friends at a party

As a kid, it’s easy to plan a birthday party. Simply choose your favorite character, movie, or activity and go overboard with on-theme decorations. Cover your home with soccer ball plates. Or Spiderman webs. Maybe even a jungle backdrop. But as you get older, choosing a theme for your adult birthday party gets trickier.

For starters, you don’t usually have family and friends over for the traditional pizza and cake. (Although, that’s a stellar birthday party at any age!) And you probably see your friends regularly anyways. So how do you make it special—without the paper plates and balloons?

The key to planning the perfect adult birthday party is thinking outside of the ordinary. What is something you like to do—but don’t do often? Or maybe it’s something you’ve never tried, but always wanted to. If you want to bring friends and family along (it is, after all, a party!), make sure it can easily be a group activity. And if you’re still completely clueless, here are eight exciting ideas for your next adult birthday party.

1) Casino Night

host a poker night for adult birthday party

If you don’t already have one, buy a poker set and invite your friends over for a night of low-stakes gambling. Ask guests to dress the part, and come in their suits and little black dresses. To keep the celebration civil and lighthearted, bet with candy or coins, and enforce an entrance “fee” of bagged candy or $15 in change.

2) Murder Mystery

Make your friends work a little bit—and act a little bit!—by hosting a themed murder mystery party. Travel back in time a few decades to solve crime at a Gatsby-esque party circa 1920. Or solve a recent elf murder during the holiday season, for you winter babies. There are hundreds of topics and genres to choose from for any party size—big or small!

3) Rent a Movie Theater

Do you dream of having your own home theater some day, but aren’t quite there yet? Rent a screen all to yourself, sit back, and enjoy the show. At most theaters, you can choose between a new blockbuster or an older title you never saw on the big screen. Just make sure to contact your theater of choice at least four weeks in advance. Some theaters take up to two business weeks to reply to inquiries.

4) Wine Tasting

host a wine tasting for adult birthday party

If your friend group loves wine, a tasting is perfect for your adult birthday party. Choose a type of wine (like dessert wines) or flavor profile (like wines heavy in spice), and then buy 3-5 varieties. Be sure to get at least two bottles of each, or three for groups of 10 or more. Remember, it’s always better to have leftovers! Each guest can bring an appetizer or small plate to eat in between sips.

5) Host a Championship

Are your friends competitive? If so, pick a board game or sporting event to hold a day-long championship for. Corn hole and croquet are great outdoor events, while poker and Scrabble are perfect for inside. For large groups, consider team sports—like touch football or volleyball. And don’t forget to encourage participation with prizes for the top three winners!

6) Live Music

go to a concert for an adult birthday party

Before committing to a live show, do a little research. See if a favorite band is touring in or near your hometown. Can you and your friends spend the night, or take a mini road trip? If you’re not able to travel—don’t worry! Even something simple, like watching a local performance, can still be a night out on the town. Don’t be afraid to plan your adult birthday party a little early or late, either, to accommodate for a live performance. It’s your party, after all!

7) Spa Day

Whether you host it at home or a nearby salon, everyone benefits from a day of relaxation. For at-home treatment, ask guests to bring their favorite face or hair mask and nail polish. Serve fresh fruit-infused water, and light scented candles or diffusers for ambiance. If you decide to venture out of the house, be sure to set a budget. Spa visits add up quickly, and you don’t want a friend over-spending or leaving early.

8) City-Wide Scavenger Hunt

city-wide scavenger hunt

Host an adult birthday party that’s full of adventure! Join an existing scavenger hunt, or plan one of your own with clues for your favorite places, objects, or memories in your city.

Bonus Tip: Each clue should be documented with photo evidencewhich is a great way to collect photos from the day!

Before breaking off into pairs or teams, establish some parameters. For example, keep the hunt on foot, within a mile or two radius. It also helps to set a meeting time at a final destination, too. That way, one team doesn’t get stuck wandering for hours. And of course, make sure the weather is on your side!


Birthday parties are a great way to get friends together. And while you don’t have to throw an intricately themed adult birthday party, it sure is a lot of fun! Before choosing a theme, chat with your friends. You may find out that everyone has always wanted to attend a murder mystery—and there’s your answer! Ultimately, the party will be the most enjoyable when everyone has a good time.

What adult birthday party themes have you tried before? Did your friends and family enjoy them?