Birthday Plans: Celebrating in Andover

Over the years, Phillips Academy students have had to deal with the same dilemma: How do we celebrate birthdays during the school year? Students have struggled to make birthdays special with limited time and resources. Though planning a special birthday for a friend does take some creativity, there are plenty of ways to create a special day and have fun celebrating. Try some of these ideas the next time your friend has a birthday! Planning for a friend’s birthday on a low budget can be tough, especially while living at school. What about having a traditional surprise party in the dorm? Get house counselors in on the idea—they might have creative ideas of their own, not to mention a kitchen in which to bake a cake. You could also get a cake in downtown Andover. Mawby’s, for example, offers a variety of cakes in different price ranges. Another great idea for food is cupcakes. If you’re not able to make cupcakes from scratch, the Cupcake Boutique, also located in downtown Andover, offers over twenty types of cupcakes as delicious birthday treats. Cake, music and friends are the three most important factors for an unforgettable surprise party. If you’re not into surprise parties, what about a movie marathon? Rent your friend’s favorite movies over the weekend of their birthday, microwave some popcorn and spend all night watching them. If all else fails, the easiest party to plan is a dance party. You can’t go wrong with a good dance; all you need is music and an open dance floor—you’ll be set for hours. If someone on your sports team is having a birthday, include the team in the celebration! An easy way to wish a teammate a happy birthday is by decorating their gym locker with posters or flyers. Also, ask your coach if you can dedicate one practice to the birthday player. It would be great if one day, the birthday boy/girl could run the practice and have the team run their favorite drills. If that idea doesn’t work, try a team birthday dinner. Going downtown or simply ordering in is a great way to get the team together and celebrate. Why not go off campus? Take your friend out to dinner in town to celebrate. Food and friends make for a very happy birthday, and Andover has plenty of restaurants where large groups can kick back and enjoy a meal. Places like Bertucci’s and Yama, both easily accessible downtown, have delicious food and great ambiance. If you want to travel farther off campus, gather up some friends and take a taxi to Lawrence to see a movie. If a movie isn’t what you have in mind, take your friend away from the area for a fun-filled activity. Get permission to go hiking, skydiving (a tandem jump could be fun) or bungee jumping—anything that will give your friend a thrill and celebrate the passing of another year. If your friend wants to get off campus but avoid extreme sports, you can take the train into Boston and spend the day there. Sightsee, shop and explore the city; nothing says “happy birthday” like taking a quick break from the repetition of weeks spent at school. A trip to Boston is sure to make a friend’s birthday memorable and provide a much-needed cure for cabin fever. If you know how to celebrate but are unsure about presents, try a few of these ideas. It is tough buying a good present by yourself, so gather a bunch of friends together and chip in for one big present. This way, it will be much less expensive per person and you won’t be restricted by price. If organizing that is too hard, there are great gifts you can get on a low budget. The flower store downtown, Kabloom!, offers a variety of singing balloons for a reasonable price (besides flowers, of course). These balloons last for months, and they sing “Happy Birthday” in different ways when they are tapped. Another low budget gift is candy. Buy lots of small bags of candy and place each one somewhere on campus where your friend will see them—their desk, in their mailbox, their backpack or even in their gym locker. That is a great and easy way to give your friend a tasty birthday treat. What if your friend wants to stay on campus? You can always round up a bunch of friends and play games on the great lawn. Playing “German Spotlight” or “Ghost in the Graveyard” are great ways to celebrate after dark. To celebrate during the day, hold a campus-wide scavenger or treasure hunt. Be sure to take pictures while you hunt! If a friend’s birthday falls on a school day, be sure to spice up the day of classes by dressing your friend up. Whether only the birthday girl/boy is dressing up or a whole group of friends wants to participate, a costume is sure to make the day even more fun. Choose a theme, create costumes and throw in a cardboard crown for whoever’s special day it is; you will have created a fun, carefree way to celebrate and add zing to an ordinary school day.