“How was it?”
“Yeah… it wasn’t that great.”
You’re going to hear that when the attendees have to pay money for the party and it just ends up being too expensive; when the party is too heavily themed for certain guests; when inordinate amounts of alcohol are involved and someone either has a fistfight or a row; when the party requires a time investment (and consequently money) that the attendees cannot afford; and, you know, when people are invited out to an open-air barbecue in typical British weather.
Everyone likes a good do. But a good birthday party idea can turn into a horrifying social nightmare if it is not executed properly and thought through thoroughly (say it again, fast). Ever been to one of those parties where you just wanted to get home as soon as possible? Yes?
However complicated or hard-to-please your audience may be, the following birthday party ideas will always work, and I’ll tell you why:
Birthday Party Ideas that Work Every Time
Forecast: clear and sunny, 4% chance of rain + paintball or white water rafting = a hit.
Doesn’t matter if you are friends with bespectacled IT specialists unaccustomed to prolonged periods of exertion, with surgeons or musicians or dancers who refrain from these kinds of activities because their hands and feet are their livelihood, or a couple of Bear Grylls sports/outdoor adventure types, a wild outdoor adventure followed by a case or two of beers will positively resonate with all of them.
They are great teambuilding sports full of adrenaline, excitement, and emotions, and make for a great and somewhat unusual birthday party. For those who’ve never played paintball or held on to their dear lives in a rafting boat, this will also be a chance to get out of their comfort zones and try something new.
Okay, they are going to grunt and curse and mention gods and mothers and wives when they get hit by a paintball or smacked in the head with a paddle, but in the end, everyone is going to have a really good time.
You can also treat your friends to a morning of skydiving. I was invited once. One thing is absolutely certain: no person will be coming home without a great story to tell. Skydiving is a perfectly reasonable birthday activity. I, personally, wouldn’t (and didn’t) do it. I am terrified of heights. But I wouldn’t judge anyone for wanting to try it.
No, sir, I wouldn’t call anyone a lunatic or a madman or a crazy person or an idiot or a complete fool for wanting to jump out of a moving airplane 10 kilometres in the air of their own free will. Nope.
Food & Drinks
“When inordinate amounts of alcohol are involved and someone either has a fistfight or a row” – yeah, this isn’t always bad. Of course, it depends what you want your birthday to be, but a good chair in the air, a nice table flipped over, and a well-planted fist against your best friend’s face is a good night’s out for some people.
Okay, all jokes aside, gathering a group of friends and buying off a part of a pub for the night are amazing ideas. You can drink, shout, tell stories, spill the booze without worrying about the carpet, insult your best friends, tell jokes, and be merry into the wee hours of the night with little possibility of police intervention.
You will most certainly meet new people, make lifelong friends whom you’ll all “love” more than anything in the world for the night, and solve some of the nation’s hottest political problems. You will be a beast of intellect: a volatile combination of a drunken Nietzsche and a stodgy but brilliant Shakespeare. You will know it all, and you will know it well.
On the other hand, a peaceful night in (very quiet after 10pm not to annoy the neighbours), with a glass of wine or two, a couple of good friends, and a birthday cake is a sure-fire recipe for a lot of good memories. You’re warm, you’re cosy, you’re eating good food and drinking good wine, and you’re surrounded by people who add great value to your life – what more could you want?
(but if it’s one of those things where your wife’s best friend invited you, and you had to go, but you really didn’t want to go, because you dislike her husband who stands way too close to you when he talks about the weather and power tools, then you might be up for a bit of table-tossing with the boys down the pub – go back to #2)
Would you be happiest if you could stay inside for your birthday, bring over thousands of pounds worth of computer equipment, and play video games with your best friends for two days straight? No showering, no outsiders, no fresh air, no natural light?
Yes, that’s it, that’s exactly how it’s done. Buy lots of food and drinks (the unhealthier the better), and explain to your wives and husbands and children that you are going to be a while. This is a gated event.
This is war.
“Papa loves you, Tim. He’ll be home soon.”
For the entire weekend you are going to embrace your teammates’ joy, laugh at your enemies’ tears, and bask in the sweet sweat of victory and the sour stench of defeat. It’s a perfectly wonderful way to celebrate your 45th birthday – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You do you, okay?
But, whatever birthday idea you may have and want to execute, if it includes good friends, good food, and a great atmosphere, it will be nothing short of a major success.