17 Creative Ways to Celebrate a College Birthday

From quiet to adventurous, there's an option for everyone

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Celebrating a birthday is a great chance to take a break from the usual rigors of college life. Of course, planning a birthday celebration might seem time-consuming or expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Even in the smallest of college towns, there are probably plenty of events you can turn into a birthday outing (that don't include the traditional group outing to a restaurant). Here are some ideas that can work with a variety of schedules and budgets.

1. Go to a Museum

You're in college and it's your birthday — be as nerdy as you want. Head to an art museum, a museum of natural history, a local aquarium or whatever you'll find most enjoyable. Museums can be a great way to take a break from the chaos of college while still doing something interesting and engaging. (Remember to bring your ID ask about a student discount.)

2. Attend (or Participate in) a Poetry Slam

Whether you just want to watch or are interested in performing, poetry slams can be a lot of fun. See what's happening on your campus or in your community and enjoy a fun evening out that promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience.

3. Do Something Physical

If you want to do something physical for your birthday, get creative. See if a local gym offers special classes, like aerial yoga or a ropes course you can do with your friends. Some community organizations also offer really zany classes, like bungee jumping, skydiving or even circus-training classes.

Given how much you sit in class and study all day, pushing your body to its limits can be a great way to celebrate getting older.

4. Go to the Movies

Catching up on the latest movies can be a fun way to spend an afternoon — or even a morning. Mix things up a bit and grab breakfast and a movie with some friends to start your birthday off in a fun, nontraditional, but still enjoyable way.

5. Head to an Athletic Game

It could be a hockey game in your college town, a football game on your campus or something small like your friend's intramural rugby game. Regardless, rooting for your team and hanging out with a large crowd just might be what you need for a birthday celebration. Treat yourself to something from the concession stand or pack snacks to give the event a more celebratory feel.

6. Celebrate With Some Time Alone

College is fun, but there aren't t a lot of opportunities to enjoy solitude. Doing something quiet — whether it's on campus or away — like getting a massage, going for a long run or meditating can be rejuvenating, if not downright healthy for you.

7. Treat Yourself to Some Self-Care 

Students spend a lot of time focusing on external things — class requirements, jobs, cocurricular obligations — and they sometimes forget to focus a little on themselves. Treat yourself to something that focuses on you for a change, like a pedicure and a wax or a haircut and a shave. You can even call ahead to see if your friends can make appointments with you.

8. Head Out for a Brewery Tour

If you're over 21 (or turning 21), consider going on a brewery or distillery tour. In addition to learning all kinds of interesting facts about how beverages are made, you'll get some free samples and enjoy an afternoon doing something that you might otherwise not have done.

9. Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Your Favorite Local Destination

Not everyone knows that, for example, you can get a tour of major league baseball stadiums or the local zoo. See what's open during your birthday and what you can arrange in advance.

10. Go Home 

There's nothing wrong with ditching your hectic campus life and heading home for your own bed, your family's home cooking and some good ol' R&R. You work hard in college and treating yourself to the luxuries of home, however simple they may be, is a great way to reward yourself.

11. Do Something Quiet on Campus

Planning an off-campus adventure can be stressful — not what you need on your birthday. Don't be shy about spending some quiet time on campus, going for a walk or run, journaling or hanging out in a coffee shop.

12. Do Something Romantic With Your Partner

If you're dating and your partner is around, try to spend the day doing something romantic together.

Sure, heading out to dinner is nice, but don't be afraid to mix it up a little, too. Head to a nearby town and go exploring. Do something new you've never done together. Make a scavenger hunt for each other. No matter what you end up doing, just enjoy each other's company.

13. Celebrate at a Big Campus Party

So the biggest fraternity on campus is throwing their biggest party of the year smack dab on your birthday. Just because they didn't plan it that way doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the situation. Let everyone else's hard work be your birthday gift!

14. Spend Some Quality Time With a Few Good Friends

Many people make lifelong friends in college. If you already know who these people are going to be, get 'em together and do something simple but enjoyable. Plan a picnic, go for a hike, coordinate a game night or spend time doing something creative together.

15. Volunteer Off Campus 

Think about how you feel after you volunteer. You always finish feeling amazing, proud, humbled, energized and overall awesome, right? Well, why not treat yourself to that rock-star feeling on your birthday? Grab some friends and find a place to volunteer where you can work together and support a great cause.

16. Don't Do Any Homework

You have 364 other days to focus on homework. Plan your time wisely in advance so that you don't have to do any homework on your birthday. After all, when was the last time you didn't even think about reading, writing a paper, doing a lab report or researching a project? If you plan well enough in advance, you can enjoy the day by letting your brain not even think (or feel guilty!) about completely avoiding your homework situation.

17. Do Something Creative

You can easily fall into the routine of only producing creative pieces when you need to for a class or club requirement. On your birthday, however, treat yourself to doing something creative just for the sake of being creative.