If you’re reading this, chances are either you or a loved one have a birthday coming up. And if that’s the case…happy early birthday! It’s been a hell of a year (*Cardi B exclaims “I know that’s right!” in the distance*) and you deserve to be celebrated. And sometimes, when you want a birthday done right, you have to take matters into your own hands.
I personally hate my birthday—I get all up in my feels about getting old and anxious about whether the day was “special” enough—so I like to have a schedule packed full of fun activities so I don’t have a spare second to overthink things. If you’re like me, or if you actually love your birthday and want to do it up right, then you’ve come to the right place, because I’ve compiled a list of 40 hella-fun things to do on your day of birth. Think: scoring freebies from your favorite stores, getting that piercing/tattoo/haircut you’ve been considering, or throwing a themed party your friends will be taking about until your next bday rolls around.
Scroll down for all the party inspo, sweet birthday bb, and start planning a day that’s all about Y-O-U. (And eat a slice of cake for me while you’re at it.)
Get alllll the free sh*t.
If you’ve been on TikTok in the past couple years, you’ve definitely come across a “come with me to get my birthday freebies” haul. Obviously you’ll need to hit Starbucks for a free drink, but don’t sleep on Auntie Anne’s for a free pretzel, IHOP for a free stack of pancakes, and Subway for a free 6″ sub and cookie. (Editor’s note: make sure you sign up for the rewards programs for these places ASAP to make sure you get the goods.)
Pop that good bottle.
You know, the one that you’ve been saving on your bar cart for a special occasion? There’s no better time than now to crack ‘er open.
Use up those gift cards you’ve been hoarding.
Chant with me now: Shop-ping spree! Shop-ping spree! Locate all the gift cards your grandma gave you last Christmas, and get your capitalism on, baby. Is there anything sweeter than spending money without anything coming out of your bank account? I think not.
Get yourself a cake.
If I were you, I’d make it an ice cream cake…and then eat it all solo. You can also bake your own cake, no shame in that. As long as you have some sort of dessert to stick a candle in, that’s what really matters.
Visit a psychic.
Another trip around the sun is in the past…now don’t you wanna see what’s in your future? Take your GFs to find out what you have to look forward to by visiting a psychic. JFYI, it doesn’t have to be too serious. Just have fun.
Treat yourself to a spa treatment.
Aching muscles? Massage. Breaking out? Facial. Toenails that probably shouldn’t see the light of day? Pedicure. Pick your poison and prepare to spend the day in a fluffy white robe while being absolutely pampered.
Splurge on that accessory you’ve been eyeing.
There’s definitely a bag that came to mind when you read the above sentence. As long as said purchase won’t send you you in financial ruin, then consider bringing it home with you. You deserve it, you chic thing, you.
Take the day off.
If your company doesn’t already give you a day off for your birthday, use some of your PTO. No one, I repeat no one, should have to lift a finger on their day of birth.
Go to your favorite restaurant.
Pick a hot date (yah, even if it’s just your mom) and make a reservation at the eatery you can never get enough of. Just make sure your dinner date tells the staff it’s your birthday so you’re treated extra special (free dessert, anyone?).
Bliss out with a staycation.
Book a room for yourself at the bougiest hotel you can afford, and enjoy a night in with all the amenities. Take a bath, spread out on the king-sized bed, order room service, head to the in-house spa or restaurant, and revel in your newfound freedom. You can bring a friend for slumber party vibes, your S.O. if you wanna get romantic, or simply go solo for a perfectly peaceful night away from your responsibilities.
Hit up a Dave & Buster’s.
No, really—kick it old school and embrace your inner kid with a day at your local arcade. You might just remember why you found it so darn fun in your single-digit years (and the junk food is always on point).
Use allll the self-care products.
Yes, even that expensive face mask. Now’s the time to pamper yourself with all the products you bought this year but haven’t put to good use. And if you didn’t buy any? Time to hit Sephora, obviously (and cash in on that birthday treat while you’re at it).
Throw a themed party.
Pajama party, 70s party, stereotypical slumber party, wig party…the options are truly endless. IMHO, everyone loves an excuse to don a costume, no matter how low-effort, so a theme party is iconic for all attendees.
Book a private karaoke room.
Grab a group of friends and prepare to sing like you’re trying to get a golden ticket to Hollywood. It’s your birthday, so no one can get mad if you hog the mic for an entire rendition of All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version). Pro tip: seek out a karaoke place that’s BYOB to save that $$.
Take a hot girl walk.
Carve out a time in the day to throw on your sneaks and just walk. Use it as a time to reflect on the past year and all that you accomplished while getting those endorphins pumping for the rest of the day.
Write down your ~birthday resolutions~.
I’m not sure if I just made this up, but if I didn’t, birthday resolutions should absolutely be a thing. After all, why should New Year’s hog all the good vibes? Time to set those intentions, baby—you’re not getting any younger. (Sorry, but it’s true.)
Give yourself a fancy mani.
Why not spend a whole two hours doing designs on your claws while sipping White Claws and watching TV? If it were me, I’d do a gel mani so it lasts (good thing you can master them at home now).
Book a getaway.
Pick a city, any city! Or go all out and book a getaway to the one country that’s forever been at the top of your bucket list. Nothing feels better than having a vacation on the horizon, so use your birthday as an excuse to get booking. Better yet, ask for an Airbnb giftcard and use it to fund your next getaway.
Just like, don’t stop eating?
If you’re like me and have every meal planned approximately two meals ahead of time, then you might just want to spend your entire day bouncing from eatery to eatery. It’s like barhopping, but without the hangover.
