Friday, July 24, 2009

How To Celebrate Your Birthday! (12 ideas)

birthday celebration ideas

I have a milestone birthday looming in the not-too-distant future and have been biting my nails over The Best Possible Way to spend one's birthday. A big party in Minneapolis surrounded by friends? At the top of the Empire State Building with my favorite New Yorker/college roomie? In Boston, amid the bricks and accents with a fellow former ex-pat? On a mountain top, all by my lonesome, meditating on the last three decades?

Here are are a few of the tactics I'm currently considering:

Steal a tradition from another culture
You know I'm a total anthro-nerd so I'm obviously all over this. I might make like the Norwegians and dance in front of my class with a friend or make myself a crown of feathers like Israeli kids.

Go to the top of your city's/states/country's tallest building at sunset
Take pictures in that perfect golden light, blow bubbles from the observation deck, thrust your arms behind you and holler about being the king of the world.

Climb a mountain
Feel proud of yourself. Take pictures of yourself in a triumphant pose.

Call your favorite radio station and dedicate a song to yourself
I really think I'm going to do this, probably to the tune of Prince's Raspberry Beret.

Write a letter to yourself in five years
What's your life like right now? Right this minute? Where will you be in five years time? A ranch house in the 'burbs? Opening for Feist? Barrel racing? I celebrated my 25th birthday in Taiwan, in an un-airconditioned apartment, languishing through a water shortage. I remember fainting and having to eat some KFC .

Get a ridiculous manicure and pedicure in birthday-worthy colors
Bright pink? With rhinestone? Or maybe gold with LV decals? I am all over this one, y'all.

Go to the Circus
(um, preferably one without animals that are mistreated.)

Get everything you possibly can for free
Free admission to Disneyland! Free Video Rentals! Free Sephora Gift! Or you could just go out to eat for every meal and see how many times you can get singing waiters.

Bungee jump. Or Sky dive. Or roll down a hill.
I think I'll try the latter.

Plan a long weekend getaway with the besties
Wouldn't it be great to ring in your new year, on the porch of a beach house, drinking champagne with the friends you loved most? Poking around a little tourist town, going out for brunch and buying sea shell earrings? Or paddling around the bay in kayak, getting a bit sun burnt? Hmmm, all of a sudden Duluth is sounding more fun than NYC!

Buy a star for yourself
Name it "Birthday Girl"

Throw yourself an amazing party
Don't wait for your BFF/partner/family to throw you a shindig. If you plan it, you can choose a theme, the food, the guest list. Only the best for you, bunny.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Any good suggestions for ringing in my 30th?

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  1. Hm... it is also my (semi-milestone) birthday very soon... in fact, I just got the e-mail this morning from Sephora, encouraging me to come + pick up my present!

    I've kind of already splurged on myself: I was saving for a computer all summer, + now it is mine! All mine! But I may still buy myself a new game or two.

    My plans? I'm going to stay with my boyfriend the night before + insist that he make me mojitos/frozen margaritas/something similarly girly + difficult to make. Then it will be back to my hometown for I-don't-know-what-yet (but manis sound good!), + then that weekend my family is going to Lake George (our once-yearly vacation).

    Other birthday ideas: put together a slideshow of your favorite people, or pictures from birthdays past. Wear an absurd tiara (me last year: ).

    In fact... I may do a birthday post myself! I'll credit you... thanks for the inspiration!

    [Oh, + you should def. come to NY for your birthday. I will find you + give you birthday pinches!]

  2. This year I celebrated my birthday at the abandoned zoo near my house. It's in the middle of a beautiful, secluded park. We barbequed, drank sangria, explored the abandoned cages, and basically just hung out all. It was really lovely.

    Next year is the big three-oh, so I'll have to plan something equally fun!

  3. Great list, girl! May I add, "Come to Portland! SERIOUSLY." to it?

  4. That birthday freebies list is IMPRESSIVE! I'll be consuming a lot of free pie/cake/ice cream come January 17.

  5. My next birthday is my 30th, and I'm eagerly awaiting the comments on this post to see any more suggestions. Exciting! I'm determined to celebrate, not be miserable about getting old.

    p.s. I'm a new reader - I'm Kate, from NZ *waves*

  6. My 21st is in a few days, so I'm looking for fun things to do. I think I might try getting things for free.

    I usually find the best way to spend a birthday is a picnic/bbq surrounded by friends and family.

  7. Georgia - that's an AWESOME way to spend a birthday!

    Hi Kate - welcome to the party! I used to live in Wellington - so I occasionally like to consider myself an honorary kiwi. ;)

  8. This is such a great post.

    My birthday is my absolute faaavourite day!

    In fact, I'm starting to plan my party and it's not until November... so I've got some good ideas now haha!

