My 40th Birthday Party.

My 40th Birthday Party

My 40th Birthday Party

Monday was my 40th birthday and on Saturday night, I had a big party to celebrate. I had it at my favorite hotel in Charleston (The Dewberry). We did a cocktail hour and then seated dinner, and then afterwards went dancing at The Commodore (the BEST for live music and dancing). It was one of the best nights of my life.

I realize it may seem strange to some to go all out for a birthday party for YOURSELF.

It was incredibly awkward when the venue asked me, “who’s the party for,” and I was like, “it’s for ME!”, but here’s the thing. At 30 I couldn’t have afforded to do this, at 50 I probably won’t want to (maybe I will but I would imagine my 50th birthday probably being fun and extra but a smaller group). You only turn 40 once, and after the past 18, 20 months, it just felt right.

But also: we spend so much time celebrating marriages and babies (which is the best and I have loved celebrating my friends’ milestones over the years) but I also think that there are other wonderful things to celebrate. I think it felt less strange to me as I had a good precedent: I have had to of my close friends turn forty over the past few years. They both threw epic parties for themselves and I remember thinking, “yup I’m absolutely going to do that!!!!!” I think in a way, seeing my friends do that for themselves gave me permission? So just a little moment of seriousness:  not that anyone needs me to give them permission but if you are reading this and you are single and/or without kids, I hope you realize that you are worthy of being celebrated, even if it feels weird throwing the party yourself.

My 40th Birthday Party

The best part of having a big birthday party is being able to bring all of your favorite people together in one room.

In terms of close friends I have probably five smaller individual friend groups, plus my family. It was really fun having everyone mix and mingle. That was the best part of the night for me although I will tell you: leading up to the party, that was the part I was most nervous about… just wanting to make sure everyone got along and had a fun night!

The Roaring Twenties theme was a play on what I hope will happen when the pandemic is fully behind us…  after lockdown and sweatpant life I think we all are excited about drinking champagne and wearing glittery things and getting dressed up again. I’ll also mention that my friend group loves a theme. I didn’t want to pressure anyone (my sister hates theme parties, I love them) but I was so happy everyone got dolled up. It was so much fun seeing what everyone wore! I personally ended up getting my whole outfit from Etsy. This dress, this headband, and this ostrich feather shawl.

My 40th Birthday Party My 40th Birthday Party My 40th Birthday Party theme Roaring twenties theme My 40th Birthday Party My 40th Birthday Party Grace Atwood 40th Birthday Party 40th Birthday Party tabletop Roaring Twenties party theme Roaring Twenties party theme Roaring Twenties party dress code Roaring Twenties dress code Roaring Twenties dress code My 40th Birthday Party Hotel party themes Roaring twenties concept Roaring twenties concept Roaring twenties party concept Roaring twenties outfit ideas Roaring twenties outfit ideas Roaring twenties outfit ideas Roaring twenties outfit theme

I also wanted to shout out the amazing small businesses that helped bring this to life!

  • The Drifter – Courtney is amazing. I am obsessed with everything she did. And I am going to work with her any time I ever throw a party again. She was responsible for this gorgeous tabletop and bringing it all to life.
  • Anna Duncan Photography
  • Bullfish Cookie Company – My friend Molly had these made with Tyrion!

Bullfish Cookie Company

photography by Anna Duncan.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Valerie A DiStefano:

    Bravo for throwing a 40th birthday bash for yourself. I love the cat cookies! Have a lovely birthday week.

    10.4.21 Reply
  2. Colleen:

    what a fabulous, fabulous event. it looks wonderful. happy birthday and good for you for celebrating you in such style.

    10.4.21 Reply
  3. Jessica Camerata:

    This is the way to do it!!! I absolutely HATE a theme, but I think the roaring 20s is the one theme that even the biggest hater can get behind. It’s just GLAM! So fun. I loved that you did a big bash for the big 4-0. Definitely want to do something like this too in a few years!

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

    10.4.21 Reply
  4. Rachelle:

    you totally inspired me to throw myself a big bash for my 40th.

    10.4.21 Reply
  5. Shana:

    Gorgeous! It looks like an amazing night and a great celebration! I love a great theme and one with a glittery headband is a bonus 🙂

    10.4.21 Reply
  6. Happy (belated) birthday Grace! This party looks incredible & you are so deserving of the celebration. Definitely bookmarking this post for a future birthday or other celebration for myself!

