It’s crazy to think about time, but there are birthday traditions that I’m a part of that have been going on for multiple decades. Birthdays are something to be celebrated with fun traditions but should not be a burden on your budget. We’ve got some super fun traditions that mark the passage of each year for the members of our family that you just might want to add to your family routines. Some of them are a bit silly but none of them involve a lot of money or time. Take a look at our birthday traditions and then let me know what you do to celebrate these special moments with your family!
This post includes affiliate links. Some products were received to facilitate this post.
Birthday Traditions – Easy on the Budget
Start the Day with Balloons
When the kids were little, I started their day with balloons on their bedroom floor or tossed on their beds. I didn’t set out to create a 20-year tradition, but it just kept going till now it is the standard way to wake up on your birthday. Mom (with some help from the other siblings) blows up balloons and tosses them in the bedroom before the birthday boy/girl wakes up. There’s typically a lot of whispering and muted noise as the balloons are filled and thrown in the room in the early morning hours.
Tip: Make your life easier if you want to cover the door with balloons. Use a needle and thread to create a string of balloons that you can loop over a door hinge or door knob. Then when you are ready to move the decorations to the table, you can drop that same string of balloons over a chair or hanging light fixture for instant party decor!
Create a Maze out of Streamers
This one goes hand in hand with the balloons on the floor. Before the birthday boy/girl wakes up, Mom (and siblings) creates a messy maze using cheap streamers and tape. There’s no particular pattern or plan – just tape one end of the streamers and then crisscross back and forth making it a bit difficult for the birthday boy/girl to walk through. Then when the star of the show wakes up, they can decide whether to crawl through or pull it down in one motion.
Birthday Balloon Centerpiece
Many years ago, my parents gave me a foam block. This block has been the foundation for every birthday or celebration ever since. You simply cover it with wrapping paper, construction paper, or a piece of cloth. Then attach balloons, streamers, party decor or signs to skewers and poke in the foam block. This makes a super easy but impressive-looking centerpiece.
Order a foam block now and use it for years to come.
Pro tip: Keep straight pins poked in the block so you can easily attach new paper to cover the base or attach extra balloons or decorations.
Make a Birthday Tablecloth
We have a white tablecloth that gets pulled out for each birthday. We often lay sharpie markers on the table and each person that is at the party can sign or write a note on the tablecloth. This is something I wish I started back in the very early days of birthday celebrations. Such a fun idea to watch the kid’s hands grow and their handwriting improve.
Use a LetterBoard
A few years ago, my sister-in-law gave me a letterboard she no longer needed. This is the perfect way to add a personal note for each celebration occasion.
Turn the Cake into the Gift
When the kids were really small, I thought I should buy the cake at the bakery and do a themed party. I then went through a very brief stage where I thought I should make a fancy cake. (That didn’t last long!). Then I got smart and decided that the cake should be a bonus gift. I simply made a regular sheet cake or cupcakes and then let the child pick out the theme. If the theme was horses, then I bought little plastic horses from the dollar store to put on each cupcake. When it was Lego-themed, then we would buy one very small Lego set and carefully place them on the cake with a little piece of wax paper under the Lego figure. The kids loved it because they got a bonus gift, and I no longer had the pressure to create a perfect cake!
One year I let my son decorate the cake however he wanted to. He chose every potential type of chocolate candy and loaded the cake with sweets! Super fun even though it wasn’t very pretty.
Tip: Many years ago when the kids were still small we made one change to our cake traditions. We no longer blow out the candles due to the germ factor. Now we make a cake for the group but always have a donut or individual piece of cake for the candle tradition! One year we had an apple themed party so the candles went on an apple instead of cake.
When a birthday is over, we save as many of the decorations as possible for the next celebration. I still have birthday banners that we bought 13+ years ago for the kid’s parties. Instead of throwing them away, I keep them all in a party box and bring them out for the different birthday events. Periodically, I’ll go shopping at the dollar stores and buy a couple of new cheap banners or signs to add to the rotation.
Start a Lifelong Card
I have a family member who exchanged the same card with his Dad for over 25 years. Each year, they would sign and date the card and give it back to each other. Yes, it started to get pretty crowded, but it is such a neat personal heirloom that created a bond year after year between the two of them. This is a birthday tradition I have not personally started but one that I want to start now that the kids are young adults.
We have never had super elaborate birthday parties but we do love to celebrate each year with special traditions! What are your budget-friendly ways to celebrate birthdays? I’d love to hear!