Cheap Birthday Celebrations in the City

Check out the best ways to celebrate your birthday in the city without going broke!


Sam Cheng

Check out some suggestions for low-cost birthday activities. (Photo by Sam Cheng)

Ria Mittal, Staff Writer

Let’s be honest — birthdays make for the best celebrations. They give you an opportunity to go out, have fun with your friends and appreciate the fact that you’ve managed another year of life. With the pricey restaurants and bars of New York City, it may seem like the cost of living today is higher than ever. Don’t let that put a damper on your special day, though. Check out some fun and cheap ways to celebrate a birthday that won’t make you wish for the time to stop passing.

99 Favor Taste
New York City restaurants tend to be pretty expensive, but they also make up for it by treating you like  true birthday royalty when the day comes. If you’re craving some classic Korean barbeque and you’ve got at least three friends to celebrate with, head straight to 99 Favor Taste on St. Marks Place. If you make it three days before or after your birthday and have a valid ID to confirm the date, the restaurant offers you a meal FOR FREE as long as you are in a party of at least four people. If you’re lucky, someone in a monkey suit will come out and sing you Happy Birthday. No, we’re not kidding.

Dessert Crawls
Signing up to loyalty programs can take you a long way when it comes to free desserts. Program members at Au Bon Pain, Baskin Robbins, Dippin Dots, Sprinkles, IHOP and Pinkberry get a free dessert on their birthday. If the incessant mailing lists aren’t worth it for you, just inform a server beforehand at Max Brenner or the Cheesecake Factory and enjoy a free piece of chocolate or bowl of ice cream with your meal.

St. Marks Karaoke
Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake.” 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.” Katy Perry’s “Birthday.” So many iconic birthday songs to absolutely crush at St. Marks Karaoke for the affordable rate of $9 per person per hour for a minimum party of three. If you’re of age and willing to spend a little extra dough, they also have different party packages that include drinks and bottle service. It can get pretty busy on weekends, so I would recommend calling ahead and paying the reservation deposit.

Beauty Bar
For all those turning at least 21, Beauty Bar is the place to go for a truly unforgettable night of pampering and partying. Ten dollars for a martini and manicure, a disco ball, music and decor from the ’50s to the ’80s — great for the morning-after Instagram posts. What more could you need to channel your inner birthday dancing queen? Be sure to book ahead online for a party of six or more.

Central Park
To NYU students, it may seem far, cliche and touristy, but Central Park is actually pretty great for a low-key birthday picnic. Pack some snacks, cash, a blanket and a speaker and head uptown to enjoy the lush lawns and great views with your closest buds. Additionally, you can go boating on the park’s lake for $15 per hour or stage a birthday bike race with $15 bike rentals.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 6, 2019, print edition. Email Ria Mittal at [email protected]