Monday, January 24, 2011


About a week ago, I celebrated another birthday. I love birthdays because they offer the opportunity to do my favorite things--gather, connect and create joy together.
However, I've never liked birthday celebrations that are all about me. This year, I wanted all the good things that come along with a celebration--festivity, laughter and community, but I didn't want the focus on me. So, instead of having my friends or family throw a party in honor of me, I  threw a party in honor of something very important to me: women.
This birthday party in which I focused on celebrating a group of people I feel passionate about was a perfect solution--it allowed me to celebrate a community I love and myself, at the same time.
Here are some tips to plan your own birthday party premised on one of your passions:
  • Think about the identities that define you the most. Are you a painter? A triathlete? A gardener? What communities do you belong to? Think about which activities make you feel most yourself when you're doing them. If you're drawing a blank, start out by making a list of your five primary identities and choose one to inspire your birthday theme.
  • Decide on an activity. It may be related to the identity of pursuit you want to celebrate, like a day in the garden with your gardening friends. Or a studio night with your artist friends. Maybe, it's simply a shared meal together or a good old-fashioned party.
  • Choose an aesthetic theme for your celebration. If you're a gardener, maybe the theme is green. If you're a writer, maybe you'll incorporate words. If you're a world traveler, you could start by replicating the aesthetic from one of your favorite countries. Because my theme was women, I decided to throw a dinner party where everyone would be free to chat and connect without distraction. I set a feminine table incorporating fresh cut roses, my finest linens, my most delicate china, beautiful crystal stemware and antique silverware. The guests oohed and ahhed, appreciating every element on the table. 
Other helpful questions I asked myself to round out my birthday theme included: 
  1. What time of day should this party take place?
  2. What kind of music fits this theme? Which kind of menu will enhance the party the most?
  3. In lieu of gifts, is there a project or activity related to the theme that we can do together in honor of my birthday?
This years birthday celebration was a beautiful gathering. I felt both celebrated and fulfilled, having spent the evening in a community I love, honoring and sharing all the things we have in common. I can't think of a better way to commemorate the passage of another year, than that.

*Photo by John Granen courtesy of Coming Home: A Seasonal Guide to Creating Traditions. Published by Abrams: Stewart, Tabori & Chang

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