My Single Friend and Her 40Th Birthday... What Would You Do?

Updated on April 12, 2011
J.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN
15 answers

I am lucky to have a wonderful friend I met in college (20 years ago) who I am still close with. I have been married 8 years, and have 3 kids. She is still single and has no kids. She's not single because she wants to be, just because she hasn't found the right guy.

She is turning 40 this October, and this past weekend she and I went on a trip together to CA (we live in MN - so this was a special treat for me - I haven't gone on a out of state girls weekend since I've had kids). We had a wonderful 4 days together and so much fun. While we were together, we were talking about her upcoming birthday, and I asked what she wanted to do. She laughed, and said she's been "passively aggressive" trying to get someone to plan a 40th birthday party for her at some kind of destination. Now, this was after a glass of wine, and she was laughing when she said it, but I know it came from her heart. She said that she never got married, doesn't expect to, doesn't have kids, and wants "what we all had". Meaning, we (a group of us friends) all had the weddings, the showers, the babies, and the fun and attention that goes with it. She came to all the weddings, was in 1/2 of them, and wants some "payback". That sounds terrible as I write it, but she wasn't being snotty at all when she said it.

Now - I don't know what to do with this information. I did tell her that when I got married, I planned the whole thing, paid for most of it (with my husband of course) and invited people to come... maybe she should consider planning her own destination party and invite everyone... instead of making suggestions that one of us try to plan something like that for her.

What do you all think of the idea? Does the never married person get the shaft when it comes to stuff like this? I am really torn between thinking she's asking a bit much, to totally understanding her perspective.

And, I did point out, that she and I were CURRENTLY ON A TRIP together and that for me to pull that off again in 6 months would be financially difficult as well as kind of a strain on my family.

What would you do for your best single friend?


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answers from Kansas City on

Well I do think that the unmarried, kidless people do get the shaft on parties and presents. They probably do shell out a lot of money on gifts, etc. and although they want to do it, they don't really get the attention back. Yes she's an adult, blah blah, but honestly, people are people and everyone wants to feel love in that way too. You're in a hard position though b/c you did just go on a trip and you have 3 kids and it's expensive. Maybe you could talk to your other mutual friends and pool money together to do something fun. You could do a day/night in a hotel as opposed to a getaway or even just something within driving distance. I think even people with kids could get away for at least a day and night and make a whole day of shopping, eating, drinking, museums, whatever. It would mean a lot to her and I'm sure it would be a blast. If you think she really wants to go someplace then I would talk to her about it and see what she thinks/wants. THEN talk to your husband and see if you can swing it, at least for yourself and go from there. If she's your best friend and you really love her I would try and do something for this big day! If nothing else I think you and the others should plan a huge dinner someplace to gather all the friends, spouses, etc.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Have a group throw her a party or a fancy dinner party. I love having dinner parties catered with beautiful flowers, and candlelight.. Even a nice cocktail party. It is fun to be grown up and get all dressed up to celebrate.

I suggest having her be a part of the planning. It is hard to have a surprise party unless you know who all she wants included. It would be a shame to have a great party for her, but certain people were accidentally overlooked.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It's really sweet that you care enough to ask on here.
It's very hard for women in her position. I think you and your friends should definitely plan something special for her. She made herself so vulnerable by asking. If nothing came of it, she'd probably feel so unloved! I suggest looking around for deals, deals, deals, with your friends. Hope it's fun!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Sometimes the single people don't fully understand the responsibilities those of us with kids and spouses have. Not in a bad way, but it's just hard to REALLY comprehend when it's not your day to day life. Not only would you have to find someone to watch your kids (unless your hubby gets "stuck" home while you take your 2nd trip of the year), but you have to shell out money and possibly take time off work.

Your 2 hour baby shower on a Sunday or your Saturday night wedding, was one day for a few hours.

We ALL want to feel extra special on our birthday, but I would not put the stress on myself to try and plan a destination trip for someone when I am crazy busy with life.

A day at the SPA would be awesome for her and your friends I am guessing. A nice dinner party...maybe a suprise. Or rent a limo for the night and all of you go out.

She's only 40....she could meet Mr. Right tomorrow and her whole life could change and she may have that spotlight after all. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I would say that you should definitely throw her a surprise birthday party, but not necessarily at a destination city. Make it local. If she wants to plan her own "destination party" then she should go for it (after all, if we get married we plan our own weddings); but a local surprise party would be reasonable for you and a friend (or friends) to do for her.

