How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday?


If you are reading this post today, it’s my birthday!  I wish I could say while you are reading this that I was far away at some exotic location with warm sand between my toes.  Two years ago, I actually spent my birthday in Aruba.  It was amazing.  We spent our days basking in the ocean, playing water sports, and sipping cool drinks at the pool bar.  It was an unforgettable birthday experience that I would do all over again in a heartbeat.


This year though because of Zika, we decided to forgo the warm weather and are currently hunkering down as a polar vortex is about to hit us.  The thought of leaving my house is unpleasant.  It is a bitter cold here.  I asked my wife if it was possible to delay (or extend) my birthday until the summer when it is much warmer.  She only laughed.


I am actively planting the seeds that in lieu of birthday presents this year, we should allocate that money towards an Iceland trip in the next year.  If you are a follower of this blog, you know my obsession with this place.  I may be hyping it up too much, but either way, I am definitely going to see if we can earmark in the budget a trip to Iceland.


The Way I Celebrate

Most of the time, my birthdays are pretty low-key, although I do always request to be off on my birthday.  Growing up, I always hated going to school on my birthday and that sentiment has carried over to the workplace.  


I’m not sure if I am in the minority, but I usually don’t think start thinking about my birthday until about a week or two beforehand.  But every year, I set up these amazing plans in my head like I’m going to have a Parks and Rec day where I treat myself.  


My Grandiose Birthday Ideas

This year, since we decided against going to the Caribbean, I was thinking about all the fun things that I could do with my wife in DC.  Initially, I pitched her the idea of spending the whole day in DC.  We would first see the midnight showing of Rogue One.  After we slept for a couple of hours, we would wake up and get down to DC by lunch time and do a pizza crawl to all the highest-rated pizza places across the city.  From there, we would nerd out at all the museums and then cap off our night on the water in Georgetown indulging in some amazing food.  


My Actual Plans

But then I stepped back into reality and remembered how neither of us enjoy staying up ultra late and with the temperatures dropping so low in our area, I’d rather be indoors than frolicking around the town by foot.  Another factor that I am considering is my pregnant sister.  Her little guy is due any day now, so I’m secretly hoping that he is born on my birthday.  If I stick around home base, I’d be more available to see him in the hospital soon after he arrives.  


So interestingly enough, I’ll actually have my Grandma over to celebrate her birthday, which is one day before mine.  We’ll grab lunch and give her some birthday gifts while my son entertains us and hope that my sister’s baby is on his way.


In the evening, we will have my parents over and celebrate over some delicious New Mexican food, enjoy some sweet ice cream and then end the night with a rousing game of Exploding Kittens.


Childhood Birthday Parties

Growing up, I still remember most of my birthday parties.  They pretty much revolved around some type of sport.  Since I’m a December baby, most of the time we played football, which I always looked forward to.  As you know, playing football is not exactly the most expensive party activity.  However, I was curious to know what the average birthday party costs today.  I was shocked to learn that it costs around $450, and that’s before parents spend an additional $250 on presents for their child.


For our son’s first birthday party, we definitely didn’t spend anywhere close to figure that this year.  I think we may have spent a total of $20 on nautical theme decorations and then another $50 or so on food.  Call us what you will, but we spent a whopping $5 on birthday presents for him.  Birthday balloons for the win!  He was thrilled; isn’t that the most important thing?


In regards to expensive birthdays, I still remember going to a friend’s Sweet 16 in high school.  Her family did it up big at a local country club with a princess-themed birthday.  They probably spent more money on their daughter’s sweet 16 than my wife and I did on our whole wedding.  While I’m sure she remembers every moment, my memory of it was having to dress up in a suit that I hadn’t worn in a long time, so naturally it was too small and tight.  I also remember eating a couple of hor d’oeuvres and being too afraid to dance with any of the girls.  Can you tell I was a lady’s man in high school?


Anyways, as an introvert, I’ve never enjoyed being the center of attention.  Which is probably why I don’t spend a lot of time and energy planning and following through with something outrageous.  I definitely admire those who can pull them off though!


So with all that said, how do you celebrate your birthday?  Do you budget your birthday every year and go wild, or do you keep it low-key?  Share your thoughts below.

