Written by Emma D'Arcy
Given that time doesn’t seem to have the same meaning anymore, I can’t quite believe that it’s September and another birthday is around the corner! Every year feels a bit different, and celebrations over the years have been as wonderful as they have been varied; from exploring the charming Parisian district of Montmartre for my twenty-first, to sunset cocktails in Greenwich Village, Manhattan for my thirtieth.
You may spot a theme emerging here…and it’s true: for milestone birthday, I tend to travel and extend the celebrations for as long as possible, with as many celebrations as I can fit in, because, well…why not?! We tend to spend so much of our time looking forward and focusing on what we are achieving in life, so it’s actually a great opportunity to simply raise a glass (or cut a slice of cake, or both!) in celebration of you, exactly as you are, where you are meant to be, today.
Thinking about birthdays evokes all sorts of memories and recollections – from the happiest celebrations with my nearest and dearest, to the most challenging of days, having lost my beloved granddad coming up to a decade ago, on my birthday. But that’s life, and as time has passed, I have chosen to see it as even more of a reason to treat this day as a moment in time to celebrate.
Looking back, birthdays as a kid meant bright balloons and bouncy castle pandemonium, themed bashes with homemade birthday cakes and a general lunacy. Then, growing up and discovering the joy of champagne-fuelled afternoon teas in London with friends; sophisticated at the Wolseley, quirky Alice in Wonderland-style at the Sanderson, or delicious celebratory dinners at some of my favourite restaurants from Balthazar to Bocca Di Lupo.
When I’m feeling more adventurous, action-packed birthdays have included tree climbing and zip-lining over a lake in Wiltshire, or cycling down a jammed 5th Avenue in Manhattan in a rickshaw, laughing whilst simultaneously fearing for my life. I have been quite lucky, in that birthdays over the last few years have been sunny, except for the one year where it poured all day – but I enjoyed that just as much, visiting one of my local cafes for coffee and cake with my mum, followed by a shopping trip to my favourite high street shops.
Other birthdays have been equally low-key and relaxed; discovering some local national trust treasures in Oxfordshire last year, followed by dinner at a stunning local country pub. Additionally, I must note that if the celebration is low-key, the shoes I am wearing are not. I tend to go for it with my treasured Manolo, paired with distressed mom-jeans and a white shirt, and my structured-gold DVF clutch I discovered in New York. Sometimes, chill and low-key is all you want, and it’s exactly what you should do. Take the day off and wander around your favourite places – a local exhibition showcasing an iconic fashion designer, or visit your favourite brunch spot with your bestie. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you are taking time to enjoy and indulge yourself, to do as you truly please (which frankly, we all need to do more of with such hectic schedules, competing priorities, and self-imposed deadlines).
Then, there is what I’d like to do in the future. I am keen to book a country cottage or lodge somewhere fabulous with a group of friends for a long weekend adventure, and I certainly intend to continue my birthday-related trip abroad when travel restrictions ease. Ultimately, it’s about decided each year what will make you content and happy during your special day – whether enjoying a bottle of your favourite wine at home and a cozy night in with your favourite people, or a month-long celebration with exciting travels to mark the occasion.
Give yourself the gift of time on your birthday and do as you please to celebrate, in low-key bliss or extravagant party style. That’s what I’m intending to do, so whilst I haven’t decided on plans yet, I know I’ll be doing as I wish to celebrate. With candles, gifts and cakes galore, on this particular day, it’s all up to you.