The Birthday Project


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{It’s been six years since I first shared the Birthday Project with you. This has become an awesome tradition for my family and I look forward to it every year now.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve once again done many of the things listed below in celebration of this year’s birthday.}

Six years ago, I wrote:

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I’m taking a break from the kitchen today; so that I can share my birthday project with you. In lieu of gifts for my 35th birthday, my birthday wish was to complete one Random Act of Kindness for every year of my life.

The Birthday Project acts of kindness add up to an unforgettable way to spend your special day. - find all the details at

The Birthday Project idea was not my own, it was inspired by this post and this movement that is growing exponentially.

I did not photograph our acts of kindness, because I did not want my birthday project to become all about blogging it. I had a great time blessing my family, friends and complete strangers throughout my birthday celebration.

I made a list and planned some activities ahead of time, but I also enjoyed being spontaneous as we ran into people that we could bless with these things. My kids and I started about a week before my 35th birthday and last Saturday, my husband joined us to finish the list.

I’m sharing my list today, at the request of several friends. My hope is that this inspires others to share a bit of kindness with someone else today.

35 Acts of Kindness to celebrate The Birthday Project - idea list at

The Birthday Project

  1. Gave flowers away to the residents at a hospice and nursing care facility
  2. Invited our next door neighbor to dinner
  3. Brought in the neighbors’ trashcans
  4. Gave a flower to the door greeter at Costco
  5. Printed my birthday email from Redbox and taped the free movie code along with some tootsie pops to the front of the machine
  6. Snuggled on the couch and watched a kid’s movie with my boys all morning instead of working around the house
  7. Set up the kid’s wading pool and let them play for an hour before we left the house to run errands
  8. Took a flower to the girl working at the hair salon next to the grocery store
  9. Took a flower to our cashier at the produce store
  10. Walked around the produce store giving away candy and telling the shoppers to have a great day
  11. Gave granola bars and water to a homeless man
  12. Anonymously paid for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant
  13. Gave treat bags to the employees working in customer service at the grocery store
  14. Gave miniature chocolate bars to shoppers at the grocery store
  15. Gave a bag full of candy to our cashier at the grocery store, so that she could share with the other cashiers
  16. Bought a gift card and then gave it to the person behind me in line at the grocery store
  17. Sent cookies to a friend’s office for her to share with co-workers
  18. Delivered treat bags and thank you notes to the librarians
  19. Handed out lollipops to the rest of the people at the library
  20. My kids and I hung out for a while in the doorway at the grocery store, telling everyone to have a great day
  21. Made a big birthday breakfast for my kids and my husband – traditionally this is one of my husband’s gifts to me on my birthday
  22. Delivered a carton of ice cream, cookies and homemade chocolate and caramel sauces to the fire station
  23. Bought and then delivered toiletries to donate to the Phoenix Rescue Mission
  24. Delivered cartons of ice cream and homemade chocolate or caramel sauce to the neighbors in our cul-de-sac
  25. Took a bouquet of flowers to a neighbor living alone
  26. Delivered flowers to some friends
  27. Ran into a Jiffy Lube to deliver a bag of tootsie pops to the employees
  28. Delivered a meal to my sister and her family when they were sick
  29. Left candy and a thank you note for the mail carrier
  30. Taped quarters to toy machines at the grocery store
  31. Gave food to a homeless woman
  32. Traded my fancy birthday dinner date night for taking my kids to see a movie on Saturday afternoon
  33. Ran into a restaurant to give a free birthday dessert coupon to a table of strangers
  34. Ran into another restaurant to give a free birthday appetizer coupon to a group of strangers
  35. Gave jars of homemade salad dressings to the women in my small group
35 Acts of Kindness to celebrate The Birthday Project - idea list at


My 8-year-old: “This is so much fun! I’m so happy. I can’t stop laughing and I feel like I’m going to burst.” Three days into this project –“ I still can’t believe how much fun this is. I never knew it was more fun to give things away than it is to get things!”

My 6-year-old: “This is awesome! I want to give away a bunch of my toys now and make more people happy.” “I wish we had more bags of stuff to give away to strangers!”

My 2-year-old: Telling every person he handed a treat bag to, “Have a good day!!” Sitting through his very first movie in a theater and looking over at us every 20 minutes or so and saying “Thank you much, thank you very much!”

Watching as my boys came to the realization for the first time in their life that it really is more fun to give than to receive was the most priceless birthday gift I could have asked for.

Thank you for letting me share my joy with you. Hearing back from friends and family members with stories of how they blessed other friends and strangers on my birthday was quite possibly the most fun of all.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Kim in MN says

    I have enjoyed so many of your wonderful recipes and the stories that accompany them, but this is the most wonderful recipe ever! Happy Birthday, and thank you for sharing this sweet and moving story