Most people end up celebrating their 30th birthday whether they want to or not. We know it can be difficult to gracefully say goodbye to your twenties, and it might be tempting to spend the day in bed wallowing in how aggravating it feels to be 30 years old but there are plenty of unique, cheap, fun, and glamorous 30th birthday party ideas and themes to counteract those feelings.
Trust us, spending the day celebrating in a special way with family and friends will brighten the mood. These 30th birthday ideas don't take themselves too seriously, which you shouldn't either. Get your party hat on and start planning an unforgettable 30th birthday party for you or your loved one.
Transform a Boring Store Bought Cake into a Showstopper
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Remind the Guest of Honor That They're Golden
Sometimes the guest of honor might need a little reassurance. Pick a theme and decor that will remind them how awesome it is to be 30 years old. Accent the theme "You're Golden" with 3-0 birthday balloons, chalkboard signs, and tons of gold accents.Continue to 2 of 30 below.
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Craft a Wooden Birthday Banner
This isn't some standard birthday, it's a milestone one. Make sure the place where you're celebrating is decorated to the max. If you don't have much of a decoration budget, consider crafting garlands and other decor pieces. This wooden birthday banner is a huge upgrade from streamers and balloons.Continue to 3 of 30 below.
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Consider a Friends Reunion Theme
Many people welcoming in their 30th year were into the show Friends. Is your friend or family member one of them? Consider a Friends Reunion theme and serve coffee and muffins like you'd find at Central Perk. If the guest of honor was obsessed with another TV show growing up, consider a theme around that one instead.Continue to 4 of 30 below.
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Create Ambiance With a Paper Lantern Project
If you're lacking a birthday theme but want to have an elegant outdoor party at dusk, craft some paper lanterns to set the scene. Keep other decorations simple and let the highlight of the party be the outdoor scenery, food, and drink.Continue to 5 of 30 below.
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Personalize a Birthday Sign About the Birth Year
Remind everyone what the world was like in the year they were born. Many of these signs can be purchased and customized. However, if you have graphic design skills, you can make one quite easily. Include facts like the price of gas, who was president, and other noteworthy facts.Continue to 6 of 30 below.
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Mix Up a Birthday Cake Cocktail
If you want to get fancy, create at least one signature cocktail for the night. This birthday cake cocktail is both delicious and appropriate.Continue to 7 of 30 below.
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Remember a Dirty Thirty Party With a Photobooth
"Dirty thirty" is a term for a 30th birthday and everyone has a different interpretation. But most common is that a dirty thirty birthday party has a humorous theme. One party idea that has become popular in recent years for a dirty thirty party (and any other theme) is setting up a photo booth. Make sure you lay out props so guests are encouraged to take silly, memorable photos. You can pick up a 30th themed birthday party set online or make your own.Continue to 8 of 30 below.
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Cheers and Beers to 30 Years
If the person turning 30 loves beer, consider the theme "Cheers to 30 Years." Throw the bash at a local brewery or have their favorite beer stocked and ready at another location. Set up games like beer pong to get the guests into the occasion.Continue to 9 of 30 below.
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Make a Marquee Out of Balloons
One relatively simple and easy way to create a conversation piece for a 30th birthday party is to craft a balloon marquee. Spell out a word based on your theme, the guest of honor's name, or just something to brighten the mood, like the "Yay" you see here.Continue to 10 of 30 below.
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End Your Roaring Twenties in Style
If you want to go even further back into the past, throw a Roaring Twenties birthday party. Have everyone dress in their finest 1920's inspired clothing and decorate the place with Art Deco-style fixtures.Continue to 11 of 30 below.
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Upgrade From Standard Jell-O Shots
This isn't a 21st birthday party so don't settle for the standard Jell-O shots. Enhance this cocktail with whipped cream and sprinkles and set them out on cake trays of varying heights. The nice thing about this recipe is that it can serve as both a drink and a dessert. Just be sure that any guests under the legal drinking age know to stay away!Continue to 12 of 30 below.
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Spell Out 30 on the Cake
This concrete cake sets the scene for a modern and luxe birthday celebration. Keep the other decorations and food choices simple and refined. To ensure your guests are in line with the look and feel of this party, require that they wear cocktail attire.Continue to 13 of 30 below.
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Throw a Bourbon Bash
For the bourbon-loving person in your life, throw a party based on the theme, "Aged 30 Years." One idea is to have a hip bar set up with a bartender serving up craft cocktails. If this seems too expensive to plan from scratch, rent out space at your favorite bar and ask the establishment if you can decorate in advance and bring in your own food.Continue to 14 of 30 below.
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Transform Cheap Napkins Into Confetti Napkins
Sometimes small details make a big difference. If you are throwing the party at a place the guest of honor is familiar with, make it feel like they are stepping into somewhere completely different by decorating and rearranging furniture. Remember that small details don't need to be expensive. For instance, this simple DIY will elevate your napkins without needing to spend a ton of money.Continue to 15 of 30 below.
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Label Everything with the Year
Not that you constantly want to be reminding the guest of honor how old they just turned, but in some ways you should. If you're decorating budget is limited, focus on emphasizing the food and drink spread. Create small printable labels and adhere them to toothpicks. Place the toothpicks everywhere. Mixing in themed labels will have a large impact and will hardly cost a thing.Continue to 16 of 30 below.
