When we were kids, we counted down the days to our birthdays, but so much has changed since then. These days birthdays have a way of creeping up on you. Unless you’re celebrating a milestone year and someone is throwing you a party, it may seem like a ton of effort to plan what you want to do. And to be honest, some years you really don’t want a party (and don’t want to feel guilted into having one).
A birthday should be all about taking the time to do something for you, so pick an activity that feels special to you.
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.
IF YOU WANT TO GO OUT
1. Plan a spa day. 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.)
2. Make prime dinner reservations. 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.
3. Go to a show. Splurge on tickets to a magic show, play, or concert (your pick).
4. Buy yourself a gift. 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. (We love the idea of gifting yourself a personal piece of jewelry like the below.)
IF YOU WANT TO GET AWAY
5. Book a luxurious stay at a boutique hotel. 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.)
6. Go on a vineyard getaway. What better way to celebrate that things get better with age than by sipping some vino? Spoil yourself rotten with wine and all the fixings.
7. Plan a trip to see a friend. 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.
8. Escape to the beach. 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.
IF YOU WANT A PARTY
9. Rent a 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 catering.)
10. Host a private movie screening. 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.
11. Get a room at a karaoke bar. 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.
12. 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 (the flamingo drink float below will come in mighty handy).
If you want to stay in
13. 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).
14. Have your own TV marathon. It's all about what you want to watch, completely guilt-free.
15. Whip yourself up a cocktail. Not the best bartender? Request a delivery from Cocktail Courier so all of the ingredients for your favorite beverage are already measured for you.
16. Indulge in a slice of 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.
17. Have a pajama party. Whether you're with friends, your partner, or even with your kids, there's something about chilling out in your coziest pj's that always makes you feel good.
This post was originally published on May 30, 2017, and has since been updated.