About four years ago, one of my girlfriends sent a text in our girl’s group chat suggesting that, for our collective 40th birthday, we all plan a group trip to Europe, rent a divine villa somewhere and spend a week of quality time together, sans partners and kids.
We all immediately loved the idea—there are 16 of us who have been friends since we were 12 years old—and started exchanging ideas of locations and accommodation before settling on Greece as our chosen destination.
Of course, given the events of 2020, we knew that international travel would be off the cards for some time so I did what we all did that year and decided to “pivot” when it came to plans for the big 4-0.
Somehow, miraculously, I was able to get a reservation to Firedoor—a restaurant my partner and I have been trying to get a booking at for eight months—on my actual birthday, then my friend, whose birthday is four days before mine, and I planned a Studio 54 themed birthday party (for which I found the most incredible vintage sequined jumpsuit from The Rodrigo Lounge in Newtown). To cap it all off, my partner arranged a luxurious week-long vacation to Palm Cove with a few extra nights at this ultra spesh boutique outback lodge.
Well, you know what happened.
Thanks to a certain C-word (both apply), by the time my birthday rolled around we were in lockdown and not able to go 10km away from our homes, let alone to jump on a plane to Cairns.
Of course, I was disappointed that my plans could no longer go ahead as imagined, but I decided to make the most of the situation because, at the end of the day, I am one of the lucky ones who has been largely unaffected by the restrictions. When I think about the people who are separated from loved ones or whose livelihoods have been destroyed by these lockdowns, postponing having a steak at Firedoor is really nothing to get upset about.
In the end, my 40th birthday in lockdown was one of the most lovely birthdays I have ever had. There is something to be said for taking all of the pressure off of what you are “supposed” to do when you hit a big birthday and instead just learning to appreciate all that you have.
I slept in, woke up to a house painstakingly decorated by my incredibly romantic partner, Zoomed with my three best friends in the US, FaceTimed with my Mum and took an afternoon nap…only to wake up and find our home transformed once more into a setting that would put The Bachelor mansion to shame. And, thanks to my man’s cooking skills, I was treated to a steak that made me say: “Lennox Hastie who?” The next night, I donned that vintage sequinned jumpsuit and had a Zoom party with my friends, complete with embarrassing trivia about the two birthday girls.
We will get to the restaurant, the vacation and the real party at some point, and I know they will be epic, but I am so glad I didn’t just decide to cancel my entire birthday and let it pass me by because, let’s face it, we need to celebrate where we can at the moment.
Seeing as lockdown is likely to go on a little longer (thanks protestors) here are my tips for anyone facing a milestone birthday in lockdown.
If you can, take the day off
I know this option is not available to everyone but if you are able to, take the day off—or even a half-day. Chances are you have been working longer hours than usual as we all tend to do when we are working from home and have no social plans to break up the week so taking a day off will feel very luxurious and can also give you some much needed “me time” to have you feeling recharged when you go back.
Get dressed up
We have all become so accustomed to wearing loungewear and believe me, I am here for it. But it’s your birthday so make the effort to put on an outfit that makes you feel amazing and wear it while you Zoom or FaceTime with your mates.
I was tempted not to make the effort but after throwing on a new dress from The Iconic and a lash of red lipstick, I was so glad I did.
Eat your favourite meal
You deserve to have a delicious meal on your birthday, right?
Maybe you live with someone who can whip you up a meal to remember using amazing local produce, or maybe you’d prefer to order a decadent to-go menu from one of the many restaurants currently offering that service.
Either way, you should get to enjoy a feast on your special day and, bonus, you can help the struggling hospitality industry at the same time. Plus, many of them do to-go cocktails as well so you don’t have to invest in expensive spirits and mixers.
And, of course, you’ve gotta have cake. Mine was from Mrs Jones the Baker and it was the most decadent thing that has ever touched my lips.
Take a nap
This one might not be for everyone, but I just have to say that taking an afternoon nap on a weekday felt more luxurious than eating Russian Caviar off of Michael B. Jordan‘s abs on a superyacht. I would assume.
If you are so inclined, find your favourite spot in your home and get an hour of cheeky shut-eye. You will feel like a new person, I promise.
Have a killer playlist
It may be months before we are able to hit the dancefloor and get sweaty with a bunch of strangers again, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw on some banging tunes and have a little boogie in your living room.
You can either make a playlist for yourself with all of your favourite tracks or even ask your friends to collaborate on a Spotify playlist with songs that remind them of you or that evoke memories of times you shared together. Or, just flick through the hundreds of ready-made playlists already on Spotify, press play and dance the night away!
See your friends
Yes, I know that we have Zoom fatigue and that Zoom parties can be a nightmare as 10 people talk over each other while the other five don’t realise they are on mute, but they can also be a lot of fun.
Try dressing up in costume like we did and creating a custom birthday trivia, or play Scattegories or even a Murder Mystery. The bottom line is that human connection is incredibly important more than ever in these times so don’t skip letting your friends lavish some attention and love on you.
This is important to do every day, but it is understandable to feel a bit sorry for yourself if you have had to cancel amazing plans for a big birthday. I get it, I really do.
However, I highly recommend spending even just ten minutes of your lockdown birthday reflecting on the things you have been grateful for over the past year or even just the things you are grateful for on that particular day.
You can write them down if you like so that you can read them next year or just hold them in your thoughts. Either way, I guarantee doing this will drive those lockdown birthday blues away, pronto!