The milestone birthday: to mark the date or go low-key?
Actress Kate Winslet will spend her 40th this October lazing in her bikini, but when it comes to landmark birthdays, is it best to keep it simple or celebrate in style? Arlene Harris asks three readers...
Kate Winslet is no stranger to the limelight and, undoubtedly, has attended more than her fair share of glamorous parties. So when the Hollywood actress announced that she is likely to spend her upcoming 40th birthday lounging around in a bikini, it didn't come as much of a surprise.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, a birthday is a special occasion and one that most of us like to acknowledge with, at the very least, a night on the tiles.
So we asked three women how they are planning to celebrate their next landmark birthday or what they did for their last big bash.
Sam Tsan will be 30 on the April 30. She lives in Foxrock and works as a make-up artist and counter manager for Charlotte Tilbury in Brown Thomas.
Although she isn't keen on getting older, she made plans to mark her 30th birthday in style with a classic LBD and both a family dinner and a raucous party.
"My 30th is April 30, but I celebrated on April 25 as working in retail, I always have to ensure that I have the weekend off before I plan anything like this.
For years, I always thought of 30 as being really old and scary, but I'm exactly where I want to be in my life, love and career, so I'm actually excited about it now.
I had family dinner in Izakya on George's Street as they do a mean cocktail and tasty nibbles.
Then, for later on, I had a room booked in the South William on South William Street - the lads who run it are great, play amazing tunes and, again, serve delish cocktails. My friends MullJoy did DJ for a while, so the tunes were mighty also.
I expected about 30 people and naturally there were more stragglers who followed after 11pm.
I wanted somewhere that would suit both my family and friends, so these two places were perfect and there was good vibes all around.
I wore black, like I always do, and with lots of eye-liner, and it was just a lovely chillled night.
In general, I don't like the idea of celebrating getting old, so this was the first big one I have organised. But it turned out to be a great excuse to get everyone I love out for one night to have fun.
I didn't have any real expectations of the night - just food, drink, tunes and all my favourite faces and that's how it worked out so I will remember my 30th fondly for all those reasons."
Deirdre Sullivan is married to John and lives in Walkinstown with their three children - Sean (15), Cian (12) and Cara Rose (6). She runs www.flowerschoolireland.com with her sister Janette and while she is turning 45 in the near future, she remembers the big bash she had for her 40th.
"Both myself and John celebrate our birthdays a week apart - with me being the older of the two of us, which he likes to regularly remind me of.
Coming up to our 40th birthday, we had discussed going away, but as Cara was only one at the time, we decided that doing a big trip away was not an option. It was too expensive to bring the kids and hard to leave them at home for a long time. So we decided to have a party.
Growing up, we always had birthday parties and even now my mum and dad still have a birthday cake for me with candles to blow out. We both had a 21st, but neither of us did anything big for our 30th as Sean, our eldest, was just a baby, so for the big 40 we splashed out.
We decided on a James Bond Casino Black-Tie Party. I hired a company to organise the party and they were brilliant - they booked the Berkley Court, as it was known then, and decorated the room.
On arrival, guests had to walk up a rope-lined walk-way and were frisked by a big huge burly security man.
Most of the ladies had toy guns in their tights and each table was decked out with black table clothes and I had bought chocolate playing cards and roulette chips for the tables. Also on arrival, each guest was given a certain amount of chips to play with (no money exchanged hands, all just for fun). The MC on the night was amazing and kept the crowd entertained.
I had hired in Shane Black, the illusionist, who circled the tables and shocked even the most sceptical of people.
My big dilemma coming up for the party was what I would wear, so I decided to surprise all my guests by slimming down and wearing my wedding dress. We had got married in a December so it wasn't your typical wedding dress as it was gold - but I wish I could fit into it now.
The party was the best thing we ever did and our friends and family still talk about it. We had a fantastic night. As usual, it went too fast, but we have lots of photos and videos of the night to remember.
Life is not a dress rehearsal, you have to live each day and enjoy having your friends and family around - so in my opinion, birthdays are milestones that need to be celebrated from your first to your last.
I think for our 50th birthday, I would like to do that holiday - go to a real casino in Las Vegas and helicopter over the Grand Canyon. I might even slim back down into my wedding dress again.
Our 45th birthdays are coming up in a few weeks' time and we will spend them with the kids, probably with a cake that Cian has made and lots of sweets and lots of candles to blow out. It will be just as nice."
Kerensa D'Arcy- Barr
Kerensa D'Arcy-Barr has three children - Kelvin (21), Nora, (19) and Ollie (10). Her husband works in Nigeria and comes home every two months while she works as a full-time artist and student of art history, printing and ceramics.
She was 50 in November and far from being stressed about her advancing age, she embraced it with a series of celebratory events.
"I felt really fit and fabulous when I turned 50 last year. In the lead up to my birthday, I had got my kit off for a dip in the nip and was photographed for Trevor Hart's exhibition called Bare, which was hung in the RHA gallery.
For the past five years, I've gone olive picking on the east coast of Spain for my local health shop, Natures Gold, as they own the farm and the olives are picked to produce a delicious organic olive oil. So, I kicked off my 50th birthday celebrations by convincing three of my girlfriends to come along for the experience.
We had a lovely time and the physical work was very rewarding. After a week, we all got the train to Barcelona where my sister and another friend joined us for another week and we had a wonderful time exploring the Gothic Quarter, everything to do with Gaudi and lots of lovely Rioja.
The weekend before the big day, I went to a hotel with nine women to celebrate. It was like the hen night I never had, leading a conga line through the foyer at 5am with a bride and groom hanging on the back. Also, on the eve of my birthday, my mam and two sisters brought me to another lovely hotel and spa so they could wake up with me on my 50th birthday.
For my actual party, my sister Anna reserved the back of Mrs Robinsons in Greystones, which comes with a dance floor and 80s disco, so our only expense there was our drinks.
Initially, she was trying to keep it as a surprise, but realised I needed to know so as I could invite whomever I wanted.
One of my friends, Gizz, flew over from Los Angeles for my party and with a few others, we had tapas across the road first before hitting the dance floor. We had a ball and, afterwards, I was like a 10-year-old with my big black bin bag, collecting my pressies. We ended up back in my house, dancing 'til 6am with the die-hards.
As a birthday gift, Gizz wanted me to come visit her in LA, so I have only this week returned after 16 days with Nora and Ollie.
We continued the party in San Francisco, where we stayed with my cousins and raised a few post birthday glasses, and again in LA with my brother. I am now planning on celebrating until next November.
I heard it said that 50 is the old age of youth and the youth of old age, so I'm enjoying my second childhood.
I will always celebrate my birthdays in future: I didn't have a 21st, 30th or 40th due to different circumstances (including babies), so I say to 60, bring it on. But not too quickly, mind you."