Birthdays were always a big deal at our house. Our children, Will and Christina, didn’t just have a birthday celebration each year. They had a school holiday as well.
Here’s what we did for Will’s and Christina’s homeschool birthdays each year:
1. A week or two before their birthday, we went shopping for birthday decorations.
We went to a large party store, and each child was allowed to choose plates, cups, napkins, and decorations with their chosen birthday theme.
Will and Christina were born 5 years and 2 days apart, on March 19 and 21. Until Christina was 9, they always had separate themes and decorations (Will often choosing vehicles of some sort and Christina choosing ballerinas or Disney princesses). At ages 14 and 9, Will and Christina decided to have the same theme. Then they chose themes like Rugrats (it’s not uncommon for them as adults to still choose a silly theme for their birthday cake), smiley faces, or rock and roll.
2. Two days to a week before each child’s birthday, we ordered a cake to go with the birthday theme.
For their first birthday, Will and Christina had totally natural homemade cakes with honey-and-cream-cheese frosting. Later, we ordered birthday cakes.
Until Christina was 3, we had someone who made lovely decorated cakes using Will and Christina’s theme. When our cake maker went back to college and stopped making cakes, we ordered our cakes from the grocery store. When we ordered their cake each year, Will and Christina chose their favorite flavor of ice cream and beverage for their birthday party.
Will and Christina still say their favorite cake is from Albertsons grocery store. Christina even has to be sure her birthday/Easter trip home from England each year includes ordering a cake from Albertsons.
2. Will and Christina woke on their birthday to find decorations, cards, and a present of books in the dining room.
I put up banners and crepe-paper streamers. I put balloons beside their place at the dining room table with gift-wrapped books (their morning birthday present), a card from Terry and me, and a card their sibling had secretly prepared the day before.
Will and Christina both remember this as one of their favorite parts of each birthday. The decorations and cards made them feel special, and books were very important to our family for both enjoyment and for homeschool learning.
3. Each child’s birthday was a major holiday, so there was no school.
Because Will and Christina were competitive figure skaters, they still went to skating practice (and Christina didn’t want to miss her dance classes). We typically brought cupcakes or cake to the rink. The rest of the day was devoted to birthday activities.
4. Each child’s birthday was a family party, which started with games when our children were young.
We played games that followed the birthday theme, such as stick the nose on the clown when it was a clown birthday. This was a private family party, except for Christina’s special guests. During her early years, she enjoyed inviting stuffed animals and dolls. She was allowed a guest for each year of her age, and each guest wore a party hat. Terry, Will, and I wore party hats, too!
5. We had cake, ice cream, cookies, and pop.
Of course, before eating, we sang happy birthday and had the birthday child blow out candles on the cake. While I cut the cake, Terry, Will, and Christina celebrated with party poppers and blowers.
6. The birthday child opened presents.
As they grew older, Will and Christina gave us ideas of what they’d like. So after the morning books, the presents typically weren’t a surprise, but they were things our children wanted and appreciated.
7. We had party bags with fun little items for both Will and Christina.
I always hid the party bags. Sometimes we had a treasure hunt with special clues hidden in the house leading to the next clue and ultimately to the party bag. Other times, I told Will and Christina they were “hot” or “cold” when they looked for the bags.
8. We went out for dinner to a restaurant chosen by the birthday child.
This was always fun and included a special dessert with more birthday candles and birthday singing.
9. Sometimes, the birthday celebration continued into the weekend.
A couple of times, we celebrated at a pizza-and-games place with another family who had children about the same age. Sometimes, Will and Christina invited a friend over for an extended birthday celebration.
Every birthday included lots of photos. And we all still love to relive fantastic birthday memories through them.
Note: During the preschool years, one of my favorite birthday activities is the Montessori birthday celebration of life.
How do you celebrate your child’s/children’s birthdays?