Weddings, birthdays, engagements, baby showers, graduations – we’re all used to celebrating these milestones in our own lives as well as others. But what if we started to think outside the box when it comes to celebrating life milestones? What kind of impact would we have on diminishing societal pressures and expectations if we put just as much emphasis on moments that don’t seem to garner as much attention?
New data from leading online card and gift retailer Moonpig, looking at the alternative milestones people in Britain are celebrating, by taking a closer look at the alternative milestones on the rise & the moments fueling these trends of celebrating the unconventional moments in life.
According to the 2023 Pinterest Trend Report which looks at search data from a two-year period to predict upcoming trends, a breakout theme for 2023 was the ‘YOLO years’, as many Boomers and Gen X have planned epic bashes for major milestones.
The rise in alternative milestones as Brits combat ‘milestone anxiety’
In the fast-paced world we live in, celebrating everyday moments can often be overlooked. Research by Relate Charity found that ‘milestone anxiety’ is common amongst Millennials and Gen-Z, as they compare themselves and their achievements with others.
However, researchers such as Calodagh McCumiskey from Spiritual Health, advocate that we need to have more gratitude for the everyday moments. McCumiskey explains that celebratory events release feel-good dopamine endorphins inside our bodies which boost our mood and in turn enhance our chances of future success. By pausing and choosing to celebrate the ordinary alternative milestones, we’re appreciating and savoring everyday milestones that can be forgotten.
Moonpig analyzed Google search data to reveal the top eleven searched for alternative milestones people are celebrating:
The alternative milestones Brits are celebrating:
|Alternative Milestone Celebrated
|Total monthly search volume
Pet parties named the most in-demand alternative milestones to celebrate
Pets are often treated like children to their owners so it’s no surprise that many celebrate their birthdays as an event in itself, with Google searches for “how to throw a pet party” increasing by 75% in the last 12 months alone. In addition to this, new research by Moonpig found that ‘celebrating your dog’ received over 26,220 monthly searches with cat (23,380) and pet (4,030) in third and fifth place, and research by Tischman Pets found that celebrating a pet’s birthday helps our furry friend destress and bond with the owner.
“Celebrating our pets’ birthdays or adoption days can be fun and special for both owner and pet. This kind of celebration strengthens our emotional bond with our pets, as is a way of expressing gratitude and love for the companionship and joy they bring into our lives (even if they don’t understand why we’re celebrating!)” said Dr Paula Freedman from HumanKind Psychological Services, providing insight into why we celebrate pet milestones.
Divorce party ranks 2nd for the most popular alternative milestone to celebrate
In 2021, 113,505 divorces were granted in England and Wales which was a 9.6% increase compared with 2020. Despite not often being associated as a cause for celebration, more recently, the rise of divorce parties has increased with 26,220 searches each month from Brits on how to celebrate the event. This data suggests a growing trend & new attitude on how to commemorate this milestone moment, with many now considering it a time for celebrating a new chapter rather than mourning a closed one.
“We always try to offer our customers cards which are relevant and timely for any celebration, and are constantly adding to our “trending” range of cards which are designed in response to any trends or viral cultural moments that we think our customers will be engaging with,” said a Moonpig spokesperson.
“In a similar vein, as we’ve seen divorce parties growing in popularity, so too has the range that we have created to cater to this new celebratory moment in life, with cards including themes of self-empowerment, to pop cultural references about new beginnings. There’s a range of sentiments across these designs to send to your loved one during this transformative time.”
“The rise in celebrations of events like divorces or job losses might seem counterintuitive, but they hold significant psychological value. These celebrations can mark the end of a challenging phase and the beginning of a new chapter. They help in reframing a potentially negative experience into a positive one, emphasizing personal strength and the ability to move on to something greater. Celebrating these moments can aid in the healing process, providing closure and a sense of empowerment,” added Dr Paula.
Moving countries is a rising reason to celebrate with loved ones
A study analyzing the reasons why people move abroad found that 15% of people do so because of a new job that they have found, followed by 10% being recruited internationally and 10% moving to their partner’s home country for love. Moving countries is a monumental life change and event so it comes as no surprise celebrating this with loved ones is becoming more popular with 4,600 searches every month.
