Eighteen years are usually all we have to unabashedly demonstrate to our children how much they mean to us. Though everyday should be an opportunity to love and appreciate them, birthdays give us license to truly make a child feel special. There are many ways to celebrate a child’s birthday. The important thing is to find the right combination to fit your child and your family.
The first consideration is existing family traditions. Drawing upon birthday traditions from your childhood makes for a meaningful experience for the whole family. Maybe you inadvertently stumbled upon something fun and unique when your first baby began having birthdays. Continuing those activities throughout each child’s youth will create strong memories and lasting bonds.
The next thing to consider for creating a happy birthday is food. Because some of our happiest moments together as a family are spent around a table, meals should be given some extra attention on a birthday. For breakfast, go beyond the ordinary cereal or toast and make some muffins the day before or make your family’s favorite banana pancakes with whipped cream smiley faces on the birthday morning. For lunch on a school day, include a note or a special treat in your child’s lunchbox. In the summertime, plan a picnic lunch in a favorite spot. Dinner should be the birthday honoree’s choice: a favorite home cooked meal or a favorite restaurant. On the theme of food, one very important part of a birthday celebration is the cake. Whether you bake a cake from scratch or from a box or buy it from a local baker, nothing says birthday like a cake with candles all aglow. Another consideration when planning a special birthday is to choose an event. For some people that means a party complete with guests, games, and grub. Parties are an excellent way to share a birthday with friends and extended family. You can plan a party at home or at a location that caters to birthday crowds. For others, a more intimate, less busy way to celebrate a birthday is to do something either familiar or out of the ordinary. Maybe bowling is a favorite pastime and the birthday boy can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to do something that everyone loves. Maybe your birthday girl has always wanted to visit the science museum. Birthdays are a chance to get to do something special
The final consideration for a child’s birthday is presents. Do you have a budget? Do you try to stick to a certain number of gifts in order to make it fair and consistent? What does your child really want? The investment of time and planning that you put toward the tradition of gift giving will more than payoff in the face of your young loved one.
None of these suggestions are the be all and end all of birthdays. The most important consideration is that your child is reminded that on this day, however many years ago, he or she brought to your life the true happiness that comes with getting to watch a child grow. And it is that life that must be celebrated.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator ListPlanIt where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages, including birthday and party planning, to put your world in order.
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