Birthdays are magical for young children. It is how they count time. Their entire year is based around that day. You could say it’s their New Year’s Day. The beginning of a new year. It is the day when they get to transform into another year older. 

When our nine children were growing up, birthdays could break the bank. So, I learned early on to create an atmosphere rather than lavish them with gifts. That’s not to say that we didn’t give them gifts. We certainly did.

The main event was the magic we placed around the entire birthday.

First, they got to plan the entire menu for the day. This is always best to plan ahead, and make sure you have everything. Warning: If you try this on the fly, there is a good chance you will be running out for donuts in the morning. Which can also be a great plan.

Then there is the “No Chores For The Birthday Girl or Boy” rule. 

Siblings, make it part of their gift, to do the birthday girl’s chores. That can be anything from taking out the trash to making their bed. No work.

It is officially a family holiday. Because we were a homeschooling family, we had school on Washington’s birthday, and other national holidays. That way we could take birthdays off. This was always a hit.

Because our large family is a party all by ourselves, the day starts with a birthday celebration.

As soon as our birthday girl (girls outnumber our boys) would wake up, they saw balloons and streamers. 

All the other children and I would stay up extreamly late. We hung streamers from every corner. Balloons would fill the floor. Children would make banners with crayons and copy paper taped together, that read “Happy Birthday.”

Have you noticed a common thread throughout? 

Our birthdays cost very little. But it didn’t show. 

We also spent birthdays at local Zoos. If you have a local small Zoo, often times they are free to enter. The larger Zoos are more costly, however, they often have one day a week that they are free to the public.

As grandchildren entered our family, many of the traditions we started with their parents have continued. That’s always a great feeling.

However, now the issue is many, many grandchildren. There are too many to lavish expensive gifts on. So, we have to settle for more creative ways to celebrate. 

The idea of having a once a year birthday bash for all of the grandchildren has occurred to me. Although, I am afraid it might dampen the birthday magic of their special day.

How do you celebrate your children, or grandchildren’s birthdays when they don’t live in the same house as you?

Please share in the comments your traditions.




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