3 years ago: I had birthday drinks at one of the Belgo's and one of my party bought one of their 32-shot sticks. They did make it home, but they also vomited into a saucepan.
Last year: a boy I was seeing took me to the Savoy for lunch and then to the top of the Shard. All lovely, except my ex upset me that morning so I had one or two teary moments throughout the day!
Last year of uni: a couple of my friends arranged a surprise party for me, though told me about it beforehand and then only invited a handful of people. One of the most awkward events I've ever been to.
One year however, I had the perfect birthday in the perfect venue. I had decided that year that I did want to mark my birthday but to save it being a huge fuss I just picked one of my favourite bars in London, Bedford and Strand, booked a couple of tables and just told people to turn up at some point in the evening. Everyone I wanted to turn up did (and most of them on time), nobody drank too much, nobody cried, there was ample space and I had a lovely lovely time.
For me, birthdays are always a potential nightmare and it goes to show that sometimes the best nights are the ones you don't plan too hard for.