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  1. Tomorrow is the first time my son will be gone on his birthday. (College, they grow up so quickly!) Out tradition is decorating their bedroom door with streamers and balloons. As the kids have gotten older, they have helped decorate their siblings’ doors, too! We plan on decorating his door, and sending him a text picture. He might not appreciate a photo of us eating his birthday cake, though! Guess we will have to eat his cake when he comes home in a couple weeks!

  2. I’m a grandma and try to make each grandchild’s birthday special. When they were little I had a big birthday bag and would fill it with all kinds of little presents and one that they especially wanted. As they got into elementary school I changed it up. Now just the birthday child gets to spend the night and chooses the activity that we will do the next day. Special breakfast, and then we’re off! We have gone to the pumpkin patch (that has kittens to hold, that was a requirement!), science city, museums, special limited exhibits, a zoo in another city, an aquarium, and shopping. We always have lunch out and go to our local frozen yogurt place. The key is me and the birthday child, the two of us spending time together, talking and having fun doing something they chose.

  3. I make a birthday video each year which is a summary of about 50 photos set to music from the year before. The kids get to pick the music and we used to show this video at the party each year, but as the years go on, I’ve had to delay getting it done because it’s not always worked out – it takes me about 12-14 hours to complete the DVD. They have a CD case that holds each of their videos starting at age 1. This gift costs very little money (I have a $35/year subscription to ANIMOTO to use the software to make the video/photo movie and I have to buy blank DVD R discs), but overall a low cost memory builder.

  4. When I was growing up my parents had us pick a restaurant that we wanted to eat at for our birthday. I have 2 older brothers. We all managed to pick a different place to eat at. Money was tight so we didn’t get to eat out, only on a special occasion. Both my parents have passed. It’s amazing though how times have really changed. I remember how we use to get to eat McDonald’s like once every to months, it was a real big deal back in the day. My favorite memories are that of Christmas though. We use to play silly games all day to win little prizes on Christmas eve and then on Christmas morning my mother would make a big breakfast and we would open our presents at night after we got done watching Christmas shows. It is good to have so many fond memories, makes a person wish in some ways one wouldn’t get old. I just pass on most of my family traditions to my son, in hopes he will have them when he has a family of his own.

  5. I have a large chalkboard in our dining room that I use for holidays, sayings, scripture, etc. And every year I design a board for their birthdays that includes a silly rhyme about whatever age they are turning. They roll their eyes at the rhyme as they get older but underneath I think they like it! 🙂

  6. My mom only had two girls, me and my younger sister. When we turned 13 she took us and a friend to the Clinique counter at the mall and had them put makeup on you and then she bought what they used. Before 13 we were not allowed to wear makeup so this was a big deal.

    1. God’s timing! Wow! I, literally, just did an internet search for birthday ideas. I really like these. Up until now, we go to breakfast as a family and have cake in the late afternoon. The activities in between were decided by the birthday child (and my budget). Lately, they opted for birthday parties, somewhat like your playdate description.

  7. Thank you for this post! You have a lot of great you shared, and so do your readers! Your mom gave you a happy gift bc I can just see you smiling as you typed out this memory.
    A birthday tradition that we have is giving the kiddos their own box of cereal of their choice since we normally eat warm breakfasts. They look forward to having their own box and it has branched into Pop Tarts for one and I bet the latest one chooses bagels for her birthday!

  8. I have two daughters, now 18 and 12. On birthdays they are allowed to pick breakfast and dinner and then the other girl decorates the table according to a theme of her choosing. No peeking is allowed till everyone is ready to sit down. We have had Wildlife Parks (we live in South Africa), seaside, spicy food theme(for Daddy!), camping trip, musical, even an ‘end of school’ complete with schoolbooks and stationery for my older daughter the year she graduated. Everything used is already in the house, ornaments, toys, spices from the kitchen, shells and beach sand etc. We also take a photo of the birthday girl and her dad in the same pose. It is lovely to put all these together and see how they have aged.

  9. One of my 2 kids’ favorite traditions for birthdays was birthday cake (often the day after) for breakfast! As it was only an annual event, it was looked forward to very much. We also had ice cream (usually Dairy Queen blizzards) once or twice a year for suppper. After a day at the beach, who wants to go home and cook supper??? My strait-laced mother taught them to occasionally have leftover pizza for breakfast. The memories are priceless!!

  10. My husband and I (and sometimes the sibling whose birthday it isn’t) will stay up after the birthday child falls asleep and secretly decorate their door with tons of streamers and balloons. We put up the happy birthday banner – sometimes in the living room, sometimes in funny places like the bathroom, or one year when my son was younger we hung it on his bunk bed WHILE HE SLEPT LOL. We leave messages on the bathroom mirror in dry erase marker. One year we put messages inside balloons (things we love about that person) and attached a garbage bag to the ceiling and door, loading it with the balloons so that when my daughter opened her bedroom door, the balloons would fall on her. Then she popped them all to read the messages inside.

    Since we homeschool, the birthday child always gets their birthday off… usually we all take the day off. 😉

  11. These are such great ideas! I’ve already established that we will be doing big parties for special years but not every year. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your 13th birthday idea, I hope I remember when my now 2-year-old turns 13! 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for these ideas, Kim! With five kids, our home is overflowing with STUFF, and my husband and I are so tired of birthday parties where guests flood the house with more and MORE stuff! Starting today, we’ve implemented these ideas and we’re all excited! Just in time for the birthday season (one birthday a month from now through April)! Blessings to you and your family (from one fierce, brain tumor mama to another). 😉

  13. We allow the birthday child to be the “boss of the day” choosing activities and meals. The day begins with dad taking the child out for bday breakfast. During this time, the other children and I decorate the house and set out the presents. We also do a special 13th bday getaway and my daughter chose to go to Paris with mom! ? But we live in Europe and Paris is only 4 hours away. My son turned 13 this year and he chose a weekend hiking trip in the mountains with dad for a weekend.

  14. That’s a good idea o have years where you do a big activity and years that are a bit more lowkey. I could see how doing something like renting a bounce house would make my son’s day but would be a bit too pricy to do every year. I’ll have to look into doing something like that this year, and then maybe something bit simpler the next year.

  15. I literally love the idea behind having different events for different birthday years and I am totally stealing this. My oldest turns 3 on Saturday and with all this covid stuff I am certain I can make this day super special even without being able to go anywhere or do anything. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

  16. In our house, we tie balloons on the kids bed so that they wake to the fun surprise. It started when our oldest was in a crib as she turned one. It was so cute to hear her giggles and babble when she woke, we now continue that fun 10 years and 4 kids later. We move the balloons down to the table once they are awake, so they mark the special birthday kiddo all day.

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