Are you stressed out about planning a kid birthday party? Do you feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses and throw a Pinterest-perfect party? Guess what, you don’t. I’m not. And you know why? Because none of that matters to kids. Create memorable birthday traditions for lasting memories. These are unique & fun Birthday Traditions kids will love and parents too. Simple birthday traditions that mean a lot. These unique birthday traditions will be cherished more than any present they receive.
My twins’ 6-year birthday is coming up and honestly, I haven’t done a thing. I haven’t planned a party, made a reservation anywhere or even thought about presents. The reason isn’t because I can’t figure out what to do, it’s because I got caught up in the birthday party comparison trap.
If I’m being honest, a few weeks ago my daughter received an extremely nice birthday invitation which was custom printed and screams “Birthday Party event of the Year.” All I could think was how the party will most likely have decadent goodie bags, over-the-top activities and cost a small fortune.
This one invitation has me second-guessing the mellow and low-key birthday parties I throw for my kids. Should this be the year I suck it up and go all-out on Pinterest inspired ideas and invite everyone we’ve ever met to keep up with the Joneses?
The actual thought of going through the dance of planning a birthday party right now gives me a stomach ache. I cringe each time I open up Pinterest to surf for ideas and after five minutes, I’m overwhelmed by the lengths to which other parents go to decorate their homes.
I threw a big second and third birthday party and both times, wished I would have spent less money and gone a simpler route. On their fourth and fifth birthday, we had a small party in our backyard with only a few close friends and it was fantastic, not to mention stress-free and inexpensive.
When I find myself being sucked into the trap of comparing my children’s birthday parties to their friends’ who are bigger, flashier and cost more money, I remember how at every party, they run past the intricately decorated table with food cut out in the shape of stars and dinosaurs and hightail it straight to their friends.
Kids don’t give a hoot about the details like fancy striped straws, food labels or the glitter that was stuffed into their invitations (please parents, don’t do this!)
Let’s be honest… this isn’t for the kids anyways.
It’s for the parents.
Kids don’t care about other people’s perceptions of their birthday party and the sooner you realize this, the faster you can let go of the pressure to throw a Pinterest perfect party and focus on the important thing – making you child feel special on their birthday.
The bottom line? Kids get excited when their friends arrive and playtime starts.
It doesn’t matter if the birthday party is at a park, sitting around your own dining table or the gymnastics studio you slapped your credit card down to rent out. What they care about are things like their friends, having yummy dessert and most importantly, being showered with love and attention on their birthday.
Some of our family’s favorite birthday traditions don’t cost a thing and the memories will last forever – even carried on when they have their own families.
The little things that make the day more special than any ordinary day is what will stand out and when they look back, they’ll say, “Mom, Remember that time you filled the bathroom with balloons on my 6th birthday?”
Download This Fun Birthday Tradition: Birthday Interview Printable
8 FUN & UNIQUE BIRTHDAY TRADITIONS YOUR CHILD WILL ALWAYS CHERISH
1) KICKING OFF BIRTHDAY TRADITIONS STARTS EARLY
From dawn until nightfall, surprise your child with little things that make them smile and birthday traditions to stand out. There are a couple different ways to start off the morning when they open the door to their room.
Balloon Doorway Avalanche
Cover the door from edge to edge with clear plastic and put balloons between the closed door and the plastic. When you child opens the door, all the balloons will fall into their bedroom and give the a big surprise!
Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a Balloon Avalanche.
Crepe Paper Doorway
If a balloon avalanche might be too much of a shock to your child or they would need to get out of their room in the middle of the night to use the restroom, you might want to go a different route. Instead, hang crepe paper streamers in long strings next to one another from the top of the door ledge. When they get up in the morning, they can walk right through the doorway streamers.
Balloons in the Bedroom
Sneak into your daughter or son’s room after they’re asleep and cover the floor with balloons – or helium balloons that will stay at the ceiling.
Want something even more unique? Spread the joy in unexpected places like filling the bathtub, their closet or your car with balloons.
Put a Gift Under The Pillow
Place a small gift, special treat or little note under their pillow for them to see and enjoy first thing in the morning. A simple note that says “I Love You” will mean a lot to your child.
Related: 15 Festive & Delicious Birthday Breakfast Ideas for Kids
2) DECORATE YOUR HOUSE FOR A FUN BIRTHDAY TRADITION TO WAKE UP TO
I love to decorate the night before so my kids wake up the next day surprised. This is an easy birthday tradition to set up in minutes!
