19 Ways to Celebrate a Birthday Without Having a Party

birthday card with pop-out cake detail

Sure, birthday parties are always fun, but there are creative ways to celebrate birthdays of all ages without a party. We love to find small ways to celebrate friends and family members to make their whole birthday feel super special. With ideas including making custom cards, starting new birthday traditions, enjoying special birthday treats and more, you can be sure they will feel loved from morning to night. We included ideas that will work for all ages, whether for kids or the kids at heart. You might be surprised at how good it feels to help celebrate a birthday without throwing a party!

01 of 19

DIY a Birthday Card

birthday card with pop-out cake detail

Go for glitter with this festive handmade birthday card. It's quick and easy to make, and the end result is so sparkly-good. This is a perfect birthday card to make at the last minute, to send across the country as happy mail, or to leave on the desk of a coworker to start their day off on a celebratory note.

02 of 19

Decorate Cupcakes

Child decorating cupcakes candies
Andy Lyons

Bake up the birthday girl (or boy's!) favorite cupcake recipe, then put out all of the toppings for them to customize their own treat. You can make it as complicated or simple as you like—there's nothing wrong with just frosting and sprinkles!—and sing your best rendition of the birthday song before digging in.

03 of 19

Have a Spa Moment

bowls flower petals spa
Rebekah Molloy

Whether young or old(er), everyone loves to be pampered at home. And taking a little time to give a manicure, pedicure, or massage is a great way to help a friend or family member celebrate a birthday. Try a new polish and some sweet-smelling lotion and ah-away!

04 of 19

Take Cheesy Photos

Child with moustache hat props
Tina Rupp

Assemble fun props that capture this moment in your loved one's life—favorite hobbies, characters, or even a trend—and snap some silly pics at home. Bonus points if you set up a DIY photo booth… though, even using a plain wall as a backdrop will work just as well!

05 of 19

Make Root Beer Floats

Wagon filled with ingredients for root beer floats
Rebekah Molloy

There's a party in every cup of this classic treat that will make any birthday end with a sweet finish. Order some artisanal root beer and vanilla bean ice cream for the most authentic flavor, add festive paper straws ($6, Walmart), and let this birthday treat stand-in for cake!

06 of 19

Make a Secret Message

Children holding letters that spell "Fun"
Joe Polillio

This is such a fun outdoor game idea for an early reader! Use cardboard and large letter stickers to spell out a birthday message. Stack the letters out of order and let the birthday boy or girl unscramble the hidden words!

07 of 19

Go All Out on the Cake

Valentine’s Cake
Blaine Moats

Dust off your baking skills and bake up a cake to impress—because you don't need to have a party to have a cake! We appreciate desserts with colorful surprises on the inside or those with simple embellishments to really play up the celebratory nature of the day! And what to do if you're intimidated by a spatula? Order a store-bought cake and add one of these easy cake decorating ideas.

08 of 19

Cheers with a Custom Cocktail

Rosemary-Grapefruit Gin Cocktail
Blaine Moats

Less involved than dinner or a party, but just as enjoyable, sharing a birthday cocktail is a new tradition that we can get behind. Make a batch of homemade cocktails with the birthday girl's favorite flavors. Don't forget to cheers!

09 of 19

Celebrate with an Ice Cream Bar

ice cream party

Order all of her favorite flavors and toppings, then set them out for DIY ice cream sundaes to celebrate the day. This is a fun birthday dessert idea that works for two people or a bigger family, so customize your ice cream spread for as many people as you have at home. And don't forget the cones!

10 of 19

Do a Craft Together

Two children sitting with sailboat toys
Sabrina Helas

For creative kids, this is a perfect birthday activity. This fun sailboat making project uses simple materials like pool noodles, electrical tape ($2, The Home Depot), and skewers. Then, when the boats are made, you can have a race in the backyard kiddie pool (or bathtub!).

11 of 19

Start a New Tradition

kids playing in checkered tent
Annie Schlechter

Whether it's pancakes with sprinkles for breakfast, homemade meatballs for dinner, filling the playroom with a child's favorite color of balloons, decorating with yarn pom-poms, writing a birthday letter filled with all of her accomplishments from the past year, or something unique to your family, birthday traditions can go a long way towards making the day feel even more special.

12 of 19

Make an Epic Snack Board

charcuterie snack board
Jacob Fox

Go big with the ultimate snack board complete with all of his favorites: cheese, cured meats, fruit, nuts, condiments, and tiny pickles and veggies. Pair it with a crisp wine like a dry Reisling or hoppy IPA for a simple birthday dinner that will wow and delight.

13 of 19

Have a Game Night

Cards and Scrabble pieces that spell "Party Like Its"
Rebekah Molloy

Put the phones away, pull out your favorite board and card games, and have some classic fun to celebrate a birthday. Bring some local craft cider or soda and a birthday treat, and enjoy together time for a very special occasion.

14 of 19

Make a Custom Card

Homemade unicorn card with felt flowers

Show the birthday girl how much you care with a custom unicorn card just for her. This simple DIY project is easy to make and is so darn cute. She may even want to hang it on her wall as art!

15 of 19

Workout Together

woman stretching yoga mat
Adam Albright

Take a virtual workout class together. This will help to ensure some me-time on her special day and it's a great opportunity to bond as you sweat and stretch.

16 of 19

Mail a Card

black mailbox yellow interior
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

You know what your friend or loved one won't expect to show up in their mailbox? A birthday card from you! Let it be a simple way that you celebrate their day and make them feel extra special.

17 of 19

Make Brunch

Orange-Honey Overnight Oats
Helen Norman

Plan to linger over lattes and eggs benedict with a birthday brunch date at home. This is a perfect way to celebrate a birthday without much effort on your part—just serve up coffee and your favorite easy breakfast recipe—and it virtually guarantees quality time together.

18 of 19

Have a "Yes" Day

icecream cone cupcakes

The birthday boy or girl gets to be in charge, so anything they want to do, you say "yes!" to it. Ice cream cake cones for breakfast? Yes! Eating dinner on a picnic blanket in the living room with a favorite movie? Yes! It's a super fun way to make a special day even more memorable.

19 of 19

Have a Picnic

Picnic table with variety of different foods
Jason Donnelly

Pick a pretty spot, pack a basket of goodies, and head outside for an old-school picnic lunch to celebrate a loved one's birthday. This simple activity will show that you care enough to plan ahead. Don't forget fun drinks!

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