The best way to give yourself a birthday present


I’ve never been wild about birthdays or the idea of having loads of attention and money spent on me just because I was born- but since I’m not a total scrooge I still partake in birthday fun. I’m lucky that three of my closest friends were born in the week before me, which means every year since we met we’ve had big joint celebrations. Less organisation, more people and a nice reunion every year of all those people you don’t get to see as much as you wish you could.  I actually really hate the idea of planning a birthday event solo because I don’t like social pressure- just let me turn up somewhere and have a good time with people I love (at any time, not just birthdays).

A few years ago, I worked with a guy who claimed that you should celebrate your own birthday by spending the days leading up to it completely alone, doing things you want to do to remind yourself that you’re lucky to be alive. He was a complete free spirit and self-confessed hippy, but I kind loved him and I now try to live up to his wise words (apart from being alone, because I like talking too much). We all get nice things for our birthdays but it’s usually down the generosity of friends and family who plan days or nights out and give you gifts and shower you with unhealthy food and cake. So for the last few years I’ve also done stuff for me, kind of like when you go shopping and do a ‘Dear me, you deserve this, love me’ kind of thing, but it hasn’t involved buying new things.

I’ve done several pretty nice ‘isn’t life amazing’ activities now to celebrate getting older, including spending a few quiet days in a tiny fishing in Croatia, which is also where I first learnt how to take a decent photo. I also spent the build up to my birthday (and the first few hours flying home from) an amazing trip to Sri Lanka where we visited a tsunami museum, spent time with locals talking about life on the ‘sunshine island’ and spent a morning cleaning and feeding turtles at a beach sanctuary. I realise these aren’t exactly small things and I don’t do this kind of stuff every year, but having something that completely refreshes you and makes you feel appreciative really is a nice way to round off another year of life, particularly if it hasn’t been the best.


This year didn’t involve any tropical shores or sunny mornings strolling through Croatian hills, but I did sign up to a 10k to help me get fitter and raise some cash for cancer research, started pilates again, got some stuff off my chest and spent some overdue time with my parents and sister.

It’s kind of nice to have another layer of birthday to look forward to every year, and maybe for most people treating yourself is the norm, but I guess this is more about experience rather than treats. This year was quite a strange one as I got mostly homeware and a nice box knives for birthday so I felt insanely old and like I should be spending the weekend in wearing slippers and eating cheese (the dream, basically). But I still managed to see all of my friends, get merry on gin and walk around a tapas dance bar with a Myra Hindley documentary on DVD in my bag.

Documentaries and pilates is a good foundation for any birthday, by the way.

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