Remember the days when planning your birthday meant telling your parents to call the bowling alley, order a pizza and buy some cute, pre-made invitations? Well planning your birthday in college doesn’t work like that, in case you didn’t know. This weekend, I celebrated my birthday. Growing up in the suburbs, I was not used to experiencing a real night life until I came to college. Clubs, covers, taxis; not words I was used to hearing, especially while deciding how to celebrate a birthday. But 2 plus years and countless birthdays later, I’ve officially learned the DO’s and DONT’s of celebrating your (or your friend’s) big day. We’ll start with the Do’s.
1. PLAN IN ADVANCE
Having a weekend birthday is both a blessing and a burden. It is much easier to make a reservation for a Tuesday night than a Friday or Saturday, even four days in advance. I stupidly waited until Wednesday to start calling restaurants for a party of 15 for a Saturday night dinner. Luckily I managed to get a reservation at Ping Pong Dim Sum in DC’s Chinatown, but it had to be at 6:45, which makes for a long night.
2. KEEP YOUR DINNER PARTY AT A MANAGEABLE SIZE
So if getting a reservation three days in advance weren’t hard enough, I had to make it even more difficult by trying to book a table for 15. Let me tell you, it doesn’t work. Most restaurants will tell you that parties over 10 require an “event planner” or set menu. When you’re dealing with a bunch of college kids, this is not the route to go. Luckily, Ping Pong accepted my large reservation but failed to mention that they could only process eight credit cards on the bill. Paying the bill took us an hour and a half. I KID YOU NOT.
The good thing about going out with groups is it gives you the opportunity to share a lot of food. Ping Pong was a great option because the plates are small, they come with three servings, and they’re reasonably priced. Tapas and sushi are great for sharing too. Think of it as an opportunity to sample many things on the menu.
4. LET THE RESTAURANT KNOW ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY
1. EXPECT EVERYONE TO PAY FOR EVERYTHING YOU EAT, DRINK, TOUCH, ETC.
When you invite friends to celebrate your birthday you’re really inviting them to spend money on dinner and drinks. Not everyone is going to be willing to chip in for your part of the meal too. Be prepared to pay for dinner. This way, if your friends do insist on paying, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and genuinely appreciative. I also attempted to get the “birthday girl special” while paying cover at a club. Not so much…
2. LET EVERYONE YOU KNOW BUY YOU BIRTHDAY DRINKS
Okay, so I’m willing to accept a free drink just as much as the next birthday girl, but just because you’re celebrating doesn’t mean you’re indestructible. If you’re going to let your friends persuade you, “come on, its your birthday! Have a drink with me,” make sure you know your limit. But don’t fall for “it’s only your birthday for another 15 minutes… SHOTS!” No one wants to b-sick on their b-day.
I’m a bit torn on sharing, which is why it goes on both the “do list” and the “don’t list.” While it is great for the culinarily adventurous, some people would prefer to just eat their own meal and call it a night. Whether its picky eaters, allergies, or a strict diet, you are bound to have an issue. You also get into the dilemma with splitting the bill and figuring out who ate what (once again, why paying took us over an hour). With close friends or smaller parties, this usually isn’t a problem; so just keep in mind who you’re inviting and their dining preferences.
4. WEAR A TIARA OR BIRTHDAY SASH
So there you have it. Lessons learned from a post-birthday birthday girl. All in all, my night was successful and fun, but I will definitely know for next year how to make it even better.