Congrats, you’re one full year older. Now you’re probably wondering what you should do with your special day? Questions like “what should i do for my birthday” or “why am I eating this chocolate cake alone?” are common questions we face.

Luckily I was in Thailand for my 30th birthday and I had a fantastic day. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had, and it beat being home having to work or try to come up with something fun to do. Instead, we ate Thai food, got to see Captain Marvel, and ate bingsu for dessert. Being able to get away from the busy culture of the US and try something new was fun and to top it all off with a birthday was something special. 

But birthdays aren’t always so much fun…

Rewind the clock to my 28th birthday: I spent the whole day in a foul mood and ended up sobbing like a baby due to being overworked and over-stressed. Fun day huh? But I remember those days, and I imagine too that at least a few of your most vivid memories exist around your birthday.

Maybe you just plain old hate your birthday? Hopefully this post will change that.

You’ve come here for ideas of what to do on your birthday. I challenge you to think deeper and ask yourself what you want to do with your life. The thoughts we have about our birthdays have deeper meaning than we realize. We are looking to make the day significant in some way to find a sense of fulfillment. 

There is always pressure to have a good time on your birthday. It’s a natural feeling, but if we feed into it and expect to have the best day of our lives we might be disappointed. It’s a time when we are forced to think about our life thus far and what we are doing with it. What happens is we put a lot of weight and undue pressure on how much fun we think we should have on our birthdays.

Birthday’s don’t have to suck.

In fact, birthdays can kick butt and take names. Birthdays bring moments of joy, and if we let them, moments of deep thought and new direction for our lives moving forward.

What Should I Do for My Birthday? Balloons

Why is it that turning one year older (and I always joke: only one day older) gives us so much anxiety? I think there is a deeper level to why it bothers us so much. We have a deep desire for significance and meaning. I don’t want to go into that with this post, but I do think it’s worth thinking about why this one day is so much more important than the rest?

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to have a good time on your birthday, I just think it’s important to think about why this it matters so much. So, as you’re going through this post think about these ideas and why some of them might bring you joy.

Here are ten birthday ideas you can use if you’re stuck at home on a rainy Saturday, or it happens to fall on a Wednesday, the worst day of the week to take off. These ideas will bring you joy in the moment, and might even open you up to potential life change lasting much longer than one day.

Try not to put pressure on yourself or your loved ones, remember that it’s just one day and you are only one day older, and relax and enjoy your life.

Make your birthday awesome and worth remembering.

1) Life Goal Brainstorming Session

Nothing gets your energy up more than goal setting. Or maybe that’s just me? Don’t knock it before you try it though.

For our anniversary every year my wife and I rehash all of our favorite memories over the past years of our marriage. We also make a plan of what we want to achieve in the next few years. Having a special day to look back and reminisce is much more satisfying than forcing something super special out of one day.

We occasionally get each other gifts or go somewhere extra special to eat, but that part doesn’t matter. What we look forward to most is diving in and talking about our history as a married couple and seeing which goals we accomplished and which ones fell short. Our anniversary has become my favorite day of the year as our letters to each other remind us of how far we’ve come and also how little we’ve changed.

Make your birthday into something more memorable than moist chocolate cake by creating a time and place to set big goals, rehash memories with a loved one, or brainstorm what you really want out of life. 

2) Plan a Trip

What Should I Do for My Birthday? Aventure

You can plan a trip for your birthday in advance or drop everything the day of and head out of town. You’ll get the most benefit going somewhere you’ve never gone before or doing something you’ve never done.

Experience trumps gifts every time. Give yourself the gift of trying something new and save the new blender for a more boring holiday like Ground Hog’s day.

3) Don’t Forget to Be Active

It’s easy to forgo exercise or activity on your birthday because in your mind you don’t want to have to work to have a good time. If you’re an active person, you’ll be much happier if you take a short jog or go for a nice walk to boost your endorphins.

Better yet, go somewhere fun that’s also active. Play laser tag, paintball, or go to a bounce house. 

4) Plan Your Own Party

This one is perfect for control freaks who want to have things done their way. No judgement on this as I have control freak tendencies too. If you plan your day you don’t have to worry about everyone else forgetting that it’s your birthday, and thus you can make sure you have the right type of cake and decorations to fit your tastes. 

The problem with this is you will forever stymie any initiative to get a surprise birthday party, but it might be worth it to do the things you want to do. 

Planning your own party is a good way to play your favorite games, watch your favorite movie and eat your favorite foods too. 

5) Invite friends over for a board game night.

I’m all about board games. I’d personally much rather have a few close friends over and play board games than to have a big awkward talking party because let’s face it, almost all adult parties are just a chance for us to talk. Boring. Let’s do something more exciting and fulfilling.

Bonus idea: Tell them it’s your birthday and maybe you’ll get a gift out of it too? Free board game anyone?

6) Turn your birthday into a birth-week and celebrate with small special events all week.

Miranda (my wife) did this for my 29th and cooked my favorite meals for dinner for a week straight. It was awesome! It made my birthday week memorable. I didn’t even cry on my birthday so it was a win.

This tip is especially useful as a means of avoiding having a horrible day if you have to work late on your birthday or Tuesday happens to be your busiest day AND your birthday this year. Don’t assign significance to the one day, instead plan something for a better day you can more easily enjoy without the stress of a busy work day or other life responsibilities.

Get an air plant, eat tacos, go for a long hike. Pick small things that you enjoy and have a great week. 

7) Rent out a local movie theater and force your friends to watch your favorite movie.

What Should I Do for My Birthday?

This would count as one of those memorable moments that is talked about in the book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Imagine how much fun this would be for all of your friends? You can be damn sure they won’t forget your birthday next year, and maybe you’ll finally get that surprise birthday party you’ve always wanted?

Take a chance on something wildly different than you are used to and it might just turn into one of the most memorable moments of your life. 

8) Take immediate positive action on your life goal.

Stop sitting around waiting for things to happen. Make your birthday the first day you jump into a side hustle, submit a job application, or make a solid plan to quit your day job in the next three months.

Eat your cake and have it too.

9) Make a bucket list and seal it in blood (or wine)

Have you ever made a bucket list of everything you want to accomplish? Try listing out one fun thing to do for each of the next 10 birthdays with action steps on how to accomplish it. You can’t do everything in one day, but you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish when you start brainstorming and wondering out loud what you want to make of your life.

Seal it with a toast to fun and exciting birthday experiences or write it down and literally seal it in blood (I’m officially advising against this).

10) Make a gratitude list of everything you’re thankful for over the last year

What are you most thankful for? Who most influenced your life over the past year?

Make a list of everything that gives you gratitude and fills you up with love. Life isn’t meant to be lived fast paced and onto the next thing at all times. I’ve had to learn this first hand the hard way. Learn to appreciate every moment with gratitude.  

Use any of these ideas or combine them to have your best birthday yet. Get a good mix of having fun, but also realize that your birthday can be a great starting point for new potential and new beginnings. Stop wondering what you are going to do with your birthday and forge ahead with new life. Enjoy the moment, embrace the suck when it comes, and keep your head up.

All the best and oh yeah… Happy Birthday to you,