- Written by Penny Warner; Photo: PhotoXpress.com
Your child's birthday is the most important day of the year! You can make it even more memorable by adding these easy, inexpensive and imaginative touches throughout the day.
1. Make your child ‘king’ or ‘queen’ for the day. Let your child do whatever they want all day - within reason, of course!
2. Wake your child up with bunches of balloons. About an hour or so before your child wakes up, inflate a bunch of balloons, and while they are asleep, fill up their closet, bathroom or even the whole bedroom with balloons.
3. Give your child a birthday hat. Buy or make a silly hat decorated with candles, balloons, ribbons and so on. Or, make your child a special birthday T-shirt or slippers using fabric paints, stick-on sequins, decals and ribbon ties.
4. Do all of your child's chores for the day. Have fun with the tasks by asking your child how they do their chores.
5. Bake the cake together. Instead of ordering a cake from the bakery, make it yourselves, and let your child decorate it any way they want with colored icing, candies or little toys.
6. Send your child on a present hunt. Hide the birthday gifts and create a treasure hunt, leading from clue to clue, until they find the loot.
7. Gift-wrap your child's lunch. If it's a school day, wrap all of your child's lunch food in party paper and place the food inside the lunchbox or bag to unwrap at lunchtime. For added fun, fill their backpack with birthday cards and balloons.
8. Send your child a surprise package. The day before your child's birthday, mail them a surprise package to be opened on their birthday. Insert a card but sign it ‘Secret Admirer’ or ‘Mystery Friend’ to keep your child guessing.
9. Take your child to lunch. Take the birthday child out for a special lunch at a fancy restaurant - just the two of you. Order a decadent dessert and tell the staff it's your child's birthday so they'll sing, Happy Birthday!
10. Create ‘Happy Birthday’ coupons. On colorful paper, write down a dozen suggestions for your child to enjoy, such as ‘Good for One Dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies,’ ‘Good for a Get-Out-of-One-Bath Free’ or ‘Good for One Hour of Game Playing.’ Assemble them in a coupon book, and give the book to your child on their birthday.
11. Serve your child's favorite dinner. Let your child choose the menu for their birthday and select all of their favorite foods.
12. Bring your child breakfast in bed. When your child wakes up, bring them breakfast in bed. Fill the tray with their favorite breakfast items, a little gift and the comics page.
13. Let your child design the decorations. Have your child help you with the party decorations and turn it into a craft project. Inflate balloons and let your child decorate them with faces of the guests, using permanent markers or stickers with eyes, noses and mouths.
14. Pick a picnic place. Instead of having a meal at the table, spread a blanket on the floor or lawn and have your breakfast, lunch or dinner picnic-style.
15. Make your child a ‘personalized picture puzzle.’ Surprise your child by having one of their photos enlarged and glued to cardstock paper. Cut the picture into puzzle shapes, place them in a small box or envelope and have them do the puzzle - without telling your child what it is!
16. Present your child with a ‘my life retrospective’ display. Collect pictures of your child growing up, tape them onto colored construction paper and stick them around the party room so everyone can see how much your child has grown and changed over the years! Have the guests try to guess how old the birthday boy or girl is in each picture.
17. Let your child break a rule. On this special day, let your child break one rule, such as ‘bedtime is 8pm’ or ‘no elbows on the table.’
18. Videotape memorable messages. Videotape special messages from your child's friends and family members; then play it back at the party.
19. Birthday email. Before your child's birthday, email friends and relatives and ask them to surprise your child by sending virtual birthday greeting cards throughout the day.
20. Start a birthday ritual. Choose any of the above tips and recreate it each year on your child's birthday.
Bonus idea: capture the memories. Give your child a disposable camera and let them take pictures of everything that happens throughout the day. Then give your child a scrapbook to fill with snapshots of birthday memories.
Penny has more than 25 years of experience as an author and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. Balloon Time is the leading brand of consumer helium balloon kits in North America. Balloon Time kits feature a helium-filled tank, latex or foil balloons and ribbon, and are available at national retail chains, party goods and grocery stores nationwide. For more information, visit www.balloontime.com.