Birthdays are one of our very favorite celebrations in my home. Not just for the one having the birthday, but for the rest of us as well, as we love doting on and celebrating each other on our special days.
We try to keep things simple, though, it wasn’t always so. My eldest will be 7 this year. For the first few years we did themed parties with relatives and friends. I know we frequently overdid it on the gifts, too. But for the past 2 or 3 years we’ve scaled back and simplified things. In no way diminishing the celebration, but making them smaller, closer to home and, I think, more meaningful.
Traditions are always evolving in our home. If it doesn’t suit the people we are growing into or creates more stress, we easily let them go or skip them this time. We also add or try new traditions out as the inspiration strikes.
One tradition that we started on my oldest daughter’s first birthday and joyfully keep for each child year after year is the birthday morning gift. I take one small, specially selected gift and my camera to bed with me the night before the big day. In the morning, when the birthday girls wakes, she comes straight to my bed (or we go to her if she’s being a sleepy head) and we all gather round as she opens her ‘morning gift’. It’s always small, usually mama-made, but such an exciting way for them to start the day. My girls love this so much that, as they’ve gotten a bit older, they like to contribute a special morning gift of their own. Some of the morning gifts I’ve given them; a hair clip, gnomes like I make in my shop, a new coloring book, books, small knitted animals. And I always look forward to capturing with my camera them opening their gift as they wake up a year older!
The birthday crown is a new tradition for us. I made the crown for my youngest and my mother made crowns for the older two (as she’s more gifted in embroidery) based on their likes and personality. The crowns are made from wool felt and the back is elastic. I’ve sized them so they fit from the first birthday all the way to the last. The crown comes out first thing in the morning and it’s the birthday girl’s choice how much she wants to wear. We use them simply because the make my girls feel that much more special on their birthday. The older two like to wear theirs all day, even if we go out so that everyone can see this is their very special day.
Other than that, we like to stay flexible, doing what the birthday girl wants to do; going out for lunch or to the park, staying home and playing, spending time with a couple of friends or just intimate family… whatever. We keep the gifts minimal and preferably handmade, even more preferably handmade by mama or daddy. Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday. Her morning gift was a felt hair clip I made. She also received a handmade wooden horse puzzle I had purchased from a local crafter, a set of picture puzzle blocks painted by my husband and I knit her a doll. Sweet, simple and suited just for her. For our family we choose not to bring too many things into the home and to choose few things of good quality.
Most of all, the emphasis is to show whoever’s birthday it is that they are cherished and loved and we are so glad that they came to be with us on this day however many years ago! I usually cook a special breakfast, let them choose whatever they want for supper and make a simple cake. We follow their lead for the day, asking ahead of time what they want to make their day special. One day a year it’s all about them and I hope I do impart to them how very special they are and how very blessed we are they came into our lives.
Julie Hunter is a wife and mama, raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.