How to Have a Happy Birthday When You’re Alone

Your birthday comes around once a year—every year—whether you like it or not. Don’t be in denial; be proud! Celebrate yourself. Age really is just a number; it’s all about how you feel! Choose to feel good, and if you’re celebrating alone, make it special. It’s your day, so do what you want!

Celebrating Your Birthday Alone? Make It Special

Spending your birthday alone is not a bad thing at all. I have family and a few friends, and that’s more than enough for me. I don’t mind going for a b-day lunch with loved ones, but I also enjoy spending my birthday alone. After all, it is my day.

I like to take my birthday as an opportunity to do things I like to do. I love having a day set aside during which I don’t have to stick to someone else’s schedule or worry about rules and the needs of others. I can really do things my way, and I can even go a bit overboard because it’s my birthday.

The following is a list of ideas about ways to spend your birthday on your own. They are somewhat random and presented in no particular order. I wrote them as I thought of them, but I wanted to create a real list. So many lists online are more about scoring SEO points, and they only offer fluff—stuff everyone else has already said. I wanted this list to be different, and I hope it has at least one great idea for everyone.

Of course, your birthday is your day. Take the ideas you like and leave the ones you don’t. Or just ignore the whole list. It’s up to you! Have a happy birthday and don’t worry about being alone. Being alone just means you can choose how you spend your time without any commentary from others about your choices.

Things to Do by Yourself on Your Birthday

  • Take the day off work. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, arrange to have the day off. Use a sick day, a personal day or whatever works.
  • Eat what you want. Seriously—whatever you want. Think about dieting, budgeting and health tomorrow.
  • Write letters to the people you care about. It’s old-fashioned and may seem to take up more hours than you want to give it today, but it can be nice to pause your own celebration and give thanks for what (and who) you have. Mail the letters—don’t forget!
  • Wear something great. Pick an outfit that makes you feel good and gorgeous.
  • Give yourself a compliment. Look in the mirror and say it again.
  • Wear something with colours you like. Go with an accessory like a scarf if you don’t want too much colour.
  • Dress in a style from your past or wear something you still have from when you were a kid, like a scarf, a pin or a hat.
  • Buy a birthday pin or ribbon at a greeting card shop and wear it all day.
  • If you have dinner, lunch or breakfast at home, go all out and decorate the table. Use the good dishes and cutlery. Add a centrepiece too.
  • Spend time on whatever your hobby is. Knit, sew, build a ship in a bottle, go metal detecting, make muffins . . . the list goes on.
  • If you have a car, take a drive. Go to another town and pretend you’re someone famous for the day.
  • Get a manicure and a pedicure—even if you are a guy. Forget outdated gender roles and treat your fingers and toes to a makeover.
  • Buy new underwear and/or pajamas and recycle the raggedy-looking stuff you’ve been wearing for ages.
  • Clean something special that’s been gathering dust bunnies for a while. That antique mirror from your great-grandma could sparkle again—a job well done.
  • Organize something you’ve let get messy. Maybe the family photos could be sorted out. Perhaps your sock drawer or the surface of your desk has gotten pretty cluttered. Getting rid of clutter feels nice.
  • Start the day by getting up early, even if you would rather sleep in. See the sun rising on your birthday and the world (at least your part of it) while getting ready for the new day.
  • Buy yourself something new to wear. It can be a whole new outfit or something small and pretty like a brooch or fancy hat you’d never dare to wear on an average day.
  • Use every flimsy excuse to tell people it’s your birthday. You may get a bonus like a free coffee, but at the very least, a lot of people will wish you a happy birthday.
  • Go out for a fancy coffee or tea in the morning when everyone else is planning their day. Get a window seat where you can see the street and the people commuting to work, dealing with errands and wondering how they will get it all done. Meanwhile, there you are sipping tea or coffee and watching the world rush and work and scurry past your window seat.
  • Pick up some extra groceries. It sounds silly, but get something—simple or fancy—that you really like. I love to get a steak and cook it myself—as close to rare as I want—while no one is there to “ewww” me about it.
  • You know what you really want to do. Don’t tell anyone else (unless you have to explain it to someone to get it done). Celebrate your birthday by doing that thing you want to do but keep putting off cause you don’t have the time, the patience, the energy or the money. Today is the exception to the normal rules.
  • Make amazing plans for the next year. Don’t worry about being too practical with your list. Write down anything and everything you might want to do.
  • Visit at least one local attraction, event or touristy thing. Pretend you are a tourist for a while. I recommend visiting a museum.
  • Weather permitting, give yourself a picnic in the park. Bring a good book and a blanket to sit on.
  • If you can manage to stay overnight in a hotel, you can even get late-night room service. That is still one of my favourite things to do for my own birthday. I like getting a hotel right in the downtown area of the big city.
  • Take a long soak in the bath. Use fabulous scented soaps and bubbles. Pull out the candles and bring a book into the tub with you. No phones allowed.
  • Watch some of the movies you’ve got collecting dust on your shelves and in drawers. Pop some popcorn and enjoy a beverage of your choice.
  • Have champagne or cocktails. Treat yourself to a drink somewhere fancy, get all dressed up and go. Just have one and then leave . . . like a man or woman of mystery.
  • Send yourself flowers, bake yourself a cake and get yourself a birthday card. Don’t skimp on the traditions just because you’re alone.
  • No matter how old you are, put a lot of candles on the cake. It looks pretty, and no one will crack jokes about your age . . . unless of course you laugh at yourself.
  • Put on music and dance and sing along. No one’s watching or listening. Be your own DJ.
  • Choose your own adventure. Take a few “wrong” turns and see where you end up. Go to places you’ve never taken the time to see before.
  • Try something new and a bit risky or bold for your usual style. How about rock climbing, going without cosmetics, reading a book that makes you blush or talking to an interesting stranger. You could even get a new haircut.
  • Send yourself something in the mail. It could be a gift card from a store you like to shop at. It’s like giving yourself a surprise present—you won’t know exactly when it will show up.
  • Don’t spend your birthday catching up on laundry or dishes or other endless household chores. They will all still be there tomorrow. If you have to, get dishes and laundry done the day before so they don’t bug you on your birthday.
  • Have a fancy, deluxe birthday cake, even if you buy it somewhere instead of making it. Don’t count every calorie on your birthday.
  • Walk somewhere. The beach and public parks are nice, even in winter. Take a camera along and be a photojournalist for the day.
  • Do something for someone else. Visit an elderly relative, spend an hour babysitting your sister’s kids or run an errand for your mother. Limit the time you spend on this, but remember that it’s nice not to make your birthday all about you all day.
  • Write about your day at the end of the day. Start a journal if you’ve never had one or find your old journal if you used to keep one. A journal is a great way to wind down, organize your thoughts and give yourself some time with your thoughts.
  • Tell one lie about yourself to a stranger. Yes, it sounds silly. But just for today (your birthday), let someone think you’re more impressive than you think you really are.
  • Buy a lottery ticket. Don’t forget to check it!
  • Create an invitation to your own birthday for the next year. Buy a pretty card or make your own.

I originally published this to HubPages May, 23, 2012.

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