Before becoming a mom, I would often daydream about one day celebrating special occasions with my children. Now that I am a mom, making magic on birthdays, holidays, and everything in between is one of my favorite parts of motherhood. In particular, planning birthday fun for my kiddos is something I’ll cherish as long as they let me. If you’re looking for ways to do the same, here are some simple, sweet birthday tradition ideas to make your child’s big day magical and memorable.
24 Things To Do for Special Birthday Fun for Kids
I hope this list inspires you to start (or continue) some wonderful birthday traditions within your family.
1. Start Their Birthday Morning With Pancakes
Don’t forget the sprinkles and a dollop of whipped cream on top! Even if pancakes are a regular in your family’s breakfast menu rotation, they can easily be dressed up and made special to honor a birthday at any age. Have a spare birthday cake candle on hand? Toss it on top, gather everyone around, and start the day with the happy birthday song.
2. You Could Spell It Out With Donuts Too
If you’re looking for something extra special for a breakfast treat, contact a local donut shop and see if they can create custom donut letters. The donuts can spell “happy birthday” or “happy bday” and your child’s name. For children who love donuts, this is a sweet option (literally) that will surely start their day off with a big smile.
3. Fill Their Room With Balloons Before They Wake Up
Another great way to kick off any birthday morning, balloons are a simple, low-cost way to add a bit of magic to your child’s big day. Whether you opt for a few balloons in their favorite color or more niche character balloons they’ll squeal over; you can’t go wrong with this one. Not to mention, balloons make for the perfect built-in birthday photo opportunity!
4. Display Photos From Their Most Recent Year
Or from birth through whatever year they celebrate, if that’s more your style. Regardless, this is a fun way to highlight your kiddo’s most recent 365 days — and the fact that they’re the star of the show for the day. You can leave a few framed photos of your birthday child out at their spot at the table or go all out and hang an assortment of 4×6 prints from the ceiling with yarn.
5. Have a Birthday Sign or Number Displayed in the Front Yard
There are lots of great custom birthday yard signs that are available nowadays. This lets the whole neighborhood know that you have a birthday kid in your house! Search online for local yard sign companies and see which one will be best for your child. You can have letters and decorations or even choose a huge number covered in balloons! It makes for a great picture to take in the morning to start off their day.
6. Have a “Yes” Day
This one is best suited for slightly older children and might initially seem daunting. But I promise you that the gift of giving your child whatever they want (within reason) for just one day will continue giving for years to come when it comes to magical memories. Breakfast in bed? Sure. Ice cream for lunch? You got it. A fresh manicure or mini shopping spree at Target? A “yes” day sounds like an awesome and fun birthday to me.
7. Plan a Fun Day To Do Their Favorite Things
Whether visiting the aquarium, going to the zoo, hitting a playground (or two), riding the carousel a few times, or stopping at your child’s favorite ice cream shop, spend a day doing what they love. Get back to the basics and savor time as a family doing things you already know your birthday boy or girl enjoys. Birthday fun doesn’t have to be extravagant for it to be an extraordinary day.
8. Host a Fun Birthday Living Room Tea Party
Or any lowkey, fun DIY birthday celebration of choice. Set up couch cushions on the floor, lay a festive tablecloth down, and fill it with finger foods, baked goodies, and “tea” (apple juice pouches work fine for younger children). This sweet occasion is the perfect reason for your birthday kiddo to get all dressed up — without ever leaving the house. I surprised my daughter with this on her second birthday, and it’s a precious memory we’ll cherish. More than half a year later, she still talks about her “birthday tea party” (with all her favorite stuffies in attendance) with excitement.
9. Dial Up a Group Video Chat With Non-Local Loved Ones
Even if your child’s beloved cousins can’t be with them in person for their big day, they can join the birthday fun via video chat. The more, the merrier — and if your children are anything like mine, this one will have them beaming from ear to ear! Some of my daughter’s favorite people in the world are her extended family, who live hours away from us. We miss them on special occasions but are so grateful for technology!
10. Read Fun Birthday-Themed Books Together
I love gifting my kiddos personalized children’s books for their birthdays. Wonderbly is a company that provides fun, customizable titles for books. But the library and bookstore will also have plenty of birthday book options for a meaningful birthday read-aloud.
11. Serve Your Child’s Favorite Foods All Day
Even if that means pancakes or donuts for breakfast, chicken nuggets for lunch, and frozen pizza for dinner. If your budget allows it, you can also have them choose their favorite restaurant for a meal. The small details can go a long way in making a fun birthday enjoyable for any kid.
