Birthday Traditions

I've read many articles over the years about the importance of establishing family traditions. They have huge developmental benefits by giving children a sense of belonging and adding to self esteem. They also help to create a sense of family unity and culture. My husband and I have created a few traditions over the years as well as carrying on some from our own families.

My little girl celebrated her sixth birthday on Saturday and it really brought home to me just how important traditions can be and for the first time, I could see how kids benefit form them with my own eyes. Em is old enough now to remember birthdays that have been and gone, and given the fact that Ed had his birthday back in June, Em was able to remember a lot of the things we did for him and she was really excited that it was her turn this time.

I was quite surprised actually at what these little traditions meant to her and she was so keen and eager to be a part of them. It added to her excitement and she had a strong sense of feeling special and being a part of something bigger. It was a really lovely weekend for our family.

We don't do anything major, but these were the things Em was really looking forward to and couldn't wait to be a part of.

Some of our "Butler Family Birthday Traditions":
- Choosing a birthday cake - Growing up, whenever a birthday would roll around, mum would always let us look through her "Women's Weekly" birthday cake book and choose the cake we wanted. It didn't matter how difficult it was, mum would always have a go. I remember loving this as a child. It really did make me feel special and I loved knowing that mum would happily make whatever cake we wanted, just to make our day as special as she could. I've tried to do the same for my kids and my sister does it for her kids too.

- Presents on the coffee table - I didn't really mean for this to become a tradition, but it has taken on a bit of a life of it's own. The night before each child's birthday, I'll wrap the presents and collect up any that have come from family interstate. They all go onto the coffee table for excited little ones to find first thing in the morning. It comes with a very strict "look but don't touch" rule, which has worked well for us so far.

- "The last day I'm 5" - the night before the birthday, I take a photo of the children on the last day before they turn a year older. I always have a little chat to them about what has happened through the year just gone and encourage them to reflect on what they've enjoyed. I record this in a little notebook I've had since they were young.

- The Birthday interview - folowing on from that, since Em's fourth birthday, I've asked her some interview questions and written down her answers. I think she will enjoy looking back on them as she gets older and she can see how she is growing and changing. They're pretty simple questions like - Your favourite food, colour, friends, toys, but I may make them a little more involved as she gets bigger. I think self-reflection is such a lovely thing to nurture.

- Family time - whether we have a party or not, we always spend some time together as a family on the weekend before or after the birthday and try to have a special outing. In the past few years, we've taken Em to the Melbourne show but this year we went bowling.

- Birthday dinner - Again, regardless of what else has gone on, we always have a family dinner on Birthday night and the person who is celebrating gets to choose exactly what we have. This is always followed up by a cake, which means I am often stuck making two cakes for one birthday, but looking at that little smile as she blows out the candles, surrounded by the people who love her makes it all worth it!!

What birthday traditions do you have in your family? I would love to hear about them.


  1. Ahh birthday traditions are such a big part of our days too - even to teh extent that we have many "pretend birthdays" where i see those traditions being passed down to the dolls :)
    My mother being a professional cake decorator we always had the special cakes and for me I have enjoyed being able to let the girls choose what ever they want and then work out how on earth i am going to to it - this year my daughters wanted a guinea pig cake for their main party and a doggy and ballon for their "on the day family party".
    I always try and do something special on the day and as the girls birthdays are a week apart we have the big party on the weekend in between.
    traditions involve singing 2 birthday songs - happy birthad and "for she's a jelly good fellow" as my daughter calls it, Opening 1 present on the morning (and our sister gets one of hers too) and then presents in the evening when daddy comes home so he can enjoy it too

  2. Hi Steff,

    Thanks for sharing ... I hope I'm never asked to make a 'guinea pig' cake - you're a brave woman tackling that one !! I love that your kids are already passing their traditions onto their dolls. It just shows how much of an impact they make. Thanks for reading


  3. You have some lovely traditions going. I am a big fan of tradition and we have some similar to yours, but I do love the idea of the birthday interview. Need to get myself a notebook and get organised for the next set of birthdays in our house!

  4. My sister and I believe that birthday parties are a great opportunity for learning through traditions - so much so that we've put our ideas together in a blog - - from using the same candles each year to making a scrapbook.
    My daughter will be 5 next month. I have bought a charm for her charm bracelet each year to remember her birthday parties. She had a bee charm for the animal party where she dressed in a bee costume, a rabbit charm for her magic party, a tiara charm for her princess party, a ladybug charm, and I will be adding a mermaid charm this year.

  5. Hi Jo,
    Thnaks for sharing your great ideas. Have checked out your blog and will add it to my favourites. You have some wonderful party suggestions there.

  6. I just discovered your blog and LOVE it! Thanks for all the great ideas. For my kids birthdays I do a birthday tray. Basically I wake them up by singing happy birthday and bringing in a tray with their favorite breakfast and about 5 or 6 smallish toys (stickers, markers, small figures, etc.) on the tray. It is a great way to start their birthday!

  7. Michelle - I just love the idea of a birthday tray, what a special way to start such a special day. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you're enjoying my ideas