Birthday Surprises on Vacay

If you’re lucky enough to have your birthday fall during Spring Break, like my daughter, she usually gets to spend her birthday on vacation! Given she’s just turned 10 years old, and sprinkle in a few other vacation celebrations over the years and I’ve created many birthday surprises on vacay!

If you’ve seen my other recent post, Experience Gift Ideas for Families, I feel that taking the extra time and energy to thoughtfully gift and experience vs. a thing is soooo much more rewarding and fun! Making memories is what I’m all about. Life is short, our kids will be grown in a blink and we should make the absolute most out of it!

Happy Birthday Vacay Style!

#doubledigits birthday surprises on vacay
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My daughter’s #doubledigits Spring Break family vacay in the Bahamas

Birthday Surprises on Vacay

If you’re traveling, you likely have plenty of time in advance to prepare birthday surprises on vacay! I have some quick and easy gift surprise ideas for you, that have worked for me in the past.

I will cover a variety of ideas for birthday surprises on vacay across these topics:

  • Decorations
  • Birthday Theme Ideas
  • Birthday Gift Ideas
  • Hotel Concierge Requests
  • Memorable Experiences

Now, let’s jump into some fun ideas!


First up is preparing to have a few decorations. Whether you’re staying at a hotel or a vacation rental property on vacation, it’s easy to bring a long a few decorations to add an element of surprise to your vacay celebration! Considering there is some sort of travel involved, it’s best to pick a few things that don’t take up much space and will travel well.

Birthday decoration ideas for surprises on vacay:

  • Happy Birthday Sign
  • Streamers
  • Balloons
  • Pop-up, Table Toppers
  • Cake Plates
  • Birthday Napkins
  • Birthday Candle

Next, you may want to pick a theme for the birthday surprise.

Birthday Theme Ideas

Picking a theme for birthday surprises on vacay can be pretty easy. There isn’t a huge need to go overboard with a theme selection. You are going to pick something out anyway, so it might as well play along with the vacay. I typically decide on the theme based on where we are going or whether or not it’s a milestone birthday being celebrated. I’ll give you a few examples of some that I have done to get your wheels spinning.

Spring Break Family Vacay to Austin, Texas

Last year we took my daughter shopping for cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat! Of course, her younger twin sisters jumped in on the fun, too! It was so cute and a fun time watching them stomp all over town like they owned the place! Add a simple birthday banner and cowgirl balloons in the hotel room and bam, you’ve got a Texas themed birthday vacay!

My Daughter’s 10th Birthday Family Vacay in the Bahamas

Since it was a Caribbean vacay, naturally I went with a bright beach birthday theme. To the Beach napkins, pineapple bowls and pop-up table top tropical decorations we easy pack-ables. Also, it was a milestone birthday so we threw in a some “10” decorations, too!

Brother-in-Law’s 30th Birthday Vacay Boating in Wisconsin

With a few kids under our belts, we decided to ring in his 30th birthday with an adults-only, Labor Day weekend vacay on the lake! We always travel to my family’s lake house with the kids so getting to zip around the lake, stopping at bars without a responsibility in the worlds was AH-MAZING! He likes pretty much any lifted Chevy truck or toys with an engine, so naturally, I couldn’t resist an embarrassing “Odometer 29-30” t-shirt, haha! I also threw in a few koozies for the group, “30 Years and Countless Beers“.

Mom’s Milestone 60th Birthday Family Vacay in Hawaii

Last year, my Dad treated us to an incredible vacation in Hawaii with my both mine and my sister’s families. Not only did we celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday, but also my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary! Since it was such a monumental vacay for them, I coordinated a number of extra special surprises for them. More to come on that, soon! Naturally, her birthday theme became “Aloha 60” with this cake topper from Etsy. Such a cool picture Mom took of holding the cake topper up during a breathtaking Hawaiian sunset!

Sister’s 21st Birthday Vacay in Las Vegas

Not much of a cooler way to celebrate your 21st birthday than on vacay in Vegas! A lot of low-hanging, gawdy (i.e. a 21st birthday sash and crown) ways to jazz up a Vegas birthday!

Don’t Forget to Pack Supplies

Made this mistake once and never again! Bring along some scissors, tape and any other supplies to help with hanging streamers or signs. I have noticed that it can be challenging to tape things to walls in hotel rooms, depending on the wall texture or layout of the room. I usually throw masking tape, scotch tape and packing tape in my bag, to give myself options. Lastly, if you bring a birthday candle, don’t forget a lighter!

Gift Ideas for Birthday Surprises on Vacay

A vacation is heck of a birthday present in itself, so I don’t go crazy. Plus, you are traveling so keep in mind you don’t want anything too big to pack.

