11 Super Fun Ways To Celebrate Your Birthday

There are so many ways to celebrate your birthday beyond drinks with friends or a sad ice cream cake in the staff room! // yesandyes.orgI 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? On a mountain top, all by my lonesome, meditating on the last three decades?

11 fun ways to celebrate your birthday

Borrow a tradition from another culture

Apparently, Norwegian school children pick a friend and dance in front of their classmates and Israeli kids make themselves a crown of feathers. I’m particularly interested in the Russian tradition of a birthday pie with a greeting spelled out in the crust! (I’ll take strawberry rhubarb, please.)

Go to the top of your city’s/state’s/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. Lots of tall buildings have a swanky restaurant or bar at the top so you can double dip here, getting dolled up and grabbing a free birthday drink.

Do something that makes you feel proud

Hike to the top of a mountain. Purge your closet. Forgive your ex. Reach out to that friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Finally schedule that doctor’s appointment. Chop all your hair off. Attempt that recipe you always thought was too hard. Start the next year of your life on the right foot!

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?

What do you hope will be different in five years? What do you hope will be the same? Do you have any advice you’d give Future You? What’s one change you could make today that would be helpful to Future You?

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.

Eat all your favorite foods

All.of.them. If it’s not financially (or gastronomically) viable to eat out for three meals, head to the grocery store and stock up on all your favorites.

My perfect Birthday Meals would be:
Breakfast: Mixed berry fruit salad // a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting from Lunds // bacon (I’m usually a vegetarian)
Lunch: The Bun Chay salad with fried tofu at Trieu Chau
Dinner: Ricotta ravioli // super buttery garlic bread // green salad // chocolate molten lava cake

Go to a live show

Even better if it’s a band or performer you know nothing about. Open your city’s free arts & entertainment newspaper and go to the most recommended event that night, sight unseen

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.

Plan a long weekend getaway with your closest friends

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 sunburnt?

Buy a star for yourself

Name it “Birthday Girl”

Make a list of all the awesome things you’ve accomplished in the last year

Too often we get hung up on what we haven’t done, the items that never seem to get crossed off our life to-do lists. Pour yourself something delicious, hunker down somewhere comfortable, and systemically think through the previous year and list every single cool, impressive, challenging thing you’ve done.

(If you need help jogging your memory, look through your Google calendar and your Facebook events!)

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?
photo by annie spratt // cc

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  1. Cara

    Obvi I vote Boston!

  2. Beth

    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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chlorinebeach/2776055779/ ).

    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!]

  3. Georgia

    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!

    • Anonymous

      That sounds like that was a good idea. Bet you had a good time. I love animals anyway…

  4. daddylikeyblog

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

  5. Sal

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

  6. Kate

    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*

  7. sherin

    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.

  8. Sarah Von Bargen

    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. 😉

  9. What Was I Thinking?

    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!

  10. Eyeliah SS

    Yes! It's all abou the freebies!

  11. Darcie

    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 😉

  12. ML

    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.

  13. Rachel@oneprettything.com

    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. =)

  14. Lemondrop Marie

    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!)

  15. Material Girl

    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!

    • Anonymous

      I’ll be 57 this birthday. I really don’t have but 3 friends. When I was 18 I tried throwing my own party. I cooked 30 steaks and had a keg of beer but only 2 people showed up. That was my last birthday party. I would like to go see the band The Lac’s but there not in my area this year. I had bought tickets last year for me and a friend but they counseled at the last minute. So I didn’t go. I guess the 3 friends I have aren’t very good ones . . I probably just set home and watch TV like every other night of the year. Happy Birthday, hope you have a good one.

      • Linda Michele

        Hi anonymous, I’m turning 67 in Nov and I’d love to travel to Yosemite, again, maybe in Sept (weather) just to be amazed again at the beauty of that place. I have 1 best friend, no children or husband, no car and very little money but I’ve made things happen on less. Wish me luck and I’ll make a wish for you in God’s Country. Cheers!!

  16. DumDiDum

    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)! 🙂

  17. ambika

    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.

  18. BAM

    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.

  19. MLF

    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

  20. rean

    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 futureme.org? It's one of my fave sites, along with galadarling.com. Any fun-filled sites you wanna recommend? 🙂

  21. Alex

    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! : )

  22. Yuko

    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!!!

    • Susaye

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

  23. Anonymous

    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. Anonymous

    I'm afraid the star-naming thing is totally bogus. See this from the International Astronomical Union. http://www.iau.org/public/themes/buying_star_names/

    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

  25. Kay

    I definitely love the idea of borrow a different culture. Very unique. I would perhaps go as far as why do so for only one day, Why not make it through out your birthday month. Or week if you not that adventurous.

    If I ever get to update my blog post about things to do on your birthday, with new ideas, I hope I’ll be allowed permission to include this idea?

  26. Monika Sharma

    Awesome ways to celebrate birthday. I want to celebrate my younger brother’s birthday by using your ideas. Thanks for sharing these.

  27. Liz

    What a great site! I found so many birthday ideas and wrote them down. By the way, I will be 64!

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