And you never know what will happen; she could still meet "the one" someday and get that wedding after all!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My husband 's friend did just that.......planned his own party. He is single and 40 and he asked a bunch of buddies to golf for the day and poker at night and he cooked dinner. They all had a great time. They did pay for the golf.
It sounds like it is a dream for her to have a surprise someone willing to do that for her and you help ?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I'd throw a party, but locally (surprise!). It is kind of unfair but I don't really think a birthday is on par with a wedding or baby shower.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi Jessica,
What a caring friend you are! I think that it would be wonderful if more people felt free to celebrate a special occasion in their lives or special circumstances (such as celebrating the gift of having wonderful friends and having the present being time spent together (such a precious gift as we get older and our lives get busier) regardless of whether or not they are partnered or about to be a parent. It makes everyone appreciate things in their lives that are often taken for granted (good health, supportive family/friends, stable job etc.etc.). Perhaps your friend feels like the celebration would be more special if a loved one initiated the plans (or that it's not "ok" to throw a party for yourself b/c it looks selfish). Although that puts pressure on you in some ways, I think that if you're creative, it wouldn't have to be expensive or out-of-town. Since she likes wine, think of a wonderful destination (Chile, Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, France, etc. etc.) and ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine from that country---do a wine tasting. Pick music and food to match the destination and a friend with space to gather. have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

How about a spa weekend someplace close? It's almost a destination and if not exactly "going away" it is "getting away". Instead of spending alot of money on transportation, you all could chip in on a spa package for her, lounge around together, get pampered and make a fuss over your friend for her milestone birthday.

Birthdays and other holidays are hard for us single people. It's another reminder that we are alone, even if we have kids. Does your friend want payback in the financial sense or does she just want her turn to be the center of attention for a day? If she really wants something on par with a wedding celebration, perhaps she can foot the bill but include you and some other girlfriends in the plannning so you can all have a part in this special occasion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi, I have a friend whose in the same situation. Do any of your friends have houses with big enough property? Can one of you have the Birthday bash at the house with all her friends, including DJ and catered food? Everyone can volunteer cleanup or the hired help can do it.

I also like the spa treatment, but if she wants some fun I'd go with a nice celebration party with all her friends.

Be well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

We just had a Blue Jean Birthday Party for my girlfriend's 38th bday and it was AWESOME!!! Not sure if they have any designer blue jean stores in MN (though I live in Colorado SPrings so they must not be that rare lol) but it was so much fun. We made food, had liquor, wine and everyone just shopped for 2 hours. Totally fun and just a great time. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


I would not be a phony and send her a nice gift with all you best wishes. If you want to invite her for a stay at your home and spend some special time -- great...don't do more than you are capable of doing...What do the rest of your friends want to do? Could it be a joint venture?




I would not be a phony and send her a nice gift with all you best wishes. If you want to invite her for a stay at your home and spend some special time -- great...don't do more than you are capable of doing...What do the rest of your friends want to do? Could it be a joint venture?




answers from Washington DC on

I think it is a great fun idea, and GOOD FOR HER! However, I couldnt' do it for a friend, not do I think I should have to. She should do it for herself, or have her parents do it. I can't imagine she was seriously asking you to, so I wouldn't worry. Now if she did throw her self a big party, I might get her an awesome gift or treat her to the spa before the party.

To answer your bigger question, I can see how she might feel left out of the excitement of the weddings and showers, etc. However, these are celebrations of marriages and new lives. She simply doesn't deserve a party to make up for these things, because you can't make up for a life partnership or a child. A party is hollow in comparison. I am sure she knows this. Not she is not entitled to the same. However, she is entitled to celebrate her life (her birthday) or any other special events however she wants.


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi jessica-

I think it is so sweet of you to think of your friend and her 'milestone birthday'!

My brother is single and childless (as far as I, and it is only NOW that he is in his fifties, that I think he is really feeling the 'emptiness' (?) of having no children...*sigh* I do not know how to help with that...and he is now dating a 'sweet young thing' (YITE) so who knows...but I digress

I think a location party at YOUR location would be a wonderful thing. Have her even stay with you a while post party...and maybe with the chaos of your home (wonderful though it is) may make her happily go home and re evaluate the idea of kids!!! LOL My brother, after a weekend of MY kids when they were younger, always felt a bit better about not having kids!! lol

I also think you should invite 'cats' friend from peoria (the first poster)...and who knows!!

Best luck!


answers from Santa Fe on

I think you should plan a "staycation" celebration for her if besides you she has other best friends in the area. Stay at a spa hotel one night, do a fancy spa treatment, and spend one day doing girlfriend things (whatever you all like to special). Make or buy her a beautiful cake, have yummy drinks and appetizers that evening, etc. Have a heart to heart talk with her telling her you love her and want to celebrate her but cannot take off for a destination bday party at this time in your life due to finances/work/kids/hubby.

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