One of my favorite scenes from the movie Tangled is when Rapunzel asks her mother for something special for her birthday. When the mother responds that Rapunzel’s birthday was last year, Rapunzel has to remind her that it’s kind of an annual thing. 

Even though Rapunzel was turning sixteen and we are all turning, well, more than sixteen, this part of the movie always makes me laugh. Rapunzel ends up taking charge and making her sixteenth birthday special by going to the city to see the magical lights. I say we should all do the same. Even though work, school, circumstances, or other things are vying for our attention, birthdays still deserve celebrating as an adult. Party or no party, here’s how to make your birthday special for yourself

A young woman making her birthday special for herself with a hot drink and a gift

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Birthday Week Ideas for Adults

As we leave the days of Chuck E. Cheese parties and school dances behind us, coming up with birthday week ideas for adults is hard. Maybe it’s because our friends are more scattered or our work schedules are more stringent. Perhaps we’re afraid of getting older, so it seems smarter to float the birthday to the back of our minds.

Or maybe you’re reading this, and you don’t identify with any of the reasons above. In fact, you’re pumped for the birthday week to begin. More power to you!

But for those of us in the former category, let’s commit to making our birthdays special before brainstorming birthday week ideas.

What is a birthday week?

One solution to how to make your birthday special for yourself is to celebrate it during a whole week. A birthday week is a more flexible way to celebrate your birthday. 

It gives you the freedom to celebrate your special day on a day that is more convenient for you, your friends and family, and whomever you want to celebrate it with.

If you’ve ever been disappointed that your birthday falls on a weekday or a stressful day at work, then a birthday week is perfect for you. For example, you can celebrate your birthday a little bit each day of your birthday week. Another option is to use the previous or next weekend where you have more time to hang out with friends and family.

How can I make my birthday week special?

During your birthday week, you can do something small every day to celebrate another year of life and thank God for carrying you through another year. Some simple birthday week ideas for her include:

  • Making yourself your favorite breakfast
  • Ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant
  • Going with your friends to your favorite restaurant or brewery
  • Going to get a manicure or pedicure
  • Taking a day off of work
  • Buying yourself a new dress, a new outfit, or some “because adulting is hard” swag
  • Getting a massage

No one says you can only celebrate your birthday one day every year.

How to Celebrate a Birthday

Social media makes us think that there is one right way to celebrate a birthday and that you must have the Instagram-worthy photos to prove how awesome it is. That could not be more untrue!

On your birthday, be surrounded by friends and family or not. Have a night to yourself where you relax and spoil yourself or not. Go out to your favorite restaurant and then go dancing or not.

Spend the day or the birthday week doing whatever you want to celebrate with no expectations or pressure from anyone else.

How to Celebrate a Birthday Differently

Another way to celebrate your birthday differently is to try something new. Do something you’ve never done before or go somewhere you’ve never been. You may be surprised by all the things you love (or hate) about the new adventure.

Even if whatever I decide to do is a complete bust, discovering more about myself always makes birthdays special. 

How to make Your Birthday Special for Yourself Alone

The question of what to do on your birthday with friends is a big one. But an even bigger one is how to make your birthday special alone?

Take the time for yourself. 

In our fast-paced, productivity-obsessed culture, we are always running and usually running on empty. To celebrate another year of life, take time to recharge before you go full steam ahead into the next year.

Dedicated me-time, a quiet apartment, no obligations, and permission to do nothing are key to how to make your birthday special alone. 

Birthday Celebration Ideas at Home

Building on the idea of me-time to celebrate birthdays at home, take it a step further with these birthday week ideas at home:

  • Order in from your favorite restaurant
  • Have a glass of wine while watching your favorite show
  • Light some candles, play peaceful music, and relax with a bath
  • Reflect on the past year with journal prompts and reflection questions
  • Sing worship songs and pray, thanking God for another year and dedicating the next to Him
  • Spend time doing your favorite hobby
  • Do yoga and stretching or lay on the floor for ten minutes thinking about nothing

How do adults celebrate birthdays at home?

Of course, if you’re wondering what to do on your birthdays with friends at home, then consider these birthday week ideas for friends:

  • Order takeout as a group of friends
  • Have a potluck and enjoy dinner together
  • Do a craft together
  • Bake cookies / a cake to enjoy
  • Have a picnic in your backyard or on the patio
  • Cook dinner outside on the grill
  • Host a bonfire and make smores
  • Have a board game night and play games together
  • Watch your favorite movie together – it’s time you have some friends who understand why it’s amazing
  • Play a game outside or fly kites in the yard – I’ve always wanted to play capture the flag as an adult

5 Ways for How to Make Your Birthday Special for Yourself

There is no shortage of birthday week ideas to make your birthday special for yourself. Pick and choose from the list of birthday week ideas for adults, at home or out of the house, with friends or alone. On top of that, here are 5 easy ways to help you make your birthday special for yourself.

1 – Remember what You’re Celebrating

Another birthday. Another year gone. For some, this statement may seem depressing. Getting older sounds like no fun at all. Unless you change your perspective.

God has blessed you with 20+ years of life. He has been with you through the good times and the bad times of the last year and sustained you with his comfort and love. Your birthday may seem trivial or unimportant or you may feel that no one cares.

I’m here to tell you that God sees you. God created you. God loves you. 

Your birthday is special because it’s a chance to thank God for who he is and who he’s created you to be. Spend some time meditating on that truth as you thank him for another year and another day on earth. 

2 – 11 Last Minute Things to do on your birthday

Having a special birthday doesn’t mean you have to plan things far in advance. In fact, there are many last minute things to do on your birthday that will still make the day special without adding stress to the day.

