How to celebrate your 50th birthday (and why you’ll probably enjoy it way more than your 21st)

Pop culture will have us believe that the advent of a 50th birthday leaves most of us running for the hills. Nothing could be further from the truth, says Claire Mason

Many folk, by the time their 50th year rolls around, have learnt one or two things about life and chief among these pieces of wisdom is that every day is precious.

Celebrating this time round will be unrestrained and uncomplicated. Ever fancied a set of nude photos of yourself? Jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane and skydiving for the first time? Or keeping your feet on the ground and having the perfect, stylish 50th birthday?

There may be a few more lines around the eyes, but there are probably a few more zeroes in the bank account too and that means one thing: PARTY!

50th birthday parties are more fun

At 21, you were probably as skint as could be and so your party was thrown by your parents. This is no bad thing but it did mean that the celebration was on their terms rather than your own, with a four-line whip of relatives all in attendance too. Some of whom you may have been less than fond of.

When it comes to your 50th, these concerns go out of the window. It’s your party and you can what you like. You’ve got the money to throw the bash of your dreams, and the confidence to do it your way.

Relatives that you’re close to get an invite; relatives that you’re not enamoured with don’t. Make sure they don’t turn up uninvited by getting a chic villa in the sun.

The friends who find their way on to your invite list at this stage of your life have often proved themselves to be worth their weight in gold as you’ve weathered some of life’s storms together. Those kinds of friendships make for great party guests.

You’re also much more likely to really let your hair down at your 50th than you were at your 21st. All that angst is over. Now it’s fun all the way.

Be warned though: teenagers and children who attend your bash will make out that they’re doing it only out of obligation initially. By the time Blondie starts playing, and the dancefloor gets packed, this same youthful crowd will be standing agog watching how the adults do it.

I speak from experience. I threw a surprise party for my significant other’s 50th. His children agreed to come “for Dad’s sake”. One bar of an Earth, Wind and Fire song and the kids and their cousins stood open-mouthed at how much fun was being had.

Five years later, this is still the party that has set the bar for any other family celebrations. The nifty fifties among us watch with affection as these youngsters try to replicate a raucous bash. They’ll learn in time.

The big trip

If you really fancy splashing out to celebrate your 50th birthday in style then book a journey of a lifetime. You might even want to take a select few friends with you. A classic Mediterranean villa would give you all the time you need to crack open the wine, crank up the music and soak in the sun. Get a big villa and have a rotating roster of the best party animals to join you.

How about the Madives dream or even hitting the Himalayas on a motorbike? We’ve had a round up of our most amazing top 13 places to celebrate your 50th birthday if you really want to go big.

We also know that some of you won’t be satisfied with just one party or one trip. Let’s be honest, we’re going to milk this one! Have a read of Dean Butterfill’s grown-up gap year trip around India. Backpacking isn’t just for the young crowd now.

50th birthyears are catching on

Why let the fun stop after one party? Increasingly, people are choosing to mark their 50ths with a year of celebrations. This can include anything that adds joy to your life.

For Sue, 57, it was to ring in her year “singing for her supper,” as she calls it, and after that taking weekends away: “I’ve been a music fan since I was a kid. For my 50th, I threw a dinner party in my favourite local restaurant and I was the entertainer for the night!”

Her party still brings a smile to her face, as do the trips she took throughout the year for two nights at a time to guesthouses in the country. “My 50th year felt special because I did nice things for myself the whole year,” Sue says. She will be adopting a similar stance for her 60th in a few years’ time.

Phoebe, 50 this year, can think of no better way to celebrate her year than booking a beauty treatment every month. “It represents the height of indulgence for me, and I can think of nothing more wonderful than knowing I have a whole year of massages and pedicures,” she says, thrilled with her decision.

Frank, 56, celebrated his 50th with a small barbeque for just close family and friends. He splashed out afterwards, though, with a year’s lessons to become PADI-certified and then celebrated his 51st birthday with a two-week diving trip to the Seychelles. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he says.

It’s all about you

However you decide to celebrate your 50th year, the key is to remember that it really is all about you. It doesn’t matter how you want to ring in the date, just as long as it reflects who you are and what makes you happy.

At 50, we’re often the best version of ourselves we’ve ever been. That is something eminently worth celebrating!