We love birthdays here at Time Out. The parties. The people. The gifts. The cards. And we’re here to share that love with our ultimate guide for making the most of yours or your loved one’s special day in Washington D.C. Together with Hallmark and CVS, we’ve scoured the city to find the perfect gifts, activities and places to celebrate the big day, and we’re tailoring them specifically to the people in your life. Got a laugh-loving best friend? A chic mom who demands only the very best? A creative brother with an appreciation for the quirkier side of life? We’ve got you covered. Start with the perfect card—the perfect sentiment, expressed the perfect way—and follow us all the way until the candles are blown out.
Find the right card
Sometimes edgy, sometimes irreverent, often inappropriate and always hilarious, Shoebox cards offer a unique view on all the occasions that life throws your way. From cats that harness the power of lightning to unicorn poop, you’ll find the funniest selection of oddities you can cram into an envelope. To find out where to get the perfect, or perfectly weird, Shoebox birthday card, click here.
Hallmark Signature cards make an immediate impression and express your personal style. Each is handcrafted (some are dotted with little gems, others have bows, linen or dimensional paper flowers) and designed for maximum wow factor. To find out where to get the perfect Signature birthday card, click here.
Unexpected. Uninhibited. And oh-so unforgettable. These cards totally get you. They even speak the way you do. Except they can’t talk. Because that would be super weird. So if you’re looking to give someone the realest of the real, the cutest of the cute, or the fanciest of the schmanciest, Studio Ink cards are the perfect way to express yourself to those who know you best. To find out where to get the perfect Studio Ink card, click here.
Find love, tradition and celebration of family in Hallmark’s VIDA collection. These touching, fun and powerful Spanish-language cards are here for all birthdays, from baby’s first to her quinceañera to mom’s 50th. To find where to get the perfect VIDA card, click here.
Got a friend whose perfect birthday involves spending it with good food, fascinating cultural experiences and family? Hallmark’s Mahogany collection has a card for them. Featuring life-affirming and spiritual messages, these cards resonate with big, bold declarations of love and designs that pop right off the shelf. To find where to get the perfect Mahogany card, click here.
Get the right gift
You may find yourself chuckling as you cruise the merchandise at this Cleveland Park shop, which has provided gag gifts and comedic relief since 1988. With novelties aplenty—including Band-Aids that look like strips of bacon and owl-shaped erasers—Wake Up Little Suzy (3409 Connecticut Ave NW) caters to those with a sense of humor. That’s not to say the shop lacks a sensitive side: Alongside whoopee cushions and clocks modeled after robots you’ll also find locally made jewelry and dinner party-ready tableware.
Pick an activity
Escape Room Live (multiple locations) is a playground for puzzle masters, lock pickers and clue chasers. It works like this: You and a group of friends are locked into a room with nothing but your wits, and you must uncover hints that will eventually lead to a key that lets you out. Translation: Go with a group you don't mind being stuck in a room with. The experience is particularly well-suited for those who grew up playing boardgames with their family and have an uncanny knack for communicating with each other. The D.C. location has three rooms of varying difficulty, including an ’80s-themed room complete with an oversized Scrabble board. But if you really want a challenge, head to the Alexandria outpost for the wizard room. The most difficult yet, it features a spell book you must crack.
Time to eat
For the friend who rattles off the restaurants that they’ve dined at with pride, treat them to a meal at one of the hottest seats in town. Pineapple and Pearls (715 8th St SE) comes from the same chef behind Rose’s Luxury, the Barrack’s Row hotspot located just next door. At $250 a head (including drinks, tax and tip), it’s definitely not the cheapest meal in town. But it’s certainly one of the finest. The multi-course tasting menu keeps you on your toes and may include Thai curry served in a piece of equipment that’s more suited for a chemistry class than a restaurant. Save room for dessert: Every meal ends with mini liquor-flavored donuts.
Photograph: Kate Warren
José Andrés is a man who needs no introduction. The Spanish chef is responsible for a number of D.C.’s finest restaurants, including Oyamel (401 7th St NW), his love letter to Mexican cuisine. You’ll recognize a number of the dishes, though they may look a little different than how you’re used to seeing them. That’s because Andrés puts his own modern twist on them, often elevating the humble taco to a work of art. It's great, shared family eating done with a flourish, and if your friend or loved one is adventurous, push them to order the chapulinas taco, made with Mexican spices and grasshoppers. It’s more delicious than you may think.
Photograph: Greg Powers & Audrey Crewe