Remember This Day

Birthdays only happen once a year. So whether it's an elaborate birthday party or unique tribute to the birthday boy or girl, there are three areas of planning that can make a child's birthday unforgettable.

The first area is: Making the Day Special. There are lots of ways to make the day special. For example, after the birthday child goes to sleep you can blow up balloons and make posters wishing him a happy birthday. When he wakes up in the morning he is greeted with a bunch of balloons and signs that get him off to a great day. If music is important to your family, you could continue the morning with a favourite song that everyone can dance, yell and jump around to. Then the birthday celebrant can choose what they want for breakfast. Can you say chocolate chip pancakes? And don't forget a lit birthday candle for the first wish of the day.

The birthday child could reign as king or queen for the day, complete with a crown if they want to wear one. They get to choose all meals and activities and are exempt from any chores or outings not dictated by them. They get to choose what kind of birthday cake to have and should be addressed as royalty when spoken to. A bow here or there would definitely add to the respect the birthday child should command and would lend itself to some great laughs and memories. Perhaps a younger sibling could be knighted and deemed the liaison between family and king or queen.

At the end of the day, a fun idea is to gather in your pajamas with hot chocolate and cookies. Each family member tells the birthday kid something they like about them. A parent writes it down on birthday stationary and places it in an envelope. Take a picture of the birthday child with each person, and include it as well. Seal the envelope and write the date on the outside. The special note should be placed in a keepsake box until the child turns 18.

The second area is: Gift Giving. Birthday presents don't have to be grand or expensive to be appreciated. Remember the old saying, it's the thought that counts. With that in mind, some birthday gift ideas include a treasure hunt. Write down clues in the form of a poem (or pictures for younger children). For example, "During this hunt you must use your head/Your first clue is hiding under your.…" When the child looks under their bed they find their first surprise along with another poem leading them to another surprise. The surprises should be small leading to a bigger prize that can be a gift or a fun plan for the day.

If your child collects something special you can add to it each year. My son loves pez candy dispensers. Each year on his birthday my husband and I fill all of his pez (it takes a while now) with candy and line them up around his bedroom after he goes to sleep the night before his birthday. We always add one or two new ones and when he wakes up in the morning he loves seeing all of them. I think he looks forward to that more than anything else on his birthday. It's easy to get him to go to bed the night before because he can't wait for the morning and it's an inexpensive gift he loves.

The third area is: Creating Memories. One idea is to plant a tree for your child's first birthday and take a picture of him or her standing next to it. Every year thereafter, take a picture of them next to their tree. Watch them age together and see who grows faster. Or, how about creating a birthday notebook that children can write in each year. Include their favourite school subject, what they want to be when they grow up, their height and weight, their favourite hobbies, etc. Add a photo or two from birthday festivities and invite friends and family to autograph a page in the notebook.

All children love parties. Ask the birthday child what birthday theme they would like to have and make it an all out celebration. If it's a pirate birthday party they want, make every guest a pirate and supply a hook for their hand, patch for their eye, bandana for their head, and sword for their defense. Party favours can be treasure chests filled with candy, toy money and small trinkets. Be sure to tattoo each guest. Temporary tattoos are always popular. And don't forget to play pirate music, it gets everybody, even adults, in a swashbuckling mood.

Use your imagination when planning a birthday celebration for your child. Create a tradition that you and your family will always treasure and remember. And why not celebrate their unbirthday. On the child's half birthday make half a cake (bake a round cake, cut it in half, stack and frost), stick half a candle on it, and sing half of the birthday song. That should tie you over until the big day.

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