How We Celebrate Birthdays as a Family

For my family, I have found some sweet and simple birthday celebrations that won’t break the bank and won’t preoccupy me for weeks.  If you are looking to celebrate birthdays in a simpler and more meaningful way, this article is for you!  Even if you love the big celebrations, you may find some new ideas for  family celebrations to consider.  Even if you like the big party, you can still establish family birthday traditions.


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Starting out with my children’s birthdays, I decided to invite all my friends.     For those birthdays,  I was in a flurry of activity, so  I was not really able to give my “birthday child” any one-on-one time.  The parties were a blur of activity and people.   Throughout the years I have downsized the big bash and creative themes to a celebration that is smaller and more personal.

In life, we can overlook one another.  Birthdays are a great time for families to focus attention, encouragement and blessing on one person.  And each family member will have a turn!  Here is how our birthday went today!


Recently, my youngest had his sixth birthday.  I was delighted that my children valued him and actually were very excited to celebrate his birthday with him .  They woke up early.  Each one had created a special task to complete before the birthday boy’s 8:00am wake up time came.  (I give a wake up time to the birthday boy or girl to give us time to get the birthday surprises in place …and to try to help the one with the birthday get enough rest.)IMAG2522

My oldest had planned a scavenger hunt with 10 clues which led to his brother’s present (a lizard grabber – everyone needs one of those).  My daughter worked on a list of activities she and her brother were giving him as options for his special day.   Both children planned to be with their brother throughout the day.

Since my children are 6, 8, and 10, I have had the joy of watching them catch the “birthday spirit”.  In the early days, it was all me.   I would second guess myself and wonder if I was depriving my kids of the big birthdays their friends had.  But today, I am quite sure that my children are developing a deeper understanding of honoring a person and being content to keep the celebration simple.

Establishing traditions is important to me. Traditions give stability and joy as we anticipate and participate in experiences that bond us as families and create cherished memories. Traditions can include: a special dish, certain foods, gifts, decorations, particular attire and activities, reading a particular book or watching a specific movie.   If you don’t have family traditions, now is a great time to start!  Plan some simple ways to make your home a place of joy and meaning.



The Night Before

The Table/ Kitchen Area:

Materials: Birthday tablecloth,  pictures of the birthday boy or girl

Here is the vinyl tablecloth we have, or you could use this cloth tablecloth; another option is to use a white writable tablecloth to write on each year for the birthday person.IMAG2557


I keep pictures on hand representing the growth of the child throughout the years. For the birthday, I chose 4X6 pictures to put up on the window next to our kitchen table.   Depending on the child’s interest, I allow them to choose the pictures.

Decorate the Door:

Materials: Crepe paper, tinsel, decorations and streamers.


The night before I bring out the  decoration items.   This is usually late at night…and they leave up the decorations as long as they will stay.  If you are crafty, you can be elaborate.  Here is a fun door decoration I found: here is a door decoration you could use



The Day of the Birthday

Wake up the Birthday Person

Materials:  A toy that plays happy birthday (optional), birthday hats, camera, a few presents

The whole family piles into the room of the birthday person.  Usually the children want to give their presents first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to start the morning.


Fun, new add-on this year: each time we gave a present we sang  “Happy Birthday” 


Materials: The birthday plate!   

All meals are planned by the birthday person – with parental approval. 

(During one one of the meals during the day we talk about the pictures by the table, remembering the moments depicted.)

At breakfast: Open cards received from othecccd wonderfully made!  We will have everyone say together, ” yoBirthday booku are fearfully and wonderfully made!”

At Lunch:    I found a fabulous birthday memory book  Your Birthday Book  (the questions vary and grow with the child) However, it is only for one child. I have adapted it to use the questions, but not write in the book.  As we quiz the birthday person, I write down their responses in their journal. (I keep a journal for each of my children)   Another option would be to use this same free printable yearly and see how they change.

For Dinner, We sometimes invite a family friend or another family for dinner. As a part of the dinner, we began to incorporate a  blessing box  This is a little box that each family member writes special qualities we appreciate about the person.  Depending on the birthday person’s age, there are the same amount of paper that express why we appreciate them.  During the meal or after the meal, the birthday person draws the names and the person who wrote them reads the paper to the birthday person.   In the past I tried have everyone say what was special about the person and they drew a blank.  Writing it helps. Plus the older you are the more you are encouraged! 


MeBLOG POST growth chartasure the Child! Drum Roll please! On the inside door of our closet, we have marked the growth of each of our children.  The reason we put it on the door is in case we move.  The previous owners of our house also marked the heights of their children.  They used the wall of our closet.  Unfortunately, they had to leave the wall.  If we move, we can remove the door.

CLICK HERE  for a way to make your own measuring stick that can be easily removed. I plan on trying this!


THE CAKE: It the past this took tons of planning and time.  My husband would labor over the cake.  But  now…my oldest takes request and comes up with his own design.  It is not nearly as neat and perfect as my husband’s…but it’s from the heart and full of sweetness.  The best part is that the birthday person raves over the cake.

Extra special time: In the past few years we  have not thrown big parties.  (I am a party person, but I have seen the value in creating family time during birthdays)  Occasionally we have invited another family over on a day close to a birthday.   A family get together is much calmer than inviting the masses.  We have gone fishing, ice skating, and swimming.

The focus for our birthdays is on the relationships.  When you are not caught up in the flurry of  a birthday party, there is time to make it meaningful.  The most important people in that person’s life is their family.

Over time we have come up with these celebrations. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL!

Decide as a family what works for you.

Here are a few more ideas: 10 Ways to Make Your Celebrations Unique

I’d love to hear what you will try to incorporate and any traditions that have worked for your family. 

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