The perfect birthday is one of those yearly milestones that most parents strive for when it comes to their kids. We ask our children what they want for their big day, how many presents they think they’ll get, and how excited they will be when they get them. The unfortunate part of all this is that we are setting ourselves up for defeat. What if we can’t find that once-in-a-lifetime gift? What if the day turns out to be lackluster or even disappointing for them? There’s a way to play the perfect birthday for kids, and it doesn’t need to cost a million dollars to do so. Here are the tricks my husband and I use each year.
Focus on Experiences
We stopped associating gifts with birthdays. I know. I KNOW. You’re supposed to get gifts on your birthday! That’s very true. If you are celebrating a birthday, there are usually gifts associated with said celebration. But, as a parent, we have this superpower of conditioning the expectations of our children. If we make a point of hyping up the gift part of a birthday, then our kids will become obsessed with gifts. Instead, we focus on the experience of the day. We have our kids list 5 things they would love to DO to make their birthday perfect.
The keyword there is DO. What kind of experiences would they like to have on that day? Each year, they choose something different. Last year, my oldest wanted to go to the museum in Philadelphia with his dad, play video games, and stay overnight in a hotel. As you can see in the picture above, my son’s wishes changed this year, but they were still focused around experiences that made him happy.
Stick with Traditions (or create new ones)
Each year, I make a cake for my kids. We eat it for breakfast on the day of their birthday. This tradition has nothing to do with a gift, or presents, or even a party. It’s something that’s inexpensive but memorable. This year, I was away for my daughter’s birthday, but we will still follow the tradition, just a week late. What is a tradition that you follow on birthdays? If you don’t have one, ask your kids what’s one thing they would love to do each year on their birthday. You may be surprised by their response.
Gift are Secondary
We do get our kids a gift or two for their birthday. We also make sure to wait until midday or the end of the day to give these gifts to them. We’ve learned that they are so excited to be celebrating their special day, that the gift part tends to become secondary. If the family follows the “birthday list” created by the child, you will be almost too busy for gifts!
Make Love the Star
As a parent, we know the best part of a birthday is the story behind the birth. This is a day not only to remind yourself of that special day, but to remind your child of the experience their whole family had the day they were born. Humans love to hear stories about themselves, especially tiny humans. Take a moment during their birthday to remind them of how they came into this earth, and/or when you were blessed to add them into your family (adoption stories are so much fun to share). Let them know how much you love them. Lay it on thick. It’s their birthday, for goodness sakes!