Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 Ways to Celebrate Birthdays without Spending a Lot of Money


 
In our family birthdays have always been a BIG deal. My mom and dad raised three children and they always found a way to make our birthdays special.  My parents were masters of helping us have fun without spending a ton of money.  So, instead of keeping all these great ideas to myself, I thought I'd share with you tonight!  Let's see if we can come up with at least 10 ways to celebrate birthdays without spending a lot of money! 
 
1. Start with family.  In our house we start our celebration with family. We all gather on the birthday morning and wake up the birthday person together with singing, smiles, sharing memories, and lots of hugs!  You can make phone calls, send an email, or pop on over to the birthday child's house to help them celebrate their special day!  You don't have to spend $5 on a card to send a warm greeting!
 
Yes, that's me and my mom with my Raggedy Ann cake made by Aunt Doris when I was about 3 years old.
 
2. Celebrate with singing.  If you would like a little more than just the traditional rounds of "Happy Birthday" check out this cd by Red Grammer.  Our family favorite (as well as our Conscious Discipline Favorite) is "On the Day You Were Born".  We sing and dance and act out the verses of the song with motions that go along with the words.
 
 
 
Here is a link to Red's Website where you can find more activities to go along with this song. 
 
3.  Establish and treasure traditions.  In our family we have a few traditions that although they may be a bit annoying to the kiddos, they would totally miss them if we didn't do it!  :)  One thing we love to do every year is look back at the scrapbooks and share their "birth"-day story.  Let me tell you there is lots of eye rolling when they hear me say, "I feel so much better than I did this time 12 years ago..." just like my mom has done with me for the past 40 years! 
 
 
 
Yes, I drag the birthday hats out of the cedar chest every year!  They have been getting their pictures taken in it since their first birthday and they are just thrilled about it!
 
 
This is our celebration mug alongside the birthday hat.  The mug is special because my husband painted it a couple of years ago when we went to Color Me Mine, a paint your own pottery place in Carmel, IN.
 
4.  Focus on their favorites!  We try to start the day with the birthday child's favorite breakfast food.  For my son that is what we call Lava Lava Island.  We take two waffles, put a scoop of ice cream in the middle, then drizzle it with chocolate syrup and maple syrup.  He knows we only have it on special occasions and that makes it even more special!
 

I also take special requests for dinner on their birthday.  All year long they talk about what they will have for their special birthday dinner.  Sometimes its fondue, steak, salmon patties, or grilling out hamburgers and hotdogs.  It doesn't really matter to us what it is as long as it is something the birthday person likes!

5. Get creative with the cake.  I remember one year when we made banana racecars for my dad's birthday.  We used cookies for wheels and marshmallows and cherries on top.  It doesn't have to be a traditional cake to be special. 


When I was 11 years old my parents baked a birthday check right in the middle of my cake.  I wondered why the cake was so hard to cut!


This was an idea I found on Pinterest called the Exploding Cake.  Now, remember that my son turned 12 this year.  He is old enough to safely handly a joke and a little fun with this "special" cake.  I would not recommend doing this with young children or those who have a lot of sensory issues!   Honestly, I thought the cake looked strangly similar to a Thanksgiving turkey and didn't think he's fall for it, but he did--hook, line, and sinker!


He was posed and ready to cut into what he thought was a delicious cake his grandma made for him.


Surprise!  It was a balloon covered in icing.  It made a little pop and splattered little bits of icing throughout the room, but it was so worth it!

 
The room errupted into laughter, hugs, and reliving the moment over and over again because it was so much fun!  Can you see the chocolate icing on his neck and upper lip?  Some of it even flew across the table an hit me in the cheek!  You better believe we will be talking about that for years! 
 
 
6.  Go over the top!  Birthdays are so special that we want to make it colorful and lots of fun!  We started this tradition last year.  During the night, we decorate the house with balloons and streamers so it will be tons of fun when the birthday child wakes up.  It makes their day even brighter!  


7.  Keep it novel.  Although there is certainly a place for traditions, the novelty keeps it fresh and exciting.  When we decorate with balloons and streamers we put up enough balloons for every year of their life.  What could you do to give their birthday a special twist that makes it even that much more special?  Take something you are already doing and add a little twist.  The element of surprise keeps it fun! 


We put one dollar in each balloon. The birthday child has all day to think of different ways to pop each balloon, but they have to wait until after dinner to do it while the whole family watches.


8.  Give them "one to grow on".  This year, when we did the balloons, we added a 13th balloon for "one to grow on".  We challenged our son to use this 13th dollar to do something good.  He could do it with just $1 or he could grow the $1 with a creative idea and use that larger amount to make a big difference in someone's life.  This is hopefully the gift that keeps on giving!

9.  Put a special focus on noticing the person with a birthday.  In our preschool classroom we "make a birthday cake" for the birthday child.  The child (or adult) sits in a chair and we talk about all the "special ingredients" in our cake.  Those "ingredients" are all the special things we love about that person.  For example, we might talk about ways they are helpful, kind, patient, enthusiastic, creative, and energetic, any characteristics that you want to highlight.  We "ice" the cake by interviewing them and asking questions about their favorite things, how old they are and other little bits of information we want to know.  Now that the cake is complete the birthday child picks a number of friends that equals their age and these friends are going to be the candles on the cake.  They will dance around the child in a circle as the whole class sings the Happy Birthday song.  When the song is over they "blow" out the candles and each child "melts" by falling to the ground.  Of course the birthday child gets to wear special glasses, a hat, and a necklace too!  This birthday ritual has a very special place in the life of our School Family.
 
 
 
10. Don't wait to celebrate!  Celebrate with your family all the time!  What we offer to others, we strengthen in ourselves.  You will find that when you focus on celebrating even the smallest accomplishment, BIG things can happen.  Don't wait until their birthday to get out the special cup and plate!  Get them out today and celebrate just because it's FRIDAY and the weekend is here! 
 
 
 This is a video of my friend Shelly as she shares the song she sings to her boys every Friday.  They enjoy this song as she is waking them up on the "best day of the week."  Have fun celebrating!!