    10.4.21 Reply
  7. Olivia:

    This looks like it was such a fun party — thanks for sharing!

    10.4.21 Reply
  8. Jess:

    So proud of you, Grace! I just got married and it’s silly to me that a wedding is one of the few times in your life you get to be surrounded by all of your friends and family.

    And by the way, I may have had a wedding recently but I am definitely planning to celebrate my 40th with a trip or a party!!! Both my married and unmarried friends have had awesome 40th birthday parties and we’ve postponed a few due to Covid and need to reschedule (unmarried friend wants birthday bash in Greece, married friend with 2 kids wants a kid-free 40th in Cuba or Turks & Caicos).

    Thank you for normalizing celebrating milestones other than simply weddings and kids. Loved my wedding but there are so many other things to celebrate in life, too. If anything my wedding taught me to celebrate more milestones. Why did I wait so long!?

    10.4.21 Reply
  9. Happy Happy 40th!!! What a stunning celebration!

    10.4.21 Reply
  10. M.:

    Happy birthday! This looks like an amazing night.

    I recently threw myself a wedding, which of course no one blinked an eye at, and I would LOVE to see the concept of throwing yourself a huge fancy party (for non wedding reasons) normalized. The best part was just having all the people I loved together in one place. It was an amazing feeling. Why put that off until you’re ready to get married?!

    I think time of life changes the party dynamics so much (remember those first friend weddings where everyone would be sloshed and hooking up on the dance floor? What a time.) and 30s/40s is such a great time where we’re young enough to enjoy dressing up and dancing late into the night but established enough to afford a beautiful venue, dress, etc. and have friends from many areas (not just high school and college) that you’d enjoy bringing together.

    It’s been a long few years. What a perfect time to find things to celebrate!

    10.4.21 Reply
  11. Lauren:

    “we spend so much time celebrating marriages and babies (which is the best and I have loved celebrating my friends’ milestones over the years) but I also think that there are other wonderful things to celebrate. ”

    In the best way, this point, and your incredible party, remind me of the Sex and The City episode where Carrie registers at Manolo Blahnik, in recognition of her just-announced marriage to herself.

    Happy birthday, Grace! Your party looked beyond fantastic.

    10.4.21 Reply
  12. mary:

    What a beautiful party. You will look back years from now and be so glad you did this for yourself and for your friends and family. Happy 40th and welcome to the club.

    10.4.21 Reply
  13. Grace, you deserve ALL the celebration! What a wonderful party. I admire your confidence and happiness to do all of this just for you. You have an amazing decade ahead of you!

    10.4.21 Reply
  14. Cy:

    I love this! I love of theme! Modern fashion doesn’t have the glamour of some of the past decades. It fun to do something different. Everyone looks great and the table and the cookies are fabulous. Yes throw yourself a party! Why not? It shouldn’t just be about weddings and baby showers ( though I love those too). We could all use a little glamour and fun now. I was more freaked out about Turing 40, than I was about turning 50. I had a gorgeous party at a resort in Sausalito ( no dancing though, boo)Cheers to you Grace!

    10.4.21 Reply
  15. Jean:

    Even though I have a husband and kids, I will still be planning my own 40th birthday party this year! You’ve further inspired me. I actually think it’s even more meaningful receiving an invitation from the guest-of-honor herself. (And I agree, I’ve attended a few self-thrown 40th birthdays in the last couple years and they’ve been the best ever.)

    10.4.21 Reply
  16. Elizabeth:

    Happy belated birthday! As a single woman in her late 30s with no kids, I cannot say enough how much I love this! I too have immensely enjoyed celebrating my friends’ marriages and babies, but it’s not as though I’ve never had a life event I felt was worth celebrating, so why not go all out on a milestone birthday?! I’m thrilled to read all of the fun details and am so happy you ran with it. For the ladies out there who have had weddings and babies, make sure you show a little extra love to your friends on their other milestones (birthdays, promotions, home ownership, marathons, so many other things!).