12. Have a Special Birthday Plate
You might have a special plate for when Santa comes to visit for his milk and cookies, but have you considered a birthday plate for your little one? There are some beautiful custom plates that you can have made for each child or have one made, and the plate can be used for everyone in the family on their birthday day! How special they will feel using the birthday plate on their big day. Some of these Etsy companies will even allow you to write a custom message on the back of the plate for your birthday girl or boy. It’s a perfect gift that can be used year after year.
13. Light a Dedicated Birthday Countdown Candle Each Year
Another cute birthday tradition that you can start is lighting a special countdown birthday candle. Some of these candles have markings up to 18 years, and others go to 21 years and higher. Our Editor-in-Chief had one that she lit every year on her birthday when she was a little girl, and she has carried on this tradition with her children. It’s one of their favorites!
14. Share Compliments and What You Love Most About the Birthday Kid
When the family is gathered around the table to celebrate your child’s birthday, make it a point to have everyone share a little something that they love and admire about them. Who doesn’t enjoy feeling extra loved on your birthday? Sometimes we don’t say how much we love someone, and this is the perfect opportunity to do it.
15. Visit Build-A-Bear for a Birthday Tradition
Build-A-Bear offers a “pay your age” birthday bear anytime during a customer’s birthday month. What’s not to love about stuffing your furry friend — personalized “birth” certificate and all — to keep for years to come? My husband and I have done these for each of our two kiddos’ birthdays, and I don’t see the sweet tradition ending anytime soon.
16. Have a Scavenger Hunt for Gifts
Whether you go all out or opt for simpler items, setting up a scavenger hunt for your child to find their fun birthday surprises can elevate the excitement of it all in a unique, memorable way. You might hide a new book (wrapped in ribbon) somewhere on your child’s bookshelf or a new outdoor toy among the older ones in your backyard. Even hiding a handful of lollipops or treats your child loves throughout the house can create a special treasure hunt.
17. Bake an Awesome Birthday Cake
Don’t be fooled by the elaborate, designer birthday cakes you’ve seen your favorite influencers share on their feeds in recent years. No judgment here, but I’d argue that homemade cakes are still a priceless, fun birthday tradition. You don’t have to be a professional baker to pour lots of love into a delicious, kid-approved cake.
18. Gift Your Kiddo Fun New Birthday Pajamas
I’ve started a tradition of gifting my babies new fun pajamas on each birthday’s eve. I won’t lie; I love picking out cute, new (you guessed it, birthday-themed) bamboo prints. Since they seem to fit much longer than other pajamas, it only makes sense to mark the start of each new age with a fresh pair of jammies, right?
19. Make a Special Fun Birthday Kid Banner
Select up to 10 of your favorite closeups showcasing your child’s unique personality for their custom birthday banner. Then, print them, cut them out, and add construction paper party hats. Punch a hole in the top of each piece, string along a long piece of yarn or twine, hang from your mantle, and voila! Instant birthday happiness.
20. Make Birthday Cards as a Family for Other Children
Birthdays are an excellent time to celebrate our children — and we should! Why not start a heartwarming tradition of making homemade birthday cards for children in the hospital, at shelters, etc., each year? Even 10 minutes of doodling cardstock greetings for others at the kitchen table can add to the spirit of warmth and giving that we all cherish in our families.
21. Set an Alarm and Say “Happy Birthday!”
Maybe don’t do this if your little one was born in the middle of the night. But if they were born during the daytime, or while everyone is still awake, consider setting an alarm and telling them “Happy Birthday” at the exact time they were born. You can even tell them their birth story or how you met them.
22. Make a Mark on Their Growth Chart
One thing kids love to do is grow up. If only they understood that they should enjoy being little for as long as possible. Something fun that you can do on their birthday is mark on their growth chart how tall they are. Then, each year, you can look back and see how tall they were at each birthday.
23. A Special School Lunch or Treat
If your kiddo goes to daycare or is in school and you pack them lunches, consider making something they will love and leave them a little note. If they can’t read, print or draw a picture for them so they can know while they’re away how special they are. You can add sprinkles to their meal (if age-appropriate), leave a little treat in their lunch box, or bring a special treat for the whole class to enjoy and celebrate!
24. Have Them Wear It With Pride
A birthday favorite is to have them wear a birthday shirt that displays how old they are or a birthday pin. Whether they are going to school, running errands with you, or you’re enjoying their “yes” day, everyone can know that it’s your little one’s big day.
Whatever your family’s traditions, there’s always room for more birthday fun. With some creativity, you can find countless ways to make the occasion a memorable celebration. Whether you aim to check off one, two, or all of the items on this list, I hope the ideas I’ve shared here help ensure your child’s next birthday is fantastic!