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{Totally Doable} Birthday Traditions for Kids

I have unrealized dreams. They can be viewed for all the world to see.  It’s a public board on Pinterest.  Can you relate? Wardrobe, interior design, travels, birthday themes… Despite my dreaming, my budget and execution skills just never live up to the photographs.

My kids birthdays are one of those boards. While I still like to dream on Pinterest, I live by Amazon Prime and life hacks. While I may not have color coordination and decorations hung from each doorway, I have come up with my bare minimum and successful birthday traditions. I feel these are necessary for every mom. Whether you are a regular Pinterest achiever, I still think knowing your bottom line is your saving grace. Who knows what will pop up and what life will throw your way? It was due to my own curve ball the week before my twins 2nd birthday that I created my “must-haves” for birthday traditions.

Here are must haves:

  • Streamers on the door for the morning – walking through those in the morning is quite fun
  • Birthday sign hung – I grew up with a small cellophane sign, but due to an awesome online sale, I got a 3’x6’ canvas sign
  • Picture the morning of their birthday – not specific location at this point, but maybe someday
  • Text invitation to the family birthday party – hopefully at least a week ahead of time
  • “You Are Special Today” red plate – a family tradition that my grandmother gifted me to carry on

    My first hand decorated cake

Here are my “try really hard” to have:

  • Homemade and decorated cake – I learned to decorate cakes for my kids’ birthdays and love to do it for them
  • Balloons taped to the dinner chair – I keep a bag of balloons on hand at all time so I have what I need
  • Invitations designed and sent out – I use Google Drawing or Canva, then I email or text them out

Here are my “can haves” but don’t have to: 

  • Theme – character or color
  • Invitations sent the month before, maybe even printed (I’m rocking it when this happens)
  • Helium balloons tied to their chair

I hope someone feels better about themselves due to my lists.  Most of my must haves can be found at a dollar store or online deal any time of the year.

I encourage you to write your list too, especially if you have a spouse. The whole process may overwhelm your husband, but prioritizing tasks helps with communication. My husband has become the master at hanging the birthday sign. It takes months to get it down though. Ha!

I have things I fondly remember from my childhood birthdays, but they weren’t always the same. Ultimately the childhood anticipation, excitement, joy, and thrill will be enough for a wonderful birthday. Sometimes as moms we put too much pressure on ourselves due to our Pinterest planning.


Another layer of simplifying could include planned birthday presents. My  parents raised a blended family of 7 children. Keeping things fair were likely a factor when planning teen birthday gifts. As a kid, it took the surprise away, but as an adult I am grateful for the high quality gifts.


At age 13: Mountain bike – Adult sized and with regular maintenance, I still use it!

At age 14: Stereo system – Sadly obsolete due to cassette and CD only

At age 15: Filing cabinet – I still use it

At age 16: Theater date with my parents – each child chose their show. Prairie Home Companion to Ordway.

At age 17: Manual camera and a camera date with my stepdad to learn to use it

At age 18: High grade sleeping bag -I still use it!

Graduation: Luggage set – I still use it

At age 21: Cedar chest, Amish made – Sits in my living room

As you can see from the list above, I still use almost all of the presents. They have been key items as I moved away from home, camped and traveled out of the country. They have been stables in my first apartment and home. These presents were part of the roots my parents gifted me with year after year, so that I could easily use my wings. That is what I aim to ultimately gift my children as well.

I’d love a comment sharing your birthday traditions. Not pictures of your perfect Pinterest party, but your annual baseline birthday traditions. What do you want your children to remember two decades from now? A donut for breakfast? Their favorite meal on their birthday? A special annual activity? Share…we moms need to know. 

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