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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Stoecklin

Principles For a Good Birthday

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

By Morgan Stoecklein

I’ve never hated my birthday, and I don’t plan to hate it this year. It’s not that I’ve always loved my birthdays, I just haven’t dreaded it in the same way some do. Whether its anxiety over an impending age or the thought of a day filled with constant attention, some of the world’s most humble can’t bear it. I, on the other hand, look forward to my birthday each year.

My friend Ellen wrote a poem about her birthday, but this isn’t one of those kinds of posts. If you’re looking for the sappy stuff, you can check that out here.

There are several factors that could contribute to me hating my birthday this year, reasons that could make it harder than birthdays before, but I’ve never hated my birthday, and I don’t plan to hate it this year.

How do I plan to do this you ask? I’ve whittled it down to 5 easy principles:

  1. Have Low Expectations

Does that sound like the most depressing first step to an awesome birthday, or what? I guess what I really mean is, have realistic expectations. One reason birthdays can be stressful is because of the pressure (whether self-inflicted or external) to make it the perfect day, or at least an enjoyable one. Making false assumptions about what your day might be like can lead to disappointment. But having realistic expectations or even sensible hopes about the day can lead to showing appreciation for your loved ones, the ones who take the time to send a text or call you up, to mail a card or bring you your favorite latte. If expectations are low then any gesture, no matter how small, is met with true gratitude.

  1. Make Your Expectations Clear

In the theme of expectations, you’ll want to simply make them clear to those around you. If you don’t want any surprises, say it. If you want to spend the day with certain people, tell them. If you don’t care what happens that day, then skip this step and kudos to you for being the most chill person on the planet.

  1. Plan it Yourself

Maybe this feels selfish or controlling, but this post is about creating a birthday you’ll love, after all! There’s no better way to make sure the day is a good one then by choosing what you’d like to do, and inviting people you love to do it with you. See below for some ideas to fill your birthiversary.

  1. Go with the Flow

Does this point contradict the rest? Maybe. Do I care? No. And neither should you. As much as you plan for your special day, when it comes to the actual day your cares must be cast out the window. Life happens. So, if you plan a pool day and it ends with a torrential downpour, make the most of it at the local YMCA. Heck! There’s always next year, or tomorrow for that matter.

  1. Celebrate and Mourn

Another year has come and gone. And another year is before you. What a joy, and what a terror. Most likely it’s a little of both. Someone wise recently told me that at pretty much any given point we’re holding a positive and negative emotion simultaneously. Joy and fear, hopefulness and grief. Use this milestone as a chance to reflect on the year behind you and all the ways you’re feeling about it. And take the opportunity to contemplate the year ahead, and all the ways you’re feeling about it.

Need ideas for your next birthday? Here’s 99 things you can do on your birthday!

  1. Plan a spa day

  2. Go to a show

  3. Sip wine at a vineyard

  4. Attend a movie screening

  5. Make special dinner reservations

  6. Buy yourself a gift

  7. Plan a trip to see a friend

  8. Stay up late

  9. Do Karaoke

  10. Hang by the pool

  11. Try making a new recipe

  12. Binge watch a TV show

  13. Make a bucket list

  14. Tour a brewery

  15. Volunteer

  16. Play a game with friends

  17. Read a new book

  18. Have a “chore free” day

  19. Indulge in a slice of cake

  20. Attend a concert

  21. Reread your favorite book

  22. Hit up an arcade

  23. Take your favorite workout class

  24. Reflect on the past year

  25. Redecorate a room in your house

  26. Invite friends over for dinner

  27. Buy a new plant

  28. Play with puppies

  29. Donate to a charity

  30. Go on a hike

  31. Head to a bowling alley

  32. Spend time in prayer

  33. Enjoy a staycation

  34. Take a pottery class

  35. Set some goals for the next year

  36. Buy yourself flowers

  37. Ride a bike

  38. Peruse the local farmers market

  39. Rollerblade through a park

  40. Complete a bucket list item

  41. Pick out a new outfit

  42. Work on a puzzle

  43. Host a themed party

  44. Book an escape room

  45. Enjoy a meal with a view

  46. Play a round of mini golf

  47. Attend a sporting event

  48. Go camping

  49. Visit an amusement park

  50. Recreate a past birthday

  51. Sleep in

  52. Wander through your local library

  53. Pack for a picnic

  54. Create a new playlist

  55. Visit an elderly relative

  56. Take a joy ride

  57. Meet friends at a restaurant

  58. Book a hotel stay

  59. Craft a fun cocktail

  60. Go skydiving

  61. Do a random act of kindness

  62. Attempt to make a craft

  63. Visit a museum

  64. Attend a comedy show

  65. Write a poem

  66. Reconnect with a friend

  67. Deliver a gift to a neighbor

  68. Explore a new trail

  69. Attend a craft fair

  70. Make a coffee run for friends

  71. Go to the zoo

  72. Sit in the sun

  73. Attend an open mic night

  74. Explore a nearby town

  75. Treat yourself to dessert

  76. Bake a treat

  77. Hunker down to watch a movie saga

  78. Journal about the past year

  79. Set goals for the year ahead

  80. People watch in the park

  81. Create a piece of art

  82. Visit an animal shelter

  83. Go fishing

  84. Get a fresh haircut

  85. Go on a run

  86. Stay at a bed and breakfast

  87. Test drive a dream car

  88. Host a fancy tea party

  89. Play Billiards

  90. Attend a drive-in movie

  91. Watch a TED Talk

  92. Get a tatoo

  93. Tour your own town

  94. Facetime a faraway friend

  95. Plant a mini garden

  96. Dye your hair

  97. Spend the night stargazing

  98. Sit at a local coffee shop

  99. Write a letter

*Morgan's birthday is on 06/18 in case you'd like to check in and see what she ends up doing :) - she did not know we would put this last piece in here, but perhaps it could be #100 -

100. surprise someone else with an unexpected birthday message?


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