When we turn five, we have a party at the park with a hired clown, topped off with meat pies and fairy bread. When we turn ten, we celebrate by rock climbing with a small group of classmates and a cake that dad made from scratch. When it’s our sixteenth birthday, we have a flashy birthday set in the backyard or a nearby community hall, decorated to fit the theme of One Direction and a kissing booth (a.k.a. your sister’s closet) to show everyone just how mature you are with first time boyfriend, Ben, by your side. By the time we’re 21, we’re hitting up the club (for probably the last time; clubbing is so last decade) after celebrating at home with countless speeches from your parents and half a dozen of your closest friends.
After you’re 21 and look back at all those special milestone birthdays, and all of the awkward ages in between, you may feel exhausted. WTF do we do for all future birthdays? Well, it’s quite simple. The three phrases I go by at 23 years of age is: “keep it intimate & personal”, “creativity is never boring” and “don’t you dare leave the house because you know you’ll come home bankrupt”. By our early twenties we are investing our money into travel or saving up for something big like a new car, or we simply need to be able to pay rent. Birthdays can still be special, but special doesn’t mean a bold budget and lots of company. By all means, if that’s what you want to do, go for it! After all, it is your birthday – but for some, it’s the most indecisive and nerve-wracking time of year!
Personally, I love my birthday. Every year I make a huge event out of it and even treat it like some three-day Jewish wedding where I’ll set aside a breakfast with close girlfriends, drinks in the night with a mix of high school mates, and then a party at my place the next night with a grand infusion of all friendship circles. However, I’m always careful. For my 21st birthday, I was saving up for my first ever Europe trip. I wanted a big party just like everyone else was doing that year, and so I still went ahead with it. Because I’m notorious for being a stinge here and there, I intentionally made the theme ‘childhood’ so that I could make the party favours cheap and serve simple food like poppers, fairy bread and sausage rolls. The punch was $2.70 Aldi wine mixed with red cordial and home-brand lemonade (yes, I’m the worst, and all guests had a raging hangover the next day). I used my friend’s speakers and the garden was already set with lights from Christmas time (lol, because my birthday is in March). It was the perfect night and there was no massively high expectation due to my hilarious $35 party budget. Success!
I now consider myself as a sort of queen of birthday planning. Just kidding. But am I?
When you’re 22 and beyond, one of the greatest ideas for a more relaxed celebration is an at-home ‘Cork and Canvas’. A friend of mine did this for her 22nd with just myself and one of our other friends. Together we drank homemade pina coladas in the garden while picking from a spread of cheese and dips, and painting jellyfish. The liquid courage definitely made our pieces a little more interesting, compared to what they would have been if we were sober. What could be more chilled and intimate? The canvases, paints, brushes and cocktails do add up in price unless you already have most of these already. However, the ‘keeping it personal and intimate’ category receives a huge tick for this one. It’s also a creative DIY take on the very trendy ‘Cork and Canvas’ movement all millennials love to Instagram for Wednesday night mingling.
For something also quite intimate and creative for all the divas out there (which won’t cost an arm and leg) is a day spa at home with close friends – inspired by my all-time-favourite bitch, Blair Waldorf (She’s from Gossip Girls, for all you Gen Alpha’s who should be in bed right now). In one of the early seasons, Blair hosts the annual sleepover party, or ‘Pink party’- I forget what it’s called – she hosted a lot of parties that served no purpose. Seriously though, how dreamy is the idea of you and all your gal pals out there who need a serious break from uni study or full-time work, to just relax? All you need is some cucumbers, face masks (you have some already and you know it), a few too many bottles of bubbly, and some high-voted rom-coms to watch while you paint each other’s nails and rub in creams. Everyone just needs to BYO towel and robe. I feel zen just thinking about this. To add some extra quirkiness, you could throw in some tarot-card readings and an oil diffuser if you have one.
One of my favourite home-birthday ideas is sweet and simple. A picnic. If you have a backyard, take advantage of it. For the cooler season we are about to enter, indoor picnics are just as cosy and intimate. Everyone brings a plate to add to the giant antipasto-style picnic. Of course, BYO wine too. This is also on the less expensive side as everyone provides for themselves, which is refreshing after probably hosting a high-budget 21st last year.
What’s your ideal birthday celebration after turning the big 21? Tell us in the comments below!