Escape rooms are a national trend that I actually agree with.
This concept became a trend in 2014 when a group of entrepreneurs wanted to provide millenials a real-life video game experience where players solve puzzles in under 60 minutes as a way to escape the room they are trapped in.
Before I had my first escape room experience, I falsely assumed that players try to go through several rooms, in an ornate mansion, in order to shore up evidence to solve a big mystery at the end. When I brought six of my friends to The Great Escape Room in D.C (located on 1730 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington D.C) we were floored with the Sherlock Holms-style mystery we had to solve, the ancient mars bars used as a clue, and the uv ray nightlight (plus other cool tools, tricks, and games) we used to solve each puzzle.
Sixty-minutes may sound like a short amount of time to many of you but when you have multiple puzzles to solve, clues to unearth, and humorous amounts of stress layered in between each game, you feel like you’ve been playing this game for a long while.
What I really liked about The Great Escape Room was that all players had to work together, cohesively, in order to solve each puzzle consecutively. Without teamwork, trust, and communication I doubt we would’ve solved the puzzle just in time. In fact, this experience further bonded my rag-tag group of friends.
After our experience, we devoured copious amounts of gelato at Dolcezza by Dupont circle and kept rehashing items we all couldn’t find and word games that really twisted our minds. A funny moment that happened at the escape room was when one of my friends, Dan, came 15 minutes late and he walked through the door we were trying to escape out of. Our guide joked that she knew who the trouble maker in our group was. I just knew based on our guide’s sense of humor that the team behind The Great Escape Room really wants everyone to have a memorable time.
In fact, our guide for The Great Escape Roomwas very helpful whenever one of us was stuck. She guided us with hints and boosted our confidence over solving even the most cumbersome puzzle. When I think of the color green and puzzles, I will always remember the most difficult place to find a missing clue piece. Some memories, like that on and of my friend Dan coming out of the wrong door, are happy memories I will always cherish with me when I think of The Great Escape Room.
My friends universally agreed this experience is perfect for birthdays and many have said that they want to go back there again in the near future. I know that if I wanted a surefire way to teach leadership skills and teamwork to a group of eclectic personalities, I would recommend this experience.
Sometimes it’s good to take a break from playing a video game and to just experience the real thing.
As you get older, it does get harder to celebrate your birthday. Each year that passes by could only mean wrinkles, gray hairs, and a slower metabolism. Although this timely holiday may be hard to stomach for some, for me, it’s a great opportunity to amass great discounts for the month of February and to live it up
If you enter “birthday freebies AND list” on Google you will garner pages upon pages of discounts you can cash in on your birthday that are ranging from burger joints to clothing stores. One year I had a coupon for a free desert ($4.00 in value) at Le Madelines and for a burger ($9.00) at Ruby Tuesdays. If you take advantage of these lists and at least sign up for these deals 30 days before your birthday, you could possibly get away with eating free for an entire month. One caveat is you may get bombarded with spam-ish e-mails but I do have faith that you all will figure out a way around that.
If you don’t feel like typing this simple keyword in, you can also click on the following links to easily access these birthday discounts:
In fact, if you want to take the extra step, download this free app called bdayfreedayapp from the apple store. On the week of your birthday, it tells you which birthday discounts you can cash in your immediate area.
Freebies aside, that’s not the only facet you can take advantage of on your birthday. On the day of your birthday you dictate what you want to do and you have the opportunity to garner a mass following to do so. All it takes is for you to be a bit vocal on what you want.
This year for my birthday, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I was vocal with my best friend, boyfriend, and even close friends over what I wanted to happen; and I also took the extra initiative in planning everything out. Before I get into how I made my mini dreams come true, I do want to say the following: Not everyone can read your mind and not everyone has the time to throw you a surprise party. Life is not always like a Lifetime or Hallmark movie where the lead gets a surprise party thrown at the beginning and her wishes somehow come true just by thinking it.
In real life, you say exactly what you want and throw your own party. By taking initiative and by being confident in what you want, you feel more joy because you are solely responsible for your own happiness.
This year, I went to New York City with my best friend, hung out in Frederick, Maryland with the boyfriend, and threw myself a grand party. My best friend and I planned everything in advance and I was able to do almost everything I wanted to do. In Frederick, Maryland I communicated enough with my boyfriend exactly what I wanted and I was able to eat at the best restaurant in that area. If you guessed Volt, than, yes, I totally ate there. For my grand party, I planned each activity out in advance and was easily able to sway all of my friends to cooperate. Birthday’s are special days that commemorate your existence and it would be such a waste to squander it due to age insecurities or to peer pressure.
New York City
So you all clearly see that I am having a blast, right? Well, I want you to be able to take advantage of your birthday and do exactly what you want.
Here are some tips, tricks, and off-the-cuff ideas to help YOU take advantage of your birthday.
1.) Employ bucket list ideas into your birthday party. When you plan your party, it’s always your rules. Plan activities out in advance and let your guests know what’s ahead and what they should bring. I was reminiscent of my younger days so I wanted to have a massive pillow fight, like the one in Washington D.C last year. I told everyone in advance to bring a pillow and everyone was ready to pretend they were fighters from “Mortal Kombat”. Having a massive pillow fight, as an adult, was on my bucket list and it was sheer joy seeing all of that play out with a willing crowd.
2.) Make it a potluck. If you are worried about costs, assign a dish for everyone to bring. Your birthday is a special day and I am sure everyone is willing to pitch into make it even more special.
