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How to Plan a Milestone Birthday Party Like Khloé Kardashian, Taylor Swift and More

How to Plan a Milestone Birthday Party Like Khloé Kardashian, Taylor Swift and More
Khloé Kardashian and family at her party Courtesy of Instagram / Khloé Kardashian

Khloé Kardashian celebrated her 40th birthday in serious style over the weekend, with a headline-grabbing saloon-themed spectacular featuring A-list guests, themed cocktails (Espress-Khlo Martini?! Tenuous!) and a mechanical bull, among other attractions.

If you have your own landmark birthday coming up, you might be feeling the pressure to deliver the party of the century. So, if you want to sprinkle some Hollywood glitter onto your own do, where should you begin?

Do you always need a theme?

Since famous people are the center of the universe 365 days a year, when it comes to their birthdays they naturally like to get even more extra. While Khloé took her Wild West/Dollywood theme and ran with it, she’s not the only star who has brought in a random theme to celebrate their big birthday. Party planners know that nailing a great theme conveniently dictates the dress code, decor, entertainment and menu.

The Kardashians have always loved a theme, with Khloé’s mom Kris Jenner throwing a Great Gatsby party for her 60th in 2015. Other stars have gone for options straight out of their childhoods — Jessica Biel treated her friends to a Roller Disco when she turned 35 (note: alcohol and roller skates are not a great mix!) while Gabrielle Union dressed up as Gwen Stefani for a ‘90s themed party.

There’s also the option to be like Taylor Swift and let the season in question do the heavy lifting: for her 30th celebrations back in December 2019, she threw a Christmassy do, complete with fake snow, a lot of festive sparkle and a guest list which included Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds and Gigi Hadid.

Just picking your year or decade of birth can be a simple, fun and nostalgic option too, even if the era in question isn’t known for its chic-ness (hello ‘80s babies!). Easier still? No theme at all: just come as you are. After all, ultimately the theme for any birthday party is simply YOU!

Do you need to lay on entertainment?

Those big landmark birthdays tend to come during very busy periods of life, whether you’re elbow-deep in work, diapers or both. This means that you might not see your dearest friends as often as you used to — so, the last thing you want when you finally get to catch up at your birthday bash is to not be able to hear a word anyone’s saying over the music! Some low-key drinks in a quiet neighborhood bar or restaurant can make for some of the most intimate, memorable celebrations of all.

Still, if you have friends in high places, a band or DJ can be a fun option — especially if, like the Kardashians, you happen to have an in with Snoop Dogg, who was the surprise music act at Khloé’s do. However, your old college friends probably won’t be expecting to see one of the world’s most famous rappers on stage and so will be more than delighted to sing and dance along with a lovingly-curated playlist of some of your favorite tunes from over the years. Other fun options: a karaoke machine, movie room or silent disco. And depending on your choice of venue, you could try and factor in some quiet areas too.

Should you invite the kids?

One of the things nobody tells you about turning 40 is that childcare issues can get in the way of throwing the party of your dreams. It’s likely that many of your friends have young kids, which often means couples taking it in turns to go to parties solo. Let’s face it: yours probably isn’t the only 40th they’ve been invited to this year, and babysitters are expensive!

If you have little kids of your own, you might actually want them to be there, just like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, whose son Miles fully embraced the Casino Royale theme for his daddy’s 40th, even wearing an insanely adorable baby tux.

The best option could be for your babies to come along for the start of the party to look cute in photos before getting whisked away by a doting family member so you can let your hair down without anyone begging for a snack or wiping their snotty nose on your cocktail dress.

Older kids? Assuming they don’t find you completely embarrassing, they can get right in the thick of the fun. At Victoria Beckham’s recent 50th birthday party at an exclusive members’ club in central London, her son Cruz even performed a song for her; a touching rendition of “Mama” by the Spice Girls, no less. But it’s fair to say that your average 19 year old boy might be more likely to be found hiding in the corner, deep in his phone.

Do you have to invite your work friends?

Well, do you like them? Are you going to be mortified if Jackie from Finance sees you doing shots or will she be joining in (and flirting with your cousin)? Will your boss be offended if they don’t get an invite? Or feel awkward if they do?

When you’re a celeb, the stakes are even higher. If you don’t invite that co-star you’re rumored to have beef with, everyone will be gossiping about it. And if you do? You might end up getting romantically linked!

Simon Cowell didn’t worry about any of this back in 2009 when he threw a huge 50th birthday party, rumored to cost seven figures, at a mansion in the English countryside. His 400-strong, seriously A-list guest list included old TV colleagues he’d publicly feuded with like Sharon Osbourne, plus many, many limos full of music industry friends and frienemies.

Do you have to pay for everything yourself?

This is when things start getting tricky. While Paris Hilton spent an estimated $75,000 on each guest she flew out to her FIVE 21st birthday celebrations in New York, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo in 2002, it’s fair to say that this isn’t something your friends will be expecting — well, unless you also happen to be a hotel heiress, of course.

The more realistic option is to simply pay for a few drinks, and perhaps some canapés or even pizza. Times are tough, and most normal people aren’t in a position to keep the Champagne flowing all night. But, if you can, treating guests to a glass or two of something bubbly when they arrive is a nice gesture (especially if they traveled to be there — or shelled out for a sitter!).

If you feel uncomfortable about not being able to splash thousands on your party, you can consider bringing in a “no gifts” policy, emphasizing that your guests’ presence is present enough, or even suggest donations to your chosen charity. If you haven’t (yet) had a wedding or baby shower, though, there’s no shame in gratefully accepting a gift or 10…

But what if you don’t want a party at all?

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A post shared by Derek Blasberg (@derekblasberg)

Most stars are big show-offs — it kind of goes with the territory — but if you’re more of an introvert or are just feeling a little icky about hitting your landmark birthday, don’t be pressured into having a party if you don’t want one: big bashes aren’t for everyone!

Instead, you could simply invite a few friends over to make pizza: this is what Kate Hudson did when she turned 40 a few years back. She even wore jeans! Of course, the guest list wasn’t quite so low-key given that she counts Reese Witherspoon, Leonardo DiCaprio and, of course, her mom Goldie Hawn among her nearest and dearest…

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