12 Simple but Special Traditions for Your Child's Birthday

by: Erin Dower
Birthday parties don't have to go overboard to be special. These 12 simple birthday traditions are easy to do and have a special personal touch.

Planning a picture-perfect, creative, straight-off-of-Pinterest birthday for your child is so last year (not to mention LOTS of work). The most meaningful and lasting birthday memories can come from simple gestures you repeat each year to make your child feel special.

Resist the urge to go overboard and try one or two of these easy birthday traditions for your child. We promise they'll be thrilled!


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Give Her a Balloon "Wake-Up Call"

When it's time for the birthday kid to rise and shine, stand over the bed and shower them with a laundry basket full of balloons and pieces of curled ribbon. Or scatter balloons in her room after they've fallen asleep the night before so they wake up to a sea of color.

Make a Paper Crown

Store-bought party hats are tight and scratchy, and the elastic chin straps are an accident waiting to happen.  Decorative paper, scissors, and a small piece of tape are all you need to craft a cute crown for your birthday king or queen. Sticking with the royal theme, let your child choose a title or name they'd like to be called for the day.

Dress in His Favorite Color

Favorite colors are a big deal to kids. Any little guy would smile at the sight of mom and dad rocking Cookie-Monster blue — or whatever hue they're currently obsessed with.

Let Them Decorate the Cake

Birthday Traditions: Decorating the Cake

We all try so hard to copy those fancy cake designs on Pinterest, but the truth is most kids are happy with anything covered in frosting. Try this: buy or make your child's favorite kind of cake and provide all sorts of fun fixin's — candy, frosting, sprinkles. Let your child go nuts decorating it however they please. It may not be an Instagram-worthy masterpiece, but it's sure to be original.

Create a Birthday Time Capsule

Turn an empty jar, canister or shoebox into a magical "time capsule." Our printable time capsule for kids makes it easy to record your child's favorite things and memories from the past year. Fill the capsule with the printable and other mementos. Your kid will love opening it to reminisce years down the road.

Draw a Portrait

The birthday kid could fill this printable picture frame with a drawing of themselves, the family or their favorite thing. Fold up the portrait and put it in the birthday time capsule. It'll be fun to see your child's imagination (and art skills) evolve over the years.

Do a Gift Treasure Hunt

Turn gift-giving into a game. Leave a trail of clues for the birthday kid to find the presents. Involve physical activity in some of the clues/challenges (such as hula-hooping or sinking a shot in a game of basketball) if your birthday kid is a ball of energy after all those goodies!

Watch Their Favorite Movie

Birthday Traditions: Watch a Movie

Make it a movie night! Let the birthday kid choose a favorite film — even if it's that one they've watched 20 times already. If your kid is having a birthday party with friends and family, a movie night on their actual birthday is a low-key activity to balance the excitement of the big party day.

Size Them Up

Each year, mark their height on the wall, take their handprints or take a photo in the same spot so you can see how much they grow and change each year. 

Give a "Birthday Basket"

Kids love Easter basket- and stocking stuffer-type goodies. Attach some balloons to a basket and fill it with some fun trinkets. This is a nice chance for siblings to pick out a little present or gag gift for the birthday kid.

Decorate with Pictures

Fill a wall or a sheet of poster board with some of your favorite photos of the birthday kid from birth to present day, or just from the past year. Use the pics to spell out your child's name or initials, or make a random collage. Look at the photos together and talk about the happy memories!

Write a Birthday Letter

Write an annual birthday letter to your child highlighting special moments and milestones from the year. Keep track of funny and special moments and quotes from your child by keeping a running email draft for yourself. Handwrite the letter to make it an extra-special keepsake. (Break out the tissues, Mom!)

There are so many fun things you can do together with your child to make their birthday special. If your kid has a birthday coming up, check out 10 Awesome Birthday Party Theme Ideas for some cool party-planning tips.