I am all about traditions. Maybe this stems from my Catholic upbringing, but I love all kinds of traditions with my family. Bagels while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, muffins on Christmas morning, eating pigs in a blanket while watching the Westminster dog show. All of these have been so fun to develop, first with my husband, but now with our family of four.
Before I became a mom I started searching for ideas on how we could celebrate our kids’ birthdays and ways to develop traditions to mark the occasion. I loved my birthday as a child–probably because I shared it with my grandparents wedding anniversary, but also because it was a time people made you feel special and celebrated you!
For our family, we decided to have a big party for the kids’ birthday. They were both born in August, so we get a two-for-one with a joint party. I’m naturally an introvert, so at first this was somewhat anxiety-provoking, but my love of traditions and planning events, and my husband’s love of any excuse for a party took over. While a big party can be a lot of work (and money), I realized how important it was to not only celebrate each child’s day of birth and us becoming parents, but also to include those who have loved and supported all of us and become part of our tribe.
Our other birthday traditions are to take a picture on the front steps of our home on their birthday and to have a special treat after supper that evening. After birthday #1 we finalize their baby book and for each birthday after we complete the section of their birthday book. As they get older we’ll adjust with their preferences and ideas. I asked my fellow ICMB writers and friends what they do to celebrate their kids’ birthdays, and I shared them below.
Special Birthday Traditions
- For my child’s 13th birthday, we blew up 130 balloons and filled her bedroom while she slept. She was quite surprised when she woke up in the morning.
- We do a big party instead of gifts, and they get to choose the menu for dinner.
- We let the birthday person pick out a special sweet breakfast cereal (a luxury since we only have healthy kinds). I interview the birthday kid, writing down their favorites, goals for the future, and memories from that year. They also get to choose the cake–flavor, shape, and frosting–and I bake it from scratch to demonstrate my ridiculously mediocre cake-decorating skills!
- We start by taking a trip to the party store and pick out the party decorations for the birthday kid. We remind all the other non-birthday kids that it’s someone else’s special day, so they should help him/her pick out what HE/SHE likes for the party. Then, if all goes well, they each get to pick out 15 pieces of candy in the little baskets. (They are only 15 for $1 and they love picking them out and using the baskets.)
Their birthday is a YES Day: we agree to say YES to the birthday person’s requests.
- On their actual birthday, we take their picture by the tree outside our house. One of the birthday kid, then all kids, then the whole family. I love this because it reminds me to take pictures that actually have ME in them! Finally, I bake cupcakes for their birthday party. They pick out the color of frosting, and sprinkles, and I have a cupcake tree that we put them on. We always have their parties at our house, super low-key with family and close friends. There’s usually not an agenda, just eat and play in the back yard and have desserts/presents.
- First birthdays are a big extended family celebration. Their theme is based on their nursery theme with a matching outfit. For ages 2-4 birthday parties would be just grandparents at our home. For the fifth birthday they will spend the day with just mom and dad on the special outing for their actual day while other kids go with grandparents. We plan to take my daughter to the American Girl doll store!
- Homemade cake and ice cream! We have family-only parties. (We used to invite friends but it took away from the celebration and made it much more elaborate than necessary.) For older kids, they do a friends party. Last year he picked four buddies to take to UI rec center and Pizza Ranch.
Breakfast for birthdays are a pretty big deal for us. Then I tell them about how the day they were born!
- The birthday kid wakes up to their presents from parents on the kitchen table waiting for them. We have pancakes shaped like their number for breakfast, and they get to plan the menu for supper.
- We do supper out to eat then a fun activity. This last year it was Mexican food and the pumpkin patch!
- A themed party, yearly questions to see how their answers change over time, and a homemade cake.
Birthday kid gets to pick a restaurant they want to eat at and what type of dessert.
- We decorate their room after bedtime the night before so when they wake up in the morning it is a fun surprise! We wake them up by singing the Beatles birthday song! They also get to pick the menu for supper on their birthday and choose their cake for their birthday party from the big catalog at the bakery.
- I decorate the house after the kids go to bed so it’s decorated for the morning of their birthday. We eat birthday cake for breakfast, and I always buy them the number of birthday cards for the age they are turning.
No matter how big or small, birthdays are something to celebrate! How do you celebrate your kids’ birthdays?