Parties + celebrations do not come naturally to me. I’m really good at planning things but terrible at actually executing them. As a result, birthdays are generally pretty simple around here.
In fact, I’ve only ever thrown two birthday parties for my children. Both were for Mila; the first when she turned one and the second when she turned four and had opinions.
Poor Margot + Ryan. Maybe one of these days I’ll be a fun party mom. Today is not that day.
All that said, I do try to make birthdays special. Maybe we don’t have friends over to jump in one of those inflatable bouncy castles, but we do celebrate in smaller ways.
1. I make a birthday cake from scratch.
Not everyone is into baking, and I totally get that. I have nothing against people ordering a cake from Costco or some fancy local bakery, or throwing something together from a box mix. In fact, I’m pretty sure I requested a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake for several of my own birthdays growing up. But wherever it comes from, I do think birthdays should be celebrated with cake.
And because I do enjoy baking, and because food is my love language, I make a point of baking a personalized cake for every birthday.
It’s something I enjoy doing, and the kids really look forward to it, putting in flavor requests months in advance. This year’s 3-tiered strawberry + pink monstrosity wasn’t the prettiest thing I’d ever made, but it was exactly what the birthday girl asked for.
2. We decorate the dining room.
When there are balloons + streamers up in the dining room, you know it’s a birthday. Sometimes I throw in some paper fans or tissue flowers or a fancy garland. It’s a small space, though, so it doesn’t take much to make it feel festive. And since it’s visible throughout the house, it makes a big difference in how everything feels.
I’m all about that minimal-effort maximum-impact life, yo.
3. I take birthday photos.
Not like smash cake pics or anything styled, really. Although I did get a cute crown for Margot last year AND I hired an actual photographer to take the photos.
Typically, though, I do them myself somewhere around the house a few days before their birthday. They wear whatever clothes they like, and I try to capture them being themselves. It’s low-key and only takes a few minutes, but I love having annual photos to track their growth over the years.
4. We invite family over for dinner.
Either the night of their actual birthday or the Sunday before or after, we try to have a family dinner party with whoever is in town. Because David’s parents and sister live so closer, more often than not it’s just us + them, which is fine. This year my parents were around so we got to celebrate with them this weekend.
We don’t usually do much by way of presents, but if family members have a gift for the birthday child, they just bring it that evening. No shipping or stopping by stress. Everyone eats cake, presents are opened, and we all hang out and enjoy each other’s company for a while.
That’s it, really. No breakfast in bed. No elaborately-themed parties with dozens of friends. Just a little something to mark a happy day.
Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t do more, but I have to remember it’s okay if Pinterest parties aren’t my specialty. I’m a good mom. My children have happy lives. These are the traditions they are growing up with and, as far as I can tell, they love them.
Maybe we’ll add new things to our birthday celebrations over the years. For now, I’m good with cake + some balloons.
(358 + 260 + 127 weeks)
What birthday traditions did you have growing up? What about now? Are birthdays a giant blowout celebration at your house or more small + intimate?