Birthday traditions

{I wrote this a few months ago but never posted it. Why let a complete post go to waste, I say?}

I am happy to say that we are through the season of birthdays for our family. We have a couple more months before we have another birthday, and then we get to wait until Fall before we fire up all of our birthday traditions again.

I've learned a few things about myself over the years of birthday celebrations. Here is my (short) list:

-I like to celebrate whoever's birthday it is ON THE ACTUAL DAY of their birthday. I don't know why that's important to me, it just is.

For awhile we tried to find the closest possible weekend for which to celebrate- to make things easier for extended family- but then I found that we always ended up celebrating on the weekend and then ON THEIR ACTUAL DAY, because I just couldn't NOT celebrate them on their birthDAY. So a couple of years ago we just decided to simplify things by having birthday parties on their birthDAY. Whoever can come, great. Whoever can't make it, that's fine, too!

-I am not the type of mom who has themed parties with a pretty cake and decor. I love you if you're that mom. Most everyone I know is that kind of mom. (And, actually, now that I think of it, I was that mom with my first two children, but... no longer.) Now I bake enough cake for everyone, frost that cake, stick some candles in it, and call it good. Ice cream on the side. If you're lucky, I remembered to pick up some sprinkles at the grocery store and those are on the cake, too. I discovered that I did not like the pressure of coming up with a theme each year, not to mention the matchy napkins and paper plates and all that. So I stopped.

-We don't do a "friends party" and a "family party". We just do a family party. (Which includes extended family (grandpas and grandmas and aunts and uncles and cousins, along with our dearest friend-family.) Thankfully, our children have lots of cousins so every family party is naturally a friends party, too, so that's a perk. :)

We DO do birthdays up big, though, around here. Here's what we do:

*Birthday chain: approximately a month leading up to their birthday, we put together a little birthday chain. Each night before bed they take off a link and get to anticipate The Big Day as it gets closer and closer and closer!

*Birthday banner: all of us get in on this and it's a blast. We hang it up on the mantel or wall the night before and it hangs there for about a week.

*Birthday balloons: in the living room to greet you on your birthday morn: as many as how old you are.

*Birthday gifts: duh. Wrapped and sitting out in the living room, amongst those birthday balloons, to be spotted right away!

*Birthday book: one of our gifts is a book (of our child's choice) on their birthday. This involves a trip to the bookstore and lots of time spent poring over those favorite titles and choosing which one will be the birthday book!

*Birthday dinner: they get to choose their own meal for dinner! This tradition is carried over from my family, growing up. Mom always let us choose our birthday meal. (I almost always chose burritos. I'll bet she loved it when it was my birthday! My little brother, on the other hand, chooses steak every year.)

*Birthday cake and ice cream: They get to choose what kind of cake and ice cream.

*Birthday party: with extended family and friends.

*Birthday letters: Mark and I each write a letter to the birthday child, to be filed away in an album that we'll give to them someday. [~Ahem~. This is something we used to do very faithfully, but truth be told: I haven't written a single birthday letter for over a year. I have jotted down notes, though, and have every intention of putting those into letter form. Someday. But I'm holding onto this tradition because I love it. I love being able to look back at them, and someday I think they'll appreciate it, too. (At least my girls will!)

What are your birthday traditions?


  1. I knew you did a lot for everyone's birthday but seeing it all written down together I am amazed! Good job celebrating 'em up good!

    It is funny: I can not think of one person who does the whole themed party with matching etc. thing. Maybe a time or two for the first few birthday's with one or two children but yeah, I can't think of anyone who still does it.

    Do you also watch the birth video?

    I am glad you guys invite us for your family parties, our kids so look forward to it!

    We put a candle in the person's food and/or dessert at every meal and sing. (Just trying to outdo my family you know. :)

    Now the question is what will you do for your 35th birthday in just a little over 2 weeks?

  2. Stacy, ours sound very familiar!!

    One thing I do differently is that on the day of, well, the night before, I decorate their spot at the table, I buy a plastic table cloth and I draw all over it with sharpie, and write around where the plate goes, etc. I also decorate a corner of the dining area with a collage of their pics and THEIR ART from the past year.... a kind of celebrating who they are and where they have been. :) And we try to watch family movies that highlight that child as well. I don't make a cake, but they get to decide if they want to go out for icecream, or do the cupcake thing at home.

  3. Oooh, Stace...
    Cute ideas! Love them!

    Good grief, girl. You do a themed party *every* year. Yah, it's combined for all of your kids, but it's a THEME, complete with projects and stations and food and games and a pinata and take-home goodies and ALL SORTS OF GOOD FUN. What are you even talking about?!?! Silly goose.

  4. No, no, no. That is not a birthday party! It is instead of doing birthday parties. As in, we *don't* do birthday parties. That is just a party party.

    That is funny, did you think I was baiting you? I totally wasn't!

    And I agree about Xochi & Justus, I usually am thinking, "J-bear, you are so pale!"

    At first, when you said that about olive vs. white skin I was thinking about you and me --or Cutzi and me! I need to find some pale friends! :)

  5. We do the special meal thing, too. In fact, my oldest child doesn't have a birthday for 6 more months and he is already planning what he wants to eat. We also take off from school on birthdays. Not that school is such a burden, but it is fun to have a little break and just celebrate!

  6. This was fun to read. I did the big homemade cakes and theme for Journey's first 3 years and Isaac's first and then ditched it. Last year when ELi turned one we sang happy birthday and that was about it. Regret that but this year we plan to do more :o)
    The kids plan the entire days menu. Pancakes with whip cream and chocolate eyes are the fav around here. I would so prefer family and my best friend but our family is far away. So we invite a few families close to us. I do invite the parents to stay and we have coffee and sometimes even sibligns to make it more of a family party though it's just close friends. It is VERY laid back. I don't do big games. I make cupcakes they are so much easier.We do gifts and they play. Journey loves decorating the cupcakes for her friends.
    I also have a journal for each kid that I write in...though I am behind in mine too.

    The birthday chain is a good idea. It wwould so help Isaac with the anticipation and be so much fun.

    Oh, and we also make homemade birthday cards from each person in the family for the birthday person. Those are such a source of memory looking back on them.

  7. Wow - you put so much thought and effort into each birthday! So impressed!!


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from you, and I will do
my best to reply back to you in the comment section.