  1. Shopping Spree – No rush time in your favorite stores / window shopping / garage sales / estate sales
  2. Manicure / Pedicure
  3. Take out from your favorite restaurant
  4. Brunch with family or friends
  5. Quiet morning in your favorite coffee shop
  6. Spa Day at Home – relaxing bath, face masks, and pampering
  7. Go out for a Drink with Family or Friends
  8. Buy a Dessert from a nearby bakery
  9. Set aside uninterrupted time for your favorite hobby
  10. Enjoy a walk with friends on a scenic trail
  11. Catch up with friends and family via video call

Related: The Importance of Taking Time for Yourself

3 – 10 Epic Things to do on your Birthday

Of course, if you want to dial it up for your birthday, that’s an option, too. Here are 10 epic things to do on your birthday or during your birthday week to make sure it’s a birthday to remember:

  1. Plan a Road Trip with Friends – See the sights while cruising around, crashing at different hotels, and seeing the nearby famous places and natural wonders.
  2. Travel or Go on a Vacation – the beach, the mountains, a tropical island, a place with medieval history; the world is your oyster.
  3. Go Sky Diving or Bungee Jumping – It’s not my cup of tea, but it may be yours!
  4. Play Laser Tag or Paintball – Just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean you can’t do the things you loved as a kid.
  5. Take a cooking class – Learn how to cook a gourmet meal with friends 
  6. Brewery or Winery Tour – Discover your new favorite beverage in a scenic, fun location
  7. Explore a museum
  8. Go to an Amusement Park
  9. See a ballet, musical, play, symphony or other type of theatre
  10. Dress up in black tie attire and go to a fancy restaurant with friends

You can also check off your bucket list for the season:

4 – Spend it with People you Love

If you’re wondering how to make your birthday special for yourself and drawing a blank on what to do, stop brainstorming. Oftentimes, what you do to make your birthday special doesn’t compare to who you spend it with. 

You can have all the best presents, the most delicious cake, and the greatest adventures, but doing them with people you love make those experiences much richer. 

Even if you find yourself alone this year, something as simple as a phone call, a text message, or a video call can brighten your birthday. You can celebrate next time you’re with friends and family while still spending virtual time with them on your special day.

A group of friends having dinner together and making a toast to celebrate a birthday

5 – Forget about the Money and the Location

As a type-A person, I can get sucked into the details of planning a birthday week and end up focusing on what doesn’t really matter. The first four ways for how to make your birthday special for yourself highlight what’s most important about celebrating birthdays and making your day or birthday week special. 

However, some of the birthday week ideas for adults that I’ve mentioned involve going out and spending money. Still, you can make your birthday special for yourself without spending money or while staying at home.

How can I make my birthday special without money?

If you’re more mobile on your birthday, but short on cash, here are the birthday week ideas for adults that will make your day special without breaking the bank:

  1. Research free events in your local city and attend one of the events – For example, on the first Thursday of every month, my city has a free outdoor concert and free admission to the art museum.
  2. Spend time doing your favorite (free) hobby – go on a hike, read the book you’ve been putting off (here are my top fiction book recommendations), knit and crochet, bake your favorite cookies, etc.
  3. Host a potluck with friends – If everyone brings something you’ll have brunch, lunch, or dinner to enjoy together.
  4. Have a movie night – Rewatch one of your favorite movies with a group of friends and family. 
  5. Enjoy a hike or walk with friends on a peaceful trail – Since I spend so much time in front of my laptop, any time I can get away from it is a special day. Make your birthday special with the great outdoors and great company.
  6. Do all of the things you say you never have time for – Sleeping in, exercising, organizing your closet, making a cup of coffee and drinking it while it’s hot, etc.

How can I make my birthday special at home?

  1. Hire a chef – my mom and her sisters love hiring chefs to come make them a gourmet meal at home. That way, they can enjoy a restaurant meal together while also wearing pajamas and not having to worry about traffic or long reservation lists.
  2. Have a spa day – I mentioned this on another birthday week ideas list, but it bears repeating. You can pamper yourself with a mani-pedi, face mask, a relaxing bath, a cup of tea, a glass of wine, or quiet time with a book or a magazine. Here are other delightful self care gift ideas to splurge on.
  3. Take time off work – You may think if you’re stuck at home, what’s the harm in working anyway? There’s certainly no harm, but taking your mind off work allows you to enjoy your birthday even more.
  4. Enjoy the outdoors – Enjoy the fresh air instead of being cooped up inside all day. Whether you walk around the block, spend time gardening, or sit on the porch and read, this is an easy way to make your birthday special at home alone.
  5. Catch up on your favorite show – With school and work, I hardly have time to watch my favorite shows. And while bingeing TV usually doesn’t make me feel better, it is relaxing to watch a couple episodes of my favorite show at the end of the day.

If due to circumstances, moving, or busy lives, you end up celebrating your birthday alone, I want to encourage you–that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special. 

How to Make Your Birthday Week Special

In the paraphrased words of Rapunzel, don’t forget that birthdays are an annual thing, and it doesn’t take much to make your birthday special. 

Just meditating on the fact that God created me with a purpose and that he loves me unconditionally makes my heart sing with joy on my birthday.

Additionally, all these birthday week ideas for adults offer suggestions for how to celebrate your birthday differently, what to do on your birthday alone with no money, how to make your birthday special for yourself, and what to do on your birthday with friends. No matter what situation you find yourself in this year, I hope you have plenty of ideas on how to make your birthday special for yourself and celebrate. It’s your day after all!

How do you make your birthday week special?

Leave me a comment below!

Don’t miss this! More posts in the Living & Adulting Category


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