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For those of us with a January birthday, we know it all too well.
Christmas, in all its frenzied, gaudy glory, has come and gone.
By the time we reach New Year's Day, that's it. We have partied and celebrated. Spent too much, eaten too much, probably drank too much. We've had the disheartening task of packing the tinsel and baubles away for another year.
And to top it off, the weather can be pretty miserable too.
Who'd have a birthday in January?
For years I've been alternately trying to make something of my birthday, or completely ignore it in an effort not to be disappointed.
Like the year I invited a group of old friends to stay, and planned mulled wine and walks in the winter wonderland of countryside where I lived. Well, the winter wonderland had the last laugh and delivered three feet of snow, stopping the trains from running and cutting off my village from the outside world.
Or the following year when I took the day off work to have some "me time," only to find I was bored rigid on my own all day.
Or the year when I booked a fancy restaurant, but in amongst my birthday cards was the credit card bill. It told me very firmly that swanky meals were off the menu.
And of course, all the years when I've said "I'm just having a quiet one," and then sat morosely nursing a cup of tea, wishing that something fun was happening.
If everyone else's birthday celebrations are so much fun, then it should be simple to take inspiration, but give it a special "January-twist."
The good news is that I've finally cracked it. This is how it's done.
1. Beat the lethargy.
Book something in BEFORE Christmas. It's easy to treat Christmas as a giant barrier to making any plans more definite than "in the New Year," and then time slips by before you know it and you can't quite be bothered.
2. Beat the financial blues.
Lots of us are broke after Christmas, so sort out the money side of things. If your birthday treat comes with a cost attached, pay for it before Christmas.
Better yet, choose something joyful that is free or low cost. Cook for loved ones, or get a friend to don their apron and do the work for you. To take the pressure off, make it supper rather than dinner so your chums know to expect a simple meal with great conversation rather than an elaborate feast.
3. Beat the Christmas party contrast.
Choose a celebration that isn't the same as all the pre-Christmas dos. Too many "big nights out" can leave party-goers feeling jaded. Not a great vibe for your birthday.
Swap black tie for your favourite jeans to get outdoors and enjoy the few hours of daylight at the beach or in the frosty countryside.
Give glitter a miss and embrace hyege with cosy pubs, hot chocolate, and chilled out board games as the evening draws in.
Get inspired by a fun family day out instead of clubbing into the small hours.
Focus on yourself, with a rejuvenating spa day.
4. Beat the broken New Year's resolutions.
It's all too easy to swear off the booze and onto a diet on New Year's Day after a solid month of party food and wine. But without a handy alternative to the go-to fizz and birthday cake, it's all too easy to wallow in the misery of breaking those resolutions within a couple of weeks, or having no party at all.
Instead, celebrate your January birthday in a way that reflects your intentions for the New Year.
- Want to get fit? Organise a mermaid tail swimming session, or have a pole dancing party.
- Swear to lose weight? Make the most of the barrage of healthy eating recipes in foodie mags and choose a meal that stands out from the casseroles-and-dumplings that make up the usual winter fare.
- Dry January? Choose mocktails.
- Veganuary? Grab a table at a trendy vegan restaurant.
- Debt busting? Being less of a consumer? Ask your guests to bring games they've enjoyed over Christmas, and contribute homemade snacks to a pot-luck feast.
Time to Celebrate
So that's it. Just a few simple steps to beating those January birthday blues.
Happy birthday, January babies. Enjoy your day, you-style. xx