30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30



Today I turn 30. Though I never like to make a big deal out of my birthday, I do like any excuse to celebrate a happy occasion.

Once you graduate from college, there are very few life occasions that call for excessive celebration unless you’re on the marriage-baby-picket fence path.

While my future might hold some of those things, it is not the current path I happen to be walking…but I still like drinking champagne and eating cake.

Instead of letting my birthday slip away unbeknownst to everyone except for my 1,500 closest Facebook friends, I’m taking the very opportunity to ring in my 31st year with multiple celebrations that involve all of the people close to me.

It really isn’t about celebrating me, as stupid as that might sound, but it’s about celebrating the people in my life who are important to me and the people who I am glad to have around me.

And food, of course, because on your birthday, calories do not count.


When I was searching for a witty quip to put on one of my birthday invitations, because yes, I planned more than one party, I came across a few “Lists of Things to Do Before You Turn 30.”

The things on the list were so stereotypical and ridiculous that I wish I could fire the people who wrote them from the internet.

“Go To NYC for New Year’s Eve.”

And stand outside freezing with one million drunk people and no access to a bathroom? Pass.

“Travel to all 50 States Before You Turn 30.”

Unless your parents were gypsies and you’ve hit 39 before your 19th Birthday, you probably won’t have the money (or the vacation time) to do all this traveling. Study abroad in college when someone else is subsidizing the bill.

“Have a Baby.”

Really? Everyone should have a baby before they turn 30? I won’t even dignify that with an answer. And stay out of my uterus.

Instead of ridiculing the entire list, I decided that I would make my own list.

And hope that Google will throw me a birthday bone and rank me higher because mine will bring you way more fun than buying a house and learning a DIY craft (I mean…come on).


30 Things to Do Before You Turn 30

30. Karaoke. Seriously.

29. Learn how to pronounce Veuve Cliquot. 22 year old me was unapologetically uncouth, but 30 year old me likes to say big words that sound fancy. Especially when ordering champagne.

28. Spend enough money on a pair of shoes or a handbag that you leave the store feeling guilty. That threshold is different for everyone, but it’s oddly freeing regardless.

27. Eat the cheese fries. You have the metabolism…for now.

26. Pay off the credit card bills that you frivolously charged when you were 24.

25. Find a therapist. Therapy is my favorite.

24. Run a half marathon. Or a full marathon. The adrenaline rush after the race is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

23. Stay out until the sun comes up. Once you hit 30, you’ll be physically incapable of doing this anymore, even if there *is* an all-night diner two blocks from your home.

22. The smallest size in your closet that you know you’ll never fit into again? Stuff the clothing in a garbage bag and shove it directly down the trash chute. Again, oddly freeing.

21. Do the tequila shots that your boss hands you at the holiday Christmas party when you’re 23 because when you’re 29, you will be physically incapable of smelling said tequila. Even the expensive stuff, which you can now afford.

20. Say it out loud: “there is really nothing wrong with Ikea furniture.”

19. Get over the things you hated about your family when you turned 20. You’re lucky to have them around.

18. Take a step toward your dream. You probably won’t accomplish it yet but if you can look back in a year and realize you made progress, it will feel good.

17. Pay it forward. Buy someone a coffee. Pay for someone else’s drink. Do a good deed and you’ll feel surprisingly pleased with yourself when you make someone’s day .

16. Teach yourself how to cook something fancy, like coq au vin, paella or bœuf bourguignon. Then, when you’re 30 and still single, at least you have something good to brag about on your internet dates.

15. Learn something new. Two years ago I became certified to teach kickboxing and even though I never did anything remotely constructive with my certification, I challenged myself to do something new and I don’t regret it.

14. Accept your life the way it is. We’re all working on this one, right? There are certain things you’ll never be able to change so it would be nice to take a step back and stop obsessing over the boyfriends we don’t have, the promotions we didn’t get or the corner offices we should have landed. I’ll let you know when I find the magic algorithm for this.

13. Not feel guilty if you’ve learned the hard way that a bag of tortilla chips is actually two servings, not eight and a jar of salsa is actually three servings, not 14.

12. Live alone. You’ll learn a lot about yourself when you go an entire lazy Sunday and realize you haven’t spoken to a soul.

11. Binge watch some good TV. The older you get, the guiltier you will feel (and yes, I’m projecting) about spending ten-hour blocks of time on the couch engrossed in Kate and Sawyer.

10. Have a dinner party. You are more talented in the kitchen than society has prepared you to believe.

9. Do something that kind of scares you. For me, it was moving to a city where I knew about three people and building a life 800 miles away from the people who had always supported me. This one is scaleable.

