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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois chapter.

If you are a new college student, the first birthday you will have outside of being home with your family will probably feel a little strange. Speaking from personal experience, my first birthday as a freshman, though very fun, felt a little lonely because it was unusual to not be with my family that day. When in college, you tend to rely more on your friends to achieve that sense of belonging as you would within a family. On birthdays it is especially important to be surrounded by quality people who want to celebrate that milestone with you. A compilation of things go into making a great birthday, and the following should give you an idea or two about planning your event.

The concept

Start by idealizing how you’d like to spend your time. Do you want to make it a light, sophisticated event with a few good friends and a nice meal? Or would you rather the vibe be more electric and “crazy”? These are two drastically different concepts that may require certain people to compliment that energy. Another “concept” item to consider is how to decorate, if you want to do so. Some fun ideas I have seen recently include filling up a bunch of colorful balloons with helium so they float up to the ceiling, or creating a balloon arch with a backdrop. Hanging streamers is also a fun and affordable idea.

The food and beverages

We all know that people come together over food and drink, and this is an essential part of any birthday celebration. Whether you’ll be using food as your main event, or just a small part of your special day or night, there are considerations to be made. A great option for house parties is to cater from someplace, or to put out snack dishes. Finger foods are a safe option for these events. Think chips, mini sliders, cupcakes, or pigs in a blanket. Providing a few savory foods and a few sweet foods ensures something for everyone. Drink wise, I encourage you to do the same and put out a variety (alcoholic and nonalcoholic, of course) so that people have a choice! Another option is to make your party or “pregame” a BYOD (bring your own drink) situation. This saves you the hassle and money.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Alex Frank / Spoon

the entertainment

This sounds like such a childish thing to bring up, but if you don’t have a schedule of events, you might be in trouble. Nothing is more awkward than standing around in a room full of people who aren’t sure what to do.  I’m not saying you need to plan out each minute, but keeping a loose schedule of how you’d like the time to be spent may help you out. If you are hosting first, and then going out later, you can play music and play a game (think cards, Would You Rather, Cup Pong, etc.). This should prime your guests to keep the good vibes going!

Anna Schultz-Girl And Guy Playing Beer Pong
Anna Schultz / Her Campus
Hi everyone, my name is Solomiya and I am a junior majoring in Kinesiology at UIUC. Though I study within a STEM related field, I have always loved the arts- especially writing. I am so excited to be on this team and rekindle that writer's spark!