Family Birthday Traditions

Back in November, Dani commented on our facebook page,

I’d love to hear about your traditions. Seasonally, it’s time for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but really I’m more interested in birthdays and “everyday” traditions.
Related to that, one reason I don’t start new traditions (e.g. a birthday picture in front of a white wall) is because I feel weird that my older kids have missed a few years. A post to shake that guilt from me would be great!

Anna and I did share about some of our families’ Christmas traditions, but since my oldest just turned 7 last week, I thought it would be a good time to talk about birthday traditions!

Family Birthday Traditions

On birthdays, we wake the birthday child with breakfast in bed.  They get to unwrap all their presents first thing in the morning, because who wants to wait to enjoy them?  We generally do one main present (eg, at age 4, they get a big kid bike), plus books.  Like I mentioned at Christmas, I collect quality used books year-round and dole them out for gifts.  For each birthday, the kids get a book for each year of their life–so T got to open 7 books this year!  I totally stole this idea from a family I babysat, and I love it because it keeps getting bigger each year.  I also love that when they leave home, our kids will have the beginnings of their own little library without having to gut our family one.  Of course the birthday child gets to pick his or her favorite dinner (or, when the budget allows, we’ll go out to eat) and type of homemade-from-scratch cake that night, too.

It seems like with pinterest, we suddenly get overwhelmed with all these amazingly great ways to celebrate our kids’ milestones (or, as Dani mentioned, feel guilty that we didn’t start all sorts of fun traditions with our oldest).  I do a couple fun things (monthly pictures of the kids through 24 months and on their birthdays, a family blog post comparing their growth stats every time they get check-ups), but I’ll leave it to my more creatively-minded friends to do the chalkboards and collages.  I might have more details in #1’s baby book, but my baby pictures of #4 are much higher quality.  I think it all shakes out in the end.

One thing that my friend Naomi has thoughtfully reminded me is that a birthday is really special to that one birthday child.  Because my kid’s birthdays are four months back to back to back to back, it’s tempting to combine celebrations.  When E and S turned 3 and 1, we did do a combined birth-tea party with five of our little girl friends, and they loved it.  But if and when we do combine parties, we’ll still make a big deal on their individual birthdays.  It’s not their fault that somebody else had a birthday 3 weeks ago.  And hey, I’m all about any excuse to bake another cake!

What family birthday traditions do you do with your family?  What were your favorite traditions growing up?

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2 Responses to Family Birthday Traditions

  1. Christie says:

    I love reading about birthday traditions! I am not the greatest celebration puller-offer. = ) Mostly, I try to think what would be really fun for that person on that day. It can be bouncing on a giant trampoline at the mall or playing at a favorite park. Our biggest tradition is that my husband takes each girl out for a birthday breakfast day starting on their third birthday. They LOVE this and talk about it frequently. I make a special cake by their request, but it’s not always from scratch. We try to let the other kids make a special banner of some sort, but this hasn’t always happened. I want to do pictures as well, but have only done that for one birthday this past year.

    • Emily says:

      I really like the idea of a special birthday breakfast with Dad! Maybe we’ll start that with our girls this spring.

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