5 Party Free Birthday Traditions

This is not in any way a treatise against birthday parties. We are not against them. They just do not work for our family and if you are looking for ways to simplify your birthday celebrations than keep on going!


I am a sucker for Pinterest. I LOVE beautiful things. Anyone, who has spent any amount of time on Pinterest knows that there are some people out there that create the most AMAZING birthday parities. I am not one of those moms. I tried to be once, but I realized I was pouring so much of myself into that birthday party that I was too tired and stressed out to enjoy time celebrating the life the party was all about.

I was so tired of expending all of my energy on the party. A party that stresses me as mom out! A party almost no one would ever actually come to. A party that stressed my kids out and caused meltdowns.

Now we do simple instead.

Not simple, diy party options. Nope, no party at all.

For us celebrating a birthday is a really big deal. It has always been a really big deal but parties were hundreds of dollars, after you factor in food, decorations, goody bags and venue. Every time we tried to save money it cost me in time instead. Sure they were fun, but there are less expensive ways of having fun and celebrating life. Instead of having a shindig focused on streamers, themes and stuff we choose to spend our energy and money on building relationships and memories. This is what we do to make birthdays extra special around here.

#1 Take the Day Off

My husband rarely gets to take a day off for birthdays. He does however, wake up early and pour extra attention on the birthday child before work, calls us during the day to say happy birthday again and clears his evening schedule so that its all about the birthday child. As for us at home… we take the day off from school. Each kiddos birthday is a school holiday for us…or at least it was until we switched over to a more unschooly way of life. The point is to make it as special as we can so it becomes a day filled with Birthday kid loving.

#2 Birthday Breakfast

Sometimes we go out to eat for breakfast but most days we make a big birthday breakfast filled with all the favorites at home. Waffles or Chocolate chip pancakes in funny shapes with whipped cream, fruit and sprinkles tends to be the most requested. If I decorate the table, it is just the table and only using craft supplies I already own. Nothing too over the top, just little tags or a small streamer saying happy birthday…maybe one or two balloons if we have them on hand.

#3 Have a special day out.

This is a free or minimal expense day out on the town. I ask the kiddo what they want to do most for their birthday and then we do it…within reason. It may be going to a favorite playground or park, using a year round membership we already have, a local museum or a combination of favorite places. If daddy can’t go with us on the day of the big birthday then we do something more normal and go to the super special place together as a family on the next Saturday ( For our last birthday, we went to the Aquarium with our year membership on the day of and then to the zoo with daddy the Saturday after). On occasion, our children have even chosen an out of state adventure and as long as it is within our budget we allow it (for example, visiting their cousins 5 hours away in Connecticut…who’s going to say no to a family visit?).

#4 Dinner as a family.

 Birthday kiddo gets to choose what we eat with no complaints from the rest of the peanut gallery. If they choose a restaurant they get to choose their birthday meal and a birthday dessert. That last part is the kicker for my kids, we rarely order dessert in restaurants so having that as an option is a huge treat for them. However, there are times when they want a special home cooked meal instead. In which case I make a whatever they have chosen as a meal and a homemade cake of their choosing. I don’t go crazy with the cake decorations. I know how to and used to (Ive made a Snow White themed 3 tiered cake with frosting and a Rocket ship…it took hours!) but now I don’t. Instead of doing fancy decorations I focus on the flavor and cover it with fruit or sprinkles. The funny thing is that the kids prefer it this way! They also get to help, which is a big treat for them too.

#5 The Birthday Present

Each child gets a single present for their birthday. They get it on their birthday and they use cash to buy it themselves. After dinner they choose a store to go to, $20 and then they can choose anything they want within that amount. So far none of them have wanted to just save the money for something bigger and all being 7 and under their gift choices have been easy. We also don’t stick to traditional toy stores with tons of options. One child almost exclusively chooses the lego store, the older two LOVE Bass Pro Shops and the youngest is good with Target. Armed with their cash and free will it is usually the highlight of their day!

Our focus is on spending time with each other. It’s all about having the best day ever.

It is all about having a Happy Birthday!


2 comments on “5 Party Free Birthday Traditions

  1. Adrien says:

    But what do you do about other relatives? My in-laws are cookoo about birthdays. They fly in loaded to the hilt with gifts. Our daughter is only 2 so she hasn’t really paid much attention to all the hooplah thus far but having seen the excess of my niece’s bdays over the years I know it’s only more craziness to come. P.S. Telling Grandma to save her money isn’t working.


    • Tabitha says:

      We include them. I’ve found that you just can’t control how others see things but we can explain why we do things the way we do. Parties are a big deal to most of our family so we make sure to invite them along to our special day out and/or to our birthday dinner. Most of the time they decline because of distance. If they are willing to make the drive to us than they can join in the celebrations but there are no actual parties. Some Aunts and Uncles send gifts through the mail, the children love getting them, they open them via FaceTime or we take lots of pictures of them opening their gift and then the child calls to say thank you. We make the focus about enjoying the day doing what the child likes and if family wants to join us they are welcomed to do so, our big issue is the stress of parties and the focus on presents. We have also had some birthdays with multiple celebrations because extended family bought a cake to go with dinner while we visited them. Either way, our children still only get one gift from us and at least one whole day with the focus on them. 🙂


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