Buying my own birthday cake
August 28, 2016 9:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be spending my 25th birthday alone. What should I do to celebrate?

I'm going to be alone on my birthday next week. This isn't what I wanted, but I want to make the best of it.

It's going to be a workday, so I've only got the evening. What sorts of "special" things are good to do on your own? I'd especially like to have a nice dinner - what are some restaurants good for solo dining?

(I live in NYC).
posted by anonymous to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine has a ritual of eating as much of a box of junky kids' cereal as he can stomach and chasing it with two tallboys of boring domestic lager while watching trashy movies or reality TV or playing video games (it's one of those three things but I forget which). This is a laudable goal, in my opinion.
posted by Sara C. at 9:12 PM on August 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Call in sick, sleep in. That's the best gift for yourself.

Go for a long lunch on a picnic rug (in a gorgeous park with dogs to play with and a good book/Pokemon) and a get massage and see a movie you'd be embarrassed to see with friends. Go to bed early after a bottle of champagne and teppanyaki -then feel amazing the next day for exercise, fresh air, good food, sleep, space, movies and booze. Hugs for you. Being alone when you don't want to be is shite.

(Alternatively, a meetup?)
posted by taff at 9:15 PM on August 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

If this was me, I would call in sick or take a vacation day and do anything and everything I ever wanted to do. Museums, restaurants, take-out and junky movies, all day yoga...whatever. Sounds like awesome fun. Also you can definitely buy your own cake - and get whatever it is you want!
posted by Toddles at 9:20 PM on August 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I went to the Chinese buffet and had three plates of food instead of my normal two. Then I had ginger snaps and milk for dessert.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:23 PM on August 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had a birthday alone in lower Manhattan once and here's what I did:

- Steak frites and a glass of scotch at Les Halles on John St., sitting at the bar
- Walk across Brooklyn Bridge
- Subway home, wine, bubble bath
posted by mochapickle at 9:30 PM on August 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

When I turned 40 I dressed up and went to Le Bernadin. It was one of the most gracious restaurant experiences I've had as a single woman in NYC.
posted by brujita at 9:38 PM on August 28, 2016 [17 favorites]

Birthdays are important to me, and I spend more of them alone than I'd like due to various life circumstances. Here's what I do: start the day with an indulgent coffee drink I don't normally get, have a dinner of food that makes me really happy + a nice glass of whiskey or wine, do something pamper-y like a mani-pedi or a massage or a hot tub/sauna, and if I'm not ready to curl up in bed by that point, put on my traditional birthday movie (Terminator) or maybe read something. The overarching themes here are indulgences I can't always allow myself due to time/money/responsibilities, and self-care. I often try to take some time to deliberately reflect during the pampering session, but not always--sometimes I need to just bliss out.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:41 PM on August 28, 2016 [8 favorites]

At work either buy your favorite lunch that you normally wouldn't get because it's splurgy, or bring in a selection of awesome premade things and fresh yummy things from your nearest deli/fancy grocery place. Don't worry about bringing too much, because you can share! Also, get a cupcake for yourself. Surely NYC still does the artisinal cupcake thing right?

After dinner, go somewhere beautiful that makes you happy. I have a few spots like this in my city and I'm sure there are plenty in NYC that hit the mark for you. Go there and just exist for at least twenty minutes. If you had an incredible dinner, reflect on that, or you can think about how you're in such an interesting and beautiful place and you're able to experience it, or just zone out and people watch, just something super relaxing and positive.

Just generally though, don't be bummed out because you can't be with friends on your exact birthday. Think of it as an opportunity saved up for later! You can absolutely make a belated birthday adventure plan, or if you get psyched about something but other people are waffling about it you can call in your birthday and get people excited for you, or if you wanted to, say, travel to be with a long distance loved one you can call that a birthday gift to yourself and celebrate when you're with them. My birthday's in the middle of August so often as a kid all of my friends would be out of town on summer vacation stuff, and my brother's birthday is on Christmas! So the two of us have had lots of belated/early birthday celebrations. There's nothing that makes them any different than the ones on our actual birthdays and I personally loved it when I could be like "I know you all are bummed about summer vacation being over but come to my house for an icecream sundae bar!!!!" so, y'know, don't forget that you can celebrate another day if your actual birthday doesn't turn out so great.
posted by Mizu at 10:01 PM on August 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Bake cupcakes -- buy cake flour, eggs, everything and make them from scratch. Eat and keep as many as you want, and give the rest away to people you think are cool at work. Friends are the gift you give yourself! Cupcakes are an arguably more delicious gift you give yourself.
posted by amtho at 10:20 PM on August 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm alone for most of my birthdays. Treat yourself to exactly the food you want, take the next day off. If you're sad watch happy youtube videos (babies laughing, for real). Get drunk and go on Facebook and ask people to wish you happy birthday - even if you're awkward about it normally, people will wish you well consistently. Make sure your birth date is accurate on Facebook - last year I didn't publicize my birthdate and had five well wishers. This year, I made it obvious and had 55.
posted by bendy at 10:21 PM on August 28, 2016

Memail me your contact info and I will send you a happy birthday!
posted by bendy at 10:23 PM on August 28, 2016 [10 favorites]

I often spend birthdays alone. I go somewhere I haven't been before (restaurant, park, anything), eat something special and unusual, and buy yet another nice notebook destined never to be completed, and write ideas about my plans for the future. I am as kind to myself as if I were my best friend. I hope you enjoy your birthday. :)
posted by b33j at 2:37 AM on August 29, 2016

My birthday is soon too.

