Large Family Birthdays

I’ve been asked a few times lately how we do birthdays, so I thought I would share our very established traditions. Right now we’re halfway through our summer birthday blitz, which consists of four birthdays, each two weeks apart.

The night before, we decorate the main living area. I’m not amazing at this, but I try really hard. I’m always on the lookout for reusable decor, and I’ve handsewn our special “Birthday Banner” which always marks the day. I print or gather lots of photos from over the years to tape all over the wall, which always greatly confuses our younger kids when they realize that the older ones look exactly like them when they were younger!

We all shuffle and sneak into the birthday person’s room and sing “Happy Birthday” to wake them up in the morning. This was a tradition I loathed as a teenager growing up, but so far mine all still like it- and often they are laying there pretending to be asleep anyways! Abigail threw us for a loop this past year- she was lying on her pillow, fully made up, hair done, and donning a beautiful dress. She was READY. Apparently she and Hosanna were up an hour ahead of time.

They are allowed to choose all the meals for the day, which used to be fun and now is NOT. We don’t often do convenience foods, so now they are asking for them on their special days! Poptarts, Alphagettis and cereal have all been on the list. I guess it saves time, but I really don’t like having to eat that myself! Luckily Handsome Hubby and Hosanna are coming up next, and they are good for picking stuff a little better.

We open gifts right away, first thing. Usually the HH has to head off to work, so we wake up a bit earlier and have some fun. I shop all year round for birthdays, especially books, clothes, games and things that I know will be wanted. We don’t always spend the same amount- actually, I’m not even sure where it’s at because it’s all purchased at different times- but I try and make sure there’s a bit of a “stack” of gifts. Some are cheap, and some are bigger, but I’m always after the WOW factor. At Christmas we give three gifts each, and I don’t really give stuff during the year at all, so birthdays I try to make a fuss. My love language is absolutely gifts, and I really enjoy shopping for them.

They are allowed unlimited screen time, but they are usually pretty involved with playing their new board games, Lego or craft stuff. Either way, I usually just yield to them activity-wise the whole day. It is never a school day for anyone! We don’t usually go anywhere; the last few years have been so hit and miss with restrictions that it’s easier and more fun to make it special at home. The birthday kid usually has a whole itinerary planned out, and I just follow along.

Gramma comes over after dinner and brings cupcakes, which is always super helpful for me, but mostly they are just really excited to see Gramma and Grampa. Their uncle usually takes them out for lunch and shopping around that day or on it, if it works with his sched. They look forward to that like crazy.

A “candy hunt” has become a hard and fast rule, too. The whole fam, and whoever happens to be over at the time, hides in their hardest hiding spot around the house, holding some candy for the birthday kid. They have to go and find each person, and then they share the candy with everyone. Hosanna asked for this for her day a few years ago, and now they all do, too.

For parties, we always have the whole fam over for dinner. I usually combine a couple so I’m not totally jeopardizing all our extended family’s schedules! With their friends, we do parties every other year and invite as many people as they want. It’s not unusual to have 30-40 kids, and we’ve rented our church and other venues for this when needed. If they want to do a movie at the theater or something, I will give them a bit of a budget to work with. This is a “non-party” year, so I’m enjoying a bit of reprieve. I find that our kids share a lot of friends, or are friends with whole families, so it just feels like sooo much to keep inviting the same bunch of families over for all the birthdays. I would rather go all out and make it epic every other year, instead of trying to crunch them all in our schedule.

For dinner, we take turns going around the table and talking about all the stuff we love about the birthday person. I write it all down and keep it in our family altar binder, where I keep track of all the prayer requests and things we’re thankful for. We each pray a blessing over him or her.

What are your favourite traditions, either now or from growing up? Do you have any reusable decoration ideas?


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