Create your own family birthday traditions that your children will never outgrow.
The focus of any birthday should be on appreciating the birthday person. Celebrate who they are by showing them you are delighted they are here. The focus does not have to be on spending money to show them with an extravagant gift, but spending thoughtful time acknowledging and honoring their life. And, the more simple and consistent we are with our annual traditions, the more likely they are to be continued and remembered.
As your family repeats these special moments, you’ll find that the memories multiply, get passed on to your children’s families and become more precious than any bought gift.
Here are a few ideas to consider. Pick one and adjust it for your family’s celebration, then let us know how it worked for you. Or, add your own experiences in a comment below.
Simple first birthday traditions
For the first birthday, we wait in anticipation, not a week goes by that we don’t see the changes in our child.
At the first birthday of a child, it’s time for parents to allow themselves a chance to feel relief. The transition into parenthood is not an easy road and parents should acknowledge the challenges they faced in the first year and mark the memorable occasions. A simple chat with your partner at bedtime to remember the sleepless nights, the diapers, the agonizingly slow movement of time, the amazingly rapid movement of time is a simple act that parents can repeat year after year.
For the child, a first birthday party can be overwhelming. They often become scared or over-stimulated by the sounds, the attention, the candles, the balloons, etc. Our advice is to keep it simple, keep it at home, keep it small. Ignore the idea that you MUST throw a party in a restaurant or at an event center that “takes care of everything.”
Select a celebration style that fits with your family values and remember that a simple birthday at home is often the best choice.
The birthday wish
Most often, the birthday person is the one making the wish after blowing out the cake candles. Instead, ask everyone to bring his or her wish for the birthday person on a wish slip. Include it in the invitation or email a copy to everyone. Collect them in a special box or envelope each year. They simple joy of reading them in the years to come is a gift of its own.
The birthday letter
Write a letter to your child on their birthday. Give yourself time to remember the accomplishments he or she has made in the past year and what they have to look forward to in the coming one. Be thoughtful and sincere about how you see them growing and what the future might hold.
The birthday library
Give your child a hardbound book each year as a special gift to grow their personal library. You can adhere a photo of the child from that year, write a note (or your letter from the previous suggestion) in the front cover. By the time they leave home, they’ll have a wonderful library of books given with thought.
Some of our favorites:
- Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
- Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain
- The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The birthday dinner
Allow your child to select the meal for their birthday. (The last one we prepared in our house was simple: fruit kebabs, rice, chicken, and orange soda.) Decorate the dining table with a special tablecloth used only for birthdays. Hang a birthday banner or balloons. One or two of these will help your child identify this day as a special one.
MORE IDEAS? Please post a comment below: