Monday, July 18, 2011

Family Birthday Traditions

Sarah's sixth birthday party.

There are certain things that help build a strong family culture.  Traditions are one of those things that help build bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters, and extended family.  A lot of these traditions can be found in holidays and in religious observance.  Another area you can build family traditions around are in celebrating milestones.  For example, we have certain traditions built around starting the new school year (another post for later on in the season.) 

We are in the middle of a birthday heavy summer season right now, four birthdays in our immediate family for July, August and September, and numerous birthdays among aunts, uncles and cousins.  I've always loved having a summer birthday, because it means ice cream and trips to the beach, and most importantly, not having to go to school on your birthday!!  (My high school had a not so nice tradition of throwing people in the shower fully dressed on their birthday, I was always thrilled to have escaped this!)

We take birthdays pretty seriously in our house, and have built up a series of traditions that can not be skipped.  I would like to add at this point we've never been big on the "friends" birthday party, and our children have only had a few birthday parties in each of their lives where friends have been included.  We prefer family parties, big or small, depending on whether we are living close to our family or not.

So, what are our family traditions?  They may be simple, but none can be skipped!  Tradition #1, the birthday celebrant gets a special breakfast.  These can be elaborate or simple, but what the birthday person wants is the menu for the meal.  Josh likes pancakes.  Jeff likes bacon.  Justin likes english muffins with bacon, egg and cheese.  And so on and so forth.  Tradition #2, The birthday celebrant also picks the menu for the birthday dinner.  Josh's birthday is tomorrow, and he has requested honey garlic chicken wings, fried rice and ginger beef.  Dessert is also the choice of the birthday celebrant.  Josh wants a star shaped marble cake with chocolate frosting.  Jason always asks for pie.  I like strawberry shortcake.  Tradition #3, presents are opened after the cake has been served.  Tradition #4, long distance birthday calls to grandma's, grandpa's and nanny's are made.  Tradition #5, some sort of birthday activity or outing is planned.  Josh's birthday coincides with the release of a big deal movie, so we will be going to the cinema tomorrow night. 

I know this seems like a fairly simple series of traditions, but they are looked forward to with great anticipation.  Our kids are more interested in the meal preparations than the presents, sometimes!  The birthday (and menu) are written on the calendar, sometimes with drawings or little writings added as well.  I am glad we established this series of traditions in our family while our children were young, focusing on a family meal and meaningful gifts.  What kind of traditions have you built around the celebration of birthdays in your families?


  1. How perfect! We have the breakfast and dinner tradition, as well as present opening. But the call to Grandma or Grandpa would have been wonderful. Why didn't I think of that? And all of them chose cake for dessert. Just what kind was the big question. Our kids didn't have very many parties with friends, either. There were just so many of us!!! And we totally missed out of the fun activity. That would have been the icing on the cake . . . so to speak! I wish I'd read this years ago! Thanks so much for this blog! I loved it!

  2. What no birthday pie from the family famous for pie parties? I'm shocked!