Birthdays Don’t Have to Break the Bank: These Ideas are Free and Fabulous


September is my favorite month of the year; for a few reasons. It’s the beginning of college football season (go Gators!). The kids are back in school. Fall feels like it’s finally arrived (even though it’s still 90 degrees, humid and insufferable this time of year in Florida) and the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back. But what really makes September my favorite month is the fact that it’s my birth month; and we celebrate all month long. I’m not ashamed of growing older. I don’t hide my age – I’ll be 33 this year – and I’m happy to grow older. Good genes run in my family, so I’m also not ashamed to admit that I look a lot younger than I am (I get it from my 98-year-old grandmother who looks 60 and acts 23).

I love September, but it can be a bit of an expensive month. I’ll never tell my husband this in real life, but he goes entirely too far overboard on my birthday. It’s a romantic dinner for two at my favorite restaurant, it’s a birthday dinner celebration at another favorite place with just the ‘parents’ from our circle of people, and it’s a birthday bash at home with our little ones and families and friends (again). It’s beautiful flowers delivered, gifts from each of our kids and gifts from my husband, and it’s “order that new dress for your birthday dinner,” and let’s plan a weekend away kind of stuff.

I won’t complain, but even I have to admit that my husband spends entirely too much money on my birthday (listen, I’m not stopping him, but still). He’s excessive, but I love it. However, it got me thinking this morning when he reminded me that my birthday is next month. He doesn’t have to do any of that to make my birthday special to me; there are so many things that women love that make us so happy that don’t cost anything. I’m not going to tell my husband this and prevent him from going overboard, because I do love it, but I think I speak for most all women when I say that the following are the simplest, most beautiful things that our husbands can do for us on our birthday that are cost-effective and still wonderful.

Forget the Gift

My husband has a thing for always providing a little blue box on my birthday. When I was pregnant with our first daughter, he bought me a Tiffany & Co. charm bracelet with a heart charm on it and our initials on the back, and a second charm that had our daughter’s first initial. When our other kids were born, I got new charms for my bracelet. Every year when my birthday rolls around, there is another charm that symbolizes something big and very meaningful in our lives. I love it. However, he doesn’t have to do that.

Women are easy; we typically buy what we want when we want it, so a gift isn’t always necessary. A beautifully handwritten letter or card is actually something many of us might find even more beautiful than an actual present.

Forget Spending Money

It’s easy to spend money. It’s easy to get on the computer or even ask your assistant to do it for you, order something and then give it to your wife as a gift. What’s not so easy is taking time to plan something special that doesn’t involve spending money. It takes creativity, and when you take time to plan a beautiful day, dinner, picnic, or something she loves more than anything, that’s what speaks to her. You can do all this with tent rentals and home cooking.

You think she might see that you spent nothing and get upset. What she actually sees is a man who spent time and effort and energy planning something that’s not easy to do. She’s going to see effort, and that’s more valuable than anything.

Surprises are Always Beautiful

When I turned 30, I was 13 weeks pregnant. We didn’t know it at the time, but that little baby I was carrying was actually twins. However, my husband told me we were going out for a little date night to our favorite restaurant. When we walked in, I was shocked to see all of our favorite friends and family in there with gifts, flowers, balloons and smiles screaming surprise in the banquet room in the back. My husband planned a surprise dinner for me after I said I didn’t really want to do much for my birthday since I’d been so sick for the past three months. Since I began feeling better that week but felt it was too late to plan anything, he did it for me and surprised me.

That’s still one of my favorite days ever; all those people who love me got together, lied to me incessantly and rearranged their schedules to surprise me – even bringing me a personalized wine glass and a bottle of faux-wine to drink for the evening. See what I mean? We don’t need anyone to spend a million dollars on us; we just want to feel loved.

Photo by Getty Images


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