Want to do something great for my husband's 30th, but I'm totally broke!
May 4, 2012 2:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm unemployed and broke, and my husband's big 30th birthday is right around the corner. He went all out for my 30th, so I feel horrible that I can't afford anything nice. Suggestions?

So I lost my job a while back, and I'm pretty strapped for cash when it comes to buying anything beyond the essentials. My husband is turning 30 in a couple months and I feel bad that I can't afford anything nice for him. When I turned 30, he took me on a week-long trip that was obviously very expensive, not to mention a surprise. Any suggestions of creative AND CHEAP things I can do to make his birthday amazing? I'm thinking a surprise party, but just any old surprise party won't really do. We are the types to go all out for birthdays and holidays, so not being able to do that this year, especially for such a big birthday, makes me sad. Even though he understands my situation, trust me - he will be disappointed if he doesn't have some kind of big deal going on for his 30th. Any suggestions?
posted by emily37 to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How about dinner with a bunch of friends and ask them all to pay their dish plus a part of his?
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 2:34 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are married. His money is your money. Ask him what he thinks the two of you can afford to put towards his birthday.
posted by myselfasme at 2:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [19 favorites]

Some people might suggest that there are things *ahem* one partner can do for another that cost nothing (or next to nothing with a few... props). That plus his favorite drink or tacos or something.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:36 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you are in the US, the weather is getting really nice -can you set up at a park with a barbecue, and have a big potluck with help from friends & family?
posted by kellyblah at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

For the maximum bang for your buck, a surprise (potluck) party seems good, with all your friends, plus some party games.

If you don't like that, well, giftwrap several boxes of lingerie (for you) to be opened over the course of weekend.

Or you could do both, just don't invite your friends for the lingerie part.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:40 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Call his mom and dad and ask them to throw a surprise party?
posted by crazycanuck at 2:40 PM on May 4, 2012

Any suggestions?

What sort of things does he like?

Off hand, I'd say decorate the house with things that make it look regal and then treat him like an absolute king for the day, from breakfast in bed (to much fanfare), washing him in the shower (you know what I'm talkin' about), making his favorites dishes for lunch and dinner, along with with cake/pie/whatever he likes. Drag his friends into it, ya'll could make it costume party or some such.

But all this depends on what he likes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:45 PM on May 4, 2012

A bouquet of flowers with strips of paper attached to each flower with a reason you adore him.

You could do a treasure hunt in the house with a map, or each item having a clue for where the next is - items he finds could be cute memories of times you shared, reasons you adore him, coupons for things you can do without much money (look for free events in the area, and make coupons to go to those, if they are things he would like).

Offer to do something with him that he really likes, but you don't normally want to do.

For my uncle this year, who turned 60 (and it was a super big deal to him) we gave him 61 envelopes (with $1 inside, but that's optional) - on each envelope, we printed the year and then one big event from the year - he absolutely loved it. I found all the events on the web, and just printed them onto envelopes.

offer to make his favorite meal, or something time intensive that you don't normally make for him. you could go the all out romantic option, and do candlelit whatever.

Do you craft/sew/knit? you could always make him something, if so. Does he like music? Make him a mix cd! things that are time intensive, but especially for him are great.
posted by needlegrrl at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

How much time do you have? Can you do a surprise musical? Take a few popular show tunes and rewrite the lyrics and make them about him and have friends perform them to the soundtrack. Bonus points if you could do this in a picnic setting and have people come out and surprise him.

And really, any kind of flash mob type thing would be awesome. Take him to the mall/other public place and have 20 friends and random strangers sing him happy birthday, complete with dance.

You could also plan a massive scavenger hunt at your public library, complete with competing teams.

Go old school and organize a field day at your local park. With tug of war. Sack races. Egg toss. You could also do teams & such.

See if you can get a cheap group camping rate and have a camp out over the weekend. Or do this in your back yard or friend's back yard.
posted by haplesschild at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

A simple, heartfelt message on a birthday card is worth a million grand gestures.

And if you feel like waking him up with a "surprise treat", he'll be walking on air all day.
posted by ZipRibbons at 3:24 PM on May 4, 2012

i love haplesschild's answer!

and another idea -- i saw this a few years back, but can't find the link -- for his wife's bday, this guy got people from all over the world (strangers) to take pics of themselves holding signs that said "happy bday to X" near a landmark or something interesting in their city! worldwide bday wishes!

i bet you could get the mefites to whip something together real quick!! i'd cover toronto for you :)
posted by crawfo at 4:00 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

One of my favorite gifts I've ever received was a nicely framed set of pictures of me performing with various groups. I believe the frame came from a thrift store, and the pictures were fairly cheap from shutterfly. If you've got the time, get a bunch of pictures of him doing [appropriate activity](s). You could have a bunch of people over for a BYOB "This is Your Life" sort of thing where you set up a display and have the appropriate people tell the stories behind the pictures
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:07 PM on May 4, 2012

why dont you cook dinner for him? something nice?
posted by pakora1 at 4:17 PM on May 4, 2012

No surprise party!! One of my favorite things I every got was dinner and a cake from my poor husband. He can't bake or cook, but got out the cookbook and followed the directions. He once made me an awesome card, I mean really awesome (old surfboard, dog fur, dried flowers,etc). I think something from the heart that is not expensive would be appreciated.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 6:57 PM on May 4, 2012

I was part of a choreographed dance to surprise a friend who just turned 30. She walked into the room and we went right for it - lights, music, costumes, etc. It was super cheap and a great start to an otherwise fairly low-key party.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 7:02 PM on May 4, 2012

I agree with the previous answers: if you can't go all out with money, you can go all out with effort. Coordinate your friends into a dance routine or just a wacky, contrived setup of some sort in the style of Improv Everywhere. Or cook an elaborate meal. Or construct a treasure hunt around town that takes your husband to meaningful locations on the way to a heartfelt (but inexpensive) gift. Or organize a church-picnic style party at the nearest state park, complete with three-legged races and a game of Marco Polo.
posted by Orinda at 7:31 PM on May 4, 2012

Oh yes, happy birthday singing flashmob! Do you know anyone who's in a choir who might help out and bring some friends along?
posted by penguin pie at 3:33 AM on May 5, 2012

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