Why Group Birthday Dinners are The Worst
Group birthday dinners.
You either weirdly love them or absolutely dread when the time comes. I’m the latter. Sure, they were fun as a little kid when your Mom put together every last detail and ran around like a chicken with its head cut off at your naive expense. (All while still having time to put on a fresh coat of lip gloss, of course.)
Once you hit those angsty teenage years, birthday dinners became a social status. Who is cool enough to come to my dinner? Am I wearing the trendiest Hollister clothing? Wait, am I even popular enough to throw one one of these?
In college and actual adulthood, birthday dinners have become a surefire pain in the ass. Let me indulge you in the subconscious truth.
Ah, the age old issue of social positioning. People are always conscious of where the best spot is to sit. When the party shows up at the restaurant, everyone’s primal side comes out. Friends become vicious animals, calling out who they will or will not sit by, where at the table they need to be positioned, and ultimately, begging the birthday girl to let them have the prized spot right next to them. It’s stressful, it’s immature and it physically pains me watching it all unfold.
I get caught up in wondering if the friend I’m sitting next to is amusing enough to focus my conversation towards for the next few hours. Or if they are a self-centered bitch who will manipulate your well-deserved attention (really, it’s only one day out of the year where everything should be all about you) towards herself. Why am I friends with her again? Oh right, to show face on her Instagram.
Can someone please buy me a triple shot margarita?
When it’s your birthday, you want as many people to join in on the fun as possible. But a lot of people just want to appear as if a large amount of people enjoy their company on social media.
Whether the group is too small or too large, you’re never happy. Too small of a group means that you invited dozens, but only a handful were able to come, making you feel slightly depressed. Those who flake cited reasons such as “I’m sick” or “I have a huge test on Monday.” You internally call bullshit to all and refuse to talk to them for a week. Too large of a group, and you’re in for a whirlwind of emotional guests, frantic waiters and pure mania. Are 30 people really that happy you departed your mother’s uterus a few decades ago or do they just want to wear that brand new romper? You be the judge.
Whether you’re the birthday star or simply a guest, there is no winner at the end of the night.
If you were birthday girl, as the center of attention, you likely spent way too much money on a meal that didn’t fill you up and on a pricey outfit that feels at least one size too small. Maybe you went out with the group after and maybe you didn’t. Long story short, you rarely reflect back on this shindig as the best birthday celebration ever.
If you were the guest, you felt neglected half the time and sat next to the most annoying (or awkward) girl of your friend group at the far end of the table. You ended the night watching Netflix alone with a significantly lower number in your bank account.
To all the upcoming birthday girls out there, I’m here to say that it is totally okay if you don’t have a birthday dinner. No, people won’t look at you like you have a personal issue, and the celebrations won’t suffer from it. Instead, meet a group for a drink at Tall Paul’s, cozy in with a night of take-out from Bangkok Square and your favorite movie, head to a local brewery for craft beer flights and Cards Against Humanity or spend the time being mindfully reflective of your past years on Earth with a group yoga session at Searchlight Yoga. You can even tune in to your childhood roots and put get a group together for lazer tag or bowling.
If you do decide to dine with friends, keep it intimate and low-key. You’ll be able to have good conversation with a few friends that care about you and you’ll avoid all the social intensity associated with a massive restaurant gathering. Choose a restaurant that everyone can comfortably afford and somewhere that can accommodate a group easily.
After all, birthdays are supposed to be a celebration of your next dance around the sun, not a huge, angsty, overwhelming dinner at Dragonfly.