Birthday parties

Birthday parties

Listen to a conversation about birthday parties between three friends to practise and improve your listening skills.


Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


Marco: The big four-oh, Charles!

Dora: Oh!! It's your 40th!

Marco: Are you planning a party?

Charles: Nah, I never celebrate birthdays. I don't see why this one should be any different.

Dora: Why not?

Charles: First, you know me, I can't be bothered with the hassle. It's my birthday but I'm supposed to do all the hard work – contacting people, finding a venue, organising food, worrying who will show up. No, thanks.

Marco: Ah, someone's angling for a surprise party, eh, Dora? 

Charles: Marco, stop! Even worse. Having to pretend to be delighted 50 people just sprang up in your living room when you thought you were coming home to put your feet up. Probably having a heart attack at the shock.

Dora: Note to self: never to organise you a surprise party. OK then!

Marco: You've got to do something, though, Charles. It's your 40th.

Charles: Why? What's so great about getting old?

Dora: Er … still being here to have your birthday?

Marco: Yeah, 'Ageing is better than the alternative', as they say.

Dora: Yeah, and it's true – so why not celebrate?

Charles: You guys can have parties for your 40ths if you like. I just don't go in for that kind of self-indulgent attention-seeking.

Dora: Wow, that's a bit harsh! I had a huge bash for my 30th. And you came. And enjoyed yourself if I recall. Are you trying to say I was just doing it for attention?

Charles: Not exactly … but … well … at least a small part of you must have been.

Dora: Remind me not to invite you to my 40th then, so you won't have to put up with my huge ego while I feed you and provide free drinks all night because I thought we were friends. 

Charles: I meant, er, I mean, not all attention-seeking is bad. It's just not my style is all.

Dora: Whereas it is mine?

Marco: Anyway ...

Charles: I didn't say that!

Dora: Er, yes, yes, you did. You said celebrating birthdays is self-indulgent and ...

Marco: Guys, guys! Who knew birthdays was such a touchy subject? Speaking of which, I have to sort out my nine-year-old’s party the weekend after next.

Charles: Now, that's a party I'd love to organise.

Marco: Really? It's a nightmare. It's not like when we were kids. Now you have to take them all rock-climbing or hire a make-up artist to come and teach them how to look like a zombie or a film star. And there'd be trouble if someone else in school had the same kind of party and your kid gets accused of copying. That fear you said about no one turning up? It's a million times worse when you're scared your kid is going to have no one turn up.

Charles: Is there that much pressure?

Marco: Yeah, it's crazy. Last year, I got it right with a cinema trip. Simple, but always a winner. But we can't do the same thing again apparently. It says it in my 'Official Laws for 9-Year-Olds' book.

Charles: That's a pity. I've got so many fond memories of birthday parties as a kid. Party food and games and watching cartoons until your parents arrived.

Marco: Trust me, your parents were stressing out!

Dora: At the risk of restarting the argument, when do you think you stopped enjoying birthdays then?

Charles: I dunno really … somewhere around moving away from home and getting a job and being a grown-up. I don't mean birthdays are immature. I mean, it takes a while to make new friends and so birthdays just become more low-key and it's drinks with a couple of friends or dinner or something. And I just got out of the habit, I guess. Maybe I just need to have a kids-style party like we used to have! Play musical chairs and eat pineapple and cheese on sticks and all that.

Dora: Very retro. I bet people would love that.

Marco: Yeah, they would. Well, I would anyway. And maybe it'll catch on with my kids and it'll start a new party trend.

Charles: You've got me thinking … it's not a terrible idea. Maybe I will have a party this year!


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Submitted by Anamyszka on Mon, 18/09/2023 - 08:07


At this point I'm obligated to celebrate my birthday. I recently had a party I didn't want to have, but my mother said I'll get over it and have a party. She organized everything, ordered all the things I didn't want and invited all the family members. Then yelled at me fo ruining 'her party' because I didn't want to sleep over at their house. The best thing about the party was that I got new socks. The older I get the more I want to dissapear for my birthday, buy flight tickets somewhere and just leave.

Submitted by Roisingg on Wed, 09/08/2023 - 11:35


Even after I grew up I still celebrated my birthday but not with my family anymore just with my friends and in a small gathering, I feel this is better and much more fun.

Submitted by Shinatoben_shonen on Thu, 27/10/2022 - 16:07


When I turned 16, I stopped doing birthday parties because I felt that it became very repetitive and a thing for little kids. I just stoped celebrating my birthdays, but I still go every summer to my parents´ house to celebrate my birthday, normally just for seeing them and my brothers, because three years ago I moved to another city.

Submitted by Ehsan on Fri, 07/10/2022 - 20:33


no, unfortunately I live in a social where we don't birthday when we are old.

Submitted by Brian O'Donnell on Tue, 23/08/2022 - 14:18


I didn't use to celebrate birthdays when I was a kid because my childhood was bleak and gloomy. I have celebrated my birthdays since 22. I eat taste food and get pleasant gifts.

Submitted by alexiamontes2004 on Fri, 01/07/2022 - 01:54


Do you celebrate your birthday?
If I celebrate it, it is one of my favorite dates. I really like to organize my birthday parties.

Celebrate birthdays its so nasty because in my opinion its so annoying and bothered and i just can’t will endurance my birthday

Submitted by jmajo on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 16:43


Although I used to do it when I was younger, I don't celebrate my birthdays any more because in my culture it has became an excuse to gather people to chat, eat and drink, I think everybody should value it's own existence at it's own sweet way every day and not at certain day in the year.

Thanks for the episode.
Great site!

Submitted by alevegaa on Fri, 10/06/2022 - 04:44


I think my birthday is the most special day for the year, I usually celebrate my birthday with my family and friends

Submitted by SusyBP on Tue, 29/03/2022 - 04:24


Well, if it's up to me to organize the party, I prefer low-key meetings with family or very close friends, since I consider myself a very shy person and I don't want to be the center of attention. Also, I am very worried about people feeling bored or uncomfortable in my house. In fact, I feel more comfortable organizing other people's parties. However, I love when others prepare something for me, even if it is simple, like my last party that was a surprise party that my boyfriend organized with my best friend and honestly I did not expect it and it felt incredible.