Birthday Traditions

Celebrating a birthday is the perfect way to show a loved one that you care about them. In our family, we show love on their special day in the following ways:

  • Birthday child gets to pick the dinner menu for the evening, including dessert (which is not always a cake). They get their dinner on the special blue plate used to honor special occasions.
  • When the children are younger, we have usually planned a family outing such as a trip to the zoo. Once the children reach school age they usually prefer a party with friends. These are usually fairly simple affairs, more along the lines of a “playdate with a theme”. Sometimes the parties have been family events where we invite 2-3 families to celebrate with us (mainly so we have someone to share the cake with!) and the children just play.
  • Telling of the child’s birth story (my children love to hear birth stories and often request this at other times throughout the year).
  • A photo shoot, usually outdoors with Dad as the photographer.
  • A handprint record: paint the child’s hand and place on a sheet of cardstock. This has mostly died out by the time the child starts school, but it is fun to have a record of their itty-bitty hand sizes.
  • A few gifts from parents, one of which is always a book.

Some new traditions I would like to start:

  • “__ Things We Love About You” list. As a family write 5 things or 7 things or 35 things (depending on their year) that we love about the birthday person. Make a large poster to hang on their bedroom door, and make a small version that can be included in their memory box.
  • Take a photo of the birthday child with mom and dad on either side, kissing their cheeks. Take a photo with siblings (we have done been doing this sporadically over the years, but I want to be more consistent).
  • Conduct a birthday interview, like this or this.  I have done this some, but I need to develop a template and print it off so it is ready to go every year.

Other fun ideas:

  • Hang a balloon from the ceiling for each year with $1 bill inside (source). Maybe start this at age 10 for our family???
  • Wrap their birthday lunch in birthday gift wrap.

Birthday Themes we have done in the past:

  • 1 year old: birthday cake with immediate family (A, L, Z)
  • 2 year old: invite one other family to join us for a theme cake (snowman-A, frog-L, Cars cupcakes-Z)
  • 3 year old: Bug party with friends at the playground (A), H is for Happy preschool party (L), cupcakes with friends at the playground (Z)
  • 4 year old: Family party (A), Tangled-Princess (L), Best buddy party (Z)
  • 5 year old: Fancy Nancy theme (A), family party (L)
  • 6 year old: Pretty Pink (A), Butterfly Fest and family party (L)
  • 7 year old: Tangled-Princess (A), Horse theme (L)
  • 8 year old: Family party (A)
  • 9 year old: Favorite things–paper dolls, books, Lego (A)

How do you celebrate birthdays in your family?

A simple Tangled birthday party

This week the Sweet Bee turned four years old. She is a sweet funny girl, and I love the funny things that she says.Tangled is her favorite movie, so that was the theme of her party. Parties are very small and simple affairs at our house, more along the lines of a “play date with a theme”. There are so many ideas available online, so the party was pretty easy to plan. The best resources I found came from 3 sites:

Plucky Momo

Supermom Moments

Disneyfamily.com

Invitations

Our invitations were simple: Flynn Ryder Wanted Posters. I forgot to take a picture, but I copied the template here on Plucky Momo.

Decorations

I was hoping for some inexpensive lanterns to hang from the ceiling, but I struck out at the dollar store. My next plan was to hang balloons from the ceiling with glow sticks inside (inspired by this post I saw on pinterest), but when it came down to it, the result just looked like a glow stick inside a balloon. Not as cool as I had hoped. We ended up just hanging the balloons and the glow sticks separately from the ceiling, and it looked okay. Kids are always happy with balloons anyway!

Activities

As the guests arrived (dressed in their favorite princess attire), the girls spent some time coloring in their homemade Tangled coloring book. I just googled Tangled images online, then compiled and formatted the images to make a book. Hole punch in the corner, tied with yellow ribbon to keep it together.While the kids were coloring I took one child at a time to put together a Pascal party blower (complete directions found here). I helped them stick the foam together and I used hot glue to secure a googly eye, and then the children drew their own faces.The obvious party game we had to play was “pin the frying pan on Flynn Ryder”.  Wanted poster are easy to find online, and then you can get the frying pan templates here.Food

Snacks were simple: grapes and pretzels, served in a frying pan.The cake needed to be a tower of course. I saw a bunch of complicated ideas online that involved things like pecan rolls, cupcakes, ice cream cones, wooden dowels and frosting. I opted for something much simpler: donuts!

The base is a green floral craft foam. I just wrapped it up in pretty wrapping paper. I made the tower support with wooden skewers (the kind you use for shishkabobs on the grill); I stuck one skewer in, then taped another skewer on at the top to reach the desired length. Slide on the donuts. I topped it with a purple cone and added some ribbons. Definitely the easiest “cake” I have ever made.Favors

What does Rapunzel do in all those long hours in the tower? She paints! So party favors were simple: paints and a brush (and the coloring book and a balloon and glow stick).

This party was easy to put together, and lots of fun for my little girl. The Ant Bug has already decided that she wants the same Tangled party for her birthday in a few months.

Unbirthday Party

At the beginning of the summer we sat down as a family and made a list of the things that we wanted to be sure and do this summer. We recently crossed off “Host an Unbirthday Party” on our list. Who doesn’t love an excuse to play games and eat cake?!The Ant Bug pretty much planned and carried out the event, with a little guidance from me. We sent a digital invitation to the family that we wanted to invite, and then she wrote out a list of our planned activities for the party.Party Hats

A creative activity is a great way to start off any party, so first on our agenda was decorating party hats. Using a template we found online (like this party hat shown here), each child chose a color for their hat, then decorated it with color and stickers. Staple it together, then punch holes and add yarn to tie it on.Party Games

We planned two games, and our friends planned a few games.

1). Pin the pom pom on the party hat (poster designed by the Ant Bug)2). Musical colors: just like musical chairs, but since we are a little short on chairs at our house we used squares of colorful felt to jump on instead3). Balloon games: relay race to pop your balloon, keep the balloon in the air

4). Silly lips: apply lipstick to another person, while wearing a blindfold (this was especially funny with children who had no experience whatsoever in applying lipstick!)

Eat Cake

The Ant Bug recently read Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off by Herman Parish. In this silly adventure, Amelia Bedelia helps run a bakery and she ends up winning a baking contest with her cake recipe. The book included the recipe, and that was the recipe the Ant Bug selected for our cake.Amelia Bedelia’s Sheet Cake

3 cups flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup cocoa

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups water

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa directly into an ungreased 9″x13″ pan (we used a large sheet pan instead). Add oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour water over all ingredients. Mix with a fork until smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool the cake and ice in the pan with your favorite frosting.

The frosting recipe we used came from the Family Cookbook.

Texas Sheet Cake Frosting

1 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup milk

4 Tbsp. cocoa

1 cup nuts, coarsely chopped, optional

4 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter, and stir in cocoa. Add milk, and bring butter, milk, and coca to a boil, just until bubbly. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour over hot cake.The cake was delicious, and it was a great extension activity tied in to some summer reading. Each child picked out a birthday candle and and stuck it in the cake where they wanted to, and then everyone got to blow out their candle. We finished off by reading the book as we ate the cake.

Third Birthday

Happy 3rd Birthday to the Sweet Bee!
“The important thing about being Three is being ME.
Who is it that can open their eyes and see? ME!
Who knows the difference between a pig and a tree? ME!
Who runs around as busy as a bee? ME!
Who is funny and not a bunny? ME!

But the important thing about being Three is being ME.”

Taken from Another Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown.