It’s my mom’s birthday this week (January 20th)! In honor of that special occasion, I am excited to focus this blog post on birthdays. I LOVE celebrating birthdays! I think it’s incredibly special and fun that each of us have one day every year that honors uniquely YOU. It’s the day that the world was blessed with your presence, your talents and your special purpose. I wish so many people didn’t dread the idea of getting older. We should give thanks for every year we’re given on this Earth!
I grew up in a household that made birthdays a BIG deal. A birthday was reason to celebrate for the week leading up to your big day, the week after, and usually ended up extending for the entire birthday month. My brother and I loved planning our birthday parties. We were always allowed a party with friends and a separate celebration with extended family. One of my favorite childhood memories is of my mom taking me to our favorite local cake bakery. She’d help me choose the flavor and decoration of my cake for each of my parties. It’s a tradition I’m excited to continue for my little one as he grows! On our actual birthdays, we got to choose our preferred breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I was older, I’d wake up to my mom’s handwritten note offering to make a birthday Starbucks run.
This might sound like I was all about celebrating my own birthday. I do enjoy that, but in reality, I’ve always loved celebrating the birthdays of my loved ones more. I love any reason to celebrate! The anniversary of the birth and existence of someone special to me definitely calls for celebration. Because we’re in the year 2020 and my mom was born on the 20th, I’m going to share 20 ways that you can spoil someone on their birthday. Before I do, lets talk about some important things to keep in mind with any celebration.
Three Things to Remember When Celebrating a Birthday
Tailor Your Celebration to the Guest of Honor
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to mess up. I want to share a story with you. Like a lot of situations in life, I think many of us tend to acknowledge others’ birthdays based on the way we like to celebrate (or not celebrate) OUR own birthday.
For example, my husband turned 30 last year and I thought it would be super fun to throw him a surprise birthday party with our friends and family at one of our favorite restaurants. Which I did, and he was definitely surprised. Looking back, would I do that again? Probably not. The thing is, I love the fun and anticipation of knowing I’m going to surprise someone. I also love the idea of being surprised myself. My husband, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of situations that put him in the spotlight.
In hindsight, I knew this about him and should have remembered it before hosting a party that places the center of attention on him in front of people he knows and others he doesn’t. He had fun and he appreciated the planning that I and our family and friends did to celebrate him. I also know that he would have loved a special dinner just with me. Or, maybe just a small gathering at our house that he knew about in advance.
The moral of the above story is this: the key to truly honoring someone’s birthday is doing it in the ways they would love most. This requires having a really good understanding of their likes, interests and their personality.
Maintain The Birthday Bar You Set
Another common mistake I see couples make, is going all out for a loved one’s birthday during the courting phase, and then becoming complacent with celebration in subsequent years as the relationship progresses. The way we celebrate each other shouldn’t become lazier as we become more comfortable with one another. It should become even more special. Ideally, we’ve grown together and know each other on an even deeper level with each year that passes. This means we should be able to honor our partner in ways that are even more meaningful than in prior years.
If you decide to do something really extravagant one year (like an extra special gift or elaborate activity), it may not be practical to match that in future years. That’s entirely understandable, but you can still be creative in how you plan to celebrate the person, using a combination of the ideas I’ll share shortly.
Don’t Let Someone’s Big Day Sneak Up on You
The third thing to keep in mind is the importance of planning ahead. Have you ever scrambled to make last-minute plans or find that perfect gift for your special someone? If so, this tip will be especially important for you. I’ve found that I need to set reminders on my phone a whole month ahead of a family member’s birthday. This allows me plenty of time to do my planning. It allows me to think carefully about the gift I might buy them (especially if it’s a customized item that takes more time) and do any needed special coordination of dinner plans or other activities.
For those closest to me, I set additional reminders for both one week and one day before their birthday. This might seem like overkill, but with everything I have on my plate these days, it helps ensure I don’t slip up on someone’s special day!
Ok, on to the list!
As you read the following list of ideas, be sure to keep the above items in mind. I am not encouraging you to pick just one of these ideas. I’m encouraging you to pick as many of them that you can feasibly pull off! Think about which ones your loved one would most appreciate and then prepare to relish in their birthday excitement.
20 Ways To Spoil Your Loved One on Their Birthday
- Ask them if they want to plan their birthday celebration or if they’d prefer to be surprised. ALWAYS ask this question before making any secret plans for your loved one. I’ve witnessed someone make plans for their significant other’s birthday, but not tell them those plans. The guest of honor wound up complaining to me about how their S.O. hadn’t even brought up their birthday. I had to painstakingly keep my lips sealed that their S.O. did in fact have plans for them! You don’t want your loved one to spin a bad mental story about you. They may have difficulty letting it go once they DO realize you had plans all along, which places a damper on the fun element. The ONLY exception to this rule is if you’re planning a big surprise party for the individual. In this case, you should always plan the party BEFORE their actual birthday, so they don’t think you forgot about their big day. If the party is happening after their birthday, make sure to still plan your own separate celebration on their big day so they aren’t disappointed.
- Write them a love note. Most people love the authenticity and kindness that a hand-written note delivers. It shows that you took the time to sit down and write your feelings about them. Sure, we have greeting cards available, but the message wasn’t written by you. You might use a greeting card as a starting place and then utilize the blank space to write your own sweet sentiments. Often, we are too caught up in the day-to-day and forget to tell others how much they mean to us and what we love about them. What better way to make someone feel special than to tell them these things on their birthday.
- Plan a meal at their favorite restaurant. Consider whether they’d appreciate an intimate dinner with just the two of you, or if they’d enjoy having their close friends or family to join. Remember to make reservations (if applicable) and tell the restaurant you’re celebrating your loved one’s birthday.
- Make them a special breakfast. I’d avoid surprising them with breakfast, unless you know for a fact they’ll appreciate what you make. For example, if they’re watching their sugar, they probably won’t appreciate a surprise breakfast of pancakes or donuts. If you really want to give them what they want, ASK them what they want. If they want it to be a surprise, they’ll tell you that.
- Make them a special lunch to take to work – or meet them for lunch if possible. Refer to the fine print in #3 for this one as well.
- Gift them a coffee from their favorite coffee shop. If it’s feasible, offer to get it for them and bring it back.
- Help them knock tasks off their to-do list. Your S.O. likely has a mile-long list of tasks to get done at any given time. Ask them what things you can help them with while they kick their feet up and relax for a while.
- Meet them for happy hour and tell the bartender it’s their birthday. Sometimes they’ll do something special for the guest of honor.
- Get them tickets to see a favorite music artist, comedian or entertainment show coming to your local area.
- Plan an experience that will match their interests. For example, if your S.O. loves craft cocktails, search your local area for a cocktail-making class or go to a local distillery or brewery. Think about the types of things they’re interested in, do a little investigative research in your geography and see if there’s a fun new activity you can plan for their big day.
- Spend more time than usual with them. Find creative ways to just be with your loved one, without other distractions. Go for a walk or hike, a bike ride or a long drive. Offer to accompany them on their normal errands that you wouldn’t normally attend.
- Cook dinner for – or with – them. First, I’d give your S.O. the option of going out to celebrate at a restaurant, or making a delicious meal at home. If they choose the home-cooked meal, ask if your S.O. would prefer for you to cook the dinner for them or if they’d rather participate in cooking with you. Then, ask if they want to help plan the meal, or if they’d rather be surprised.
- Surprise them with a weekend getaway. This one is really dependent on your person’s preferences. You should know their level of comfort with surprises. Consider whether your S.O. would be happiest if they knew about their surprise weekend getaway a month, week, day or just hours in advance and plan accordingly. Remember, just because you think it’d be fun if someone packed your bag and surprised you with a seat on a plane that departs in three hours, doesn’t mean your S.O. shares that same element of spontaneity. A really structured “planner” would probably be more excited if they had some notice to anticipate their gift and build excitement around it. It’s also nice if you can plan solutions for things your S.O. would normally handle when traveling (finding a pet sitter, scheduling mail and package delivery holds, etc.).
- Buy them flowers. I personally love receiving flowers for any occasion and I can’t say I’ve met a woman who doesn’t like receiving flowers. I’m sure there are some out there who don’t care, but I think many who downplay the act secretly would love the gesture and just may not know how to express that. The only tip here is to, again, think of your particular person and their situation. It can be cute to surprise your loved one with flowers at work (either hand-delivered by you or not). But, if your S.O. would be embarrassed by the attention it would draw, you’re better off waiting till you’re in private. Also, what might be a cute gesture is no longer that cute if the person has any sort of commute. Imagine them having to carry a glass vase in one hand with their work bags in the other. Or, having to carefully keep the vase from spilling in the car passenger seat while driving the steering wheel with the other hand! If you think your loved one will want to take the flowers home, you might be better off just delivering them there.
- Make them a dessert, but only if you’re good at baking. I’m not trying to be mean here, I am merely thinking about the recipient. I will never argue that it’s a super kind gesture to make something by hand for someone, but you must be realistic about your skills here. Unless your loved one raves about one of your special recipes, or your baked goods could rival that of a local bakery, you may be better off skipping ahead to #16.
- If you’re not good at baking, buy them a dessert. First, consider what kinds of dessert your S.O. loves. Then, research who in your area makes a great version of your loved one’s favorite dessert. They may also appreciate an item that isn’t sold in your area but can be found online. Many famous bakeries and sweet shops now ship goods nationwide.
- Buy them a gift, but know their taste and preferences. My mom is a firm believer that anything intended for the household is not an acceptable gift. I know that about her so I will never buy her a household item as a gift unless she has expressly told me she wants that item as her birthday or Christmas gift. Make sure you know what your S.O. likes and doesn’t like and refer to that knowledge when buying them a gift. One more thing – wrap that dang gift! Don’t just hand it to them in the shipping box it came in. It shows that you placed extra care in the delivery of their gift.
- Coordinate an interactive experience with their closest friends or family. Does your S.O. love to golf? Plan a golf outing at their favorite course and invite their friends to play, too. If they love to cook, host an interactive cooking party at your house and have everyone work together to make pizzas or another fun meal. A local brewery in our area used to offer a unique custom brewing party. The guest of honor and four of their friends would work with a brewmaster to create their own beer. Once the beer was ready, they held a keg-tapping party at the brewery that a bigger group could participate in!
- Give them a massage, or gift them one from a spa. I don’t like a stranger’s hands massaging me, so I would much rather appreciate a massage from my husband. Your S.O. may love a massage from a professional masseuse, or some kind of other spa package. Again, it’s about knowing your partner.
- Plan an experience or activity they wouldn’t expect. A lot of the ideas above have notes about tailoring them to your loved one’s preferences. This is really important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a celebration that would put your S.O. slightly out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, the things we think we’d dislike most end up being the most fun. Just beware that there is risk with going rogue here and that it is very possible your S.O. will not appreciate you trying to push them out of your comfort zone. Proceed with caution!
It doesn’t matter if you go to a ton of work and effort to do something for your loved one’s birthday if it’s not something they really want. That’s why you’ll notice that many of the ideas above present suggestions for tailoring it to your loved one’s personality. It’s an amazing feeling to give someone a gift or experience they truly love and appreciate.
There are countless other ways to spoil someone on their birthday. Use this list as a starting place and then get creative! If building stronger relationships is one of your goals this year, then honoring their birthdays is a great way to support that goal. Good luck and have fun!