I grew up in a home where birthdays were simple, yet extremely special, personal, and fun. Without fail, every year I would begin my birthday by being woken up by my entire family coming into my room and singing me happy birthday. They would sing happy birthday, jump on my bed to wake me up, and my mom always had a little gift for me. I then got to choose not only breakfast, but every meal – and I could have whatever I wanted! I didn’t have to do any chores, didn’t have to help with dishes, and I always got pumpkin pie and boysenberry pie – my favorites. And of course, my parents always got me a few gifts.
But, perhaps what was most memorable and significant about the birthdays in my home growing up was that Birthday’s were a family day. Some of my fondest memories growing up were simply sitting around the dinner table with my parents and siblings just talking and laughing. And then, we would always gather in the family room and just play games. As I reflect back, perhaps birthday’s were so special – not necessarily because of the food, gifts, attention, or even having the day off – it was certainly because of the fact that birthday’s were a family day, and I got to just be with those I love most – my family.
My hope is that the 15 ideas below will help serve as ideas to start fun and meaningful birthday traditions in your family. As is obvious, there are so many more ideas than just these 15 – but it is a start. Regardless of which one’s you implement, the importance is to be consistent and ensure birthday’s become not only a special day for the child whose birthday it is, but also that birthday’s become a ‘family day.’
1) ‘Special’ Plate: Designate a plate that will be used only on birthdays. You can buy one or make your own – but make it ‘special.’
2) Choose a Meal: The person whose birthday it is gets to choose what they want for their ‘Birthday Dinner!’ It can be one meal – or better yet – ALL meals that day!
3) ‘Morning Surprise’: Wake up the person whose birthday it is by singing them ‘Happy Birthday’ in bed. Give them a gift first thing in the morning!
4) No Work: The birthday child does not have to do any chores, work, or help with dishes, etc. on their birthday. Just a day of relaxation and fun!
5) ‘I Love You Game’: At dinner, everyone in the family will go around the table and say one or two things they love about that family member (whose birthday it is).
6) Breakfast in Bed: Every year, the person whose birthday it is gets breakfast in bed!
7) Decorate Room / House: Buy some balloons and decorate the house or child’s room whose birthday it is.
Birthday Letter: Each year, write a personal letter to your child and give it to them on their birthday. Tell them why you love them, why you are proud of them, write memories of them from the past year, etc. (Make copies and save/collect them in case the child loses them J
9) Birthday Present Scavenger Hunt: Hide all the presents you got your child around the house, yard, etc. Then, create a scavenger hunt for the child to find the presents.
10) Individual Birthday Dinner/Date: If you have more than once child, spend the birthday as a family. But then on another night that week, go out to dinner with just the parent(s) and the child whose birthday it is – an individual ‘special’ night for just them. (Let the child choose the restaurant they want to go to). Maybe an idea is to get the child out of school early and go out to eat (kids always love getting out of school!)
11) Birthday Cake Breakfast: Be creative and do things different. Mix up ingredients for a chocolate cake and make chocolate waffles. Bake a cake for breakfast – let the child decorate it. Have ice cream, cookies, or brownies – whatever. Hey, it’s their birthday … why not!
12) Yearly Growth: Establish a portion of a wall in the house as the ‘growth wall.’ Each year, mark how tall the child is to show their growth and change (take a picture of the child each year also to show how they change year to year).
13) Stay up Late: Whosever birthday it is, they get to stay up late. They can watch a movie, play with friends, have a party, or just play games with the family (thus, allow the other kids to stay up too, if applicable).
14) Birthday Table Cloth: Each child will have their own table cloth (needs to be white, to draw on). Then, each birthday, it will be pulled out and used for dinner. Each family member will write a few things on it every year – why they love the person whose birthday it is, a funny or significant memory from the last year, etc.
15) Birthday’s are Family Days: Spend birthdays as a family. Have a fun family game night. Play games, watch a movie together, tell stories, share past birthday memories, etc. Just have fun as a family that day/night.
Be creative and think of your own ideas and traditions as well. Regardless of which of these you use, how many, or if you think of your own – the important thing is to make the day special for that child, and spend time as a family.