Ideas for a 40th Birthday Collage

by Kate Coen

A 40th birthday is especially meaningful, as it marks a step into a more mature stage of life. Many 40-year-olds have already collected most of what they need in the way of material possessions, so as an extra-special birthday present, consider making a collage. Collages are easy to do, needing only pictures, glue and a frame, but if you want to elevate yours beyond an ordinary mass of smiling faces, consider one of these ideas.

Professional

If you’re just not a creative person, or if you don’t have the time to cut and paste and arrange, then go online and order a birthday collage through a website (see Resources). You will still need to take the time to collect and sort through photographs, but the bulk of the work will be taken from you. The advantage of doing it this way is you won’t have to sacrifice the photos and you can still make decisions about style and arrangement.

Reminiscent

Forty-year-olds are only beginning to enter middle age, but they’re been around long enough to remember “the way things were” when they were in high school or college. Collect photos of your birthday star in different stages of life—elementary, high school, early twenties, thirties—along with the people who were important to him then. Use decade-appropriate album covers, movie posters, candy wrappers or school slogans as backgrounds.

Favorites

As an alternative to a people collage, collect pictures of things she loves—cars, purses, movies, kitchens, fishing, animals, etc. Whatever your loved one enjoys, put it together behind glass as a reflection and celebration of her personality and hobbies. Perhaps postcards from countries she’s visited, or countries she wants to visit; those thousand-dollar boots she’s always wanted, or the boat she and her husband are saving for. A collage of this sort shows how well you know and love your friend.

Puzzle

If your 40-year-old likes to work jigsaw puzzles, consider a custom puzzle made from a picture collage. Do this yourself by arranging a digital photo collage on your computer and having it printed on heavy paper or cardstock. Or glue photographs onto a piece of paper and scan it into a computer. Then cut the picture into pieces. You can also order professional versions online (see Resources).

About the Author

Kate Coen has been writing professionally since 1996. She has written for "The Guardian," "Time" magazine, "SIX Magazine," Reuters, Bloomberg and other media. Coen holds a Bachelor of Arts in modern languages (French and Spanish) from Oxford University.