  9. Yes! It's all abou the freebies!

  10. Throw yourself an amazing party
    Don't wait for your BFF/partner/family to throw you a shindig.

    does this mean you want me to throw you a party ;)

  11. oh sarah von, why are you so clever? i dig this post oh so much.

    also, i totes agree with throwing your own damn party. there are way too many expectations involved when you envision one thing and your super busy best friend/partner/etc doesn't know or have time to pull together what you *really* want to do. can cause majahhh tension. and like everything in life, i mainly just advocate the youwantit?gogetit. approach, haha.

  12. Last year I made a list of all the resturants in my town that I wanted to try and we went to ALL of them in one day. A tiny meal, dessert or course at each, for three extended meals and many snacks. I think we got in 11. We had to come home and take a nap at one point.

    This year I want to see both the sunrise and sunset on my birthday. Between that is still unplanned. =)

  13. I have one coming too, so what a helpful list! I think that perhaps we should throw on a fancy dress and attend a cultural event- the theater or ballet or something we don't normally do (I don't at least, a night out to the movies is a our norm!)

  14. The manicure thing: absolutely imperative. Last birthday, I got acrylics and airbrushed my initials onto my nails in gothic letters. As a girl who tends to run around in vintage housedresses, this manicure was the most incongruous and AWESOME thing ever.

    Another suggestion: look around to see what random events are going on around you that you'd never normally take the time to attend. A friend and I once went to the Lobster Festival at the Port of L.A., which was amazing since I'm an ex-Bostonian and bitch about missing good Atlantic shellfish out here. We each got a platter with a big fat lobster, ate it sloppily next to hordes of families, and drank those little pink cans of "Sofia" champagne alongside. Totally ridiculous and totally birthday-licious.

    Random silliness can be the best daytime activity before throwing your own birthday party. Travelling and so on can be awesome, but come the night of your 30th, you're going to want a freakin blowout, I promise you.

    Let us know what you decide!

  15. Good luck in planning your birthday. I'm definetly going to pay attention to all the suggestions popping up as I just turned 29. I'm already contemplating making my own 30 New Things List.

    As a Norwegian I however ponder the dance in front of your class with a friend-tradition. Have never heard of it before. Is it supposed to be something you especially do on your 30th birthday?

    The only Norwegian tradition I can think of is giving pepper to singles turning 30. Earlier, you were considered a "pepper virgin" (spinster) if you weren't married by 30. Now giving pepper is just a nod to the concept. And the tradition is fading away more and more.

    As I said, enjoy your birthday! The 30s are the new 20s (that's what I'm clinging to, at least)! :)

  16. Or you could be like me and spend your 30th on a terrible camping trip swarmed with mosquitos and that one guy who plays guitar too loudly for anyone to talk over.

    And I usually love camping.

  17. For my 30th, I'm going back to my roots and throwing a white-trash birthday bash. My bday is in August and this is really an excuse to wear comfortable clothing (Wbeaters & shorts), drink nonpretenious drinks (canned beer), and eat bbq.

    OH! And silly music, I'm compiling all sorts of late 70s rock and hair band ballads.

    I love the idea of silly nails and may have to take your idea!

    Big or small, just have a nice day on your birthday.

  18. I felt good about turning 30 (3 yrs ago now!). I cooked for 2 days and hosted a tapas dinner party for 15 of my closest friends. It was terribly civilized and lah de dah! But such fun. At the end of the night, 5 of my friends did a caberet singing line act in the middle of the living room. Fabulous!
    Have fun whatever you do xxx

  19. Belated happy birthday, dear! Have just landed on your blog and am enjoying every bit of my stay. :) Thanks for being a beacon of positivity and fun! Have you tried writing to yourself via It's one of my fave sites, along with Any fun-filled sites you wanna recommend? :)

  20. I think you should spend your birthday italy (if you can make the trip) unforgetable and a wonderful place. Lots of good food too! But have a great birthday any way! : )

  21. On my 40th birthday I planned a Vuja De day, trying 10 new things from my bucket list!
    It was a great way to commemorate this special day!
    You can read about it here:

  22. I'd like to send a letter to myself in a five years time but the question is: how can I be sure if I'll get it then:) How did you do it? BTW, I am glad you celebrated your 25th bday here in Taiwan:) I celebrated my 21th bday in the states in a house with central heating...and 22th in Philippines...the rest of the previous ones were all in taiwan, nothing special! I should definitely try some of your suggestions, say, bumgee jumping!!!

    1. Yukon, you can try They allow you to send yourself electronic letters for the future. It's very simple.

  23. I would NEVER go to a circus for my birthday!! They beat and torture those animals to get them to do those tricks...what a horrible suggestion!!!

  24. I'm afraid the star-naming thing is totally bogus. See this from the International Astronomical Union.

    But otherwise a nice idea. Maybe name a star for yourself by yourself and spend the money on that mani/pedi or some really "stellar" chocolate