Find out what freebies are available for birthdays in your area and see how many you can collect. Do this every year and try to get more each year. Mine is coming up soon and so far there's free flowers and a free donut from krispy kreme.

Make your fav. food/drinks and save an episode of your fav. show to watch on your birthday.

Get your fav. cosmetic things. You can buy Japanese/Korean/Taiwanese sheet masks in NYC, and other bath stuff. I gave Mr. Moonlight do both last year.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:38 AM on August 29, 2016

I hope you have a very happy birthday. Have a virtual birthday hug from me.

Go out for breakfast.

Have a great lunch. Go somewhere or if your lunch break isn't long enough, pick up something nice on the way to work or get delivery.

Get a massage.

Go to a lovely restaurant and have your favourite meal. Order a nice drink. Go somewhere else for desert.

Listen to your favourite pick me up songs all day.

Buy yourself flowers / a plant to take to your place.

Go sit in a park and watch the birds.
posted by daybeforetheday at 4:04 AM on August 29, 2016

I normally don't celebrate my birthday, but I once took myself out to the philharmonic. I'd really love to spend time with a puppy/puppies too.
posted by kinoeye at 5:49 AM on August 29, 2016

The year this happened to me, I went to see a musical. It was so much fun that now I do it on purpose almost every year.
posted by decathecting at 6:05 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I hope you have a happy birthday (and that'll it turn out to be more wonderful than you think!). I'm nthing the suggestions to take the day off. I've always enjoyed the feeling of being somewhere other than where I'm supposed to be on what should be a workday. Bonus: the museums, restaurants, parks, etc. will be less crowded than they are on the weekends.

Or alternatively, there are still some end of summer events happening in towns north of the city. Pick a random town, take the Metro North and explore a place you haven't been before.

I've celebrated birthdays alone too. Some by choice and some due to unexpected circumstances. I'll be doing a bendy and would also like to send you a birthday greet if you want. :)
posted by theappleonatree at 6:16 AM on August 29, 2016

Seconding the advice to treat yourself to a play or musical ticket, if you're interested in that and finances allow! I actually prefer going to the theater alone and it will definitely feel "special." Dress up and take yourself out for a fancy cocktail before or after.
posted by superfluousm at 6:50 AM on August 29, 2016

One year I was traveling during my Birthday and my best friend Skyped me and we had a birthday dinner "together" and drank a bunch of wine. It was really fun.
posted by mayonnaises at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2016

Drink a martini at the Rainbow Room and watch the glorious sunset. Plus all the other great suggestions here.

Alternately, I often follow the European route and throw my own birthday dinner party. I cook, people usually bring wine but not gifts. Have a lovely day.
posted by SockPuppetOfShame at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2016

Oh, screw work. I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well that day or perhaps your super has to work on your leaking toilet. Play hooky, go to the movies, eat and drink overpriced movie junk. Or get your nails did. Or chill in the park (but not the one closest to your office.)

Momofuku Noodle Bar is great for solo dining. It's causal but to me it's special because it tastes special; it's easy to be alone there because as the name says, you can sit at a bar. Everyone is friendly. Go to Milk Bar for dessert and get a dozen cake balls-- one of their flavors is birthday cake!

Or for a real indulgence, get dressed up and dine at Tamarind. I witnessed a well-dressed woman having solo dinner and dessert there once and I was jealous.

Happy birthday.
posted by kapers at 10:10 AM on August 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd request a vacation day and go to the spa, take a yoga class, have a picnic lunch in Central Park or at a cute little cafe, then get a haircut and have a nice dinner out at a place no one I know from work would go to. With dessert. And a glass of wine. Possibly a play afterward, if I was really splurging.

I'd worry about calling in sick because you might run into someone from work, and I wouldn't want to spend the day worrying about it.

Happy Birthday! I celebrated a birthday alone once, and it was fantastic. I spent the day at a hot springs and had a picnic.
posted by onecircleaday at 5:07 PM on August 29, 2016

I suggest doing something nice for a few other people without mentioning it's your birthday.
You can do this with near-strangers- give more cash than you usually would to a homeless woman, tip your server more extravagantly than usual, call the manager of a business with a great employee and tell them how great their employee is, send a MeFi mail to someone telling them you empathize with their problem or find their posts funny...

Or you can add sunshine to existing relationships by: sending a friendly, supportive Facebook message to a person you would like to be closer with, emailing brief, affectionate little notes to some people you like, telling them about a nice memory you have of them, or calling up an old friend or perhaps an elderly family member or someone similar, just to catch up for a few minutes. The convos can be short- "I was just thinking about that time we xyz and had a little chuckle, thought I'd call to say hello, I hope you're well!"

In other words, give the gift of positive feelings to others (which tends to make your whole world feel warm and nice). Happy birthday! :)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:28 PM on August 29, 2016

You don't have long, but this might work - one Christmas when I thought I might be on my own, I spent the month beforehand buying all the things I saw and thought "I'd really like that..." but would normally think were unnecessary extravagances. Nothing huge - DVDs, books, some really nice socks, my favourite chocolates etc. They all got put in a box on top of the wardrobe and come Christmas Day, I took down the box and awarded myself a collection of the best possible presents I could have had, because they were EXACTLY what I wanted. It was amazing how many I'd forgotten about in the preceding month, and amazing how much more exciting it was than receiving presents that were kind of nice but not what I would have bought myself.

I keep meaning to do it again just because it was so awesome.
posted by penguin pie at 8:28 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

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