There is vinyl lettering on our front door proclaiming that “Huh” is now 17 but still “car-less” (she keeps hinting that she could really use a car).  Back in January the door letters advertised that I had reached the ripe old age of 40 and so all visitors should be quiet around the “nearly dead.”  Thanks to my husband, and his latest hobby, vinyl stickers on the front door are our newest family tradition for birthdays.  It is a tradition the neighbors like witnessing.  I love celebrating birthdays, so over the years our family has developed several rituals that we use to celebrate.  Since birthdays have continued to be on my mind since my last post I have decided to share some of the ways we celebrate birthdays in our family.

One easy way of singling out the birthday child is reassigning their chores to their siblings.  They enjoy taking it easy and watching while their siblings (and sometimes parents) wash the dishes, take out the trash, or clean up dog doo in the yard for the day.  I also take my kids to lunch for their birthday.  If their birthday happens to fall on a school day I check them out of school during the lunch period.  They get to choose the restaurant and we usually end up getting back to school slightly late.  They have never complained about being tardy.  I take full advantage of the one-on-one time by asking them all about school, their friends, and whatever else comes to mind.

For the other two meals of the day the birthday child gets to choose the menu and I fix it.  For breakfast we’ve had everything from fruit crepes, to oatmeal, to breakfast burritos.  One child even requested their favorite cold cereal.  Dinner requests tend to be Italian in nature, pizza or spaghetti or lasagna, although once we had submarine sandwiches and another time we had shepherd’s pie.

As far as gifts go, we set a limit on cost and allow the birthday child to ask for gifts within that amount.  The siblings all shop at the local dollar store and choose one gift that they think fits the birthday child. We parents also get something from the dollar store in addition to the regular gifts we’ve purchased.  On the evening of the birthday celebration we all gather in the family room to present our gifts one at a time.  It has been amazing and sometimes hilarious to see how creative the kids can be in their purchases.  Once, one of the football players in the family received foot odor spray to use in his very ripe cleats.  I believe he received deodorant at the same time from someone else.  Fortunately he’s a good sport.

Of course we always have the traditional birthday cake with candles and we sing “Happy Birthday” in the worst voices possible.  Sometimes I am able to talk one of the kids into baking the cake for the birthday child.  One cake ended up with every candy sprinkle we had in the house.  The six year old baker was quite proud of his creation.  Birthday rituals, however simple, can add some fun to birthdays and can help the one whose life is being celebrated feel special.  Some traditions can begin quite unintentionally, such as our latest vinyl letter tradition, but the unintentional traditions are sometimes the most enjoyable.  All of the kids are now wondering what the front door is going to proclaim on their birthday.

NOTE:  For more birthday ideas please see the page “Nifty Notions.”

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