More candles = more reasons to celebrate, right? We think so! Whether you’re throwing a major milestone bash or an intimate, chill party, Jaclyn Loughner of Party with SOL, Julia Lake of Julia Lake Parties, Josefina Martinez of Dream and Party, and Macy Pulliam of Social Llama Events know what’s going to be hot on the adult birthday party circuit this year. And yes, there are plenty of boozy and non-boozy ideas to consider!
Innovative food options
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“Anything that can drive up to the party is always a big hit: Food trucks, ice cream trucks, candy trucks, taco trucks, pizza trucks, mobile bars with beers on tap, etc,” says Jaclyn. “People have been really into new and exciting desserts recently. We’ve been seeing a lot of gelato carts at our events, and a new interest in ice cream served with liquid nitrogen. Lots of hearty, bite-sized passed foods. It’s more practical for the hosts than having a sit-down dinner, and it gives the guests more of an opportunity to enjoy the rest of the party. Guests eat with their eyes, so presentation is all the rage! Another big trend we’re seeing with food and beverage is edible silverware. For example, a common menu item is tuna tartare on an edible spoon.” Macy’s clients are embracing new approaches to the classics. “Overall food and drink presentations are being enhanced—it's a favorite event detail for us! Instead of standard tray passed apps, we are hanging food from the ceilings using ribbon or repurposing traditional food packaging in a whimsical way! For example, we repurposed Campbell Soup cans, added custom branding and served mac and cheese out of them! Caviar is making a big comeback—we are seeing it presented in a way that’s upscale but approachable, like on a potato chip!” But for something more laidback, Julia says, “People are opting for more casual-style food like grazing boards and passed appetizers or self-serve food stations. A 2-hour sit-down is just too stuffy right now after we’ve all been cooped up.”
Planned with social media in mind
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Another one of Jaclyn’s predictions? Social media-friendly decor, including photo booths and 360 booths. “40-year-olds today were the first people on Facebook. They’ve been on social media forever, and they’re some of the most active users. It’s important to give people parties that they can put on their feeds—think big lights, big balloons, flowers, etc. “Regardless of how old someone is turning, they still want to act like a 20-something for the night. They want to sing and dance with their friends and have a great time. So anything that can hit on all of these is a total win!”
More immersive experiences
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“Experiences are huge too—it’s not enough to just throw a party with some music, dinner, and a bar,” says Jaclyn. “Experiences are really becoming a big thing now. I’ve done all sorts of things—mentalists/psychics, magicians, sketch artists, cigar rollers, sushi rollers, you name it.” Macy agrees: “Instead of centering a party around a specific theme, parties are being built around an experience, entertainment, and favorite memories and things of a client! Over-the-top cocktail programs, interactive activations and elevated yet easy food options! Everyone is placing a lot of importance on enhancing their guest's experience—putting the guest before themselves!” And Julia sees a return to good old-fashioned fun experiences. “I’ve been pitching lots of themed party ideas and even costume parties and clients are going for it. Everyone knows a costume party is going to be more fun!”
Mixology events + cocktail parties
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“Mixology events will likely become a 2023 top party trend among adults. They’re fun, offer a hands-on experience for the guests, and are nearly stress-free for the host as bartenders will take care of the job,” says Josefina. Jaclyn concurs: “Mixologists are always a must at any adult party [...] we’ve also been doing lots of spiked snow cones and slushies. Sometimes, the mixologists will utilize liquid nitrogen too for a cool, smoky effect. It’s super cool to see visually and always draws a crowd. We have been doing a ton of cocktail-style parties.” According to Macy, having a speciality bar is a favorite amongst hosts and guests. “Instead of signature cocktails, people are focusing on special cocktail moments and experiences. Designating a specialty bar to our client’s favorite cocktail to be served in an interactive way or pinning mini Polaroids to all passed drinks to create a special moment that guests won’t forget!” One way to combine the mobile refreshments trend above with this trend? A cocktail truck!
