How to Celebrate Your Birthday Alone

Two Parts:Planning for Your CelebrationCelebrating the Big Day

Many of you probably remember staying up with excitement the night before your birthday, unable to sleep because of the anticipation of the presents, parties, people, and fun that awaited you. As an adult, some of the magic of birthdays is often lost, especially if you are facing celebrating your birthday alone. The prospect of being alone on your birthday—whether by choice or out of necessity—needn't bring you down, though. Read our advice on how to make the most of a solitary birthday, whether you decide to celebrate at home or get away from it all.

Part 1
Planning for Your Celebration

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    Figure out how much time you can devote to your celebration. Hardly anyone likes having to work on their birthday (even if you have an awesome job and great coworkers), but as adults most of us have to respond to the alarm and trudge off to work even on our birthdays. As you prepare for your birthday celebration, take a look at the day's calendar to see how much time you can carve out for yourself.
    • You may have to spend most of your special day at work, but check your calendar to see if you can head out a bit earlier to hit your favorite bakery or take a little extra time lingering over your breakfast at home.
    • Of course, if you'd rather get every last bit of shut-eye that you can in the morning—especially on your birthday morning, check to see if you can afford to take a longer lunch or possibly take off from work a bit earlier than normal.
    • If you have vacation or personal days available, consider using them on this special day.
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    Consider getting away for your birthday. If you're able to, getting out of town for a solo birthday celebration is a fantastic way to treat yourself, go exactly where you want to go, and get some precious downtime. Traveling by yourself means you won't have to worry about coordinating your schedule with anyone else, nor will you have to make compromises. If you've always wanted to laze around on a sunny beach, but your normal travel companions prefer to tough it out in the woods, now is your chance to go where you want and do exactly what you want.
    • If at all possible, try to make travel plans a few weeks in advance in order to get the best deals. This will include making decisions about transportation,making hotel reservations, and packing for your trip.
    • It's always fun to return to a favorite place, but don't rule out going somewhere entirely new.
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    Scope out special birthday deals. You may not still think it's cool to have a bunch of awkward servers sing you happy birthday (or maybe you do—nothing wrong with that!), but that doesn't mean that there aren't still tons of special deals available for you to take advantage of on your birthday. It used to be the case that all you'd have to do to get a free dessert or coffee on your birthday was say “Today is my birthday” and maybe show your I.D; however, today most businesses that offer special birthday deals or savings require you to sign up in advance.[1]
    • In the weeks and days leading up to your birthday, visit the websites of your favorite restaurants and businesses to see if they offer anything special on customers' birthdays. You may have to sign up to be on a mailing list or more likely an email list.
    • Alternatively, don't be afraid to ask at the counter of the businesses you frequent in person to see if they have special birthday programs.
    • Many coffee houses and restaurants have birthday deals available, but don't forget to check in with other places such as your stylist's or masseuse's.
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    Decide what you'd like as a present. Just because you're planning on celebrating your birthday alone, it doesn't mean that you should have to forgo presents! Think of your birthday as a day to relax, reward, pamper and celebrate yourself—such a day hardly seems complete without a present. Sure, it's (usually!) nice to be surprised when receiving a gift, but who among us hasn't had to graciously fake enthusiasm for a less-than-ideal birthday gift? (Really, Grandma, a puffy-paint unicorn sweatshirt?) The advantage to being your own gift-giver is that you get to pick out exactly what you want.
    • You may decide that you want to save the present shopping for the actual day of your birthday, especially if you really enjoy browsing and shopping and want to incorporate that as part of the day's festivities.
    • However, if won't have time to shop for yourself on your birthday, or if the last thing you want to do in your precious free time is head to the mall, then be sure to select something awesome for yourself in advance, so that you'll have it on your birthday.
    • If you shop in the store, see if the clerk is able to gift-wrap it for you. Yes, that may sound a bit silly (it's not like you don't know what's in the package, after all), but there's a good chance you'll enjoy the ritual of unwrapping a carefully selected gift.
    • Alternatively, select something special for yourself online and be sure to arrange the shipping so that it will arrive before or on your birthday.
    • Whatever you buy should of course be informed by your budget, but keep in mind that you are worth splurging on. Try to choose something that you really want, that seems fun, and that you think would make you happy, even if it seems a bit frivolous. Is there something you've always secretly wished someone else would get for you, even though you swore you'd never buy it for yourself? Be that person for yourself on this very special day!
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    Make the final arrangements the day before. If you were preparing for an important interview or hosting a party, you'd make sure to handle the details of cleaning, shopping, selecting outfits, etc. in advance of the big day. Your birthday is a big day too, and your goal is to make it as special and relaxing as possible.
    • Tidy up your home in the day or two before your birthday. For most people, it's hard to relax in a mess, and you want your home, especially for your solo birthday celebration, to be an oasis.
    • Make the place look festive: you can go all out with streamers and balloons, or just brighten up the space with a small bunch of fresh flowers (another splurge item you might not buy yourself regularly) or candles.
    • Choose your birthday outfit the night before: pick something that's comfortable and makes you feel awesome about yourself.
    • If you're eating breakfast at home and/or bringing your lunch to work, make the preparations the night before so that you don't have to rush in the morning.