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  1. Happy birthday! I don’t like doing anything in particular for my birthday, I prefer keeping it low-key. When my kids were in preschool and early elementary school, I was always astounded with how much parents paid for parties they’ll never remember. Not just balloons and store-bought cake, but they’d have it at places like museums, the Y, fancy gymnastics places, etc. These cost hundreds of dollars (eeek) for two hours of “fun”. We do family parties only until a child actually asks to have a party, then we do parties at home for friends. It’s a lot of fun!
    Liz@ChiefMomOfficer recently posted…Four Frugal Christmas Family Fun IdeasMy Profile

    • Thanks Liz for the Happy Birthday wishes!!! I tend to agree that spending a lot of money on a birthday party, especially when they are young is probably not something that we’re going to do. There are less expensive ways to create memories 🙂

  2. Happy birthday! We’re not that far off, my birthday is actually tomorrow 🙂

    Having my birthday in December means that it’s always such a hassle to get everybody together on the same day, with all the holidays and lots of other birthdays in this month. Is this just me, or is December just a to busy month to plan a big birthday event? So for tomorrow, as the other times as well, I invited my parents and sisters (with husbands and kids) to join for dinner.

    When I was young my parents always planned low-costs birthday parties for me and my sisters. And found the best ways of setting up a search quest or doing something creative indoors. Doesn’t have to be expensive, and we always just loved it!

    • Happy early Birthday to you Divinomics!!! I think the thing I disliked most about a December birthday is when I would sometimes get combined birthday and Christmas gifts.

      I always liked opening up presents on separate days. So to have a present not to open was sometimes a bummer.

      But that’s life of a December baby 🙂

      Hope you have a great day tomorrow!!!

  3. Happy birthday MSM! I’m sure you will enjoy that trip to Iceland even if it’s not on your birthday. At the end of the day the memories are the one that matter and I’m pretty sure you won’t mind that you didn’t go to Iceland in December. Just Google Reykjavik weather 🙂
    Roadrunner recently posted…Building an Amazon Affiliate SiteMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes. I just looked up Reykjavik weather it’s a balmy 38 degrees compared to DC which is currently 28 degrees with an expected icing.

      Maybe it’s not too late to convince my wife to fly to warmer weather tonight 🙂

  4. I usually work on my birthday but go out to a nice dinner at the end of the day. If I’m home my wife usually makes me a nice cake. However two of the last three years I’ve spent my birthday traveling for work in other countries. So no I’m not a big birthday person for better or worse.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…How to Setup an Investment PlanMy Profile

    • Thanks for sharing Full Time Finance. I must be too much of a little kid because I would not be interested in a work trip over my birthday. But then again since my birthday is around the holidays most people let it slide 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and sharing!!!

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! Unfortunately the baby is showing no signs of coming today. So maybe he wants his own day and will come tomorrow.

      That’s a neat story that both me and your son were born one day after their grandma’s bday.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Happy birthday!!!! Did you say a pizza crawl???? I have never heard of that. I need that in my life! 🙂 We don’t usually get too carried away for birthdays. We do try to go out for supper somewhere and have a little date night. Things have changed with a toddler! We do make his birthdays special by having quite a few friends over and of course the grandparents. I hope you have a great day!
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Iron Sharpens IronMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of a pizza crawl either but if it’s not a thing I wanna start it 🙂

      We did the same thing as you and had lots of family come over this past year for my son’s birthday. He loved it and had a smile on his face the whole time which we obviously loved.

      Thanks for taking the time to share!!!

  6. Birthdays are pretty low key in our family. We might go out to eat and my wife will get me a small present. I went to a one-year old birthday party which was held at a catering hall (a fancy one where I’ve been to before…for a lavish wedding!) We probably can’t get away with spending $50 for food since we have such a big family. Love that you only spent $5 for a gift…we do the same and almost have to hide this fact from others or they’ll think we’re horrible parents! But at that age, they REALLY don’t care about some fancy toys. They are perfectly happy playing with the wrapping paper and box the toys came in.

    • Some of the best gifts my son has received are the boxes that the gifts came in.

