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15 Creative Things to Do on Your Birthday That Are Totally Affordable

You don't need to spend a fortune to celebrate in style.

Birthdays weren't always something to celebrate. Before the mid-19th century rolled around, these occasions were pretty much reserved for the rich and famous. But fast-forward to today, and that's all changed. According to a Market Watch survey, parents typically spend around $400 on their kids' parties, and adult birthday celebrations can cost even more. But just because some are willing to spend that kind of money on a celebration doesn't mean that there's any obligation for you to do so. In fact, there are plenty of things to do on your birthday that won't break the bank. Below, we'll walk you through lots of fun ideas, from themed parties to fundraising and much more!

RELATED: The Best 50th Birthday Party Ideas for a Major Celebration.

Key Takeaways

  • There are plenty of affordable options to entertain on your birthday, from nature hikes to movie nights, and more.
  • Creative options allow you to exercise certain skills and take home unique keepsakes to commemorate the day.
  • Not everyone has an easy time celebrating their birthday, but certain activities can help keep the "birthday blues" at bay.

Outdoor Adventure Ideas

1. Nature Hike With Friends

Group of People Hiking
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The next time your birthday rolls around, think about inviting a few friends to spend time with you in the great outdoors. It's a great way to unwind, and nature will provide all the decor you need. Just head to your closest national park or decide on another scenic trail you haven't explored before. If you have a more specific destination in mind, you could also consider turning the occasion into a multi-day camping trip.

2. Beach Day Extravaganza

candles in the sand

If you love to swim or sunbathe, then head to the beach for an ideal birthday celebration. Spend the day with your best friends and family members and follow these tips to ensure the perfect day:

  • Choose your favorite local beach location.
  • Pack beach games, snacks, and a change of clothes.
  • If you're bringing a birthday cake, don't forget about all the necessary cutlery and containers.

3. Adrenaline-Pumping Experiences

young person white water rafting

Move over, mini-golf, because we've got other things in mind. If you're looking to do something really special on your birthday, consider an activity that will get your pulse up. Go skydiving, try white-water rafting, or even spend the day driving around in your dream car. If you're looking for less expensive options, then check for local events in your area. A music festival or dance party may not rival jumping out of a plane, but either will definitely get your blood pumping.

Indoor Celebration Ideas

4. Themed Party

Disco balls in dark

Not everyone wants to spend the day outside, and that's perfectly fine. Indoor celebrations also make a lot more sense for people born during the colder months of the year. Leaning into a theme makes indoor events easier to organize. Plus, it gives you the freedom to obsess over your absolute favorite things—at least for the day. Have a thing for Victorian England? Throw yourself a fancy tea party. Or maybe you're into a more modern era. In that case, you can host an '80s dance party or '70s disco.

Pizza party, pajama party—the list of ideas goes on. Whatever you decide on, be sure to decorate accordingly. Transform your home into a party paradise with decorations, music, and food that match the theme. You can even invite your guests to dress up. The best part? It's your birthday, so they can't complain about a thing—at least not until the party is over.

5. DIY Spa Day at Home

woman holding a birthday cake against a pink backdrop with under eye masks on
Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock

Indulge in a soothing DIY spa day at home, complete with pampering treatments and luxurious details. Prepare your space by lighting candles, playing soothing music, and setting up comfortable seating. Choose treatments like facials, manicures, pedicures, and massages to celebrate yourself and spoil your closest friends. At-home services are available, but you can also purchase spa kits for a more affordable affair.

6. Movie Marathon Night

people doing a movie night with friends

Arrange a movie marathon of your favorite films or plan a binge-watching session of an old TV series. Choose a theme for the night surrounding a specific genre or a selection of timeless classics. Also, be sure to prepare (or order) plenty of food and drink for people to munch on throughout the night. Whether you're cracking up over a comedy or hiding under a blanket during the latest horror hit, you'll have no regrets about spending your birthday at home and in front of the screen.

RELATED: 152 Birthday Quotes to Celebrate Friends and Family.

Food and Drink-Inspired Celebrations

7. Gourmet Cooking Class

friends at a cooking class
Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Nothing says "Happy Birthday" quite like a delicious meal. So invite friends to join you for a gourmet cooking class on your special day! Here's just some of what you'll get out of it:

  • Acquire new culinary skills.
  • Enjoy a delectable meal with friends.
  • Learn about new techniques, ingredients, and dishes.
  • Leave you with the knowledge to recreate the meal at home.

8. Go to a Brewery or Wine-Tasting

people clinking glasses at a wine tasting
Stefanovic Mina/Shutterstock

Set off on a brewery tour or winery-tasting excursion to enjoy different types of drinks while learning more about the production process. Think of it as a fun and educational way to spend your birthday. With this type of party, you can explore the art of brewing or vinification and discover the history behind your favorite beverages.