Birthday vacay gift ideas to pack:

  • Just a Birthday Card
  • Dice
  • Diving Gems for the Pool
  • Sea Shell Collecting Purse for the Beach
  • Buy a Souvenir Once There (written in a birthday card)
  • Spa Treatment or Vacation Nails (written in a birthday card)
  • Embarrassing Birthday T-Shirt
  • Money for the Casino (in a birthday card)
  • Jewelry

Another option is creating a vacation gift basket. Doesn’t necessarily need to be a basket, per se, but it can be a few things that the birthday guest of honor can use on the trip. I’ll give another example. Once, I went on a girl’s vacay to Palm Desert, CA with my mom and she made a little swag bag for me.

Girls trip vacay gift basket ideas:

Next, especially in the case of traveling with kids, you might want to have them open a surprise gift up at the airport, to use on the airplane.

Birthday gift ideas for at the airport:

Third, this next little extra touch can really take things up a notch with just a quick phone call!

Concierge Requests

If you’re staying at a hotel, or even a vacation rental with a nice owner, you can request in advance that something be brought to your room. Usually, they will bring it to your room before you arrive so it’s a surprise from the moment you walk in the door! Sometimes, I have found, they even throw in a little something extra free from the hotel!

Adult Concierge Delivery Ideas:

  • Champagne
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Wine
  • Cheese Platter
  • Flowers

Kids Concierge Delivery Ideas:

  • Cupcakes
  • Chocolates
  • Cookies
  • General Snacks
  • Flowers
  • Something from Gift Shop (i.e. sand toys)

Did you know that even if you are not staying with the person in the hotel, you can still request the concierge add something special to their room?

On this last Spring Break birthday vacay, Grandma & Papa had some cupcakes and sand toys be put in the room. It was perfect because we flew in late that evening and were able to order room service dinner, and sing Happy Birthday with the candle I brought! No getting kids dressed and out to a late dinner at a restaurant. I’m sure you can relate!

I’ve also had my awesome Auntie have Champagne delivered to our room on our Honeymoon. Any occasion, you can surprise your loved ones when they go on vacay!

Memorable Experiences

Lastly, entertaining yourselves on vacation is why you went in the first place! It only seems natural to plan some awesome activities, with the birthday guest of honor in mind! My goal is to provide some inspiration for you and make this as easy as possible. So, I have a few last ideas for you.

Birthday Dinner Reservations

Ok, this is an obvious one. Avoid the fuss of cupcakes and candles and instead just go, and make dinner reservations! Call ahead and let them know it’s someone special’s birthday. Be sure to confirm they do have candles or if you could bring your own and sneak it to the hostess when you arrive.

Also, it can be really fun to dress up fancy! It’s a great excuse to take some nice family (or friends!) photos that otherwise get forgotten all too often!

Plan Some Fun Entertainment

Lastly, plan a fun activity for the birthday girl or boy! You know them more than anyone so…

First, you can start by thinking about their favorite kind of things to do, and surprise them! Second, just ask them! Research a few options in the area and let them pick! That’s a no fail way to put a smile on their face. Third, eye their bucket list and help them check something off their list! Fourth, choose something that goes along with the theme or is in spirit of the location of your trip.

Ideas for Fun Experiences to Have on Vacay:

Don’t think about things to gift people. Instead, first think about cool experiences you were already planning or considering anyway! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with avoiding additional gift spend.

~Memory in the Making

Activities to do in the Hotel:

  • Hotel Scavenger Hunt (download my freebie printable for the best, belly laughing time ever!)
  • Play Board Games (see Top 10 Games for Families)
  • Roll Some Dice
  • Pool Party (bring snacks, cooler, dive sticks, football, etc.)
  • Order Ice Cream Room Service (a la Kevin in Home Alone)
  • Make a Signature Cocktail (perhaps with mimosas, like my family’s famous Espi’mosa recipe to fast track your vacay mode day-drinking, ha!)

Life is Short, Plan Birthday Surprises on Vacay!

While birthdays are a fabulous excuse to plan a vacay, they most definitely are not the only things to celebrate! I like to call them champagne popping moments. I believe from the bottom of my heart that we should celebrate every chance we get. It could be a promotion at work, an anniversary, hitting a major milestone, etc. If you like the idea of More Champagne Popping in your life, hit up my post!

Keep in mind, your vacay doesn’t need to be far from home, either! A staycation could be the perfect middle ground for getting away, without long travel times or paying for airfare! If that sounds like something you are considering, be sure to stop by my 5 Steps to Plan the Ultimate Family Staycation post. There are some goodies in there to really speed up your planning process and make it an awesome experience!

If a full out birthday vacay isn’t in the cards this year that’s okay, too! Check out my Mother-Daughter Planning Date Tradition for tips and some really cute, memory making ideas!

Later, I’d absolutely love to see my followers in action with their birthday surprises on vacay! I hope I was able to inspire you to make that vacay one you all will never forget!! PLEASE tag me on Instagram @meminthemaking! You would make my day!

Without a doubt, save these Birthday Surprises on Vacay to your Pinterest board for later!

…Or text a link to your partner in crime!

Finally, follow me @memoryinthemaking on Pinterest or
@meminthemaking on Instagram and Facebook!

Enjoy Making Memories!

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