Birthday Traditions to Start Now

A party and cake are great. But there are many other ways to infuse a little magic into your child's birthday. Try celebrating with a few of these timeless, low-cost traditions

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Alexandra Grablewski

Floor Plan

If your child is turning 4 or older, cover her bedroom in balloons while she sleeps on the night before her birthday.

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Read All About It

Send a report to close family members about your child's growth over the past year. Add a recent photo and let the birthday girl decorate it with a drawing.

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Heather Weston

Family Heirloom

Sift through the stash in your attic for a toy that meant something to you as a child. A piece of your history makes a sweet and meaningful gift.

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Share Alike

Encourage the concept of giving year-round. Through various local charities, you and your child can help provide a birthday party to someone in a less fortunate situation. Visit to find a cause near you.

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Alexandra Grablewski

Ticket Holder

Indulge your child on her birthday and give her three free "yeses."

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Garden Variety

Plant a tree or flowers that will bloom annually around your child's birthday, and make sure you snap a pic each year.

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Twenty Questions

Starting at age 3, interview your child, asking what his favorite color, ice-cream flavor, and hobby is. Repeat on every birthday and record his answers in a notebook or on video.

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Tell a Tale

At the approximate time of her birth, recount the story of the day your child was born. Sing "Happy Birthday" and eat a treat to mark the special moment.

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Alexandra Grablewski

What a Card!

In lieu of a disposable paper greeting, give him a storybook with a handwritten message on the inside. Your child will have a memorable collection to remind him of birthdays past.

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Search Party

Turn gift-giving into a game. Provide a few clues to help your child find presents that you've hidden around the house and yard.

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Andy Lyons

Big-Day Countdown

Make the approach important too. Hang a garland of seven envelopes, each with a small daily goodie, leading up to the grand finale.

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Alexandra Grablewski

Have Your Cake

Make each meal a celebration. Put candles on the morning pancakes and on his sandwich at lunch, as well as on the traditional cake after dinner.

Originally published in the March 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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Cat Birthday Cake

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