Traditions in the Making

Fifteen ways to create magical birthday moments.

For a child, a birthday is one of the most anticipated days of the year. As such, every parent looks for ways to make his or her child’s big day spectacular. Finding simple, inexpensive ways to turn the day into an extraordinary one takes some time and creativity, but it’s certainly worth the memories made.

Growing up with three siblings, one of which has his birthday only two days after mine, I found that my parents tried their best to make each one of us feel special. Each birthday, we would arrive home from school and there would be balloons, gifts and handmade cards set around the birthday chair— a tradition my parents started to make each one of us feel honored. As soon as we finished dinner and gobbled up our cake, the star of the day sat in the chair and unwrapped presents. It was a moment for which I waited all 365 days.

One year, I received a three-speed bike. Aside from that, the only other gift I remember getting was a small wooden box. My mother had polyurethaned it with random magazine clips and a photo of me. That was 36 years ago, and I still have that trinket box today.

Now that I am a mother of two children, I look at birthdays in a whole new light. I think back on my own childhood memories and realize that I now have the control to create wonderful birthday traditions for my own kids.

To help you get started on implementing mini traditions in your household, here are 15 ideas to make your little one’s birthday exquisite and memorable.

  1. The night before your child’s birthday, decorate the house or his room with balloons, confetti, flowers or a homemade banner.
  2. Wake up your child by singing “Happy Birthday” to him.
  3. Start the day with a personal birthday breakfast that consists of all your tyke’s favorite morning meal options.
  4. Place baby pictures of the celebrant all around the house.
  5. Stick a festive birthday snack or note in your child’s lunchbox.
  6. Eat lunch with your child at school and bring cupcakes with you for his classmates to enjoy. Although this may not fly with older boys and girls, elementary-age kids will love it!
  7. Cook a birthday cake with your son or daughter. Have a blast decorating the sweet treat while getting sugared up the extra batter, frosting and sprinkles.
  8. Plan a family outing that can be repeated every year, such as a trip to the beach, a picnic in a local park or even a visit to your favorite pizza joint.
  9. Start a scrapbook on your child’s birthday and adorn the cover with pictures taken that day.
  10. Take a photograph each year of your child at the exact time they were born or as soon as they wake up.
  11. Let your youngster pick out all of his meals on the big day. If he wants spaghetti for breakfast or pancakes for dinner, go for it. This is one way to show him it’s his day.
  12. Give presents that reflect the same number of years as your child’s age. For example, for a child turning 5 years old, gift a basket filled with five markers, five coloring books, five lollipops and five pairs of socks.
  13. Create something ordinary, such as a decorative pillow, a picture frame, a jewelry box or a toy chest, to give to her. She may not appreciate it now, but in years to come, those handmade mementos are going to be the gifts she cherishes forever.
  14. Organize a time capsule. On every birthday, gather a photo of your child, a newspaper and a note detailing the events going on in your lives, then place into a bin. Revisit your collections in the years to come for a trip down memory lane.
  15. Implement a birthday chair. It’s been a tradition in my family for years, and my kids love it, too. For a fresh take, try introducing it to your family as a birthday throne.

Regardless of age or interest, birthdays are important. The key to making your precious boy or girl feel loved is to commemorate the entire day. By taking some time out to create your own family birthday traditions, you will be giving your child something to look forward to all throughout the years.