Ideas for Celebrating the “Big” Birthday

Jessica Lanning

I have many friends and clients celebrating a “big” birthday this year — you know, one that ends in a zero.  While I get that age is just a number, we do have limited time on the planet, so even if one feels 50 on an 80th birthday, if nothing else it’s certainly a time of reflection.  I thought I’d share with you some takeaways from the big birthday celebrations I’ve attended.

Ideas for Celebrating the “Big” Birthday

  1. Presents.  It’s still easy to buy for the young ones.  Ask them what they want and within 10 minutes they can come up with something.  The older ones?  Nearly impossible.  The middle-aged appreciate insight on life or themselves (e.g., an astrology reading or a book on midlife).  The older ones appreciate your time (lunch, dinner, a Saturday afternoon).  No one turns away expressions of love and appreciation, even if it’s just in a card.  Recollections of past events and people who have crossed over have been popular and deeply touching.
  2. Reverse giving.  One of my personal favorites.  Instead of receiving gifts on your birthday, do a “giveaway.”  Give others gifts to express your gratitude for life and their presence in your life.  These can be simple or complicated, recently purchased items or giveaways of long-cherished personal items, all the same or individually selected.
  3. Ceremony.  Whether you have a spiritual tradition or not, you can create a ceremony to acknowledge your birthday that goes beyond hosting a party of booze and food, having someone light your dessert on fire, hear everyone sing off-key, and blowing out candles.  What would really feel like a way to honor your time on the planet?  Maybe invite close friends on a weekend retreat or have family members talk about what they see as your legacy.  Maybe your event is having you and friends and family volunteer at your favorite service organization, or taking a hike or a bike ride together.  What is a true reflection of you and your time here?
  4. Common mistake to avoid:  Not that anyone but me would notice, but someone who is turning 80 is moving into their 81st year, not their 80th.  This is also a sweet justification to celebrate years that end in nine — a yearlong celebration as a 79-year-old celebrating an 80th year on the planet.  Because, let’s face it, how else can you get all that celebration and goodness into only one day?

I wish you a happy birthday and another fun-filled trip around the sun for whatever year you’re celebrating.  If you’re having a financial planning-significant birthday (59.5, 62, 65, 70.5 or 72 years old), please be in touch!

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