What did you have planned for your most recent birthday?

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When we were kids, we counted down the days to our birthdays, but these days, birthdays have a way of creeping up on us. Unless you’re celebrating a milestone year and someone is throwing you a party, it may seem like a ton of effort to plan things to do on your birthday. And to be honest, some years you really don’t want a party (and don’t want to feel guilted into having one). So if that means you want to take a bath and go to bed early, go for it. If you want to spend a weekend away with your girls, round up the troops and book a hotel.

To make your birthday planning a cinch, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do on your birthday—from going out, to staying in, and everything in between. 

Plan a Spa Day

Friends laying out by the pool.
 
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Want a mental detox? Find the most relaxing spa in town and check yourself in for a full day of pampering (Chillhouse is worth checking out if you’re in New York.) Mud baths, massages, facials: It’s all on the table.

Make Prime Dinner Reservations

dinner at restaurant

That place you’ve been trying to get into for a while? Enlist your S.O. or a friend and go for a relaxing, low-key meal that’s all about celebrating you.

Don’t stress about inviting everyone you’ve ever met to this shindig. The smaller the group, the easier it will be to get a reservation.

Buy Yourself a Gift

birthday presents

Give yourself a budget and then set out to treat yourself. There’s something special about going to a store to pick out a present versus adding something to your online shopping cart.

Book a Luxurious Stay at a Boutique Hotel

hotel room

Find one with a bar and restaurant in-house so you can spend more time relaxing and less time on-the-go. (The Marlton Hotel in New York and Palihouse in L.A. fit the bill.)

Go on a Vineyard Getaway

vineyard
 

What better way to celebrate that things get better with age than by sipping some vino? Spoil yourself rotten with wine and all the cheese plates. Many wineries also offer subscriptions to their products, so you’ll always have the perfect wine on hand.

Plan a Trip to See a Friend

friends talking
 

Sometimes your closest friends don’t live nearby, but they’re the ones you want to celebrate with most. Go ahead and celebrate in their hometown instead of yours for a nice change of scenery.

Escape to the Beach

beach vacation

Is there anything more calming than sand between your toes? Enjoy some serious fun in the sun and get away from the business of life for a bit. Lounging by the beach is the perfect thing to do on your birthday.

Rent a Food Truck

food truck

Instead of going out to dinner, have a food truck pull up to the park or outside your place to serve guests. It’s so much cooler than regular cateringx

Host a Private Movie Screening

movie night

Whether you rent out your own theater at the cineplex or camp out inside someone’s at-home movie room, one thing is for sure: You get to pick the flick. Make sure you have some movie theater quality snacks on hand to complete the evening

Get a Room at a Karaoke Bar

karaoke
 

This way you can sing/scream to your heart’s content, without having to embarrass yourself too much. We suggest picking one that serves bubbly for an unforgettable celebration.

Throw a Pool Party

If you’re lucky enough to be a summer baby or live somewhere that’s warm year-round, give a pool party a go. Jump on the pool float trend for maximum coolness.

Hire a Private Chef

Want a fine dining–style meal without having to leave your home? A private chef will cook your favorite dish (for one, two, or even 10)

Have Your Own TV Marathon

binge watch tv

It’s all about what you want to watch, completely guilt-free. To make it extra special, have popcorn, candy, and ice cream on hand.

Whip Yourself up a Cocktail

mixology

Not the best bartender? Request a delivery from Cocktail Courier so all of the ingredients for your favorite beverage are already measured for you

Indulge in a Slice of Cake

birthday cake
 

Whether you pick it up from your favorite bakery or decide to make your own, this is a must on your special day. Oh, and don’t forget to make a wish

Have a Pajama Party

pajama party

Whether you’re with friends, your partner, or even with your kids, there’s something about chilling out in your coziest PJs that always makes you feel good. Binge-watching your favorite shows is a must.

Go to a Show

concert

Splurge on tickets to a magic show, play, or concert (your pick) that you’ve been dying to see. If time permits, treat yourself to dinner before or after.

Brewery Hop

things to do on your birthday - brewery hop

If beers are more your thing, gather your friends and head to your favorite craft breweries. Take advantage of flights so you can taste everything from stouts to IPAs

Take Your Favorite Fitness Class

things to do on your birthday - try a new fitness class

Always wanted to try boxing? Now’s your chance. Take the day to try a new fitness class (or an old favorite) that you always wanted to try. From spinning to aerial yoga, there’s always something new to try.

Have a Progressive Dinner

things to do on your birthday - have a progressive dinner

Enjoying a progressive dinner is a great way to hit all of your favorite restaurants in one day. Have appetizers at one location, entrées at another, and finish up with coffee and dessert at a final spot.21of 50

Reread Your Favorite Book

Your birthday is your day, why not do what you really enjoy? If you’re an introvert who prefers your own company to a wild party, make it your day and reread one of your favorite books. Whether its Little Women or something more modern, taking the day to relax and recharge is never a bad idea

Buy Your Favorite Treat

Your birthday is a time to indulge, so make a point of enjoying your favorite treat. Whether you love macarons or you’re more of a cupcake person, be sure you get a sweet treat to celebrate your day

Call Your Family or Closest Friends

Chances are they’ll be texting you to wish you a happy birthday, but sometimes a call or a FaceTime gives you a better chance to catch up. Enjoy their well wishes and make plans to see them soon, if they live far away.

Reflect on Your Past Year

What lessons did you learn? What were some of the best moments and which parts are you glad to be moving on from? Reflecting on your past year, and maybe even setting some goals for the future, can be a great way to honor yourself.