8. Learn how to make a cheesecake. Again, I promise you, you’ll get some street cred for this one.

7. Let go of something. An ex, a grudge. You’ll feel lighter (even if that middle age metabolism has set in early).

6. Cook for yourself. You shouldn’t survive on takeout Chinese chicken simply because you’re only cooking for you.

5. Know what’s going on in the world. When I’m participating in the aforementioned online dating, nothing is a quicker turn-off than someone who says they “never read.”

4. Take the weekend off. As someone who is self-employed and occasionally falls asleep while on her laptop, I’m learning the value of taking large chunks of time for myself and not my clients. Go for a run. Watch bad TV. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Give your mind a break. We need it.

3. Treat yourself to a fancy appliance. Though my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer was gifted to me by an ex who I would probably have not thought of in years if it hadn’t been for his giving me a stand mixer for my birthday five years ago, I surely would have bought one if that relationship had never happened. Which it didn’t. You get it.

2. Collect something. I have a collection of postcards from when I was a kid and it’s still fun to pick them up when I go someplace new. Even if they do sometimes just end up in the bottom of a bag in my closet.

1. Tell yourself for the very first time: you don’t look a day over 29.


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  • Reply
    Christina @ My Homespun Home
    March 16, 2014 at 1:52 am

    Hey, a fellow Capricorn and January baby! I’m 361 days ahead of you, and think this list hits pretty much everything important. Though it didn’t fit in the list, I’ll also add that no matter your age in numbers, feeling “like a grownup” is not as common as it might seem when you look everyone who seems like they have it all–job, family, partner, home, furniture–figured out. They rarely do, but are good at appearing like they do, which is about all you need anyways. (How’s that for circular reasoning?)

  • Reply
    Ashley Bee @ Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine
    January 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I love your list 🙂 I have less than 4 years of my 20s left and I keep meaning to make a list like this. All I know is that “skydiving” is on that list. There’s a place that pops up on Groupon out here occasionally and I am totally going to do it once I have the extra $200 set aside.

    The Ikea one made me giggle. The boy and I are moving into our first apartment and have decided to second hand EVERYTHING because Ikea is even too expensive for us. I see Ikea furniture as furniture for those in their 20s-30s who have a bit of an extra income, whereas we’re still quarter-life-crisis-ing pretty hard financially. I’m just saying a prayer to the sofa gods that we don’t get bed bugs… we DID buy a mattress new though, we saved up for that 😉

  • Reply
    January 12, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I love this list! In fact, I think I’ll bookmark it for future reference; 30 is coming up quickly. I hope you had a great birthday full of fun and food (you’re so right about the calories not counting), and here’s to an amazing year!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm


    and great list!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Great list, and I hope this next year will be a great one for you. (And I’m more than double your age and still having a lot of fun!)

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Your list speaks of a person who has got it together. It imust be so liberating and empowering to know what you want and to be able to pursue it.

    Happy Birthday! I wonder what your list will look like when you get to be our age – which is double yours 🙁

  • Reply
    Sarah Bird
    January 10, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    As someone who is turning 40 this year, I relate so much to your post. What I used to think about turning 40 has completely changed!

  • Reply
    Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    January 10, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Happy Happy Birthday! I love this post, so much more relatable than the lists you alluded to. I have about 7 months to 30 and should probably make a list myself!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Great post! You are the best daughter any mother could ask for. Happy 30th! Love you

  • Reply
    Rachel W.
    January 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I fundamentally disagree with #20, but will forgive you because you included puzzles

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Happy birthday. BTW, I’m 45 and still fit into my 8th grade cheerleading uniform! It’s, uh, quite snug, but it zips.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Happy Birthday to you Maris! What a fantastic post. You have such a great outlook…

    I will be turning 30 this year as well, and I feel kind of weird about it. I have skipped a lot of experiences most of my friends have had in their 20’s. The last few months that thought has had me feeling a tad down. Sometimes I feel like I’ve missed out on some things…. However I’m happy to say I have done almost all of the things you have listed here. That makes me feel a tad better 😉

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Ummm, You’re amazing and I love this list!!! #30 & #25 are my faves

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I love this list. Also, I am thoroughly impressed with your lack of freak-out as you approached 30. When I turned 30, I spent the year leading up, totally obsessing about it — and dreading leaving my 20s behind.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I’m turning 30 this year, too! And this list? SPOT ON. You’re awesome. Happy birthday!!

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