Plant parents are celebrating their leafy children
7 in 10 millennials call themselves a plant parent and 43% of people with houseplants said looking after them improved their wellbeing. Throwing your plant a party is becoming a rising milestone with data from Moonpig showing there are on average 2,000 monthly searches for how to celebrate their leafy friends.
“Celebrating unconventional milestones, like the end of a significant project or overcoming a personal challenge, can help us recognize our personal strengths and adaptability. They also allow us to find joy and meaning in experiences not typically celebrated, broadening our perspective on what constitutes a ‘successful’ or ‘happy’ life,” said Dr. Paula about this trend.
Moonpig spoke to a range of individuals who have celebrated alternative milestones including:
● Pet’s first birthday
● Farewell Party
● End of Roaccutane party
● Redundancy party
Puppy’s First Birthday
Here’s what dog owner Alex Hickson said about celebrating his puppy’s first birthday with his partner:
“As a gay couple navigating and wondering how we can start our family, adopting our puppy Milo in 2021 completely changed our lives. The beauty of flexible working has meant that with our alternate office days, one of us has always been with Milo since he was a puppy and he’s the centre of our world! My partner’s sister has 2 spaniels and we have friends we regularly walk Milo with, and when it came to Milo’s first birthday we planned a party for our family, friends and dogs. It was a chance to celebrate the huge impact Milo’s had on our lives, spend time with our dog-loving friends and family and was an excuse to celebrate something new for us.”
Bye B*tch Party
Brittany Deller originally from Australia wanted to celebrate her move across the pond by throwing a final blowout, “Bye B*tch Party”.
“I knew I always wanted to move countries but making the move from Australia to the UK was going to be a monumental life change for me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my friends and family for a while and wanted to make sure I could have one last celebration and be able to say farewell to them,” Brittany explained about why she wanted to commemorate moving countries.
“The whole party was themed around me which included cookies and mugs with my face on for my loved ones to take home as a way to remember me when I’m 10,000 miles away. I even printed out a cardboard copy of myself so that even if I couldn’t attend all the important events in Australia, my friends and family would make sure I made it. So far the cutout has been to a friend’s 30th birthday party and a family wedding. The party was a great way to mark the end of an era in Australia but marked the start of a new journey for me!”
End of Roaccutane Party
Alex Evans threw an end of Roaccutane party, which was Mean Girls themed.
“I had cystic acne for years and tried an array of different medications in an attempt to fix it, none of which worked and after nearly three years I was prescribed Roaccutane. Although I was happy to be prescribed this medication, the side effects which accompany the medication aren’t so great. I suffered from nose bleeds daily, joint aches, flakey dry skin and peeling lips,” she explained.
“I avoided having much of a social life while taking the medication as the side effects had a knock-on effect on my confidence. When I finished the treatment I knew I needed to celebrate, planning this celebration gave me something to look forward to and motivated me to persevere despite the side effects. I decided to throw an end-of-roaccutane party, which was Mean Girls themed after my favorite film. The party helped me realize how far I had come and that the perseverance was so worth it for the end result. All my friends and family loved the party and complimented me on how more confident and happy I had now become.”
Redundancies are a very difficult time for those who have experienced them. Charlotte Burr and Michelle Bibbington decided to spin a difficult scenario into a mark of new beginnings as they threw a redundancy party.
“We both worked at our previous jobs for 18 years and we had a feeling redundancies would be happening. When we were both made redundant we didn’t want that time in our lives to be associated with negativity so we decided to make the most of a bad situation and celebrate. We threw a redundancy party with our friends to celebrate a chapter of our lives closing instead of being beaten down by the bad news,” the two friends explained.
“This is now a time in my life that I will associate with positivity and fun rather than hardship. I’d definitely throw more parties to celebrate milestones in my life as I think we should all celebrate more in our lives,” they added.
There are many moments in life that are worth celebrating beyond what we expect. As we head into 2024, think of some milestones that you may be approaching and consider throwing a party or commemorating yourself in some way. And top it off with a gift card from Moonpig, of course. Life often becomes so busy that we forget how much we have endured or accomplished. Let’s commit to thinking outside the box and celebrating ourselves more often!