Part 2
Celebrating the Big Day

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    Have a special breakfast. Treat yourself to something special and maybe even a little decadent on your birthday morning. Even if you have to get to work, spend a little extra time making yourself something special, such as French Toast. If you made your preparations the night before, it should be a snap to whip the dish up quickly.
    • Even if you're just a toast-and-coffee-in-the-morning type, treat yourself to a better brew than you normally drink in the morning.
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    Take some time to enjoy the outdoors on your birthday. As much of your day as possible should be an escape from the regular routine of your life. In your quest to make the most of your birthday, consider finding ways to get outside to enjoy the escape that nature can offer. Exercise and fresh air can help rejuvenate you, and can provide you with a chance to reflect upon your year.
    • Consider going for a jog around town or on a nearby nature trail, or even a longer hike. You're sure to have a good time on your favorite path or trail, but think about exploring new territory if at all possible.
    • You may also want to go for a bike ride or just a stroll around town. If you don't own a bike and you live in a city, look to see if there are any bike-share programs near you, which are becoming increasingly common and which offer a cheap way to see the sites.
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    Be your own date. What is your dream date? A cozy evening spent on the couch watching old movies and eating your favorite take-out? A leisurely afternoon spent at the museum? Shopping all day? Dinner at the best place in town?
    • Your solo birthday should be about you doing exactly what you want to do, so whether you decide to stay in or go out, be sure to choose a fun or relaxing activity of some sort. Because the day is completely yours, you don't have to worry about accommodating anyone else's tastes or preferences!
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    Eat whatever you want for dinner. One of the best things about your birthday is that you get to decide what will be on the menu for your meals. Of course, this is how it should be, but if we're celebrating with other people, we may feel pressured to tailor the selections to the other people at the dinner table. If you're celebrating alone, though, you are in ultimate control! If you want to eat birthday cake and nothing else for dinner, then no one will stop you!
    • If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, try your hand at such comforting classics as sweet potatoes and pot roast.
    • You could also record one of your favorite cooking shows in advance and try out a new recipe; cook along with the host and it will feel like a party (especially if you cook with a glass of wine!).
    • If you don't feel like cooking or don't have the time, you can order in or go to your favorite restaurant. Be sure that you're ordering something you want and enjoy—today is all about you!
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    Select a special treat for dessert. No birthday celebration is complete without some sort of treat. If you don't want to be tempted by having an entire birthday cake sitting on the counter all week, stop by a local bakery and pick up decadent cupcake or two. You can even have them pipe “Happy Birthday” in icing on top.
    • If baking is your thing, treat yourself to a made-from-scratch dessert such as cheesecake or French apricot tart.
    • If you'd rather go out and get a dessert, you can! If you're eating out for dinner as well, considering choosing a place that has a great dessert menu (don't be shy to let your server know that it's your birthday—you may get dessert on the house), but it could be fun to go someplace else for dessert and coffee or wine.
    • If sweets aren't your thing, then choose a nice cheese platter with a great wine pairing, or anything that you consider to be a treat that you wouldn't eat every day.
    • If you're celebrating your birthday alone because you're physically separated from your friends and family, this would be an excellent time to FaceTime or Skype with them. Put a candle on your dessert and let someone else sing “Happy Birthday” to you.
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    Unwind and relax before bed. As your solo birthday winds down, find a way to relax and pamper yourself just a bit more. Take a steamy shower or a long soak in the tub. Think about purchasing a super-soft, relaxing, new pair of pajamas as one of your presents to yourself. Hopefully today was one of your best birthdays yet!

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Categories: Birthdays