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If you loved growing up in the 80s or 90s, why not celebrate with a flashback party? You don't have to go far beyond YouTube to find the music you'll need from those decades since it's all the rage. Go a step further and ask everyone to dress the part so you can all party like it's 1999—or much earlier. You'll be fashion-forward for the 1980s if you wear your biggest shoulder pads and leg warmers. And, you'll be on trend with tube tops and acid-washed jeans for 1990s fashion.Continue to 17 of 30 below.
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Formal Black and White Party
You're done figuring out how to adult, you are a full-fledged grown-up at 30 so celebrate with a formal dinner party. It doesn't have to be a grand fete, just request that a few close friends dress in their best. Have it catered and decorated, in a proper and formal way.Continue to 18 of 30 below.
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If you'd rather revisit cozy, comfortable times, throw a modern adult pajama party. Ask everyone to come in their best pajamas and whoever ends up staying the night won't have to worry about a change of clothes. Order a ton of pizza and have makings for ice-cream sundaes on hand to bring back those slumber party memories.Continue to 19 of 30 below.
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Celebrate the year you were born with a film fest filled with all the great, and so-bad-they-are-great movies for a movie night party. Some iconic movies from 1993, for example, include "Dazed and Confused," "Groundhog Day," and "Jurassic Park" to name a few. If it's warm out, bring movie night outdoors.Continue to 20 of 30 below.
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A 30th birthday pub crawl can go one of two ways. You can map out your old haunts from your 20s. Or, you can discover and explore new haunts for your 30s. Either way, it's a rip-roaring good time when spent with your best buds traveling around town to toss back a few brews or cocktails to celebrate your day.Continue to 21 of 30 below.
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Stay at a Luxury Hotel
Indulge in the fact that you made it to your 30s. Whether you book yourself into a spa or a five-star luxury hotel, slip into your cashmere robe and make it the best pampering time of your life.Continue to 22 of 30 below.
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Did you know that the traditional gift to give someone on their 30th birthday is a pearl? If you're considering the pearl as a theme for a 30th birthday, you can have a pearl of a party. Include anything related to pearls, such as oysters for appetizers, pearl necklaces and rings as take-home gifts (costume, of course), mother-of-pearl serving dishes, music by Pearl Jam, anything pearl-encrusted—you get the gist.Continue to 23 of 30 below.
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Booting your 20s to the curb? Give that decade of your life a proper burial with a RIP or Death to 20s theme. Go with lots of Halloween-like decor, like skeletons, RIP headstones, black balloons, and request that everyone wear black.Continue to 24 of 30 below.
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"13 Going on 30" Theme
Was the sweet and romantic comedy "13 Going on 30" one of your faves? Then bring the movie to life with a 30, flirty, and thriving party, just what the character Jenna wished for as a 13-year-old. There's even a dress that the adult Jenna wore that you can buy and wear to your own party or give to the guest of honor as a gift. Show the film (it came out in 2004) and replicate items from the movie, such as 80s music, sparkles (everywhere), candy from the 80s like Razzles and Pop Rocks (mentioned throughout the movie), and don't forget to supply scrunchies for everyone to wear, especially in the photo booth you set up for "yearbook" photos. Watch the movie to plan the party where there's a goldmine of ideas.Continue to 25 of 30 below.
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Take a Class That Matters
Though you may have had enough of school and taking classes into your 20s, why not take a class with your friends, but one that you really want for your 30th birthday? Consider mastering gourmet cooking, canning, or craft brewery. Learn about a period of history, an artistic technique, or how about a sommelier class—perhaps abroad?Continue to 26 of 30 below.
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What's in Your Future Party
You skated through your 20s, but now you're looking for a little more direction and information about your future. Well, it may not be 100 percent reliable info, but why not at least try with a tarot card reading for you and all your guests? For a tarot-inspired party, gift everyone with a deck of cards for good luck. If you prefer, go for a palm reader or an astrology-themed party to usher in your 30th birthday.Continue to 27 of 30 below.
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Give Away Musical Playlist
There's nothing more comforting than listening to music from your youth. Create a party favor for your guests by recording your favorite songs from your 20s. Put your playlist on a YouTube upload, share your playlist on YouTube Music or Spotify, burn individual CDs for old-school chums, or put them on a USB flash drive. Hint: a party playlist should be a minimum of three hours (about 45 songs at 15 songs per hour).Continue to 28 of 30 below.
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Run a Marathon
For many, running a marathon is a rite of passage, so why not make it on your 30th birthday if there's one that coincides with your big day or even if it's around the same time? Running a marathon, even a half-marathon, is a major achievement you can gift to yourself. Have some of your besties rally around you for the event, then go celebrate your accomplishment after the race.Continue to 29 of 30 below.
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Embrace 30 by shouting out a big hello to your new decade of adulthood. Use the slogan Hello, 30 on virtually everything at your party from printing up Hello 30 t-shirts for guests to balloons, plates, glasses, and the cake. By the end of the party, you'll have ushered in what could be the best decade of your life.Continue to 30 of 30 below.
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Kiss Your 20s Goodbye!
Kick off your 30s by kissing your 20s goodbye. Decorate with lots of lip-shaped cookies, chocolate kisses, and give away lipstick as party favors. Don't forget lip-shaped noisemakers and balloons shaped like lips to make the point. White tablecloths with smooches of lipstick add to the ambiance of the party.