      Today I was opening a present and he decided it would be fun to throw around the wrapping paper and then chased while squealing with delight.

      If only he would stay this age so I could get him these types of gifts for years to come!!!

  7. I’m always conflicted about birthdays. I hate the idea of planning something and not having it pan out how I imagined it, or people canceling or not being able to make it. But for next year I had a good idea of having a joint birthday party with my wife and I. We are going to have a bonfire (she’s been wanting to have one ever since we started work on the yard). Since our birthdays are early Summer it will give us some motivation to get our yard resodded and all the other yard projects that are in the works!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…Does Frugality Matter in the Long-Term?My Profile

    • A bonfire joint birthday party sounds amazing!!! It’s always nice when a party can help provide the motivation to do some yard projects 🙂

      You’ll have to share how it turns out!!!

  8. Happy Birthday!! I too am hunkering down but your talk of a pizza crawl sounds fabulous…can I just get 5 places to deliver pizzas to me?? 😉 Isn’t it funny how our birthday change over time? The focus on presents and cake slowly turns to time off to do whatever you please. I am happy to hear you take your birthday off every year. If there is one day to focus on you and your wellness it should at least be your birthday! Good for you!!

    I hope your day is filled with love and family…perhaps even a bit of pizza and cake. I wish your grandma a happy birthday too and Ill keep my fingers crossed the baby is born today. My niece was born on my moms bday and she was thrilled!!
    Miss Mazuma recently posted…Money & Morals – Using Your $$ For GoodMy Profile

    • I like your idea of pizzas delivered to me even better. Why do all the work of walking when they can deliver!!! Brilliant likes always 🙂

      The baby it appears is not ready to come today and I can only assume that he wants his own day 🙂 I can understand that but it definitely would have be fun to share a birthday with him.

      That’s really neat about your niece being born your mom’s bday. Receiving a grandchild on your birthday has to be the best present.

  9. Happy birthday! Kid birthdays are no joke…many of the party venues around here are $300 for 10 kids, with you providing cake and other refreshments. Since our daughter’s a summer baby, we had a pool party at her grandparent’s community pool this year and spent about $250 total (including the present) and felt pretty good about it. But the adults in the family mostly just get a family dinner of their choice with cake and maybe a trip to the movie of their choice.
    Emily Jividen recently posted…Desperately Seeking Christmas: 10 Ways to Find the Christmas SpiritMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! A pool party with presents for $250 sounds like a great deal especially if you’re saying it normally costs $300 for 10 kids without a cake and refreshments.

      It’s like weddings and birthday parties the retailers decide it’s time to increase the price.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective!!!

  10. Iceland has always been a dream vacation of mine, but it’s typically not one you can one the cheap (if you do it properly). You need at least two weeks and your only way around is a rental car (which are never cheap!). Flights from the west coast typically aren’t very cheap either. I believe accommodation is quite cheap (but scarce) as you don’t stay in hotels.

    It’s also a very difficult place to visit in terms of weather. If your goal is to see the Northern Lights, you generally have to go during the winter season. The disadvantage of this is there is barely any daylight, most of the day is night time. Not great for sightseeing!

    On the other hand, if you go over summer when there is more daylight, everything is extremely expensive as most people go then.

    If you do go, I’d love to see how you do it on the cheap (if you do!)

    • We’ve been kicking around ideas of visiting in late August/early September as a lot of the crowds have somewhat thinned out but the weather is still somewhat nice.

      As much as I’d love to see the Northern Lights I might wait on that as I really want to see the scenery of the land of Fire and Ice especially when it’s not too cold 🙂

      I will definitely share our journey if we go this summer 🙂

  11. Yay for birthdays! This year, we ended up moving (we only moved about 15 minutes so thought we’d do it ourselves, horrible idea!). It was so hectic that not only did my husband forget to get me something we didn’t even have time for cake. I’m always dreaming of being on the beach for my birthday…
    When we lived in Seoul, the birthday parties were out of control expensive. Our kids went to an international school and nearly everyone was well off. One in particular was at a hotel ballroom with a DJ dressed like ironman, several other superheroes and a full catered menu. And a professional photographer. We chose to take the cheap route and have our parties at home. I should have probably been embarrassed, but I figured my kids would probably rather have money for college than a rocking 5th birthday.
    Kathryn recently posted…5 Steps to Stress-Free Holiday Gift-Giving (And Printable Spending Plan!)My Profile

    • Oh wow while memorable I’m not sure that’s how I’d like to spend a birthday 🙂 I am definitely over moving myself these days. For me it is well worth it to pay someone to help me move all this stuff. This is not an area that I want to be frugal in anymore since I have bad knees and don’t have the same strength I once did.

