Unless you have a summer or Christmas birthday, you will be celebrating a birthday at school. Being away from home on your birthday can be rough, but there are many on-campus options to having a great birthday celebration!
My freshman year I turned 18, and all I really wanted to do was to hang out with my friends. I was living in Dishner, which is apartment style housing with six people in three rooms with a common space that includes a living room and kitchen area, at the time, and I talked to my suitemates and told them that I wanted to have friends over to play board games in our common area, and they were fine with it. My friend Christian made me carrot cake cupcakes, which are my absolute favorite! I had about ten of my friends come over, and they all brought their board games, and we just sat around for a couple of hours and played. It was wonderful because it was exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday, surrounded by friends, laughing and playing around.
I know for some of my friends’ birthdays that they really just wanted to go out to dinner and see a movie. I have also had some friends that money was tight, so we collectively pitched in to buy food from the store and we all got together and cooked a big dinner. For Heather’s birthday, we went to the Hunger Games: Catching Fire premiere in Middlesboro, KY. Before the movie, my sorority got together and made dinner for everyone. We made spaghetti noodles and a traditional spaghetti sauce and then an alfredo sauce. Making pasta is a delicious, inexpensive meal that can easily feed a large group. Some people did not want pasta (including the birthday girl) so we also made nachos, plus I made shrimp and chicken to add into my pasta. One of my favorite ways of celebrating a birthday is having a movie marathon, where everyone brings their favorite movies and at least one snack to share with the group, and we watch movies and talk, and just have a low-key, high-fun birthday.
While I personally like more intimate birthday celebrations, I have friends who really like to get out and run around, literally. The campus can be your playground, if you are respectful. For one of my friend’s birthdays we went to the quad and played tag, red rover, hide-and-seek (outside) and other games. There were a lot of people there that I did not know, but when we played team games and they were grouped with me, I got to learn more about them and made new friends! This was so fun because there were lots of people, and playing games that we hadn’t played since we were kids brought back all kinds of good memories. I have also had friends who, for their birthday, wanted to go for a hike. I personally hate hiking, but I love my friend, so I went uncomplainingly with them, and actually ended up having an awesome time! One thing I learned about celebrating birthdays at school is that if your friends really want to do something on their birthday and it is affordable and creative, to just try it. Most times, my friends just wanted to be surrounded by people on their birthday; being away from home can be hard. I think it is important to find a way to make campus feel like home, so that birthdays do not feel so lonely.
Now, when it comes to giving birthday gifts, there are many available options that do not have to break the bank! I am not really the creative type, but I looked around online and for my friend’s birthday last year I made her all home-made gifts that she loved. I made personalized chalk boards, by using chalk board paint on canvas, and once it was dry, I decorated the edges with buttons and pictures. This was an idea I got from my friend Alyssa, and it was fairly inexpensive and super cute (pics?). The other thing I made was a giant memory board. I took a very large canvas and covered it completely with fabric. Then, I took ribbon and tacked it down with push-pins in a way that the ribbon intersected itself many times. In the intersections, I put in pictures of my friend and me, plus other pictures of things she liked. These things took a lot of time and love to make, so even though they were not necessarily expensive, their value was immeasurable.
If you have any ideas for inexpensive gift ideas, leave me a comment about it! Don’t forget to follow my blog! My birthday is Sunday, December 1st, and if anyone wants to arrange a surprise party for when I get back from Thanksgiving break, that would be swell!