“Mama – why do we have birthday parties?”
“Well, we love you so much and we’re so very glad you were born and so we celebrate that day.”
“Oh… and so we can have cake?”
10 Terrific Birthday Traditions
1.Have a compliment time.
What a great way to surround a birthday kid (or grown-up) with love!
Kelly: Our favorite birthday tradition is the compliment time we do on the birthday person’s birthday dinner. We go around and around saying all the things we love about the person and they just accept it they can’t say no or I’m not that great, they can just say thank you.
LHB: Blow up a ton of balloons and write something special about them on each one, then fill the hallway outside their bedroom door with the balloons so when they wake up in the morning and walk out, they’re greeted with a really special start to their day
2. Have a special way to wake up.
It could be as simple as singing happy birthday right away or inviting your child to snuggle with you and look at baby pictures first thing. Here are a couple more wake up traditions:
Elizabeth: We start every birthday by waking up the birthday boy or girl with a “Long John” or doughnut with a birthday candle and the “happy birthday” song. We always take a picture with the birthday boy or girl and their Long John (which has lead to some crazy morning hair pictures)!
Eileen: When my kids go to sleep the night before their birthday, I’ll decorate their doorway with streamers and balloons so when they open the door in the morning they have a whole celebration to walk through. My teenage son is starting to lose his patience for this little tradition LOL!
3. Let your child pick dinner…the cake…breakfast:
My kids pick what kind of cake they’ll have. One year we had a stack of marshmallows (which we took out back and roasted)! One year my son asked for a “Strawberry Elephant Cake” which was only accomplished because I had a tiny elephant cookie cutter and cut sliced strawberries into the elephant shape.
Barbara: “The younger grand kids go with me and we pick out a cake to bake and decorate together. I than cook their favorite meal. My 19 yr old daughter and I always buy a Dairy Queen ice cream cake and just the two of us eat the entire cake. It does take us a few days to eat the cake. We do this on her birthday and on mine.”
Jessica: The big deal at my house is that the birthday kid gets to eat anything he wants for dinner. The little ones are usually easy… Like Mac and Cheese. But the older ones are always after homemade sushi:)
Sarah A birthday crown and the Seuss birthday book, which we only wear and read on that day. A special breakfast of whatever he chooses. And cupcakes!
4. Make a memory keepsake of the year
These are the sort of traditions that stress me out when I think “But I didn’t start when they were a baby!” Or “What if I do this a couple years and then not on others??” But really, even doing these things only one or two times adds some very special keepsakes. My son will have a letter from me from his first birthday, and a list of questions he answered this year for his eighth, with just pictures in between, and that’s fine. I trust he’ll like the little gems he gets.
Rhonda: We put a picture of our son in a black frame with a very large matting around it. We display it at the party and ask all of our guests to write a small note to our little man. He now has a small collection of frames displayed in his room with special memories written on each one!
Kim: I take photos from each month and special occasions and put them in a collage poster (costco 7 dollars) I hang up the ones from the earlier years at the party too. It is a simple and easy way to view each year. And the guests always love to see them.
5. Have a Treasure Hunt!
How I set up a treasure hunt: I write the last clue first that leads to the present and hide the present there, then I write the next clue before that and hide that clue, then the one before that – working backwards until I have a beginning clue to put into an envelope. This year we gave our son a Magic Set (Amazon affilaite) (perfect for an 8 year old, he’s been too cute with it so far…), so I had fun with the magic theme by making his clues on the backs of playing card. It doesn’t take long. And if you don’t want to write clues you can also try the fun hot/cold idea below.
Do you have golden birthdays? When you turn the same age as the day of your birthday, like turning 8 on the 8th?
Rachel: I have a treasure hunt game for them to find their presents in the morning…Eg…”go to the sweetest place in the house”…they would then find the next clue near the sugar bowl..it would then have another clue etc. etc. I would do this about 10 times before the final reveal of where the presents are. Sometimes there would be presents along the way with the next clue taped to it.
Megan: My Mom started playing hot cold with my gifts. She would hide them all over the house. I used to love this and it makes the opening of gifts last longer. I’m excited to do this with my son when he’s older.
6. Make a birthday crown
This can be made of fabric or felt (you can find adorable fabric crowns on Etsy.) Or you can simply make one out of paper. It could even be a birthday party activity – you cut out the crowns and let the kids decorate.
7. Recite a special birthday chant.
Maybe you sing Happy Birthday, maybe not, but what if your family has their own twist on this tradition?
Kim: I don’t know but I’ve been told, Someone here is ____years old. Bad news is we sing off key! Good news is we sing for free! Happy (happy) Birthday (birthday) Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!
Mary Price My family has a tradition that’s at least five generations old. After singing Happy Birthday and before blowing out the candles the whole family recites the following poem: “Many happy returns to the day of thy birth, many seasons of joy be given, and may our dear Father prepare you on earth for a beautiful birthday in Heaven.” Then we clap and chant 1…2…3…etc, up to the celebrant’s age. (It’s a lot of clapping at a grandparent’s birthday!)
8. Have special decorations just for birthdays.
We have a fabric birthday banner we hang every year. It’s come with us to parks and grandparent’s houses. You can find a birthday bunting like this one and hang it up at each birthday for a sweet tradition.
9. Make a special event that’s just for your family.
Traditions should come out of what your family really loves – don’t continue things that don’t work. Your family could enjoy something as small as a hike, a bowling trip, or as big as a trip to Hawaii, but they should suit your family, not what your friends or in-laws love.
Helen I don’t know if we will keep this up, but our current tradition (started at The beginning of last year) is a family trip bowling and then out for cake on the afternoon of the persons birthday… Ds1 was 3 when we started this and we did it for all family members… (Me, dh and him so far)…
Jennifer: The 10th bday is big in our family. You can only add a digit 2x in your life, 10 & 100. We take a big trip somewhere none of us has ever been before. We start talking about it when they turn 8. Have to make a decision when they turn 9 so mom & dad can make plans and save some money. For my son’s 10th birthday we went to Honolulu, HI. It takes lots of planning but is so much fun. My 6 yr old is already thinking about where he wants to go. Can’t wait to see where we end up.
10. Embrace Calamity.
Some of the best birthday traditions are born out birthday disasters. One time when we were kids my mom was sick in bed on my birthday. We had birthday parties on the bed for years after that because it was so much fun.
Barb: For something that became just a silly family tradition, one year we forgot candles on someone’s birthday. My husband went and got his big red Mag-lite & ‘illuminated’ the cake that way (the bbq grill lighter has also been used) but that has become the family tradition. No candles — a flashlite or lighters
Add your own tradition! What delights your kids on their birthdays? Scroll down to leave a comment.
More ideas for making birthday memories: