How to Give Your Girlfriend an Unforgettable Birthday

Three Parts:Gathering IntelligencePlanning to PartyCelebrating Your Partner

Celebrating the people that matter most to us comes down to one thing: paying attention to them. There is no ultimate decoder ring to be found online for determining what every girlfriend wants, let alone what your specific girlfriend wants. The quest for the perfect gift or immaculately planned party can be stressful, though, so when it comes time to plan an unforgettable birthday for your partner, hopefully these ideas can kickstart your efforts.

Part 1
Gathering Intelligence

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    Mark your calendar. You can’t give your girlfriend an unforgettable birthday if you forget her birthday. If you don’t know it, ask her.
    • Proper birthday planning doesn’t happen the night before, and you’ll never even know it’s the night before if you don’t ask. You want advance warning for the preparations you should undertake.
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    Listen attentively to her. This should go without saying when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship and being a functional conversationalist for your partner, but double down when her birthday draws near. The most obvious of hints will be missed without effort. [1]
    • While you’re shopping together, guess what! She will talk about things she likes. Start a list using the notes function on your smartphone, or keep a small notebook in your bookbag (do be discrete when writing in it, though).
    • Hints can come while you’re both vegging out on the couch idly surfing the web or halfway-watching Netflix. If she’s got her iPad or phone open, keep an ear out for stray comments with gift potential.
    • This extends out of the realm of gifts, as well. Only by actively listening could you know, for example, that your girlfriend hates surprise parties because she was savagely ridiculed by her best friends at one in the tenth grade about the print of her pajamas and it would be a terrible idea to plan such a thing for her today. Don’t assume she will like something because you like something.
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    Pay attention when she's around her friends. Even if it's just a few of you hanging around during lunch, she's more inclined to speak freely about interests of hers that she thinks you're not interested in hearing about. Don't let these freely given gift ideas (or opinions which could warn you away from bad gift ideas) go to waste!
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    Ask her what she wants. [2] She is, of course, under no obligation to directly tell you what she wants, but simply asking is a straightforward solution which can leave both parties happier.
    • If she says she doesn’t want anything, it doesn’t mean “literally don’t do anything.” Small gestures like cooking dinner, or crafts which commemorate your time together can be appreciated even if she doesn’t want a big gift. If she doesn’t want an event, how about spending a quiet night in with just the two of you?
    • It is not recommended to ignore any expressed wishes limiting how much to spend, especially after asking for her input. Thinking “spending more = better gift” is a common mistake when it comes to gift-giving, especially in the early stages of a relationship. [3]
    • While expressing a want opens a person up to disappointment if they don’t receive the desired gift, don’t be discouraged if you can’t fulfill your partner’s first choice. If they want something presently unattainable for you, however, pursue entirely different gift avenues rather than settling for a less ideal version of those limited edition sneakers or that Tom Ford perfume.
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    Poke around on her Pinterest. This social media platform exists to pin images of things users like. Simply put, if your girlfriend has one and you’re struggling for gift ideas, look to her Pinterest.
    • While a little online recon can provide great ideas, never use this as an excuse to invade your girlfriend's privacy. Respecting boundaries is always important.
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    Address the state of your union. What’s appropriate for the girl you asked out in homeroom two days ago won’t be appropriate for your girlfriend of four years whom you share a dorm with, and vice versa. Take the length of the relationship and the level of intimacy into account when handling your significant other’s birthday.
    • Coming on too strong is another of those common mistakes for a new relationship. [4] Planning out an entire evening of festivities might not be the best bet for newbies, but be communicative, and let her know that you’re thinking of her during her day. Texts or a couple old-fashioned, handwritten notes passed back and forth can accomplish this goal.