Redecorate Your Home (or Maybe Just a Room)

Thinking about splurging on a new couch or fancy bedding? Now’s the time to treat yourself. Work with an interior designer, an online design service like Modsy or try it on your own.We Did the Homework—These Are the 7 Best Places to Buy a Sofa Online

Avoid Your Least Favorite Chores

It’s time to plan ahead. Strategically vacuum, do laundry, or any other chores you dread ahead of time, so you don’t have to bother with it on your special day.

Become a Plant Parent

Plants are the gift that keep on giving. Not only can they help clean the air, they also bring a little life and happiness to your space. Start small with easy-to-care-for houseplants like snake plants or pileapepermioides.

Go Through Old Photos

Whether you just scroll through photos you’ve posted on Instagram or flip through family photo albums, it’s always fun to reminisce on old times. Plus you’ll get plenty of options for throwback posts in the future.

Play With Puppies

things to do on your birthday - play with puppies

Many shelters need volunteers to play with the dogs (or cats). What better way to spend your day than hanging with some furry friends? Call ahead to see what their needs are, and you can feel good about celebrating your day.

Binge Watch Your Favorite Show

best living room ideas - reading nook with ottoman, comfy chair and magazine rack

Sometimes we all just need a day to ourselves where we can control the remote. Start a show you’ve been waiting to see or go back to an old favorite — there are no rules on your birthday!

Donate to a Charity

things to do on your birthday - donate to charity

We all have causes that mean a lot to us. Take a little time to donate what you can to the charity of your choice. You can also encourage your friends and family to donate as well, in lieu of a gift.

Enjoy Breakfast in Bed

things to do on your birthday - enjoy breakfast in bed

While we wouldn’t normally recommend eating in bed (so many crumbs), we’ll make an exception for your birthday. Enjoy pancakes, pastries, coffee, and maybe even a mimosa to start your day off right.

Host Your Own Wine Tasting

wine tasting

You don’t need to visit a fancy winery to get the experience at home. Ask your friends to each bring a bottle of wine over, and enjoy trying different varieties

Have an Ice Cream Social

things to do on your birthday - host an ice cream social

Ice cream parties aren’t just for kids. Celebrate your birthday like you used to by gathering up your favorite ice cream flavors and all the fixings.

Enjoy Your Favorite Dinner

things to do on your birthday - eat your favorite meal

You don’t have to cook it, but at least order in your favorite meal. Whether you go for a full Italian spread or pick up some pad Thai, you should have your favorite foods on your big day.

Go Hiking

things to do on your birthday - go hiking

Spending some time in nature is a great way to reset and indulge in some “you” time. Try a nearby trail or take a trip to a prime hiking destination like the red rocks of Sedona or Yosemite National Park.

Head to a Bowling Alley

things to do on your birthday - go bowling

Think bowling alleys are for kids? Think again. Many now serve great food and custom cocktails, making it a true destination for a great time

Try a Recipe You’ve Always Wanted to Make

If you’re a fan of cooking or baking, take the time to try a new recipe you’ve been waiting to try. Whether you make gnocchi from scratch or try to bake your own birthday treat, spending some time doing something you love is always a good idea.

Splurge on a Nice Bottle of Your Favorite Liquor

things to do on your birthday - pick up a bottle of your favorite liquor

If you usually stick to a cheaper version of your favorite spirit, now’s the time to indulge. Pick up a brand you’ve been eyeing and celebrate in style

Have a Dance Party

things to do when bored - listen to music

It’s not a party if there’s not dancing. Grab a few of your favorite records and dance the night away to your favorite tunes

Enjoy a Staycation

things to do on your birthday - book a staycation

Find an Airbnb in a cool part of your town and live your best life for a day or two. Explore new shops, restaurants, bars, and hot spots in an area you might not always visit.

Take a Class

Always wanted to learn to spin pottery? Interested in learning how to cook? Book a class in the area of your choice and learn something new for the day. Invest in yourself this year

Set Some Goals

Where would you like to be at this time next year? Write down some goals that you have for yourself (personal, work-related, or otherwise) to help guide you for the next year

Buy Yourself Flowers

Whether you love roses or think lilies are gorgeous, head to a local florist and pick out a bouquet, just for you. Plus you’ll get to enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers in your home for the next week

Host a Fancy Tea

Celebrate your day in style with a fancy tea party. Include champagne, finger foods, and plenty of treats for a party worthy of your birthday

Go on a Shopping Spree

things to do on your birthday - go on a shopping spree

If you’ve been meaning to hit the shops, today’s your day. Give yourself an excuse to spend a little money on yourself. Buy a new outfit, grab some beauty buys, or just buy a thing or two that will make you smile

Host a Themed Party

things to do on your birthday - host a themed party

Everyone loves a good theme. Whether you go with a 70’s disco party or a ’90s grunge affair, tailor the music, food, and atmosphere to your decade of choice

Indulge in Nostalgia

things to do on your birthday - indulge in nostalgia

Love puzzles as a kid? Was Monopoly your favorite board game ever? Spend some time indulging in some of your favorite nostalgic memories — it’s your day after all!

Decorate Your Home

things to do on your birthday - decorate your home
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It’s time to pull out the streamers and confetti. Decorate your home with all of the festive party store dècor you can find

Wear a Show-Stopping Outfit

things to do on your birthday - wear something festive

Never had an occasion to wear that sequined jumpsuit in the back of your closet? Now you do. Spend some time dressing up for your day — you’ll feel as good as you look!

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