What to Do on Your Birthday When You’re Alone

You may find yourself alone on your birthday for a wide variety of reasons. Whatever that reason might be, it can sometimes leave you feeling sad or lonely. However, there are steps you can take to deal with these feelings and enjoy your day on your own.

So if you find yourself alone on your birthday, consider starting a new tradition by making it a special day for yourself. This article discusses what to do on your birthday alone and ways to can spend your solo birthday.

What to do when you're alone on your birthday

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

Make a Change

Your birthday can be a great time to reflect on your life and think about goals you might want to work toward in the year ahead. It can also be an opportunity to start fresh.

Give Yourself a Mini-Makeover

Use this opportunity to start fresh in some area of your life. Go the traditional route and do a makeover on your outside. That might mean a new haircut, new outfit, or even something a little riskier like a tattoo. Choose styles that give you confidence and a new outlook.

Adopt a New Mindset

Developing a positive mindset can give you the inspiration and motivation you need to tackle the goals you want to accomplish in the future. Research has found that people who have what is known as a growth mindset believe that they are capable of making changes in their life with hard work and commitment. Spend some time thinking about how you can adopt this kind of mindset in your own life.

Practice Gratitude

Birthdays are a reminder of how much time has passed and potentially how much time we have left. Take the time to appreciate the positive things in your life, even if you are alone on your birthday.

If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, access to education, and running water, you are ahead of a good portion of the world's population. Over time, this type of gratitude will become a habit and will serve you well in improving all aspects of your life.

Envision the Future

Spend some time on your birthday thinking about the goals you want to accomplish. You might set a resolution, write in a journal, or create a vision board. Such activities are a great way to move forward with greater optimism and motivation.

Recap

If you don't know what to do on your birthday alone, consider a fresh start with a mini-makeover. This can mean a new look, but you can also go the less traditional route and treat yourself to an internal makeover by read a self-improvement book, taking a workshop, or writing in a journal.

Create Something

When you are alone on your birthday, it is a great opportunity to spend time pursuing creative activities that you enjoy. Creating something can help you get in touch with your inner feelings and work on something that will help you to feel accomplished.

Bake a Cake

Even if no one is coming over, you can still have a birthday cake. If you're not into baking, buy a store-made version or order a special treat delivered from a bakery you enjoy. The key is to treat yourself to something special that will help celebrate your special day.

Cook a Meal 

Another great way to spend your birthday is to spend some time preparing your favorite meal from scratch. Feel proud of what you have accomplished. Share leftovers with a neighbor and consider it an opportunity to make a new friend.

Do Something Crafty

Break out the craft supplies and create something fun or artistic. Websites like Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration for craft ideas, or you might come up with your own based on the supplies that you have on hand.

Give Yourself a Gift

If you aren't expecting anyone to give you gifts, treat yourself to something new. Choose something that might help you destress and relax, such as chamomile tea, or buy an item for your home or bedroom to spruce it up.

Go Shopping

It's your birthday, so it's a great opportunity to buy yourself something you've had your eye on. Visit a local store or look online for something that you know you will love. Buying a gift online might not create the same instant gratification as buying it in-store, but waiting for your purchase to arrive can give you something to look forward to.

Send Flowers

Order your favorite flowers or pick some up while you are out shopping. Adding a beautiful flower arrangement to your home can help lift your mood and make your day special.

Book a Spa Treatment

Visit a local spa for a day of pampering and relaxation. Book treatments that you know will help make you feel relaxed, such as a facial, pedicure, or massage.

Get Outside

Exercise helps to clear your mind, and being outside gives you a chance to connect with nature. Get outside and go for a hike, a walk around your neighborhood, or a stroll along the beach (if you are lucky enough to live near one).

Feel proud about spending your birthday out of the house and being proactive about your physical and mental health.

Plan to Be Entertained

You might be alone on your birthday, but that doesn't mean you won't be having fun. There are plenty of entertaining activities that can keep your spirits high on your birthday.

Go to the Movies

Treat yourself to a night out at the movies even if you will be going alone. Lift your spirits with a comedy. Go at a time when you know the theater is likely to be full. Laugh out loud and don't worry what others think. Consider it a behavioral experiment to see whether people are really paying as much attention to you as you think that they are.

