what's the best birthday celebration you've been to? i need ideas, please!
August 22, 2009 10:37 PM   Subscribe

what's the best birthday celebration you've been to? i need ideas, please!

i'm turning an age-that-ends-in-zero soon and would love to do something a bit special this year. i'm in san francisco and have a wide range of friends--some have a bit of money, some are broke, some are parents, some will never grow up--so ideally it would be something appealing and financially accessible. so far i haven't come up with anything that feels right.

it would be extraordinarily helpful to hear some of your best birthday experiences... perhaps it will spark an idea in my stalled brain.

many thanks!
posted by roxie110 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My best birthday was organized by someone other than me. It was almost like a surprise party, because, although I knew when it would be, I had no idea what we'd be doing.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:49 PM on August 22, 2009

I was at a friend's-birthday-ending-in-zero today, and it was great. But it's great because she picked activities that all fit her, so it's a little hard to guess what you'd love.

In this case, she had all her friends write a puzzle for a mystery hunt that went around the area. I think she had a great time testing all the puzzles and setting everything up, and then watching all of us try to solve them and run around finding the next clue. It was loads of fun for us, too.

(As for my own best birthdays, big yay on other people organizing. Some awesome friends of mine set up a little puzzle hunt for me too once, and that was pretty great.)
posted by nat at 11:02 PM on August 22, 2009

The best birthday celebration I've ever been to was a weekend trip to a friend's hunting property a couple hours out from the city (in my case, Cleveland). Food was barbecue and whatever else people brought, lodging was in your own tent or a couch in the trailer if you could secure it, and activities involved ATV's and firearms by day and a bonfire, beer, and music by night.

Now I realize this isn't directly applicable to your situation so here's a suggestion, assuming most of your friends like to get out into the country from time to time. Find a place to camp that's as close to the city as possible so folks who don't spend the night can drive home. Make it an afternoon/evening potluck/barbecue event and bring along some games like frisbee, corn hole, whiffle ball, etc. At night build a big bonfire and just sit and talk, or get rowdy with music, booze, fireworks, etc. In the morning fix a proper breakfast (bacon cooked on an open fire anyone?), hang out, toss a frisbee, and pack up. Nothing fancy really, but sometimes the most fun can be had just by wasting time with good company.
posted by waxboy at 12:27 AM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

My husband rented out the Red Vic Theater for my last birthday for a Saturday morning. We served brunch (Costco stuff) and showed all my favorite cartoons for three hours.

Everyone had a great time. I felt loved. And the Red Vic was cheap.

Best birthday I've ever had or been to. But it helps that I love cartoons and a ton of people came.
posted by Gucky at 1:07 AM on August 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

We did DH's big 4-0 party with an older than dirt theme: black balloons, black tablecloth, dimmed lights. Invited his friends from public and high school, brought out the old year books and photo albums, and his mum baked the 9 layer cake that she used to make for all of the kids' parties when they were little. We ate kid food, played 'remember when' type of games, listened to tunes that were popular back then and generally let DH wallow with his buds who are all around the same age. It was better than the high school reunion in that only the people he had liked for years were there. His sister had a costume/pool party/BBQ for her 40th which was a lot of fun. Of course, she wasn't caring what the number was, she just liked having a big party!
posted by x46 at 3:28 AM on August 23, 2009

My favorite birthday parties are generally the ones I don't have to pay for.

I know actually hosting an event like an actual host has pretty much gone by the wayside, but that's what people used to do -- they'd invite people to events and not expect them to pay their own way. That also makes it much easier to pick an event that's affordable, since the only measure of affordability that matters is how much you can afford -- you don't have to speculate on what your friends' budgets might be.

Other than that, I really like late-night bowling for silly fun parties. Mix people up on different teams from game to game, and make everyone pick a "secret bowling identity" to enter into the scoring system. If you make them pay for their own bowling, it'll cost people less than $10, usually, and thus it's still pretty cheap if you pay for it yourself.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:34 AM on August 23, 2009

Response by poster: this is so great! please keep it coming!

i especially love the red vic idea... it looks like my only options timewise, though, would be morning or midnight, which would be tough for one or the other set of friends. it got me wondering what other venues in san francisco might be rentable without costing an arm and a leg... and with only about 7 weeks' notice... suggestions?
posted by roxie110 at 11:29 AM on August 23, 2009

A surprise party, where we had to dress up in the birthday boy's signature style. Everybody, (even the kids) wore a baseball cap, hawaiian shirt and a beard.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2009

I like bonobothegreat's idea, and mine is similar. Pretty much anything involving a themed costume. Gender-bender is always good, but so is pretty much anything.
posted by cmoj at 2:27 PM on August 23, 2009

My husband once organized all of my friends to see one of the "Harry Potter" movies as a birthday surprise for me. We walked into the ticketing area and there they were!

I also think a mariachi band makes any occasion 100% better, which is why I had one at my baby shower.
posted by FergieBelle at 7:18 AM on August 24, 2009

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