      That’s crazy to hear how big the parties in Seoul are. Especially for five year olds. Sounds like your kiddos will definitely appreciate the money for college.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  12. Happy birthday, MSM! Like you, my birthdays are pretty low key. Dinner with family is usually what we do. I’m not a big fan of having a birthday party for myself, but I do enjoy going to other people’s parties. I guess I don’t like being the center of attention. Thanks for sharing your story!
    SomeRandomGuyOnline recently posted…10 Strategies For Paying Off DebtMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! I’m the same way, I’m happy to go to other people’s birthdays but having the attention on me is somewhat uncomfortable.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one that likes low key birthdays!!!

  13. Happy birthday! I’d be on board with the pizza tour (although agree that warmer weather would be preferable). I had We the Pizza the other day. The BBQ Pulled Pork pizza is amazing.

    I don’t usually plan anything big for my birthday. I will generally just see if some friends are around and invite them over to hang out for the evening. This year, though, my wife and I will be traveling, so I will be spending my birthday on a safari in South Africa. Quite the change of pace.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…The Ostrich EffectMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes. I’ve heard really amazing things about We the Pizza. It was definitely on my list along with Two Amy’s. Any other DC recommendations?

      A safari in South Africa sounds amazing!!! I would love to do that sometime. You will definitely need to share when you return 🙂

      • I’d recommend checking out &Pizza if you haven’t yet. They are super customizable, personal-sized pizzas. Where most places you get to pick your own toppings, there you also get to pick your type of dough, sauce, and cheese.

        And I will probably find ways to work the trip into posts after I come back. 🙂
        Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…The Ostrich EffectMy Profile

        • I’ve heard good things about &Pizza but haven’t had a chance to visit yet. This is definitely a pizza place that I want to go to.

          Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading the post!!!

  14. Happy birthday MSM. I always like to keep mine low-key or no-key because I also don’t like to be the centre of attention (but I never get away with it). The best birthday I’ve had as an adult is when I arranged a party package at a local indoor mini-golf with our extended family. The kids loved it, the adults of all ages had a go, and we all got a laugh when the lady walked in with the birthday cake expecting it to be for a child – not a mid-thirty year old!

    Mr. ETT also makes sure he has his birthday off every year.

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!!

      That’s a great story about the indoor mini golf. I can’t imagine the look at that woman’s face with the cake. It must have been priceless.

      Thanks for the great laugh!!!

  15. HB, MSM!

    My 24th birthday was probably the most exciting because it was also the day I finally graduated college. We even had a catered party in my parent’s backyard. I can’t imagine what that cost. Or all the generous cash gifts I received from the attendees.

    • Thanks for the warm wishes TJ!!!

      Graduating from college on the same day as your birthday sounds amazing. I can definitely understand why you did it up big and a nice excuse to bring everyone together.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Thanks for the warm wishes Daniel!!!

      It’s all about balance right 🙂 Last night I had such a good time watching my niece and son play together along with spending time with family. It’s the little things in life that I appreciate now.

      Thanks for stopping by!!!

  16. Happy Birthday…!
    I like the idea of planting holiday seeds`; A few years ago, my wife and I did the same. We had some cash and decided to put it away for a few years so it could fund a big family holiday with the 4 of us. The money should cover airplane and car rental for our overseas holiday… Counting the days…
    Amber tree recently posted…I want to break free…!My Profile

  17. Happy belated B-Day!
    We don’t really do birthdays these days anymore. We still get together, but the gifts are a thing of the past. Having fun, food, family and friends does usually make for a very good day though.
    Team CF recently posted…The TricycleMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! Unfortunately the baby has still not come. He must not be ready for the winter cold 🙂 Hopefully, he’ll be coming in he next day or two. My sister is ready as he’s already a week late.

