Mostly, it's easy to ignore the march of time. The day-to-day stuff — bills, work, everything else — are stultifying, and the realities of advancing years fade into the background. But on one glorious (ahem) day each year, there's no escaping your impending dotage.

And that day, my friends, is your birthday.

As someone whose recently "celebrated" a late-40-something birthday, I can testify to its vicious bite.

There was much drinking to dull the pain, and lashings of "good cheer" ... underpinned by a sense of unease. Presents were given (mainly consciousness-altering, bottled ones), hugs were exchanged, and condolences shared.

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Only a few more years until official oldness.

Childhood memories (albeit fading) cast birthdays in a sepia glow of 1970s innocence.

Waking up at 6am to jump on my exhausted parent's bed, parcels laid in front of me, paper torn and whoops of joy issued. As the years clocked up, the joy receded. By 40, I was over the whole sorry thing.

Birthdays as you age are difficult affairs. Presents no longer hold their sway.

I, for one, don't want more stuff. I have everything I need.

Then there is the forced socialising, and the platitudes: "Many happy returns!" (not as many as their used to be.)

My dream birthday would be a day in bed with no human interaction at all. A day to wallow in the luxury of nothing-to-do.

Other people differ in their attitudes to birthdays as they age. I have friends who are salivating at the thought of their 50th. They plan to celebrate decadently, and have seemingly no qualms about the half-century milestone.

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In that spirit, and in an attempt to be jollier about birthdays future, I've decided to make a list of best ways to celebrate as you get older.

Here's hoping you find some inspiration here. If not, something to ease the pain.

Eating out

I can't generally afford to pay $500 for a meal, but maybe I should start saving for next year, and have a massive splurge. Fine wine gets better with age, so spending an evening soaked in luxuriously expensive aged booze and delicious food might help highlight the positive aspects of ageing. Tiny portions, a massive bill: it is sure to be memorable. Plus, you can Instagram your enviable meal, thereby creating the illusion of prosperity and leisure.

Cin cin!

Lying in

At the other end of the spectrum, spending the day in bed also has its merits. Lazing in an old dressing gown, reading all day, while people bring you food ... bliss. Not only does this involve zero effort, it will also act as a nice taster for the sedentary years to come. Good to get the practice in early.

Lying down all day and eatingI love Uber Eats. Sure, it's morally questionable, but hey, you can't argue with all that food, delivered straight to your door.

My dream birthday would be a day in bed with no human interaction at all. A day to wallow in the luxury of nothing-to-do.

How about a birthday where you lie in bed all day and eat?

You could get breakfast delivered from the local hipster cafe, lunch from a fusion sushi joint, then dinner from your fave Vietnamese eatery. And if you lay down a whole bunch of towels on the sheets, you can (hopefully) keep the bed clean between meals.

Natural birthday

If your birthday is in summer, it's a nice opportunity to enjoy the warm weather outside. But make sure the mates you take are older than you. You don't want downy-skinned 20-somethings ruining your day. Just gather those with more wrinkles than you, and totter along to the beach. Preferably a beach where no one wears bikinis or is younger than 40.

A cold, windswept beach would be best. A place to contemplate the void.

Or you could just stay in bed.

Day spa

On a happier note, what could beat a day spa as a birthday gift to self? There is an abundance of age-defying facials available, plus cellulite-beating massages and callous-busting foot scrubs. Then there's the scented candles, the herbal teas, the paper underwear. It's a genuine treat, and it may even make you look younger for half an hour. You never know. Or you could try Botox? Or even schedule a tiny surgery?

Cultural event

Opera, orchestras, movies during the day at boutique cinemas. The average age at any of these events is likely to be 70, so depending on your vintage, you'll either be among your peers, or a babe in the woods. It might also be a good place to pick up a sophisticated older man or woman, if you're single. And there is always plenty of wine to be had.

At your age, wine is an essential component of any successful birthday. Unless you have liver or heart disease. Which is quite likely. If that's the case, stick to water.

So, there you have it. Some excellent tips for enjoying birthdays as you get older. You will undoubtedly have your own ideas about how to spend time on your "special" day; but if not, it's been my pleasure to help you out.

But I guess we better end of a slightly more serious note.

All joking aside, there are other (more positive) ways to view birthdays. I have a friend who nearly died last year, but didn't. When her birthday rolled around earlier this year, I felt an immense sense of gratitude.

Birthdays are an acknowledgement that we are still here. Maybe we should view birthdays like money: the higher the figure, the more fun you can have?

Ageing is hard work, but it's better than the alternative. Or so the saying goes.