On Their Actual Birth Day:
There are a few things that I like to do for every Birthday. The first is that when my kids wake up in the morning they will find their door completely decorated for their Birthday. It just magically happens during the night. I usually tape crepe paper across, and have balloons and streamers all over the place. You know, make it difficult for them to even get out their door. This way, right from the first thing in the morning, they know it’s their Birthday and we’re celebrating it!
When they sit down for meals all day long they will sit in a chair that is decorated just for them. This usually means a paper printed with their name and includes elements to go with their party theme. This also includes streamers and balloons. Its so easy to decorate up a chair for the Birthday Kid!
If you thought that was bad...I also give my child the choice of if they even want to go to school on their Birthday or not! Yup, I really do. It's their day and I want to make sure they know they are so important. So far, my kids have not chosen to stay at home. They would prefer to celebrate at school. For dinner they get to choose to eat anything they want.
There are a few family favorites that we always try to include in our parties. My parents had us do these games at our parties, growing up, and so it's really cool to be doing these for my kids' parties now!
The first one is the package game.
You buy a small fun gift for the center of the package. The first layer you wrap in comics. This gives you a cue when you are down to the last layer. Then, you wrap as many layers of newspaper onto this package as you can! In between each layer put in goodies like pieces of gum, stickers, plastic snakes, etc. This is basically musical chairs. Everyone is in a circle on the floor. The package gets passed around the circle while the music is playing. Whoever is holding the package when the music stops gets to unwrap one layer. That child keeps all goodies that fall out of that layer. Then, the package goes around until the last child gets the prize. A tip here is to have to adults with garbage bags to pick up the newspaper as it's being unwrapped!
The second game we always love to have at our family parties is a Treasure Hunt! Oh The Treasure Hunt! We always had fantastic treasure hunts growing up. My Dad was in charge of this and would split us up into teams depending on what we were into that year (I think one year was My Little Pony names for the teams). I loved that! The treasure hunts were very basic when we were little and just had easy directions for around the house. By the time we were older they were clues that you had to decipher, hidden really well, placed all over town. We had to track my Dad down at the mall one year to get our clue, and another clue had us jumping into the church’s dumpster! Right now my kids are still on foot, but my oldest child is running through the neighborhood for her clues. Thank goodness her Birthday is in the Winter otherwise it would be too darn hot!
The third thing we do at our parties is “Bump On The Head”. Really there is no title for this thing, and I just made the title up. When the Birthday child opens their presents we just do it a little differently. The child giving the gift holds the gift above the Birthday Child’s head and says, “Heavy heavy hang over thy poor head, What do you wish this person with a bump on the head?” Then, the Birthday child gets a soft bump on the head with the gift. The Birthday child does not open the gift until they’ve thought about what they would give to the child giving the gift, and then tells everyone this “wish”. Usually it ends up being, “a million puppies” or something else that parents would hate! ;)
There are some things that I do for all of my kids' Birthday Parties. I always make the invitations for the parties myself. For an Indian Party the invitations were teepees that the details were under the flap door of the teepee.
For a mermaid party they were a picture of my daughter with Ariel (from Disneyland) with all the information on them. Then, I rolled them up and put them into glass bottles that had sand we had collected ourselves from the beach, mixed with blue glitter. This was before you could easily find those bottles!
The ballerina party had my daughter in her ballerina outfit, and the dinosaur party had a picture of my daughter next to a huge sign of dinosaurs (from when we went to walking with dinosaurs).
My Mom always had us playing Bingo while guests were arriving. Then, we also had games that our Dad made up for us. He would make up cross word puzzles and word searches that were using the names of all the people at the party. I don’t know how he made them all those years ago. However, now it is so easy to do. There are a ton of free sites that do this. I have changed the cross word puzzle a bit to be a “Who knows ____Best?”. All of the clues and answers are information about the Birthday Child! There is also personalized Bingo. Instead of numbers to call out, you make up boards and cards that use the names of those who will be at the party. For the really young kids I also color code so that those kids that can’t read can still play by matching colors!Personalized Pin the Tail on the Donkey has been fun to make each year. I just take a picture of the theme (cowboy, Power Ranger, Mermaid, etc) and enlarge it to an 8 1/2x11 size. Many times this picture is actually my child in that costume. Then, I take a body part and use that instead of the tail.
A great tip here is to add each child's name to each "tail" before you print them all up. This makes it so much easier to know who's "tail" actually ended up closest! ;)
Have a counter of pictures of the Birthday child. If you are a scrapbooker, bring out all the Birthday Child’s scrapbooks. Now is the time to display them on a coffee table or kitchen counter, for all guests to go through. I gather all the framed pictures of this child from around the house and put them out on my kitchen island.
Make a movie of either the child’s last year, or their whole life. We have projected this up on a huge wall for everyone to watch it! The kids always LOVE this! There are so many free software programs to help you do this. It can be simple or more detailed. I always like to add music that pertains to this child.Don’t forget to make a list of pictures that you want to make sure to get. I seem to be so in the moment of the party (which is actually a good thing) but then when I look back at pictures from the parties, I find there are shots that I wish I had taken, that I didn’t take. So, decide what parts are important to you. Actually sit and make a list. It’s also helpful to enlist the help of adult family and friends to make sure you get these pictures. My BFF let’s me just run the party, and she goes around and takes all the pictures for me. This way, even I end up in some of the pictures! Here is a list of some shots that I feel are important:
-The night before the child’s Birthday, take a picture of you with your child, holding up the # of fingers of the child’s age (this is the last day they are that age!).
-A picture of the child holding up their fingers of how old they now are, on their Birthday!
-Picture of all guests, or at least all kids, making goofy faces (much more fun than a formal one where no one is all looking the same direction and with eyes open at the same time anyways.)
-Child blowing out the cake
-Decorations that you made or think are great
-Presents as they are given if you are not writing down who they are from (great for writing thank yous and can include this picture in the card!)
-Child with their best friend
-Pictures with each guest (though I now prefer all guests to be in one picture!)I hope this helps someone when they are planning a party. Either this gave you some new ideas, or at least reminded you of something you had wanted to do!
OK Now we've all given you some of the traditions that we are carrying on from our childhoods, as well as fun new traditions we are starting for our Birthdays. I would love to hear what other people do for theirs. Maybe a tip or two. What part of Birthdays are important to you? What is it that you are trying to teach your kids or give to your kids? I'd love to hear your thoughts!