Since I mentioned that we just finished three birthdays in 31 days, I thought I would share a few birthday tradition ideas that have been meaningful at different times. We don’t attempt to do these all or it would be overwhelming, but I will share a variety of ideas for all ages. I trust that it will begin to ignite some creative juices, and encourage you to think outside the box. (Today’s are on the meaningful, character building side. I’ll get to the just plain fun ones as well. 😉

The Birthday Charity Tradition

Start a birthday tradition for every member of the family whereby gifts of money are included (or in lieu of) the birthday presents. Donate to the birthday person’s charity of choice.

I first heard of this idea when our friend’s daughter, at age 10, decided to have all her guests bring only a present meant for a newborn.During the party, they went to the crisis pregnancy center and shared these gifts with new moms. Now, I know this would be a huge sacrifice for most children, but this family’s heart of giving began cultivating when this child was very young. If this would be something new for your child, start small, maybe divide the number of gifts in half and donate the rest.

This is a wonderful way to introduce children, at a young age, to the idea of giving. It means a lot to them if they are able to choose the charity themselves. Perhaps they love reading and they use the money to buy books for their school library. Or, they love sports and the money helps purchase soccer equipment for children in countries where all they have is an empty coke bottle to kick around. Older children could even get involved in collecting the thousands of jerseys and shorts at the end of each season (that everyone has outgrown) and send them off to a place where they will be considered treasures.

Take a photo of the birthday child each year next to the huge pile of soccer jerseys, and put it in his/her Birthday Book to remember those good deeds for years to come.

Privileges and Responsibilities

A wonderful way to make your children feel grown up and help them understand what “growing up” really means is to give them two special envelopes on their birthday.

One is labeled “New Privileges” and might include a later bedtime. The other is marked “New Responsibilities” and might include a new chores such as doing the dishes. The birthday child will be so proud of their new privileges that they will take on the responsibilities with greater commitment. What a great way to teach them that these two things come hand in hand.

Tie these envelopes with a thin gold ribbon and prop them up against a set of candles on the dinner table.