9. Enjoy a Progressive Dinner Party

Group of middle aged friends at outdoor dinner party laughing
Jack Frog / Shutterstock

Hold a progressive dinner party, touring multiple restaurants or homes to enjoy a range of courses and cuisines. This option allows you to sample a variety of dishes while spending quality time with friends and family. Make sure to include a mix of your favorite restaurants and new places you've been wanting to try. And of course, don't forget to save room for a special birthday treat at the end!

Creative Birthday Ideas

10. Paint and Sip Party

people at a paint and sip workshop as evidence of it being one of the more popular things to do on your birthday
Alfonso Soler/Shutterstock

Plan a paint-and-sip party, giving guests the opportunity to create their own artwork while sipping on drinks and socializing. Local studios and art instructors often offer private events, providing all the necessary supplies and guidance. This birthday celebration allows you and your friends to express yourselves artistically and also ensures you'll walk away with a one-of-a-kind keepsake to commemorate the day.

11. Pottery or Craft Workshop

white mother and daughter making pottery
LightField Studios / Shutterstock

On your birthday, participate in a pottery or craft workshop to acquire a new skill and create a piece of art for your home or jewelry box. Whether you're molding clay into a beautiful sculpture or designing a custom piece of jewelry, these workshops offer hands-on experiences that allow you to express your creativity.

12. DIY Birthday Photoshoot

iphone cellphone camera

Stage a DIY photoshoot with friends to memorialize the day. Choose a theme that reflects your personality and interests, gather props and decorations, and set up a fun backdrop. There's a wide spectrum of ideas you can choose from here, so think about what you'd most like to see up on your wall for years to come. Ugly sweaters? Maybe? Animal-inclusive? Also a good thought. Whatever you decide on, we promise these finished and framed photos will make for some of the best birthday gifts you've ever been given.

RELATED: 136 "Thank You" Messages for Every Occasion

Give Back on Your Birthday

13. Volunteer at a Local Charity

young couple volunteering at a park together

Dedicate your birthday to volunteering at a local charity, contributing to the community, and effecting change. Whether you're passionate about animal welfare, environmental conservation, or supporting those in need, there are countless organizations that would appreciate your time and effort. Again, volunteering on your birthday not only makes a positive impact but also provides a rewarding and memorable experience for you and whomever you invite to join you.

14. Organize a Fundraiser

Five Volunteers Collecting Donations
Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Set up a fundraiser for a cause close to your heart. Encourage friends and family to donate in honor of your birthday. Whether you're raising money for a local charity, supporting medical research, or funding a community project, a birthday fundraiser allows you to make a meaningful contribution in a way you can share with the ones you love.

15. Plant a Tree or Start a Garden

close-up on hands planting a garden

On your birthday, plant a tree or initiate a garden, leaving a sustainable and significant imprint on the environment. This eco-friendly celebration not only benefits the planet but also provides a sense of accomplishment since you can watch whatever you plant grow larger each year.

Why Do Some People Have Difficulty Celebrating Their Birthday?

Not everyone is excited by the idea of having a birthday party. The term "birthday depression" (known as the "birthday blues" to some) has been circulating around the psychiatric community for some time. This feeling may have roots in prior negative birthday experiences, generalized anxiety, or a fear of getting older.

If you find yourself struggling with feeling down on your birthday, allow yourself to experience whatever emotions arise and take the time to process. It's also important to honor your definition of "celebrating," even if that's out of the ordinary. Sometimes, staying home and resting is the best thing you can do. Other times, planning a healthy activity out of the house and with friends will offer the kind of distraction needed to enjoy the day.

RELATED: I'm a Gifting Expert and These Are the Top 6 Worst Birthday Presents

Why Is it Important to Celebrate Your Birthday?

woman blowing birthday confetti
simona pilolla 2/Shutterstock

Birthdays are an opportunity to do something for yourself, and self-compassion is especially important for people suffering from the birthday blues. Allowing yourself to feel loved and appreciated may be uncomfortable, but you deserve to be treated well on your birthday. Even just one day of fulfillment can make a huge impact on how you feel for months to come.

So, take the time to reflect on the past year. Treat yourself kindly (even lavishly), and try not to compare this birthday to anyone else's or this year's to any past year's.


What can I do for my birthday with no money?

There are plenty of inexpensive (or free) activities to do on your birthday. Most outdoor activities like hiking, sightseeing, or swimming don't cost money to enjoy. Other low-budget options include making someone a special meal or arranging a movie marathon night. You should also do your research and see what birthday freebies are available near you. Many businesses offer free food, drink, and admission to individuals celebrating their birthdays.

What can I do for my birthday with my girlfriend or boyfriend?

Couples can enjoy the same activities a group of friends would. Of course, activities that require larger groups, such as escape rooms or murder mystery parties, may not be a great choice. But you don't need anyone but the two of you to spend the day at an amusement park or enjoy an upscale dinner.

Wrapping Up

That's it for our list of things to do on your birthday, but be sure to check back in with us soon for more ways to celebrate your special day. You can also sign up for our newsletter to enjoy similar content, as well as the latest in wellness, entertainment, and travel.

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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