There may be some timeless traditions — birthday cake being foremost among them — but something about turning 25 and older makes balloons, party hats, and games seem immature. Adult birthday parties are tricky to plan because most of us have little experience mixing celebration and sophistication; we go straight from sugary sweets and pin-the-tail as kids to boozy beverages and beer pong as young adults.
Most adults in their late 20s and early 30s, who have jobs, spouses, and perhaps budding families, can’t and don’t want to celebrate in the ways they did when they were younger — but they struggle to imagine how a mature celebration looks and feels.
Adults planning their first-ever mature birthday bash — whether for themselves or for loved ones — usually have much to learn in the way of grown-up fun. The following should help any stable and settled birthday boy or girl celebrate a remarkable and refined revelry.
Make It an Event
Even though there are precious few milestone birthdays left in your life (just one every decade or so, it seems) you can still make every birthday a major cause for celebration by spending a little extra time and money to transform the party into an event. Hosting the birthday party at an alternative venue (read: not your house) and hiring a caterer to provide adult drinks and snacks (Anoush is one of the best in the L.A. area) are fast and stress-free ways to instantly make your birthday more mature. Outsourcing these vital duties ensures you’ll have professional, high-class services; plus, you won’t have to worry about preparation and clean-up on your big day.
Make a Theme
Kids’ birthday parties are all about themes: luau, Old West, dinosaurs, “Frozen.” However, that doesn’t mean a theme won’t make your adult shindig any less entertaining and exciting — you simply need to choose a theme that is mature as well as fun. You want to select a theme that is easy for your guests to adhere to — i.e. dress up for — without being offensive or juvenile. You might consider any of the following ideas for a charming adult birthday bash:
- Casino or arcade
- Carnival or masquerade
- French garden
- Sports (golf, football, etc.)
- Old Hollywood
- Retro music
- And more!
Make It About Memories
As you age, you tend to spend more and more time remembering the past — and forgetting the present. You can invite your guests to reminisce with you by filling the party with shared memories of yesteryear and today.
For example, you can give thanks for the support of your friends and family with a slideshow, photo album, or hung pictures of your time together through the years. Your guests will have instant ice-breakers (“In this picture we were…” and “I had forgotten about the time we…”) and everyone will love spending the night sharing stories of the past.
You can turn the spotlight back on you by showcasing pictures of yourself through the years. Everyone loves a good baby picture or senior portrait, which means you can bring your guests together in celebration of you by hanging images of your changing style around the venue. Of course, you should expect more than a little mockery of your high school hair style.
Then, to help you and your guests remember your birthday for years to come, you should have plenty of opportunities for them and you to capture the moment. Photo booths at birthday parties are exceedingly popular nowadays, as they allow your guests to hilariously pose together and then take home small memories they can cherish forever. You can achieve a similar effect with dozens of disposable cameras scattered around your venue, which guests can use to snap pictures as they will. Alternatively, you can hire a professional photographer for more stylish photos of your friends and family that you can keep for a lifetime.
Make It Meaningful
Finally, as a full-fledged adult, you probably don’t usually wait for your birthday to roll around to treat yourself. The ritual of birthday gift-giving dies almost the day after you turn 18 (save with close friends and family), and most of your friends would likely anxiously struggle to imagine an appropriate gift (besides wine, of course) for your adult birthday.
Instead of asking for gifts, you can request that your guests bring a favorite quote, or you can ask for family recipes that you can make at home. No matter what, you should ask your guests to leave a comment in your birthday guestbook so you can remember who came and celebrated with you. Plus, you should never underestimate a kind word on your birthday.