Traditions are an important part of family culture. This struck me even more blatantly when our family moved overseas– we were removed from the traditions we grew up with, and started to create our own.
One of my favorite resources for thinking through traditions is Noel Piper’s book Treasuring God in Our Traditions. Noel shares stories of her family’s traditions, and gives parents a ton of ideas for creating memorable holiday experiences for their children. She points out ways to use traditions especially at Christmas and Easter to point to Christ.
Birthdays are also special days that can bear traditions of their own. Since our oldest turned three today, our birthday traditions have been on my mind a lot lately. Here are some thoughts I had about birthday rituals to make birthdays extra special:
- Happy Birthday plate: We have a plate that is painted with the words Happy Birthday and is only brought out on birthdays for the celebrated one to dine from. I made our plate using enamel paint that I baked in my oven (pretty crafty, huh?), so it was very inexpensive (we actually did the painting in a MOPS meeting, and I just baked the plate when I got home.) You could easily do the same thing, or paint a masterpiece at one of those paint-your-own-pottery stores, or just buy a fancy plate to keep aside until a birthday comes along!
- Especially decorated area when the child awakes: This morning, Ladybug came into the kitchen to find a table covered with cards, gifts, and balloons. I also thought it would be neat to have the door to her bedroom or even the posts of her bed decorated when she woke up.
- Siblings play a part: Stinkbug made his sister a card this morning, and when he’s bigger, we will encourage him to choose or make a present for his sister’s special day. Birthdays can be a great opportunity to teach your children generosity and cheerful giving.
- Birthday Meal: This can be done a variety of different ways. We let the birthday child choose a special meal to be prepared for their special day, or let them pick the restaurant for dinner. I’ve also heard of birthday children getting to pick whatever food they want to eat for breakfast on their day– the little girl who told me this said she liked to pick pancakes with vanilla ice cream and skittles on them for her special breakfast. How fun would that be?!
- Birthday Letter/Card: I’ve already mentioned how Hubby and I write monthly letters to our children. For their birthdays I type up a special letter including pictures from the year and insert it into their book. If monthly letters seems too time-consuming for you, how about taking the time once a year to pen your thoughts and impressions of the year to your children? Keep them in a pretty journal, or a simple binder to pass along one day.
- Yearly Photo Books: I love how this mom makes yearly photo books for each of her girls. What a special treasure! Of course there are many ways to do this type of project, from scrap-booking with paper supplies, to using an online site like Snapfish with ready-made layouts and designs for photo books. If this still seems like an overwhelming project to you, what about only selecting one photo for each year of your child’s life for a Once A Year Book?
What birthdays traditions do you use or plan to use with your kids to make their special days extraordinary?