Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blending Birthday Traditions

Growing up, my mom always allowed me to have birthday parties. That was our tradition.

When I married my techno-genius hubby, he had NEVER had a kid birthday party - you know, the theme variety with a house full of kids, a character birthday cake, loads of decorations, a pinata, and goodie bags.  GASP!  He was so deprived.
An elaborate Tea Party for Trinity's 5th Birthday

Graciously, he allowed me to continue the tradition my parents had begun with me.  We had birthday parties for our kids.

At first, these were E-L-A-B-O-R-A-T-E!!!  Over-the-top could easily be used to describe some of our events.  I enjoyed doing this. I had talent for it. Why not?

One I vividly recall was Jacob's Star Wars party. 
 I hung dark blue paper table cloths all around the room - covering the walls, windows, and sliding doors so the room would be "dark".  
I then added plastic glow-in-the-dark stars to make it appear as though it were in fact, the galaxy.
I even made him a Jedi Knight "costume" to wear.
Party favors were light up light sabers.  
One of the activities, naturally, was light saber fights.
The craft - making a tinfoil R2D2.
The house was filled with kids.
The cake - Star Wars themed - with little figures atop to make it complete.

Trinity's "princess" cake
It took me days and weeks to plan and hours and hours to set up.  It was A LOT of work.  This was typical of the parties we threw for our kids and their friends.

Many other themed parties followed in the years to come based on the children's interests:  Baby's 1st birthday, Bob the Builder, Bears, Thomas the Train, Princess (many, many princess parties - since we have 4 girls), Tea Party's, A Carnival - quite literally in our front yard, Bugs, a Luau (oh, wait, that one is still waiting to happen), Pool Party, more Star Wars..... the list goes on.

A treasure chest carnival cake

Not saying we don't and won't do parties anymore, but more often than not, we are likely to do a smaller affair - making the focus be on things the birthday child chooses.  Dinner, special activities, a week long celebration, presents with family, and usually a restaurant of choice culminating the week.

For some reason,
Selah wanted a pig
Bethany had a phase of
Strawberry Shortcake
Unique traditions we've accumulated over the years include:  Birthday 'spankings' from daddy, special breakfasts made by mommy, a special meal made by mommy - chosen by the birthday child, funny birthday hats that mom insists on getting pictures in, a cake of the child's choice.

Ah cakes:  This custom has morphed the most over the years.  Admittedly a difficult change for this  mom's heart.  It used to be the kids chose a "theme" cake that mommy took time and pride in decorating.  Now, they choose a style cake instead. We've had coffee cake, pies, ice cream cake. Rarely does mom get a chance to let her talents shine in the cake decorating realm these days.

I wasn't sure this even constituted a
"cake", but it's what he wanted

Sharing a birthday and cake.
A store bought one. Gasp
Having the same birthday means
you wear crazy hats together!

Alas, since the focus is on what the child wants - I have conceded that it's ok.  By making the cake they choose, along with their meal, the funny party hats, a movie or game of their choosing, ending in 'spankin's' from daddy we are building traditions - memories - they'll take with them forever.


Funny hats and cake

Even daddy gets in on the hats

Deprived?  Guess not.  Just different.  In all honesty, I like a mix.   We strive to allow our kids to plan a party some years and other years we just CELEBRATE THEM.    That's our real tradition - a blend of both paths, allowing our kids a sneak peak into mom AND dad's childhood.

I'd love to hear what traditions you share for birthdays.  What makes the day or week or even month special for you and your family?  Maybe we could add new ideas to our arsenal.


  1. I let me kids decorate their own cakes. And we always celebrate their birthday on their actual birthday (so we won't wait till the weekend). We also usually only have family over for their birthday so no big parties here. But they don't do school on their birthdays and they get to plan that day.

  2. Sounds fun, Daneale. Our kids have started to get up early and make cakes for their siblings - decorating it for them etc. We also often celebrate their birthday ON their birthday, but sometimes a special dinner out or time with relatives is later. My kids would LOVE to not do school on their birthdays.


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