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How to Have a Happy Birthday When You're Alone

Laura believes holidays and events should be celebrated whether you are alone or with family and friends. Celebrate yourself being alive!

While spending your birthday with friends or family can be nice, spending it on your own can be even better.

While spending your birthday with friends or family can be nice, spending it on your own can be even better.

Celebrating Your Birthday Alone? Make It Special

Spending your birthday alone is not a bad thing at all. I have family and a few friends, and that's more than enough for me. I don't mind going for a b-day lunch with loved ones, but I also enjoy spending my birthday alone. After all, it is my day.

I like to take my birthday as an opportunity to do things I like to do. I love having a day set aside during which I don't have to stick to someone else's schedule or worry about rules and the needs of others. I can really do things my way, and I can even go a bit overboard because it's my birthday.

The following is a list of ideas about ways to spend your birthday on your own. They are somewhat random and presented in no particular order. I wrote them as I thought of them, but I wanted to create a real list. So many lists online are more about scoring SEO points, and they only offer fluff—stuff everyone else has already said. I wanted this list to be different, and I hope it has at least one great idea for everyone.

Of course, your birthday is your day. Take the ideas you like and leave the ones you don't. Or just ignore the whole list. It's up to you! Have a happy birthday and don't worry about being alone. Being alone just means you can choose how you spend your time without any commentary from others about your choices.

Things to Do by Yourself on Your Birthday

  • Take the day off work. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, arrange to have the day off. Use a sick day, a personal day or whatever works.
  • Eat what you want. Seriously—whatever you want. Think about dieting, budgeting and health tomorrow.
  • Write letters to the people you care about. It's old-fashioned and may seem to take up more hours than you want to give it today, but it can be nice to pause your own celebration and give thanks for what (and who) you have. Mail the letters—don't forget!
  • Wear something great. Pick an outfit that makes you feel good and gorgeous.
Eat what you want—you can worry about calories and cost another day.

Eat what you want—you can worry about calories and cost another day.

  • Give yourself a compliment. Look in the mirror and say it again.
  • Wear something with colours you like. Go with an accessory like a scarf if you don't want too much colour.
  • Dress in a style from your past or wear something you still have from when you were a kid, like a scarf, a pin or a hat.
  • Buy a birthday pin or ribbon at a greeting card shop and wear it all day.
  • If you have dinner, lunch or breakfast at home, go all out and decorate the table. Use the good dishes and cutlery. Add a centrepiece too.
  • Spend time on whatever your hobby is. Knit, sew, build a ship in a bottle, go metal detecting, make muffins . . . the list goes on.
  • If you have a car, take a drive. Go to another town and pretend you're someone famous for the day.
  • Get a manicure and a pedicure—even if you are a guy. Forget outdated gender roles and treat your fingers and toes to a makeover.
  • Buy new underwear and/or pajamas and recycle the raggedy-looking stuff you've been wearing for ages.
  • Clean something special that's been gathering dust bunnies for a while. That antique mirror from your great-grandma could sparkle again—a job well done.
  • Organize something you've let get messy. Maybe the family photos could be sorted out. Perhaps your sock drawer or the surface of your desk has gotten pretty cluttered. Getting rid of clutter feels nice.
  • Start the day by getting up early, even if you would rather sleep in. See the sun rising on your birthday and the world (at least your part of it) while getting ready for the new day.
Whether it's a craft, a hobby or a simple pleasure, take the time to do something you love that you usually don't have time for.

Whether it's a craft, a hobby or a simple pleasure, take the time to do something you love that you usually don't have time for.

  • Buy yourself something new to wear. It can be a whole new outfit or something small and pretty like a brooch or fancy hat you'd never dare to wear on an average day.
  • Use every flimsy excuse to tell people it's your birthday. You may get a bonus like a free coffee, but at the very least, a lot of people will wish you a happy birthday.
  • Go out for a fancy coffee or tea in the morning when everyone else is planning their day. Get a window seat where you can see the street and the people commuting to work, dealing with errands and wondering how they will get it all done. Meanwhile, there you are sipping tea or coffee and watching the world rush and work and scurry past your window seat.
  • Pick up some extra groceries. It sounds silly, but get something—simple or fancy—that you really like. I love to get a steak and cook it myself—as close to rare as I want—while no one is there to "ewww" me about it.
  • You know what you really want to do. Don't tell anyone else (unless you have to explain it to someone to get it done). Celebrate your birthday by doing that thing you want to do but keep putting off cause you don't have the time, the patience, the energy or the money. Today is the exception to the normal rules.
  • Make amazing plans for the next year. Don't worry about being too practical with your list. Write down anything and everything you might want to do.
  • Visit at least one local attraction, event or touristy thing. Pretend you are a tourist for a while. I recommend visiting a museum.
  • Weather permitting, give yourself a picnic in the park. Bring a good book and a blanket to sit on.
  • If you can manage to stay overnight in a hotel, you can even get late-night room service. That is still one of my favourite things to do for my own birthday. I like getting a hotel right in the downtown area of the big city.
  • Take a long soak in the bath. Use fabulous scented soaps and bubbles. Pull out the candles and bring a book into the tub with you. No phones allowed.
  • Watch some of the movies you've got collecting dust on your shelves and in drawers. Pop some popcorn and enjoy a beverage of your choice.
  • Have champagne or cocktails. Treat yourself to a drink somewhere fancy, get all dressed up and go. Just have one and then leave . . . like a man or woman of mystery.
Treat yourself to a delicious cocktail at a hotel bar then pay up and depart as mysteriously as you arrived.

Treat yourself to a delicious cocktail at a hotel bar then pay up and depart as mysteriously as you arrived.

  • Send yourself flowers, bake yourself a cake and get yourself a birthday card. Don't skimp on the traditions just because you're alone.
  • No matter how old you are, put a lot of candles on the cake. It looks pretty, and no one will crack jokes about your age . . . unless of course you laugh at yourself.
  • Put on music and dance and sing along. No one's watching or listening. Be your own DJ.
  • Choose your own adventure. Take a few "wrong" turns and see where you end up. Go to places you've never taken the time to see before.
  • Try something new and a bit risky or bold for your usual style. How about rock climbing, going without cosmetics, reading a book that makes you blush or talking to an interesting stranger. You could even get a new haircut.
  • Send yourself something in the mail. It could be a gift card from a store you like to shop at. It's like giving yourself a surprise present—you won't know exactly when it will show up.
  • Don't spend your birthday catching up on laundry or dishes or other endless household chores. They will all still be there tomorrow. If you have to, get dishes and laundry done the day before so they don't bug you on your birthday.
  • Have a fancy, deluxe birthday cake, even if you buy it somewhere instead of making it. Don't count every calorie on your birthday.
  • Walk somewhere. The beach and public parks are nice, even in winter. Take a camera along and be a photojournalist for the day.
  • Do something for someone else. Visit an elderly relative, spend an hour babysitting your sister's kids or run an errand for your mother. Limit the time you spend on this, but remember that it's nice not to make your birthday all about you all day.
  • Write about your day at the end of the day. Start a journal if you've never had one or find your old journal if you used to keep one. A journal is a great way to wind down, organize your thoughts and give yourself some time with your thoughts.
  • Tell one lie about yourself to a stranger. Yes, it sounds silly. But just for today (your birthday), let someone think you're more impressive than you think you really are.
  • Buy a lottery ticket. Don't forget to check it!
  • Create an invitation to your own birthday for the next year. Buy a pretty card or make your own.


Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on October 14, 2020:

I have a lot of family around most of the time. Alone time is precious.

Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on October 14, 2020:

I've got a few months left. Still planning to have a birthday trip somewhere with a few days in a hotel. Will see what is open and where. Some hotels are still closed.

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on July 17, 2020:

There are some great suggestions on how to spend your birthday alone here. I have done it many times in the past, but honestly I'd rather spend it with one or two other people.....preferably family.

Karrine on May 17, 2020:

My birthday is next week but I'm stuck at home

Victoria Goodison-Barak on November 24, 2019:

sadly as my birthday is Christmas Eve there are few avenues to explore

Graciella on July 13, 2019:

My 18th birthday is tomorrow and I don’t know what I’ll do alone but hopefully it’s fun.