Nostalgia + letting your inner child out
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“Everyone still loves the classics, like ’80s parties, and now with 35–40-year-old birthday parties, we’re starting to see ’90s parties as well,” says Jaclyn. “So instead of big hair and spandex, it’s neons, windbreakers and butterfly clips. What's great about ’80s and ’90s parties is there are always cover bands to bring us right back to that era, so finding entertainment is easy. People love the ’80s and ’90s for a reason!” Julia’s seeing similar themes. “We’re doing more dance parties. People want to let loose. We also just did a Caddyshack-themed party for a 40th birthday party, and everyone came dressed up.” And Macy notes the return of a magic classic: “Everyone is still loving disco balls! Disco balls are the new pineapple, they’re everywhere now!”
Outdoor parties continue to be popular
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“Alfresco dining with colorful tablescapes and elaborate lighting designs, alongside live music, will be a top option for 2023,” says Josefina. “Casual dining settings with low picnic tables and pillows around for seating will continue to be trendy for backyard parties.” Jaclyn agrees: “Last summer, we did a lot of outdoorsy camp-style parties. Fire pits, canteens, and smores. Quality old-school outdoor fun! I think those will be a big thing again this summer. Backyard concerts last year were also HUGE. We talked about the ’80s/’90s cover bands...well imagine one of them holding a concert in your backyard! It’s been done...and the police hardly ever come to deal with noise complaints.”
Lots of atmosphere all around
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“Festive soirée adult parties are defined by their whimsical and unique atmosphere. It isn’t just about the theme,” says Josefina. “Lighting and live music play a big role when it comes to creating a sophisticated and inviting ambiance. Bistro lighting, curtain lights and hanging decor are getting more elaborate and popular because they add character to the parties and create such atmosphere.”
Super-cool party favors
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Party favors aren’t just for kids! “We are finding that many adult milestone parties are opting for lots of swag throughout the party,” says Jaclyn. “Trucker hats, water bottles, and branded beach towels are some common branded items. Additionally, party hosts have been opting for hangover/recovery kits for guests to enjoy the next morning. The kits typically include Bloody Mary mix, alcohol and some headache medicine.” Julia offers up some similar, wonderfully practical party favors to consider: “We send home food that usually gets eaten on the way home—a welcome late-night bite. Unique and unpredictable are key. Something easy that’s always a huge hit is to send the flowers home with guests. The look on people’s faces when they realize they get to take home the flowers is priceless. And it’s eco-friendly!” Going along with the experiences trend, Macy notes that people are opting for that route. “Not so much “party favors” but items that are a part of the event design and overall event experience, such as interactive activities like embroidering a bandana, leather branding on site, and butt sketch artists. Experiences guests can also take home with them as a favor!”
Milestone birthday parties that go all out
“40th birthdays are all about fun—dance and theme parties with good food done in a casual way,” says Julia. “A lot of people have little kids and they want to get a babysitter and go big. Parents need a break to let loose. 50th birthdays for women are destination trips or wellness retreats with a core group of friends with a bit of debauchery sprinkled in. And I love a black-tie event with live music for a 60th or 70th. Hire a photographer. Have tons of speeches. Don’t wait to honor someone’s life!” Macy also highlights the importance of these moments. “We’re seeing that people are truly embracing their age and are ready to go all out to celebrate these big milestones! Traditionally, you've seen people shy away from celebrating big birthdays because they didn’t want to acknowledge they are getting older. We are embracing age and celebrating it in big and extravagant ways. As you should! With every age, there's so much more to be celebrated and remembered!”
Want more birthday party inspo? Check out more of Jaclyn, Julia, Josefina and Macy’s work!
Ready to plan an epic birthday party? Our adult birthday party invites and milestone birthday invites are here to make it happen! Oh, and don't forget to send thank you cards to all of your amazing guests after (most) of the confetti is cleaned up.