  18. Gosh – it seems we missed your birthday, because we skipped town to go to Florida for the weekend where it was high 70’s and low 80’s while back here in the DC area, it was icy and horrible. In truth, it was a work trip for Mr. Need2Save but I tagged along to hang out by the hotel pool. Somehow I didn’t mind paying $15 for a dreamy cold drink to be brought to me pool-side this weekend.

    Mr.Need2Save always takes his birthday off of work. For probably some of the same reasons you don’t like to be at work that day. It just seems like even if you don’t do something huge, it’s nice to take a break from your regular routine for the day and spend it doing things you enjoy. It somehow nevers works out for me because my bday is in a very busy month for me-job wise.

    Anyhoo – Happy Belated Birthday!
    Mrs. Need2Save recently posted…Don’t Get Screwed When You Quit Your Job!My Profile

    • Thank you for the warm wishes!!! I have to say I am definitely jealous of your weekend in Florida while I was freezing in the DC area 🙂

      I would have gladly paid $15 for a drink if it meant sitting pool side in 80 degree weather.

      Thanks for sharing your weekend trip!!!

    • Thanks for the warn wishes!!!

      A mini-vacation would have be wonderful especially away from these East Coast cold.

      Although I had a friend say that I may be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt on Sunday if the weather cooperates.

      I’m not going to hold my breath.

  19. Happy belated birthday MSM. It seems to be the season for them, my youngest had hist birthday this week too. I hope you enjoyed yours as much as he did.

    I like your blog, keep up the great work!

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! It was definitely an enjoyable birthday. Hopefully your youngest had a memorable birthday 🙂

      Thanks for the compliment I appreciate it!!!

  20. Happy belated birthday MSM. I wish that I got to this post a bit sooner, but it’s better late than never.

    For me, my mom used to track my birthday using the lunar calendar so every year my birthday will be different on the sun calendar. I used to track it until my teen years then I gave up. So I don’t often celebrate my birthday and mostly stay very low key.

    Recently, I finally found a website that can find the equivalent day on sun calendar if I entered my lunar birthday. As a result, I plan to not work on that day on the sun calendar.
    Leo T. Ly @ isaved5k recently posted…Freedom 48 Investment Toolkit: Minimizing Your Income TaxMy Profile

    • Thanks for the warm wishes Leo!!

      I’ve never heard of tracking a birthday using the lunar calendar. That sounds like a ton of fun.

      I will definitely need to look it up and see when my birthday will be for next year.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

      • Hi MSM,
        The lunar calendar is mostly used by south eastern asian countries. It’s not as accurate as the sun calendar, but on the 15 on every month on the calendar, you’ll see a full moon.
        – Leo

        • Thanks for explaining Leo.

          That’s fascinating that while it’s not as accurate as the sun calendar it’s perfect with the full moon. That’s really cool.

          Thanks for sharing!!!

  21. Happy Birthday MSM!!! Hope you had a blast. The Caribbean is a great place to go, although I get the Zika thing. I can’t remember the last time I celebrated by birthday. I usually just have dinner with my folks and get a few cards in the mail, which is always nice. Like you said, being an introvert, I’m not a big fan of getting a lot of attention.

    • Thanks for the warm wishes!!! I totally agree the Caribbean is amazing in the winter time. I would definitely love to go back 🙂

      Glad to hear that I’m not the only one that’s an introvert and likes low key birthdays!!!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing

  22. This year my friend agreed to ‘host’, we met at his house and went to the local Thai restaurant. Then back to his house for a few drinks. I live 4 hours from that group of friends so I used my birthday as a reason to get together without trying to see each person or couple individually.
    Generally I go out to dinner, and take the day off work. I book a massage and get to a daytime yoga class.
    It’s good to appreciate all the stuff you did last year, and still survived!
    Happy belated Birthday!

    • Thanks for the warm wishes.

      That sounds like a great birthday between great food, drinks and friends.

      A couple of years ago when we were in town I did a Thai Massage for my birthday and it was amazing.

      I probably should have splurged and done that again. I wish I had remembered. Maybe next year 🙂

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