    10.4.21 Reply
  17. LCL:

    I turned 40 in 2019 after kicking cancer’s a**. I rented a house if my favorite place in the world and invited my friends + mom and sisters to come celebrate for a long weekend. I hired a private chef for a big dinner and everyone that was invited came. It wasn’t just about me – it was a way to love those who have held me so close and supported me after a long year. I was determined to start 40 with joy. Best decision I ever made and best money I ever met. We should all feel like we can treat ourselves!

    10.4.21 Reply
  18. Rebecca:

    Um, so if someone is married and has a child would it still be acceptable to throw yourself a fabulous party? Asking for a friend 🙂 love this idea, thank you for sharing. Happy birthday and 40 is amazing!

    10.4.21 Reply
  19. Jessica:

    Hell yeah! I felt like I put myself out there by planning a gathering for my 35th but you inspired me- I’m going to do something bigger for my 40th!

    10.4.21 Reply
  20. Susan in Canada:

    What a great event to celebrate your extra special day! Welcome to the 40 club, it’s a fantastic decade 🙂 How much fun for you & your friends and family. Your outfit was fabulous, you looked absolutely stunning!

    10.4.21 Reply
  21. Cynthia:

    Looks like an amazing party! Happy birthday

    10.4.21 Reply
  22. i totally agree with you on celebrating big (and little) moments whether or not you’re single, married, with or without kids. this looks so, so fun and you can see the joy on your face and everyone else’s!

    10.4.21 Reply
  23. Lynn:

    Each time I look at this I feel a warm glow inside for you and your happiness that night and always . Life is very fleeting and we just never know what it’s going to throw at us and I’ve experienced it all. To be 40, pretty again in that outside sense would be wonderful, but I can’t go back. Enjoy every second . It goes by in a blink . Tomorrow is my Birthday . I’ll be sitting with my kitten and caring for my husband with a book you recommended . I’ll find moments in the day that do make me happy . I can feel how great this party was . I’m so glad you got to do this after the worst 2 years ever. Out of subject , see Bloom the series on Hulu. It’s got it all like the thriller books we like . And the book I got is goodnight Beautiful ! Happy Birthday Grace❤️

    10.5.21 Reply
  24. Wow!!! This party looks absolutely delightful and you’re a beautiful birthday girl. Glad you were able to make it so special. <3

    xo – Kelly

    10.5.21 Reply
  25. Sarah:

    New reader here! Love this! I have a question that I think I know the answer to, but wanted to clarify – did you pay for everything yourself? At first I thought maybe everyone chipped in for the dinner, but the more I read the post it seemed like you went all-out and likely treated everyone to this amazing night in honor of celebrating yourself. Either way, I love the spirit behind this and agree with another commenter that it reminds me of the SATC episode “a women’s right to shoes” in the best way possible.

    happy belated 40th!

    10.5.21 Reply
    • Hi Sarah,
      I paid for everything. Would have felt weird to me to go all out and then expect my guests to pay. There’s no right or wrong though, this is just something I wanted to do.

      10.5.21 Reply
  26. Janet:

    You’re obsessed with your birthday – just like Carly!! She throws herself parties too! Besties 4 Lyfe!! …except she wasn’t invited. Darn it.

    10.5.21 Reply
    • Who hurt you!?

      (For the record, she was absolutely invited, as was Mike, but they have a brand new baby.)

      10.5.21 Reply
  27. Best night! Best celebration of you!

    10.5.21 Reply
  28. Fabulous at forty. Happy Birthday. It looks like everyone really enjoyed the party. It was so glam and your whole ensemble was gorgeous. The art deco cake was so fun. My friend had a 65th party for herself at a candy shop which was fun.

    10.6.21 Reply
  29. Happy belated, Grace! What a FABULOUS idea to host your own birthday party. You’ve inspired me to do the same on my next milestone birthday!

    10.6.21 Reply
  30. Meg:

    So great you went for it!
    What an awesome gathering you created.

    Forties are great! I heard your pod thinking 50s3”will be big change. I’m 46 and 99.999 % of women nicer , more candid, confident & real than in younger days. Forties are great!

    10.19.21 Reply
  31. Julie:

    With my 40th coming up in April, I have been googling throwing yourself a 40th Birthday party, and came across your blog. I am so happy I did. Let’s take the stigmatism out of throwing parties for yourself and have some fun! Bring everyone you love (or maybe just like) together for food, drinks, conversation….

    1.11.23 Reply