3.) Add spontaneity. As we get older, it’s harder to be spontaneous. Catching up with friends tends to be a challenge since it all has to be scheduled in advance. Your birthday party is a special time for you to be random. Let’s say you feel bored for a hot second and want to go out for a chocolate milk shake. You can easily get everyone board and just drive to a local diner. Since you are dictating your own party, you are the leader so what you say goes.
4.) Be Frugal. Parties can be expensive so it’s best to be smart when it comes to decorations, foods, and with everything else. If you want to save massive dollars, go to Michaels on a weekday and check out their clearance items. Also remember that your local dollar store has all the party supplies you need. If you mix those two together, you will be able to aggrandize your home without emptying out your wallet.
5.) Plan Multiple Outings. Your birthday doesn’t have to be just one day–it can span a month with the right kind of planning. My best friend and I love New York city so we both planned everything in advance. Since our trip was in celebration of my birth, we were able to eat at my favorite Korean, Falafel, and bakery-type spots. Not only that but our instagram game was point. In fact, use your birthday as a personal excuse to get out of town for a day or two. Go to that exotic spa in Arizona, ski down the best slopes in Vermont, or even go skydiving in California. Because this your birthday, your pals will want to support you in your endeavors and join you in all of the fun. Life is truly short and there isn’t enough time to celebrate the beauty of life. Just saying.
6.) Look and Be at your Best. Confidence can be found inside out. When you dress your best you do feel your best. No matter what, whether you are having a party with friends or you are at the office, wear your best outfit. If money is an issue, Goodwill and Amazon can take care of that (they often sell high-end clothes for pennies). If you are naturally slovenly, make it that on the day of your existence you dress to the nines since we all need to celebrate your life. Once you get this step taken care of, you will emotionally feel like you have a stronger control of your day and be able to helm all birthday activities.
7.) Eat like royalty. Go on Yelp or Google Reviews and pick the best places to eat. Invite all of your friends out too. Not everyone goes out to eat and when they do, it’s often to a chain restaurant or a local diner. When it’s your birthday, you need to treat yo’ self. If you have a hard time picking the best place to eat, look up who your local food bloggers are and see what they say. Whatever is the snootiest response, that’s where your dollars gotta go. It’s your time to eat foi gais on croquettes.
8.) Give yourself a Surprise Party. Yup. You can totally get away with this. Just tell one of your trusted friends to help you plan your party and they can tell everyone else you have no idea that this party is going on. When it’s D-day and you are walking through that golden door, that’s when you can use your best acting skills to pretend that you had no idea. For your pretend surprise party, tell your friends (hosts) to make sure that everyone is using confetti poppers once you enter inside. You can even have them lay out activities that you haven’t done in awhile (chocolate flight, twister, truth or dare, paint ball, etc). If you really want to go above and beyond, you can theme the party and have everyone dress up as someone from a favorite movie you like. There was this one episode of Community where Jeff (smarmy but kind lawyer) planned a Pulp Fiction themed party and demanded that everyone dress up for their friend Abed. If you have seen the episode, just know that you can have the same exact party like him if you plan in advance and coral everyone involved.
9.) Get Outside of your Comfort Zone. Have you always wanted to have a food eating contest but were too afraid to do so? Or better yet, are you terrified of snakes? Use your birthday as an excuse to plan those activities so you not only entertain your friends and family but you can also make yourself a stronger person that year. When you are able to push your own internal boundaries, on the day of your birth, you feel emotionally exulted and free to take on any other challenges in your life. This is also a smart career move if you need that extra boost of confidence in working towards that promotion.
10.) Make Unruly Requests. It’s the only time of year you can get away with doing this. You can’t really do this during Christmas and you can’t really get away with this on Valentines day either. On your birthday, if you want to spend the entire day at the spa than do it. You can try to have a family member take care of your personal errands for that day. We all understand. Better yet, if you have a friend who sings well, you can request on that day that they sing songs by Queen, David Bowie or even the Backstreet Boys. It’s your birthday, and you can demand if you want to.
11.) Everywhere you go. Tell the world it’s your birthday. This bit of advice works well at ski resorts, bowling alleys, and especially at all restaurants. So many businesses have quiet deals for birthdays and you may not know about them since they aren’t always advertised. Not only that, you can get away with asking for the entire month since your birthday is too much of a grand event to isolate for just one, short, day.
12.) Remind people over and over again that your birthday is coming up. Not everyone has a scheduler on hand and not everyone goes on Facebook. Remind enough but don’t be whiny about it. When people remember your special day, they will take it upon themselves to treat you right.
13.) Save up. With all great endeavors comes financial responsibility. Plan what you want several months to a year in advance. Create an estimated budget and allot an ample amount of cash. This may seem like common sense but many do forget to save for their big day and just opt for free meals or for parties that are too kitschy due to egregious costs.
14.) Openly declare what your birthday dreams are. This may sound childish but it does work. Let’s say you dream of riding an elephant on your birthday. You keep communicating that to everyone and you keep reminding yourself what you want, that it’s bound to happen. Whether you save up money for this activity or if one of your friend’s started a kickstarter program to get you that dream, anything can happen if you declare it. I mean, look at Kanye West. Albeit, he did work hard for his successes but he did declare what he wanted in life and got it. I am not advising to have a Kanye-sized ego but I am advising to dream big and to go after what makes you happy.
So there you have it. This is how you take advantage of your birthday. You squeeze all opportunity out and use your time wisely.
If you want to follow more tips or just want to say hi, follow me on Twitter (@SherrynDaniel) or check out of my foodie pics on Instagram (SherrynBlog).