Happy Birthday to Me: 3 tips for fun and unique birthday traditions

Hello, lovely readers!

Guess what? It’s birthday week!! I love birthday week! My birthday is on Sunday this year and my hubby is taking me to see Fiddler on the Roof, one of my all-time favorite musicals. (Side note: Fiddler is one of the very first musicals I saw live. Thanks to my friend Janelle who invited me along way back in 5th grade and ignited my love for musical theater!) I can’t wait for Sunday! I love having a mid-January birthday, because I almost always get a three day weekend for birthday weekend! Thanks, Dr. King!

Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.

Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

We all grow up with different family traditions around birthdays. Like Tevye from Fiddler, I tend to hold fast to traditions. When we have our own families, some of those traditions remain with us, some we adapt to make work for our new family, and some we adopt from other people when we see a tradition that we like. As someone who loves to celebrate birthdays, I have a few tips on how to set up birthday traditions that will make your loved ones feel extra special.

Make It Yours

I have a pretty big extended family, and when I was growing up, my grandma would host monthly birthday dinners. She’d always make a roast or fried chicken or something special, which made it super fun. My mom or one of my aunts would bring dessert and it was always a fun time to reconnect with each other. I’ve put my own twist on that tradition: we always let the birthday person choose what dinner will be for their special day. All of my kids love this tradition, including my son-in-law, who faithfully chooses my curry recipe for his birthday dinner every year.

Make It Unique

Believe it or not, not everyone likes cake. (I know, right?) As a way of honoring the birthday person, I love to have my family members choose what type of dessert they’d like for their birthday treat. We’ve done everything from chocolate chip cookie bars to cheesecake to cream puffs for our birthday treats. Sometimes it’s fun to deviate from tradition, especially when it makes the birthday person feel special.

Speaking of feeling special, it’s especially important to think about this when birthdays are shared or close to another major holiday or celebration. For example, my husband’s birthday is just 10 days after mine, which means that we’ve often celebrated together for our birthdays. It’s fun for us, but we always try to do something special for each other on the actual day. Similarly, my daughter’s birthday is the day before our wedding anniversary in July. We’ve always made sure to celebrate her day. We celebrate the individuality of each person in our family, and we also celebrate together. It’s more fun that way, and it’s important to me to make sure that each person feels celebrated in their own right.

Make It Interesting

As in, related to the birthday person’s interests. One tradition that we’ve started trying to implement over the last few years (with admittedly scattered results) is to give the gift of experiences to our children, rather than stuff. Giving experiences that are related to their personal interests is a great way to celebrate and bless them without adding to their stuff accumulation. For example, a couple of years ago, we purchased an app subscription for our daughter that has a library of Irish dance music. Other ideas I’ve had include cooking classes, swing dance lessons, a course through a local community college, and family getaways to a hot springs. This year, we’ve got something fun up our sleeves that I’ll be able to share about later this year because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

A few more fun ideas

Another way we’ve celebrated in the past is to pull out baby books and old pictures. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a tradition, meaning that we don’t do it every year, but it’s fun to do sometimes. As my children get older, it’s especially fun to see how much they’ve grown and changed over the years. (It’s also a good reminder that I need to get my pictures off of my phone and into family yearbooks!)

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

Oprah Winfrey

Here are just a few more ideas for birthday traditions:

  • Special birthday breakfast (I have a friend who does birthday pancakes)
  • Hang up a banner outside so the whole world knows (My neighbor across the street does this— I love it!)
  • Do something physical: go for a hike, go swimming (weather permitting), a walk… Whatever the birthday boy or girl wants!
  • Go to a favorite ice cream place

Here’s what I know: People want to feel celebrated on their birthdays. They want to feel like their people see and know them. So go out and celebrate in a way that’s meaningful for them!! And drop a comment about your birthday traditions (so we can all get more tools to add to our birthday tradition toolbox).

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get extra tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop near the turn of the month. Click here for access.

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