Guys on July 11, 2019:

Happy birthday!

Sonia on March 29, 2019:

It's important to be able to make ourselves happy rather than rely or put the burden on others to make us happy. This is a great list and it'd be worth having a secret second birthday each year, just so we can do what we want if our actual birthday get swallowed up in tradition and meeting the expectations of others. Thank you for sharing these inspiring ideas Laura.

Mayra on February 21, 2019:

Wow really good! I love it so much. I started taking care and loving myself. This will be great for a fun day with me. Thanks

Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on December 05, 2018:

Good for you! My birthday is coming up this month too. I've booked a hotel downtown in Toronto, bought the bus ticket for there and back. Made plans to meet my nephew for dinner and I've planned a trip to an old, historical building I want to photograph. In between I will be doing nothing really. I like to give myself some unplanned time to be alone doing nothing important too. :) Happy Birthday to you.

zineb on November 29, 2018:

I'm going to start celebrating my bds alone, I have picked all your ideas from the list above, it would be fun at least I would feel happy on my special day .i don't need anyone to make me feel special I can do that alone. thank you so much ...

BaseballerGirl on November 22, 2018:

To help me, I know I'm not the author and your B-day had probably passed, But I totally understand. I turn 13 soon as well and I don't know what to do for mu special day. If anything I would suggest either spending time with family or if you are not so great with the idea of family than maybe something with friends. If all else fails just ask if you could do something you like to do, for example: maybe asl if you can go buking, draw eat, or any other hobbies you have. I hope thus makes you feel better and I hope you'll find something helpful, even if your special day has past. I hope you had or will have a great thirteenth birthday!:)

help me on June 27, 2018:

so i'm turning thirteen and i have no friends or other family members around except my two kittens, my dog and my mom. what should i do for my birthday?

Joey on May 26, 2018:

The last two years I spent my birthday alone

Ayushi on April 28, 2018:

superb list thnks for the ideas its really helpful ...

Tinesha on January 21, 2018:

This will be my first birthday alone, plus it's valentines day. Wish me luck :)

Sharon Deer on January 08, 2018:

I really appreciate the ideas i have gotten from this article.

Hazel on November 30, 2017:

Loved ur list..... Ur thoughts r more like mine.... It was fun to read ur do list

Tony on November 02, 2017:

well, i buy my self a small birthday cake and i eat with my dog. and talk to my dog all day long and cry myself to sleep.

Jay on October 12, 2017:

I prefer to cry myself to sleep whenever I have a special day alone.

Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on June 25, 2012:

I like doing things my way. It bugs me when I compromise too often. I feel like I lose some of myself. So, when family leave me to my own devises on my birthday I am perfectly happy. Most years someone takes me out to lunch, which still leaves plenty of daylight hours for me to have my own plans too.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on June 25, 2012:

This is a great list. Sometimes being alone is the best way to go. Birthdays seem to always turn into making everyone else happy. Everyone decides for you how to celebrate it. It is nice to take a step back sometimes and decide the flavor of cake you actually want and refuse to go to some restaurant you don't even like because friends want to take you there.

Elena from London, UK on May 26, 2012:

Aaawh... so many lovely ideas to keep one beaming throughout that special day. We have to stay positive.

This is a brilliant read.

Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on May 24, 2012:

We all need some time to appreciate ourselves. A birthday is a good excuse to be a bit selfish and give yourself some luxury, or at least some time.

AnnRandolph on May 24, 2012:

That Grrl,

If I did these things I would never want to stop. That's the problem. I guess eventually I would have to but it would be fun to see how long I could keep it going.

Laura Brown (author) from Barrie, Ontario, Canada on May 23, 2012:

Thanks. I've had a lot of my birthdays and special events alone. I don't mind it that way at all.

kelleyward on May 23, 2012:

Wow! I've never thought of this before but it is great to have a list of things to do when you are alone for a special day like your birthday! Thanks for sharing. Take care, Kelley

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