ways to mark this milestone.

You only turn 50 once, so why not make it a day to remember? And tailor it to your interests, because you're done doing what anyone else wants you to do. You also don't embarrass easily, either, so you've probably got no problem leaning into the cheesiest, most outlandish party possible. After all, you're 50! That doesn't mean, however, that you have your party plan set for your milestone birthday. So if you're in need of inspiration on how to mark half a century of living, read on. We've outlined some amazing 50th birthday party ideas to help you ring in the big day.

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Food-Centric 50th Birthday Party Ideas

Close up of friends toasting their drinks over a table

1. Organize a cheese tasting and fondue party. 

Almost everyone loves cheese. Seriously—nearly 100 percent of Americans report eating it. So why not make it the center of your birthday bash? Decide on the varieties you want to serve, and organize them in a way that's aesthetic and accessible.

If you want to be even more indulgent, then load up on the Gruyére and grab a fondue pot set and some skewers. That way, you won't just be celebrating your birthday, you'll also be paying homage to a centuries-old tradition.

2. Enjoy a catered dinner party. 

You don't have to put in too much effort to create a lavish experience. You can even do so from the comfort of your home. To execute this idea, contact a local caterer or restaurant to put together a Michelin-quality meal for you and your closest friends. Then you can enjoy a relaxing evening, complete with incredible high-quality dishes and some fine wine—and no cooking for the host.

3. Take a cooking class.

If you're looking for a fun and engaging activity to bring structure to your birthday celebration, then think about taking a cooking class. (And you can always look into online options, should your friends be scattered in different areas.) There are countless classes to choose from, from those specializing in international cuisines to courses focused on particular cooking techniques. You can use what you learn to create multi-course menus for future getogethers!

4. Create the ultimate baked potato bar. 

This might be the most unique birthday party idea on our list. But a custom baked potato bar will make for an absolutely unforgettable occasion—and it's a theme gaining in popularity. Fortunately, the main ingredient is both affordable and easy to prepare. Make a hefty variety of toppings (like bacon, sour cream, and cheese) available to your guests, and you'll have one satisfied group.

5. Go on a food tour. 

A food tour is a great idea for any group that wants to enjoy some delicious fare but also wants to do something active. Contact a local food expert to take you to different spots around town, so you can trying everything from local specialties to international dishes. You can even incorporate wine tasting into the itinerary to liven the tour up a bit.

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Outdoor-Centric 50th Birthday Party Ideas

Figure 50 candles with fire on the green grass

6. Go glamping with friends. 

Why not spend the entire weekend celebrating your birthday? Find a local glamping spot or choose somewhere more picturesque and further away if you want to turn this into a road trip adventure. With sites that offer cabins and tents with all the amenities a modern, mostly indoor person needs, you can enjoy the experience of camping without actually having to rough it.

7. Go for a group hike.

Exercise junkies: This one's for you. Get a few friends together and get yourselves to a local hiking spot. (And don't forget to pack some food and drinks for you to enjoy once you reach your destination. That way, you can celebrate your birthday feeling invigorated from the exercise and enjoying an amazing view.

8. End the night with fancy fireworks. 

Fireworks displays have become an increasingly popular feature at private events, from weddings and engagements to, yes, birthdays, too. If you have the space and know-how, you can DIY it—but we recommend going with a professional display. Sure, it's a little more costly, but as always: Safety first.

9. Host a game day in the park. 

Celebrate your big day with outdoor games, and lots of them. To recapture your inner child, grab all the props you need to play classic picnic games, like egg and spoon races, cornhole, sack races, and more. Just be sure to pack a few finger foods for when you need to refuel.

10. Host your own backyard movie night. 

Turn your backyard into an outdoor theater with a projector and a makeshift screen. (A white wall will work well, or you can level up and purchase a screen for future movie nights. Showing a movie or two (maybe some nostalgic ones from your teen and young adult years?) is a great way of leveling up the backyard barbecue. There are plenty of DIY guides to help you set up your own movie palace.

11. Go on a birthday booze cruise. 

Take to the high seas! Or as far as those happy hour party boats will take you, at least. Let a company handle all the details by booking a birthday booze cruise, some of which come with live bands, an open bar, and lots of finger foods. Figure out your budget beforehand and see how many amenities you can afford.

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Themed 50th Birthday Ideas

Disco balls in dark

12. Throw a "golden milestone" party.

A 50th birthday party can incorporate all things gold to represent the wisdom, prosperity, and strength you've developed in your 50 years. Take that theme as literally as you want. Decorate your venue with gold plates, gold balloons, gold crepe paper, and any other accessory you can think of. You can also get creative with the cake.