Go to therapy.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t the most fun thing you can do on your birthday, but therapy can be life-changing and you deserve to invest in your mental health. If you’ve been meaning to sign up—or still haven’t made that first appointment—there’s no better day to get it done. New year (of life), new you.
Make a charitable donation.
Nothing feels better than helping those in need, no matter the day of the year. Use social media or word of mouth to let your friends and family know that you’ll be donating to your favorite charity for your birthday, and you’d love their support in lieu of gifts. Many platforms (like Facebook and Instagram) let you start a donation that others can add to, making it easy to pool funds for those in need.
Hit the pool. Any pool.
*Shouts into bullhorn*: POOOOL PARTY! If your birthday falls in the summer months (or you live somewhere where the sun shines all year ’round) then you should definitely consider splish-splashing the day away. Don’t have a pool? Try out Swimply, a new app that’s basically like Airbnb for pools, and book a private swim sesh.
Play tourist in your own city.
No matter where you live, there’s always something left to be explored. Hit up your nearest ~cultural capital~ and allow yourself to experience it through the eyes of a newbie. Visit that museum you’ve never been to! Take that boat ride! Sign up for that walking food tour!
Go to IKEA.
Maybe this is just my idea of a great time, but for real: IKEA is the party spot. It provides cheap and delicious food, entertainment for hours, and plenty of shoppable moments. What more can you ask for out of a good day?
Try a new recipe.
If cooking is something you enjoy, grab a big glass of vino and get creative in the kitchen. Better yet, track down that recipe you earmarked in your favorite cookbook ages ago and finally chef it up. If all else fails, order in your fave takeout and watch Top Chef reruns. It’s basically the same thing.
Sleep in (or honestly, don’t even get out of bed).
If your ideal morning doesn’t include an alarm, don’t set one for the morning of your birthday. Let your body get the rest it deserves, at least one day of the year! And if you don’t want to get up and moving after that? Don’t. It’s your day, and you can spend it beneath the sheets if you want to. (Did somebody say breakfast in bed?)
Redecorate your room.
It’s a fresh new year of living and your bedroom might as well reflect that, right? Introduce some changes in the form of new decor, a new paint color or wallpaper, new bedding, or just some (easy! and! free!) furniture rearranging. Of course, if you need some ~aesthetic room ideas~ we’ve got all the inspo you need.
Go on that date night you’ve been dreaming of.
Whether it’s to the new restaurant that opened nearby, or the drive-in theater with a trunk full of pillows and snacks, it’s time to live out that fun-night-out fantasy. The best part? You don’t technically need a partner to take you out—a friend will do just fine.
Enjoy the great outdoors.
Leave the house and gulp that sweet, sweet fresh air while doing your favorite outdoor activity. (Swimming? Biking? Hiking? It’s all up to you, bb.) Unless you hate the outside, of course, because it’s your birthday and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.
Host a pizza party.
Remember in elementary school when pizza day was the highlight of your week? Channel that energy by hosting a pizza party with your besties—you should probably grab a few pies, but also don’t be afraid to get all your favorite toppings. It’s your birthday, so if you like pineapple and anchovies, then your crew is just going to have to deal with it.
Get glammed up just because.
Get dressed up in an outfit that makes you feel like a walking, talking fire emoji, then strut your stuff, you dreamboat you! It’s your world, we’re just living in it. Don’t wanna splurge on a fancy new ‘fit? Try out a fashion subscription to a company like FashionPass, Nuuly, or Rent the Runway for the month.
Make a video to commemorate your previous year.
Time to get real on your Reels (and show off all those pics you regretted not posting over the last 365 days). A lil slideshow, set to your fave song of the year, is a perfect way to remember what you did and how you grew since your last birthday…and also to remind people to wish you a HBD in the first place.
Start your day at midnight.
Your birthday only comes once a year, so you might as well take advantage of every. single. second. You can stay up for 24 hours for a good reason, right?
Hire a photographer for a birthday photoshoot.
Remember when I told you to get all glam? Why not capture the moment by getting professional photos taken? I mean, you’re going to need to post something to let people know it’s your birthday, right? I love using Shoott, a site that connects you with local photographers for mini shoots—you can book a free 30-minute session and only have to pay for the shots you love. Alternatively, of course, you can always get a friend to start snapping with their trusty iPhone.
Get that tattoo/piercing/haircut you’ve been wanting.
Bite! The! Bullet! There’s no better time, and you’ll have a memory of your special day every time you look in the mirror. (Disclaimer: this does not apply to getting bangs. Bangs are never a spontaneous decision.)
Unplug and recharge with a getaway in the great outdoors. That’s right, it’s time to wear all those cute flannels in your closet and make all those s’mores! (Don’t worry, camping in your backyard also counts.)
Swirl some wine
Perfect for big group celebrations, your local winery is a great place to swirl and sip the day away. You probably won’t (slash shouldn’t) buy your own drink while you’re there, and the Insta-birthday-post opps will abound.
Do something that scares you.
Start this new trip around the sun with a bang—and remind yourself that you can do hard things. Pick a fear and conquer it, whether it be skydiving, rock climbing, ziplining, shark cage diving, or white water rafting.
Rent a limo.
Because your birthday is way more important than prom, and you’re definitely going to need a chauffeur with all those drinks your friends are bound to buy you. Have it take you and your crew to a winery, concert, sports game, or book it for a night out on the town.
Lastly, call your parents.
You wouldn’t be here celebrating if it wasn’t for them, after all.
Hannah Chubb Associate Lifestyle Editor Hannah Chubb is the associate lifestyle editor at Cosmopolitan, covering all things home, travel, food, health, career, and more.
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