Forty years of marriage is definitely something to celebrate. Gather your friends and relatives and throw a memorable party, whether it's for your own anniversary or for your parent's 40th. When planning the party, keep your budget and guest list in mind and make sure you only invite as many guests as you can afford without leaving out important people.
Recreate the Wedding
Rent a catering hall similar to the place where you had your wedding all those years ago. If the original reception site is still around, try to rent that for the party. Decorate the banquet hall using the colors and flowers from your wedding. Hire a DJ to play the same songs you had at your wedding, and recreate your first wedding dance 40 years later. Keep things updated by playing a few new songs as well as the oldies.
Invite a few people, such as the bridesmaids and groomsmen, from the wedding, if you have kept in touch with them throughout the years. You don't have to re-create the wedding guest list person for person at the expense of not inviting people who are near and dear to you today.
A Memory-Filled Surprise
Give your parents or in-laws a surprise anniversary party. Hold the party at your house, if it is large enough, and tell the anniversary couple that you would like to have them over for a special dinner. Instead of a quiet dinner, invite family and friends to jump out and yell "Surprise!" when they arrive.
Prior to the party, ask each guest to think of one memory of the couple to share with the group. If the couple has young children or grandchildren, fill them in on the couple's history and have each child present a silly tidbit or "did you know?" about the couple to the assembled guests.
Gather up all of the photos of the couple through the years and make copies, either by scanning the pictures into a computer or on a copier. Make collages by gluing the copies to several pieces of posterboard. You can also set up a projector to run a slide show of memories throughout the party.
The gift associated with the 40th wedding anniversary is a ruby. Rubies are red and represent a healthy and happy union. Use the color red and ruby jewels as the theme for your 40th anniversary party. Use bouquets of red roses as the centerpieces on the food tables. Use vibrant red napkins and set a handful of fake rubies at each place setting. Serve a red wine, preferably one from the year you were married. Add a healthy dose of red to the food you serve as well. Pick red velvet for the cake, and add tomatoes and red peppers to the salad, especially if the party is in the summer, when those vegetables are at their peak.
Make sure you don't go overboard with the ruby theme, though. If you have red napkins or red roses, use a white or other pale, neutral-colored tablecloth. Frost the red velvet cake with a white or cream cheese frosting.