My kids get a kick out of birthday decorations, plus they’re inexpensive and add a lot of cheerfulness to every room I decorate. I love hanging balloons from the ceiling above the dining table, on the stair rail, and in their bathroom.
Strings of pennants are easy to hang as well as crepe paper streamers.
3) EASY BIRTHDAY TRADITION: LET YOUR CHILD PICK THE MENU
Let your kids choose the menu for the day. What is their favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner? Is there a favorite place they would like to dine at for one of those meals if you want to venture out?
Who said birthday candles are only for cake? Jazz up any meal by adding a birthday candle. For breakfast, toss a candle onto a stack of pancakes, a muffin, french toast or even eggs.
Make a Special Birthday Plate To Use Every Year
One of my favorite birthday traditions is that whoever’s birthday it is, they get to eat every meal on the birthday plate. The birthday plate is a plastic plate we have in our house which was decorated by all three kids. When it’s their birthday, we pull out the birthday plate and they get to eat off it all day long.
Create your own Birthday Plate with this easy to decorate and cook plate.
4) SPECIAL BALLOONS TO POP ALL DAY
Before you inflate a handful of balloons, slip a couple notes, a movie ticket, a voucher for an activity, a dollar bill, or even a small piece of candy inside each one. Write on the balloon a time of day they get to POP them and reveal the surprise inside.
For example, if you have 5 balloons, you could set the time to 7am, 10:33am, 12:45pm, 5:15pm and 7:22pm. When it’s the time shown on the balloon, your child can pop the balloon to reveal what’s inside.
This cute idea came from the Thinking Closet and it’s wonderful!
5) LEAVE A CUTE LUNCH NOTE
If your child will attend school on their birthday, pack a special snack in their lunchbox along with a handwritten note. This cute lunch idea from Bent-ology makes lunch stand out!
You can also add a little confetti, a small balloon, sweet treat or something that screams Birthday to their lunchbox. If you really want to go wild, wrap each food container in wrapping paper so they have to unwrap to eat lunch.
Add more surprise notes for your child to find throughout the day by tucking into book pages, inside their backpack or in a coat pocket.
This cute idea of the surprise note comes from the Thinking Closet and it’s wonderful!
6) START A BIRTHDAY TRADITION OF SENDING BIRTHDAY MAIL
Have everyone in your family – your spouse, partner, siblings, friends and other family – send a special card to your child on their birthday. They’ll be checking the mail in anticipation and the small stack of birthday cards will make their day!
7) WRITE A HEARTFELT LETTER EVERY YEAR
Every year on your child’s birthday, write them a heartfelt letter that you can give to them or save for when they turn 18. In lieu of a letter, you can keep a journal with your son or daughter too.
One Great (& Long-Lasting) Way to Connect:
Start a Journal with Your Daughter and write notes, feelings, doodles and letters to each other. Write without judgement but with respect and encouragement, empathy and praise.
8) THE BIRTHDAY FAIRY
I love the idea of the birthday fairy as a fun tradition. Each year, the birthday fairy visits your child and fills the person’s shoe with quarters. They bring one quarter for each year, plus one extra for good luck!
Read More about the tradition of the Birthday Fairy here.
Special Birthday Traditions: Please Remember…
Birthdays aren’t just about parties or how many people you can cram into your backyard. They’re about traditions and making lasting memories with your children. You can still throw a kid’s birthday party without going over budget or hiring a petting zoo, this article will help you stay up to date on the modern etiquette of planning a kid’s birthday party, but be sure to download the birthday party planning checklist in the article too!
It will never be the size of the party they remember, it’s how you made them feel on their birthday. And making someone feel loved and cherished doesn’t cost a penny with special birthday traditions.
Don’t forget to document the day with an obligatory birthday photo and birthday interview!
Download This Fun Birthday Tradition: Birthday Interview Printable
More Festive & Fun Birthday Resources:
- 15 Birthday Breakfast Ideas Kids Will Go Crazy For
- 24 Unforgettable Birthday Traditions to Start With Your Kids at Any Age
- 15 Tips for Throwing a Birthday Party on a Budget
- 8 Birthday Traditions Kids Love (No Big Party Required)
- The Modern Parent’s Etiquette Guide to Hosting Kid Birthday Party
- 3 Reasons To NOT Open Gifts at a Kid’s Birthday Party
I completely agree!! People are so caught up with ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ as you so aptly put it, they forget the point!
It’s a terrible feeling when you realise after the fact that the money you blew could have taken your family on a weekend away for the kid’s birthday. To the beach maybe… anywhere the birthday kiddo would like to go!
Thanks so much for the suggestions. I will definitely be using some this year ?
Visiting the beach sounds amazing for a birthday! :>
Disney Magic Mommy says
I found you at the a pinch of joy link party. Thank you for this post…every year I struggle with this because we do the backyard parties (when my elementry and preschool aged boys want them) but all the other kids rent out the inflatable place, or the skating rink and we just don’t have $500 to do that! Plus, the kids don’t play WITH each other. Drives me crazy, and so sometimes I wonder if I’m slacking a little. I’ll be doing some of these tips this year!!
It drives me crazy too and the Mom guilt I feel at those big parties is the worst. I know the traditions we have on birthdays will always be more memorable than any party, and I know it’ll be the same in your house.
I love these simple but heartfelt birthday ideas. It never ceases to amaze me how crazy some people get when it comes to kids’ parties. Thanks for sharing on our Share Your Style Party
Thanks! We’re celebrating a 6th birthday tomorrow with our twins so I’m using a lot of these and couldn’t be more excited!
I love these suggestions to refocus on what’s important. Since my now 12 year old turned 1 I’ve covered the floor in our home with balloons, she still looks forward to it. Each birthday starts with waking up to balloons galore followed by pancakes with whipped cream, sprinkles and a candle. My girls always ask for a sleepover but I’ll admit I do turn to Pinterest to help make it a little more special with themed games and food. We now live in a state without family so I am definitely putting out a Facebook request for cards for them from now on, they are going to love it!
My boys are now 19 and 17… youngest always missed out on taking in cupcakes for his birthday during the school year and would never say what he wanted to do beyond have a bbq with some friends (we already did their favorite meals on their birthday and they would cook my favorite foods on mine..)
Come his 15th birthday he had about a dozen friends over all hanging out in the back yard… i open the back door and launch a couple water balloons at the birthday boy then drag out the coolers and buckets…. containing 300 water balloons…. he still says best birthday ever.
Edit to add: he is a July baby!
Mommy Jhy | www.myfavoritelists.com says
We usually do a staycation in a city hotel to celebrate birthdays. We got to eat breakfast at a buffet, my kids got to play in a playground and swim in a beach AND a pool. Fun and frugal!
I love to make birthdays special for my kids but we can’t always afford to do a lot. I love these simple ideas to make them feel special! Definitely pinning this for later!
My Mom started a tradition of the Birthday Elves when I was tiny and she could barely afford food that I’ve kept for my kids: night of your birthday, after you’ve gone to sleep, the Birthday Elves come and give you a Birthday Outfit, a treat or small gift just for you, and a treat or small gift to share with your family/anyone spending the night with you that night. For my oldest son’s 5th birthday, he did a tea party with everyone dressing up, but we didn’t have proper teacups, so we were “just going to make do with mugs”. The Birthday Elves brought him a set of 8 teacups as his gift that year (and a play outfit for after the party that included a shirt he wanted, and fruit snacks for everyone). He’s turning 7 this year and still uses them whenever he wants tea.
Because of the frugal beginnings of the tradition, I don’t spend more than $20 on the outfit, nor more than $5-10 for the treats/gifts (the teacups were a $2 thrift store find).
I love the Birthday Fairy tradition though! I might incorporate that into it this year seeing as it is so inexpensive!
There are some good ideas in this post. However, my oldest daughter and I always plan a decent sized party for her every year. It’s our tradition. We plan it together and that’s part of the fun! It’s only one day a year that’s all about her and what she wants and who she wants to invite. I do spend quite a bit of money but I only spend what I can truly afford. My daughter really appreciates all the details and hard work her dad and I put into the party. My daughter is turning 6 soon so we are knee deep in planning. We find it very fun and not stressful.
I get the sentiment of this post and mostly agree! There’s also really good ideas here. However, I don’t think we need to act like one is better than the other. Some parents (and kids) genuinely get joy from planning a party and being creative with ideas! It’s not always about “keeping up,” and I think it’s detrimental to portray it that way. Definitely implementing some of these ideas though!