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Our Birthday Traditions!

I have always love birthdays! My mom did a lot when I was growing up to make my birthday special each year and it's a joy as a mother to do the same for my children. Today I'm sharing some of our birthday traditions with our kids.


Each year, I let my kids pick a theme for their birthday decorations. We've had themes like dinosaurs and bugs to princesses and mermaids. I get balloons, streamers, and a birthday banner. Then I print off coloring pages in that theme that the kids color and cut out before we hang them up. I try to get these all up the night before after the kids are in bed, so they wake up on their birthday to a decorated house.

I also decorate the table, but we don't do that until it's time for cake and ice cream with family. I always get a plastic tablecloth and then try to find some toys or decorations that match their theme.


We love to start the morning off with donuts. I will often make fry donuts but we also have a local donut shop that we love to order donuts from. Donuts are not something we do often, so they really make the birthday special!

Measure the birthday child

We use the inside doorframe of our pantry to keep track of each child's height on each birthday. They always love seeing how much they've grown each year.

Birthday Date

When my oldest turned 2, we had just had another baby. We were both feeling the lack of alone time with our new addition, so my husband and I decided to take her on a date instead of getting her a big present. We took her to our local dinosaur museum because she was really into dinosaurs at the time. With that birthday, our new tradition was born. Starting with their second birthday, we take our kids on a date to do an activity of their choice.

Because we live in a smaller city, our options are more limited. We've always been able to come up with really fun dates with them though! We have done four wheeler rides at a nearby creek, hikes, bike rides swimming at the rec center, and visiting the pet store. We've also done more creative ones. One year, our daughter was really into fairies, so we built a fairy house together for her date and she loved it. Another year, we bought some treats and played video games; our daughter earned points to spend on the treats we'd picked out together.

Starting at 8, we take them out to the city (about 3 hours away) for a bigger date. Our oldest is the only one who has turned 8 so far and she picked going to a butterfly biosphere. I would love to let them pick somewhere in the U.S. to visit when they turn 12 and somewhere internationally when they turn 18, but we have yet to reach that stage with our kids yet.

Opening a Book

Because the birthday date replaced a present, I worried about our kids having the experience of opening a present from us on their birthday. The solution I came up with was to gift them a book--it's inexpensive and something we value. I always pick a book or two and wrap them up. I have loved finding books that I know they will be so excited for!

Photo Book of their Art

This is a tradition I started just last year, but so far, I've loved it. I make a photo book of my kid's art and print the book for their birthday.

During the year, when I clean out the kids' art, I take pictures of it with my phone. When I clean off my phone on Saturday, I move the pictures to the corresponding folder and when their birthday is approaching, I simply download the pictures of all the art they made throughout the year and make a Shutterfly book with them. They turn out really cute.

Cake and Ice Cream and Family

One tradition we don't do is friend parties every year. We live close to a lot of family, so we always invite them over for cake and ice cream. I decorate the table. They open a couple presents (from some aunts/uncles and grandparents and, of course, the books from us) and we sing happy birthday to them. Then the kids play and the adults visit while everyone enjoys the treat. It's simple and our kids love it!

I love to bake, so I let the kids pick which treat they want. I have one daughter who always requests a cookies and cream cake and another who requests angel food cake each year. My oldest daughter loves ice cream cakes from Coldstone, so if it fits in the budget, she likes to do that. I've also done cookies or even one year, pancakes. Whatever treat they want, I try to make it happen. Unless we buy an ice cream cake, I also make ice cream (we have a fantastic and super easy ice cream recipe).

*So far, the year they get a friend party is when they turn 8. I'm sure there are other years we'll do friend parties, but we have yet to get there.

Birthday Interview

On my personal blog, I interview my kids each year, asking them questions about the age they were the year before. This tradition is very much for me, it's just another way for me to remember these fleeting moments.

Tell their Birth Story

Our final birthday tradition is at bedtime. After we get all the kids tucked into bed and before I read to them, I tell them all the story of when the birthday child was born. They love hearing the story and I love remembering that sweet time.

What birthday traditions, big or small, does your family have? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

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