Last month, October was a big BIRTHDAY Month at our house!!! I have been reflecting on some of the Birthday Traditions that my kids love and just thought I could share 10 Easy (and CHEAP) Traditions that you Can Try!
1. Pancakes with a Birthday Candle to Wake UP!!
- I’m not sure how or when we started this, but I get up early and make pancakes. I stack the pancakes on top of each other and the number of pancakes is equivalent to their age and it’s topped with a single candle. I then wake up the rest of my family to go sing “Happy Birthday” to the Birthday person. The Birthday person then blows out the single candle and we go have pancakes together as a family. My kids love it so much that they now get up early and make pancakes for me!!! It does make you feel super loved and special to hear your entire family singing “Happy Birthday” to wake you up! It’s a great way to start a Birthday!
2. Decorate Your Own Birthday Cake!
- When it comes to saving money for our large family, every penny counts. Even Birthday Pennies!!! So a few years ago, one of my kids was describing one of their friends’ fabulous Birthday cakes, and I was feeling a little bad. I did the same old 9X13 sheet cake from a box with frosting on top. It wasn’t very exciting and not much to look at. Our budget didn’t allow for a fancy Birthday Cake, so I opted to be creative and ask if they wanted to decorate their OWN Birthday Cake?? This was such a hit with my kids! I even let them pick a few plastic toys that we cleaned up and topped the cake with. They didn’t care how it turned out because they were the ones that got to decorate it!! I was thrilled as well because it created a fun tradition and no guilt for the non-fancy cake! A win, win for everyone!
3. Re-Gifting is allowed and Encouraged!
- I try to get my kids to save as much money as possible, so I do encourage them to give away something that they don’t need anymore to a sibling. Some of these gift exchanges have been the funniest memories! My son Tad is especially good at this and when he recently gave his Grandma a re-gifted gas card that had about three dollars on it, we all about fell over laughing! What a sweet and funny memory! (We do try to keep the re-gifting in just our immediate family, but a sweet Grandma always understands and loves it even more! She gets a kick out of our re-gifting Birthday Parties!)
4. Be Practical! (Socks are a GREAT GIFT!)
- Sometimes when money is short and kids have needs as well as wants, it’s best to go practical on their Birthdays. It seems like we set ourselves up for Birthday failure when we give these enormous gifts. It’s hard to keep up with and sometimes we just can’t, and might I say, WE SHOULDN’T! Sometimes when we give too much, our kids appreciate too little and act a bit spoiled. Don’t set yourself up for failure. My kids know that we are super practical and every once in awhile we will surprise them with something they were not at all expecting. For the most part, my kids get simple, practical birthday gifts and they usually LOVE them. A few practical ideas we have done is their favorite hygiene products, or new socks, new clothes, etc. For the older ones that drive, it might be a tank of gas, or to help buy new tires for the car they drive, or an emergency kit for the car. Being practical has been a real blessing and money-saver in our family!
5. Be Festive with Decorations on the CHEAP!!!
- It doesn’t take a whole lot of money to decorate your house cute for a Birthday. Balloons that you blow up yourself with streamers are about as cheap as they come! A homemade poster with a few candy bars and written Birthday wishes from the family go a long way! Any dollar store or big box store also has those paper banners that say Happy Birthday that is perfect for everyone. We had one for years that we used with each kid. It doesn’t have to be super elaborate, but just a little festive! The kids love being recognized for their Birthday. Each time you tell them “Happy Birthday”…. adds a drop to their bucket and a smile on their face! Letting them eat on a special plate, a birthday hat, etc. all add to their special day!
6. Let them pick what you make for dinner!
- I know this seems a little less like a Birthday Gift, but it’s ALL about making their day special. When the focus changes from gifts to their “special day”, it makes it easier for parents to go less on the gifts and more on the memories. The memories last a lot longer, too! I’m not saying take them out for dinner either, usually, that is not even an option for our kids, but they do love it when I make their favorite meal!
7. Invite friends over but don’t call it a Birthday Party!
- Okay, if you want to stress, call it a party, but if you just want your kid to have a little fun with friends and maybe play a few games, just let them invite a few friends over to play. I’m not a big party person, I feel like kids expect too much and when my kids have had parties, they usually forget to say “thank you,” before opening the next gift. It doesn’t make me feel like a very good parent, and it usually stresses me to the max. I don’t want the pressure of providing a party with all that goes with it. If you want to cut costs, then let your child invite a few favorite friends over and specify, “NO GIFTS” and specifically say, “this is NOT a party”. Then there is no added cost, etc, but continues to add to their “special day!”
8. Play the “I Love You” Game!
So we have a tradition in our family to play the “I love you” Game at dinnertime once in a while. Birthdays would be the best time to plan on playing this game. We start about by saying, “I love (insert name of person) because of…… “. We then take turns going around the table and saying something nice about that person. We do this for a few rounds and the person is always left feeling more loved and special.
9. Have a Treasure Hunt!
This could be a fun family tradition. You could have it inside or outside. Start with the end in mind and hide your “treasure” first, then make up a clue to where to find it, then just keep working backward until you decide where to “start”.
10. Plan a Yearly Family Activity!
- I have heard of families that go bowling every time it’s someone’s Birthday. The kids look forward to it and anticipate the fun ahead. There are other cheap and easy things you could also do like go for a bike ride. Some families love to make their own Pinata and have a blast taking turns hitting it. You could plan a family hike, depending on where you live and the season of the year. Some other ideas would be a family dance party, family movie night, etc. Taking your family on a traditional outing or planning an activity on a Birthday would not only allow quality family time, but it would also make those memories stronger and sweeter.
These were just a few ideas to get you thinking about what would work in your family for traditions that are easy and cheap. Just keep it simple and focus on the person instead of the gifts.
Happy Tradition Making!