Birthday Surprise Setup

How to Create a Fun, Easy Birthday Set-Up for Your Loved Ones

Hi everyone! How many of you enjoy celebrating your loved ones birthdays? For us, this has been one of our most favored traditions throughout the years in college. Living with multiple girls under one household meant it was always someone’s birthday next.

As roommates, we always wanted to go all out with birthday decor to make our girl feel extra special! There’s nothing like seeing their shocked facial expressions with all the effort we put into decorating our shared space, and of course followed with some celebratory birthday shots. Given the amount of comments and questions we have received about where and how we set-up birthday decor, we thought it would be easy to let you all know our tips on The Twins of Travel. Quarantine or not, we hope this post gives you ideas on how to create a fun, easy birthday set-up for your loved ones.

the twins of travel birthday set up
Check out our Pinterest birthday board for more inspo and how we’ve done it in the past!

How to Create a Surprise Birthday Area at Your Place

If you follow us on Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media platform you might have seen our posts before showing our birthday decoration displays. If not, here are a few shots of what we are talking about:

birthday set up


Okay, so how do we do this? There is really no secret to it other than finding a good spot in your place that has space to put everything all together. It’s as simple as clearing a table and wall space to set up the birthday decorations. Also, it helps to find a place where you can set-up in private without the surprise getting ruined!

What To Give As a Birthday Present

We’re no gift experts here but based on our experiences, you can’t go wrong with the simple things that make your loved one happy. For example, grab their favorite snacks, favorite alcohol, or any type of knick knack that you think they’d enjoy. Usually, we typically like to decorate a wall and a table filled with goodies! Here are some quick and easy ideas we have done:

  • Homemade Gift Ideas:

    • Bake something (cake, cookies, cupcakes, brownies)
    • Set up a breakfast bar + mimosas (include the birthday person’s favorite breakfast meal)

kobe birthday year

  • Party-themed Gifts:

    • Make Before & After Birthday Hangover Kits (this is a must if she is turning 21!)
    • If you are celebrating elsewhere or on vacation, use the location as the theme for the decorations

21 birthday before and after bucket

Example: We recently celebrated our best friend’s birthday in Palm Springs, California. So we definitely went for the desert sun vibe.

palm springs birthday

  • Thoughtful Gift Ideas:

    • Make a photo book. This has always been so thoughtful and fun to create! Also this is the best cost-effective gift. CVS & Walgreens offer these photo books ranging anywhere from$20-$30 depending on how many pages you want. You can even do it online!
    • Homesick candles
    • Journals
    • Vinyls
    • An art piece or print of their favorite place – we love Desenio

birthday display gifts

  • Custom Gift Ideas:

There is nothing more thoughtful than a customized clever gift! The best part about these types of gifts is that they don’t need to be anything big. A simple knick knack is all it takes to make your loved one smile. To give you an idea, we are weirdly obsessed with Timothée Chalamet, so our lovely friend got us customized mugs with his face all over them. Or as HUGE GAME OF THRONES FANS, we couldn’t be without a famous Valar Morghulis shirt.

timothee chalamet mug

Other custom items can be:

    • Customized mugs, shot glasses
    • Customized maps – we love Mapiful
    • Customized puzzle
    • Customized candles
    • Customized T-shirts, socks
  • Health and Wellness Ideas:

    • Aromatherapy lotions, essential oils, scented sleeping masks, diffuser
    • Self love and empowerment books
    • A massage gift certificate
  • Travel:

    •  passport holder, travel pods, travel size kit for toiletries
    • an experience (winery, skydiving, anything in between)

Where Do I Shop for Birthday Gifts?

Now you’re probably wondering where to get all of these decorations. Here are a few our favorite places to shop:

    • Etsy: this has been our favorite place to shop for birthdays! There are so many shops that offer custom t-shirts, shot glasses; etc. We recommend doing this at least 2-3 weeks in advance because you never know where this seller is located and shipping can take a while. Play it safe and order ahead of time.
    • Amazon: No surprise here! Amazon has everything you need for affordable prices. This is your #1 Go-To spot for online shopping
    • Nasty Gal: If you’re looking for vulgar and funny quote t-shirts, then Nasty Gal is your place. We’ve gotten some unique t-shirts here for less than $30! 
    • Francesca’s Boutique:  perfect knick knacks if you enjoy going to the stores instead of online shopping
    • Target: for affordable big-sized balloons

Setting Up on Birthday Day

Now that the hard part is done, it’s time to decorate! Typically, we like to lock the birthday person in their room until the setup is complete. This always makes things more exciting! Decorate the  wall or table and lay out all of the gifts, goodies, streamers, balloons; etc. Once everything is complete, get the speaker out, play a famous birthday song, go get the birthday person, and show them what’s up!

delaney birthday set up

A Surprise Birthday Set-UP

Birthdays are always meant to be special! Personally, we love to make our friends/family feel so loved and special on their birthday. It has been a multi-year tradition for us and our friends to go above and beyond for each other’s birthdays. Quarantine or not, we hope these ideas and photos of our setups will help you create your fun easy birthday set-up for your loved ones.



  1. Delaney

    One of my favorite things we’ve done throughout the years!!


    1. mirandamelissavargasgmailcom

      @delaney aw, us too!


  2. Frances Ellington

    Love it!
    Everything you do I absolutely love it!


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