From winning gift ideas to card message suggestions, “Birthdays Reimagined” provides tips to help you make your loved one’s birthday wishes come true.

Nine in 10 Americans feel celebrating birthdays is important — and after scaling back on parties during the past two years, many people are hoping to host a truly momentous birthday bash in 2022.

Samantha Goldberg, owner of event planning company Samantha Goldberg & Co., says she’s seen an increased interest in commemorating the day when one turns a year older.

“People have waited so long to celebrate, whether it’s a Sweet 16, milestone birthday, or surprise birthday, that they’re going all out,” Goldberg says. “Creativity is really the focus of a lot of celebrations — especially birthday parties.”

From tables full of delectable treats to rustic foliage, many of the following distinctive elements may make an appearance in the coming year at intimate gatherings, huge birthday blowouts, and everything in between.

Birthday party trend No. 1: Bite-sized, readily available eats

A photo of birthday party trends with a photo of a table stacked with appetizers outside

While the specific cuisine served at parties often relates to their chosen theme, using regionally sourced ingredients in dishes will remain a consistently popular practice next year, according to Cassandra Richardson, CEO of Arizona-based Cassandra Nichole Events.

“I see the continuation of local and farm-to-table menu items,” Richardson says. “Also the use of canned alcoholic beverages; serving alcohol this way allows for safety and drink consistency.”

Goldberg expects parties to include more self-serve dining stations, which let guests grab something to eat whenever they want, than plated meals in 2022. These can feature indulgent items such as ice cream and fondue, as well as finger foods like mini sliders and chicken wings.

“You’re going to find food displayed a little differently,” Goldberg says. “It’s not fancy schmancy; it’s, ‘I want to make it colorful and fun.’ You’re going to see different kinds of drinks and colors lined up perfectly, or stacked.”

Birthday party trend No. 2: Alfresco and animal-friendly design touches

Because hosts may have spent less on events last year, they might be willing to splurge on over-the-top decorations in 2022, Richardson says — particularly if they’re trying to make a small gathering more festive.

Floral arrangements, however, could be hard to come by. Due to various factors, including a significant amount of weddings that were originally planned for 2020 being rescheduled in 2021, fresh flowers have been in high demand. Party hosts and planners, Richardson says, may need to depend on providers’ expertise and resources to secure displays that are both stunning and economical.

“Due to floral shortages, the use of greenery, local supply, and what is in season will heavily dictate the events’ floral scheme,” she says.

In addition to an uptick in balloon arrangements, Goldberg has noticed an interest in outdoor-friendly concepts, such as a circus-themed shindig or bonfire with s’mores and hot cocoa.

“Bohemian picnics have been huge as well,” she says. “You dress up and have foods that were applicable during the ’60s and ’70s — things like fruits and cheeses and really interesting cakes. And you have all-natural flowers and comfy areas to sit.”

A photo of birthday party trends with a dog sitting on a porch with a gift in front of them.

Instead of boho snacks and scenery, the décor at some parties may center around pawprints and bones.

“A lot of people adopted pets in the past year and a half,” Goldberg says, “and people are celebrating their dog’s birthday. The treats are liver pate; the cake is cornbread with cream cheese frosting, because dogs can eat that.”

It’s not uncommon for guests to bring a present for the birthday pup to the party. There, the canine celebrant and four-legged guests may perch on blankets or tables that have been set up at the owner’s home or another venue.

“We’ve actually had it at locations,” Goldberg says. “People just want to celebrate. Birthday parties with your friends and family are fun.”

Birthday party trend No. 3: Safety measures and a sense of wanderlust

Compared to a year ago, the size of guest lists has generally increased, according to Goldberg. She estimates hosts are inviting 30% to 40% more people now, although concern still exists about what social distancing and other precautions parties will include.

To address the continued interest in reducing close contact, hosts, she says, have a number of options. These include offering plastic silverware wrapped in a napkin, seating guests at tables that are spaced apart, and serving prepackaged meals and other items that were made in advance.

“People also have PPE stations, which include hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes for hands, paper towels,” she says. “People are using them, especially if you have [the party] indoors, or outdoors and there’s a wait for the bathroom and people can’t wash their hands.”

Face-to-face get-togethers aren’t the only way birthday revelers plan to ring in their special day during the coming year.

“People are looking for experiences.”

Samantha Goldberg, Owner Samantha Goldberg & Co.

As in previous years, some parties might be partially or completely virtual. If a portion of the guests — or all of them — decide to attend remotely, hosts can add elements, Richardson says, to make the event more personal and ensure no one will feel like they’re missing out on the fun.

“They can use a video conferencing program, like Zoom, [to call them], or have the attendees’ place settings and food delivered to their residence,” she says.

After sheltering in place in 2020 and 2021, people are eager to get out of the house — yet, potentially, not quite ready to journey very far. As a result, some partygoers are giving travel- and event-themed gift baskets as birthday presents, Goldberg says.

harry & david gift basket

These include food, beverages, and other items that provide a sense of participating in occasions, ranging from a picnic to a trip to Italy.

“People are looking for experiences,” Goldberg says. “A going-to-a-concert basket; a camping basket; a movie night at home, with plastic popcorn containers; things you enjoy eating; and tickets for when you feel like going to the movies. These have been welcome for awhile — but especially right now.”

Author

Erin Brereton is a Chicago-based freelance journalist who writes about dining and culinary trends, travel, and other topics.

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