40th Birthday Barbeque Ideas & Games

by Christine Gauvreau

The 40th birthday barbecue is the perfect venue for friends and family to gather and celebrate. Ditch the "Over the Hill" theme and honor "40 years young" with lively activities, humorous contests and nostalgic music trivia that guests of all ages can enjoy.

Forty Balloons

Divide guests into at least two teams. Assign a color to each team, and give them 40 balloons in that color--team one has all red balloons, and team two has all blue balloons, for example. Have the teams race to blow up and then pop all 40 balloons. Players can sit on them, step on them or squeeze them between each other's bodies, but they cannot use their hands or items to pop the balloons. Assign guests who are not playing to be referees.


The backyard is a great place for karaoke, because the music can be loud and singers have room to really strut their stuff. Have a selection of top 40 hits from the last 40 years. Incorporate a "Name That Tune" game with songs that were number one on the guest of honor's birthday in past years. Give prizes to the first guest to call out the correct song title, the year it was number one or the artist who originally performed it.

Build a Burger

Set up a burger and hot dog station with 40 different toppings, and let guests build their own. Use a mixture of condiments, cheeses and vegetable slices. And since the 40-year-old stomach isn't as strong as it used to be, include a few antacid products in the selection. Award prizes for the most original, worst combination or most likely to cause indigestion.

Caption Contest

Collect a selection of 40 photos of the birthday person from birth to present. Arrange them on foam board or poster board, and hang it on the fence or on a tree. Cut address labels into talking bubbles, and place them and felt-tip markers in a basket next to the picture board. Have guests write captions on the bubbles, peel off the backing and stick them on the photos. Have a contest for the funniest, the sweetest or even the most insulting caption.

Water Balloon Volleyball

Fill several balloons with water, and place them in a bucket. Set up a net, and provide some old towels. Have teams pair up their players, and give each pair a towel. Players use the towels to launch and catch the water balloons. When a water balloon breaks, a point is scored for the team on the opposite side of the net. Play continues until one team reaches 40 points. Be sure to have someone in charge of filling and supplying more water balloons if needed.

About the Author

Christine Gauvreau is a freelance writer from the East Coast. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and has spent over 10 years writing for several online publications.