On Thursday, I will be thirty-six-years-old. When did that happen? Kids born when I graduated from high school are graduating from high school! Well, regardless of the year, I have always loved celebrating birthdays – mine and others. Life is so full of struggle. Why not find as much to celebrate as possible. All of us who woke up this morning have a reason to celebrate.
In honor of my 36th trip around this planet, here are 36 tips for creating a simple and fun birthday for your special someone!
- Talk in advance. Before your birthdays come around, talk about what celebrating means to you and what you consider a perfect birthday, an enjoyable birthday, and a disappointing Perfect birthdays will likely not happen every year, but hopefully disappointing birthdays can be avoided! Tuck that conversation away; or, better yet, take notes!
- Spread out the fun. Instead of celebrating only on one day, make it a week-long or month-long affair. You can surprise him or her randomly or daily – whichever you prefer. If you spread the love around, there is far less pressure to pack everything into one day. Just be sure to remember and celebrate on his or her actual birthday.
- Keep a calendar. A few weeks ago, I dreamed it was Christmas Eve and I had not bought a gift for my dad! Additionally, I could not find the shed where I stored all of the gifts I had purchased. It is a strange time of year for such a nightmare, but I woke up relieved that I still had several months to shop. ~smile~ If birthdays tend to sneak up on you, place a reminder in your calendar for two to four weeks in advance of your sweetie’s (friend’s, parent’s, co-worker’s, etc.) birthday. That should give you enough heads up to plan something special, buy a gift, or plan a hilarious gag (depending on his or her sense of humor, of course!).
- Create a list of questions. Though this may sound silly, or a bit too much like work, consider creating a list of questions which will help you get to know your special someone better. Several years ago, I sent my sister-in-law (one of the world’s greatest gift-givers) a list with such questions as, “What is your favorite flower?” and “Do you like figurines?” I learned a lot about what she likes and what she does not like. People tend to give what they would like to receive. (I am so guilty of that!) But, a filled-out questionnaire about someone else can help break that habit or temptation and get that person something he or she would enjoy!
- Start some simple traditions. While your relationship is new, you have the opportunity to create your normal. Some birthdays will include amazing celebrations and others may feel rushed and minimal (think newborn, new job, relocation, sickness, etc.); but, if you have a few easy, but meaningful, traditions, you can be sure to incorporate those traditions every year.
- Collect notes from others. Our friends and family live all over America, and though it would be nice to be together for every birthday, it is usually impossible to make that happen. Social media is a nice place to receive birthday greetings, but there is something extra special about a written note. Ask friends and family to give (or mail) a sweet note for your lady or gentleman, wrap them all in a box, and give them as a gift – especially if words of affirmation is his or her love language. These notes will take up little space so storage will not be a problem. Or, if you would rather, you can ask for birthday cards instead and have a card party.
- Collect videos from others. Ask friends and family who are far away to send short birthday videos and play them on his or her special day!
- Capitalize on kid cuteness! When I turned eighteen, my friend brought her kids and her nieces and nephews over to sing me a Veggie Tales song for my birthday. It was so fun, thoughtful, and unforgettable. If there are some special little people in your significant other’s life, have them make cards, sing songs, bake a lopsided cake, put on a puppet show, or anything else their creative little minds can imagine.
- Include the dog in the festivities! If you or your sweetie has a pet, slap on a birthday hat and bring the dog in on the fun. Give gifts from the dog. Take a birthday photo shoot with the dog. We love our pets, so why not use them to make birthdays that much more special?!
- Make it a day of favorites. For me, that would include pizza, strawberry or lemon cake, cookie dough ice cream, Back to the Future I, II, and III, snuggles, and a bag of Skittles. (My favorites are not the healthiest, are they?!) Fill the day with your sweetie’s favorites.
- Use your talents. Do you sing? Sing a meaningful song. Do you write? Write a beautiful letter or poem. Do you build? Build a small piece of furniture he or she would appreciate. Whatever your talent, you can find something to give your love.
- Try not to try too hard. Sometimes we fumble when we become stressed and tense. Not every birthday will be a home run and that is okay. Focus on making your special lady or gentleman feel Have a plan. But, do not become so intent on the day being perfect that you lose your sense of humor or your sense of calm.
- Agree on a budget for each other’s birthdays ahead of time (and revisit the conversation each year). If you only have $20 to spend on your partner’s birthday, you can feel better about keeping it simple. If you are wandering around not knowing if your boyfriend or girlfriend expects a $5 celebration or a $500 celebration, that is sure to cause some stress.
- Hang a simple balloon. No matter how old we get, there is something heartwarming about seeing a colorful Happy Birthday message floating in the air. Unless he or she has a fear of balloons (and some people do) add a simple balloon (or 2 or 3) to the day. It is a small but meaningful touch.
- Revive some childhood traditions. What did seven-year-old James or nine-year-old Julie do to celebrate? Is there a special restaurant? A game? A song? A present? Bring it back! It is a small gesture but it will pack a punch.
- Have a covered-dish birthday party. If you want to plan an event with friends, it can get pricey and overwhelming. Food is half the battle, so ask your friends to bring a food item to share. Provide cake, punch, and the birthday guest of honor.
- Remember to document. Throughout the day, take lots of pictures. Organize them and document your day together.
- Have a progressive dinner. It is simple. It is fun. It is tasty. It is memorable! Plan a night of dining at three or more restaurants. Include an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. (You can also consider salad and/or soup courses!) If you want to up the experience a notch, find a local food tour and experience more restaurants!