Part 2
Planning to Party

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    Make your plan and prepare punctually. Waiting until the last minute to pick up her gift, or to make reservations at the restaurant, or to ask your boss for time off so that you can meet her at the movies is going to stress you out and create situations where you have to settle for the second (or third) best option for the day. No girlfriend’s idea of an unforgettable birthday involves their partner’s procrastination.
    • If you’re planning a surprise party, make sure all who would be invited have time to clear their schedules and make any necessary arrangements.
    • Exploring a museum is a fun possibility for a birthday event, but make sure you’re entirely informed when it comes to the museum’s policies, ticket prices, and hours. Expecting everything to be open because it “seems like it should be” is a good way to have excellent birthday plans dashed at the last minute.
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    Get a card, get flowers, or get both. While every girl may not be overly fond of these, the idea is sound. Small tokens that show you care and think about her while she’s not there can mean the world. Even better than buying a card is making one, no matter your skill level with the ancient tools of marker, glitter, and glue.
    • Flowers induce emotion, when received and even when given. [5] You’re doing more for yourself than you might think with that bouquet! Just picking a particularly pretty flower you see growing outside and giving it to her without much pomp or circumstance can make her blush.
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    Know not just your gift, but where you’re getting it from. Online retailers need time to ship to you, after all, and smaller businesses (like those found on Etsy) often adhere to different timetables than you may expect, and can take longer to fulfill orders. [6]
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    Survey your city. Digging through your neighborhood's upcoming events online can yield interesting and unexpected ideas for birthday plans, but it’s smart to be abreast of these events even if you’ve already made arrangements. Various festivals, concerts, and construction can derail your day if you’re not expecting them, so plan alternate routes to the restaurant.
    • Along these same lines, keep up to date on your meteorological happenings. A storm system could spell potential disaster for your hike, while a meteor shower could provide just the right low-key end (or midnight beginning) to a birthday.
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    Put the wallet away and pull out the picnic basket. Nothing says an unforgettable birthday requires huge expense. The tried-and-true picnic is ever affordable and fun for a couple's afternoon, down by the water, or in the woods, or just in your backyard with a choice playlist and some privacy.
    • Even if you're not culinarily inclined, a couple sodas and chicken nuggets can be just what the doctor ordered. Don't hesitate to ask friends and family for help making bruschetta or other easy appetizers, or even with simply laying out a neat french-style spread: deli meats, butter, cheese, and a baguette.
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    Mine your past for gifting gold. Being with another person for long enough can create lots of gift potential. Sometimes you can directly use all the opinions, ideas, and places you've experienced together as gifts!
    • A scavenger hunt is a fun way in which a lot of effort and thought can stretch a smaller gift budget and turn it into a fun experience. Write rhyming clues which reference events specific to your relationship, then hide them for her around your home and class (hopefully nothing that would embarrass her in this case), or at meaningful locations to her. You can ask her family for help so that she'll have the first clue awaiting her when she wakes up for the day, dangling from her ceiling fan!
    • Scrapbooks are sweet, inexpensive ideas. You can reflect on all your positive memories by pasting photos and old notes into it, and even stick in some ideas for future dates for the two of you. And in case you're self-conscious about making one, hey: there's nothing embarrassing about giving your girlfriend a really good gift.

Part 3
Celebrating Your Partner

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    Pebble their window at midnight. It's not clichéd, it's classic. Sending a couple of small--emphasis on small--pebbles up at their window right at the stroke of midnight, even just to wave at them if they can't come outside, is a meaningful gesture that everyone can make.
    • Bonus point for bringing them their gift because you just can't wait to give it to them, or for holding up a "happy birthday" sign.
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    Eyes off the cellphone. We take our phones everywhere now: in the classroom, into meetings, into the bathroom, into bed. Don’t take your cellphone into your girlfriend’s birthday. It’s a distraction that will affect your attention and hamper communication. [7] Undivided attention is the greatest gift of all.
    • Note: do not mistake “my undivided attention” for a satisfactory birthday gift to give your girlfriend.
    • You may need your phone on hand to coordinate with friends and family meeting up for the birthday plans. Don’t, however, prioritize checking your cell phone over being mentally and emotionally present for your partner.
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    Give gifts that are only for her. It’s easier than you might think to mistake great gifts for you as great gifts for your girlfriend. Make sure that Super Nintendo you’ve got wrapped in your closet is actually because Super Metroid has immense sentimental value to her, and not because you really wanted to get a Super Nintendo.
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    Give gifts that could only come from you. Although she’s the focus, ensuring those gifts you give are undeniably from you can make them all the more meaningful.
    • If you’re heading out to dinner, don’t just go for the fanciest place possible. Take her to the new pizza place, because you’ve both talked about studying abroad in Italy.
    • If you’re giving her a book (or any form of art) give her something meaningful to you that you think she will like, but that will make her think of you. [8] Make her a mixtape or an extra special playlist, and she'll think of you every time she hears those bands.
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    Get creative. If you’re a musician, pen something particular to your partner and perform it for them! And if you’re not—take lessons on the sly and perform something for them! Even if it’s bad, you will have given your girlfriend something sincere that could’ve only come from you (and possibly something sincerely funny for the two of you to laugh about later that night).


  • Make sure to take all price tags off!
  • Don't give plain money or a gift card. It’s a gift that often feels impersonal and nonspecific.
  • Don't worry if you can't think of something super-awesome like you wanted to. It's the idea that matters, that you've thought of her. (And it's also a way to show her that you know her well.)
  • Don't complain to her about how you don't know what to give her! She'll feel like you didn't bother to think about it, plus you'll put her in an awkward situation.
  • Don't let her pay dinner on her own birthday.

Article Info

Categories: Birthdays | Dating