13. Host a '50s rockstar event.

We may not have been around during the '50s but that won't stop us from celebrating the era. Party stores adore this theme, selling everything from life-size jukebox cutouts to diner backdrops and more. Make sure your guests know to come dressed as bobby-soxers and greaser guys, and you may also want to rent a photo booth for this one. That way, you'll have a record of who took the theme seriously and who didn't.

14. Party on with a disco dance party. 

Tacky disco balls? Check? Roller skates? Check. A glittering dance floor where you can boogie all night long? Check, check, check. And instruct your friends to get decked out for the occasion—we're talking sequins, wigs, and bell bottoms galore.

15. Host a casino night.

OK, so maybe you don't have bell bottoms on hand. But surely you have some cocktail party attire you can wear to a slightly fancier affair. While a casino-themed birthday party doesn't call for quite as many themed items as some other ideas on this list, it still requires some planning. We suggest hiring a real dealer so that the burden doesn't all fall on you. Secure the gaming equipment before your guests arrive and stick to classic casino games like blackjack and poker during the party.

16. Host a murder mystery party.

Have some true-crime-obsessed friends or rabid thriller readers in your group? Throw a murder mystery party. It works like this: Each guest receives an invitation packed with detailed information about their role for the night. Everyone will know they're expected to arrive dressed in costume and ready to stay in character—but they won't all know who the killer is. All the play-acting and intrigue will make for an evening none of you will forget.

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50th Birthday Ideas That Get You Out of the House

four female friends celebrating at a spa

17. Attend a comedy club.

Why stress about arranging entertainment when your local comedy club can do the work for you? Besides, taking in some comedy is a great way to bond with a group of people who may not know each other very well. Studies have shown that shared laughter can improve group dynamics by making people more relaxed and even eliminating awkward silences.

18. Get out of an escape room.

If the person you're celebrating happens to enjoy a challenge, then this is definitely an idea to flag. There are plenty of places that also have party room rentals available so that you have a place to unwind and eat cake after the adventure is over.

19. Relax with a spa day.

Thinking about booking a facial, or a hot stone massage? Or maybe you're eying another trendy new spa treatment? Your birthday is a great excuse to indulge. But do a little research before you book: Some spas offer discount packages, while others can provide champagne, treats, or small appetizers for you and your guests.

20. Check something off the bucket list. 

Everyone has their own bucket list items, so how this type of celebration will go will depend on what you've been dreaming about. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities in all parts of the country, including bungee jumping, parachuting, horseback riding, and much more.

21. Get rowdy at the rodeo. 

OK, so a rodeo party may not be as widely accessible as some of the other destinations listed here. But they're more prevalent than you might assume. It isn't just in Texas that you can find a good rodeo show. They also take place in Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

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Tips for Throwing a 50th Birthday Party

man giving a toast at a friend's 50th birthday party

1. Make sure there is food, drinks, and plenty of birthday cake.

Make sure there's food present any time you get a group of people together—especially if you're also planning on serving alcohol. Not only will this help your guests feel healthy and energized throughout the night, but it's also a way to inject some creativity into the party. Just be sure to take any and all dietary restrictions into account before finalizing your menu.

2. Plan for speeches.

Even if you don't like being the center of attention, it's a nice idea to allow room for someone to give a toast. After all, it's a big birthday, and your friends and family are eager to celebrate it with you. If they want to say something in your honor, let them.

3. Provide comfortable accommodations.

Being 50 doesn't make you over-the-hill, but it isn't always easy on the knees. Make sure there is plenty of seating at your event, so that your guests are comfortable. This is especially important if you're planning on inviting older friends and family members.

4. Send guests home with party favors.

Sure, you've already made it a day they'll always remember, but who doesn't like leaving a party with something in hand? You don't need to break the bank, either. We're talking about personalized candies, bottle openers, keychains, and other small gifts.

50th Birthday Gift Ideas

Hot air balloon over the field with blue sky
Business stock/Shutterstock

1. Create a custom newspaper.

You don't need to spend a lot of money to give the perfect birthday gift. In fact, taking a DIY approach can lead to something more memorable than an expensive item. Find a service online that will print create a custom newspaper in honor of your friend or family member. You can include their name, date of birth, and some important information about their life to populate their "year in review."

2. Introduce them to a new skill.

It's never too late to learn something new, so celebrate the guest of honor by introducing them to a new skill. Consider activities you can experience together, like a cooking class, wine tasting, or even an art class.

3. Bring them somewhere special.

Providing an opportunity to create new memories together easily tops any material item. So plan to do something special, just the two of you, such as trying out a new restaurant, rocking out at a fun concert, or taking a weekend getaway.

Wrapping Up

That's it for our list of 50th birthday ideas, but be sure to check back in with us soon! You can also sign up for our newsletter to enjoy similar kinds of content, as well as the latest in wellness, entertainment, and travel.

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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