- Decorate a birthday shirt for the birthday boy or girl. If your significant other is the fun-loving type, why not create a work of art for him or her to wear around town? You can also make yourself an “I’m with the birthday prince” (or princess) shirt. Are you thinking a shirt might be too dramatic? Find or create a birthday necklace or hat. Birthdays are a good time to drop your inhibitions and have fun. If people stare, let them stare. ~smile~
- Spend a day outside. If your honey is a nature-lover, plan a day of outdoor adventure. If you want to involve a gift or two, pick something he or she can use to make their day in nature more fun or memorable.
- Send something special to work. If your partner has to work, have a special meal sent in, have flowers delivered, hire a happy birthday singing telegram, or work out a surprise with his or her co-workers.
- Have friends over for games or a puzzle. Cake, ice cream, coffee, and some board games make for an inexpensive, simple, and fun celebration.
- Plan a day/night of binge-watching his or her favorite shows or movies! Eric used to take a deep breath and watch Andy Griffith episodes with me almost daily and I loved it! He could probably go the rest of his life without seeing Barney Fife mess up another situation, but he will watch it because he knows the show is special to me. What show, cartoon, or movie is important to your boyfriend or girlfriend?
- Do something psychological. One year Eric bought us a personality book which came with a personality quiz. We have always enjoyed studying personality and relationships. It was a simple gift, but something we could do together and something which helped us better understand ourselves and each other. A sweet memory.
- Create a love or respect gift. A few years back, my co-worker created and laminated a bookmark with pictures for her husband’s birthday. Under each picture was a reason she respected him. Every man I know appreciates hearing why his wife or girlfriend respects him. And, we ladies love hearing why our men love us. It is like balm to our hearts.
- Volunteer with an organization close to your partner’s heart. Is your lady or gentleman blessed with a big heart and a love for people or animals? If so, think about the causes which are nearest to his or her heart and plan a volunteering day for you both. If you prefer, you can plan this for a day near his or her birthday (because even the greatest volunteers want a day for themselves once in a while. ~smile~).
- Buy several cheap birthday cards and leave them in various locations for the birthday boy or girl to find. Get creative. You can start with places such as the car, work desk, mailbox, refrigerator, etc.
- Organize a small treasure hunt leading to his or her gift. Instead of, or in addition to, hiding cards in strategic places, put together a treasure hunt or hide small gifts and have him or her hunt for them (if that is something he or she would find amusing).
- Hide Easter Eggs. Whether your honey is a Spring baby, Fall baby, or somewhere in between, Easter Eggs can be a fun birthday surprise. Just call them birthday eggs. I found eggs 90% off after Easter this year and stocked up. You can put candy, coupons, movie tickets, jewelry, or sweet notes in these eggs and hide them around the house, the yard, or the town!
- Ditch the gift. This idea may not be the best for everyone, especially if your loved one is a Gifts love-language person; but, consider trading in the present for a fun experience you can enjoy together. We spend time and money looking for the perfect present when the perfect present may not fit in a box. Is there something he or she has talked about doing for a long time but never had the opportunity? Ziplining? Tubing? Parasailing? A relaxing road trip? Spending the day together doing something memorable might be the perfect gift.
- Fill out a What I Love About You You can purchase a hardback version of this with fill in the blanks, or you can create a book yourself. Both are meaningful treasures!
- Make a Reading Calendar. Is your sweetie a reader? Does he or she enjoy reading with you? Eric used to read to me over the phone when we were dating and it was super sweet. Pick a few books you believe he or she would enjoy and write out a reading schedule. Whether you do a chapter a night, or a book in a weekend, reading together can be incredibly bonding. Eric would consider this an amazing gift.
- Revive the childhood coupon book. It is extremely cheap and easy to make, but it gives the promise of your time and your intention to be around for a long time. ~smile~
- Make it a public celebration. A gas station near our home changes their sign every day to wish someone a happy birthday. Look for a place in town which does the same and find an excuse to drive your sweetheart by there. Or, even better, pick a place he or she already drives by every day and ask them if they would update their sign. ~smile~ It is a simple but incredibly thoughtful gesture!
- Decorate the car! Instead of, or in addition to, sending a public birthday greeting, consider decorating the car on the night before his or her birthday. Before doing so, however, know your recipient. ~smile~ My dad, for example, would be horrified to find his truck covered in conspicuous birthday greetings. But, Eric would find it rather fun (as long as he could still see to drive). It is a fun idea; but, know thy sweetheart before trying it out.
- Play Birthday Bigger and Better! If your sweetheart would enjoy playing this game with a group of friends, then this can be a very fun time. Start with a paper clip, toothpick, bottle of water, etc. and trade up! The twist is that you have previously bought him or her a nice birthday gift in advance and, at the end of the event, he or she can trade the last item obtained (regardless what it is) for it! Either they’ve ended up with something very nice and want to keep what they got, or they can trade it for your gift (or, you can just give your sweetheart the gift anyway if he or she wants to keep the last item lol).
Birthdays do not have to require a lot of money. Your thoughtfulness and time are what is truly important. One year, Eric took me to a local zoo which offered elephant rides. The ride was only $10, Eric joined me, and we got a great picture. He knew riding an elephant was on my bucket list, so he made it happen. A $200 gift would not have meant as much to me. ~smile~
Hopefully, these tips will help take some of the guesswork out of future birthdays, make life a little simpler, or at least give you and your significant other a platform to discuss birthday expectations.
I am off to eat some cake and find the largest bag of Skittles money can buy! Have a great week, everyone!
Do you get stressed thinking about your boyfriend or girlfriend’s birthday?