Binge-Watch a TV Series

Cue up your favorite TV show or look for a new one to watch on your streaming service of choice. Get some snacks, grab a cozy blanket, and settle in for a binge-watch (or re-watch).

Read a New Book or an Old Favorite

Your birthday is the perfect time to sit down with a book you've been dying to read. Start that novel or non-fiction book you have had on your list, or revisit a familiar favorite. Curl up with a good book and you might be surprised how quickly the day passes.

Recap

Staying busy and entertained are great ways to spend your birthday alone. Consider going to a movie or staying home with a TV series or great book.

Give to Others

Helping other people can be a positive way to spend your birthday while doing good for your community. Research has found that volunteering can have a positive impact on your mental well-being. It helps lower stress, improve daily functioning, and increase happiness.

Volunteer Your Time

Consider offering your services as a volunteer. Spend time chatting with people at a retirement or nursing home, or offer to walk dogs at an animal shelter. You might even make new friends and become a regular volunteer. Be sure to call in advance to learn about any requirements prior to helping out.

Make a Donation

If you are unable to volunteer in person, making a donation to a cause that you care about can also be a great idea. Studies have found that spending money on others can contribute to feelings of happiness.

Recap

If you are alone on your birthday, consider spending time helping others. Volunteering or giving money to a cause you care about can boost your mood and increase feelings of happiness.

Take a Staycation

If you are home alone on your birthday, it can be a great opportunity to enjoy a staycation. This is all about treating yourself to rest and relaxation in the place where you are probably most yourself: home sweet home. 

Spend your staycation doing the things you enjoy. Instead of working, cleaning, or doing other chores, devote your birthday to getting the rest and relaxation you deserve.

Plan a Virtual Party

If you are alone due to circumstances such as moving, inclement weather, social distancing, or quarantine, you can still plan a virtual party. An online get-together can be a fun way to offer birthday wishes, play games, dance to music, or do anything you might enjoy on your special day. And you can include long-distance family and friends.

A Word From Verywell

Occasionally finding yourself alone on your birthday should not be cause for concern. However, if this pattern repeats every year, and it is distressing for you, consider whether reaching out for help might be a better option. If social anxiety prevents you from making and keeping friends, treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication may help.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I do if I’m sad on my birthday?

    If you are feeling sad, taking steps to feel more connected to others can be a great way to improve your frame of mind. Consider calling a friend or loved one to have chat. Treating yourself to a fun day out of the house can also be a great way to lift your mood. Go shopping for a gift for yourself, treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, and end the day with a trip to the movies.

  • Why do I feel so lonely on my birthday?

    Feelings of loneliness on your birthday can sometimes be tied to previous negative experiences. Or sometimes they might be caused by your current birthday not living up to past experiences. These feelings of loneliness and sadness have been termed birthday depression or the birthday blues.

  • How can I make my birthday special for myself at home?

    If you're home alone on your birthday, look for ways to make the day special. Consider baking a cake or having a treat delivered from your favorite local bakery. Other ideas that can make the day special include decorating the house, taking the day off work, inviting a friend over for dinner, or getting dressed up in a favorite outfit.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. O'Keefe PA, Dweck CS, Walton GM. Implicit theories of interest: Finding your passion or developing it? Psychol Sci. 2018;29(10):1653-1664. doi:10.1177/0956797618780643

  2. Lawton RN, Gramatki I, Watt W, Fujiwara D. Does volunteering make us happier, or are happier people more likely to volunteer? Addressing the problem of reverse causality when estimating the wellbeing impacts of volunteering. J Happiness Stud. 2021;22(2):599-624. doi:10.1007/s10902-020-00242-8

  3. Dunn EW, Aknin LB, Norton MI. Prosocial spending and happiness: using money to benefit others pays off. Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2014;23(1):41-47. doi:10.1177/0963721413512503

  4. Goldin PR, Ziv M, Jazaieri H, Hahn K, Heimberg R, Gross JJ. Impact of cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder on the neural dynamics of cognitive reappraisal of negative self-beliefs: Randomized clinical trialJAMA Psychiatry. 2013;70(10):1048-1056. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.234

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."