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4 Simple Birthday Traditions for Preschoolers

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

I’m a big believer that the family traditions we choose can either add to our overwhelm or reduce it. Birthdays are always an exciting event - a special day to focus on and celebrate one child, but they can quickly become overwhelming for the birthday kid and caregivers alike. Here are four ways we keep birthdays simple, sweet, and special in our home.

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Birthday Sensory Play

Each year, I make a small sensory bin for my girls to explore. Silicone cupcake liners, numbers to represent their new age gathered from around the house, candles, and birthday hats and whatever sensory base I have (rainbow dyed chickpeas or kinetic sand are house favorites). The birthday kid loves to scoop, make cupcakes, and role play birthday stuff like singing happy birthday to their heart’s content.

Morning Balloons and Presents

When the birthday kid wakes up in the morning, they find their presents from our family and lots of balloons waiting for them in the living room. They open birthday cards and gifts from others later in the day, but get to spend the day playing with their new gifts from our family.

Baking a Birthday Treat

The birthday kid also gets to pick their birthday treat - and we work together to bake the cake or other item. My kids love to get busy in the kitchen and baking something special and yummy for their birthday is a simple way to connect together. Sometimes we attempt a fancy recipe, but a box mix cake is just as special. We even work together to bake cakes for the adults in our family!

The Birthday Box - a game changer!

Two years ago, I gathered all of our birthday related items into one plastic tub I creatively call “the birthday box.” This box holds paper napkins, party hats, candles, streamers, our birthday sign, and more. I can easily pull the box out and see what we have and what we need - no more buying duplicates of things just because I can’t locate where I stashed the birthday candles! This is such a simple thing to gather and it’s been a big game changer for my mental load. Another benefit - I've chosen things I love, like our felt birthday sign, and can easily find and reuse them year after year.

Other ways we keep birthdays simple:

Birthday parties: While our girls are young, we've chosen to keep birthdays simple and celebrate just with our family and occasionally grandparents, with birthday parties occurring on milestone birthdays (such as ages one, five, and ten). Our six year celebrated her golden birthday (turning six on the sixth) this past spring and we let her invite six friends for a simple home party. As the girls get older and express interest in having parties, we will reassess this but for now the traditions we have established make birthdays feel super special!

Thoughtful gifting: Another element of keeping birthdays simple is not going overboard on gifts. We set a birthday budget ahead of time and pick a few things from the girls wish lists that fit within that budget. A birthday is also a great time to do a larger gift, such as a bike, scooter, or special item they've been wanting a long time.

Need birthday gift ideas? Check out my gift guides for third birthdays, babies, toddlers, and preschool pretend play!

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