20 ways to fill your child’s love tank on their birthday

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It only happens once a year,How to display affilaite links so why not CELEBRATE! In my experience, it is rarely the gifts my children remember. It is the feeling of excitement when they get out of bed, the element of surprise throughout their day, and the enthusiasm surrounding them. This week my baby turned 6. We each now need two hands to share our age and I’m not sad at all; I’m thrilled.

With 3 kids, I’ve accumulated a variety of birthday ideas with the hopes of  filling my children’s love tank on their birthday. I think we should  pool our ideas, borrow freely, and be inspired to make those we love feel special. Isn’t that our goal? I slightly cringe when I see a mom relishing over her recent DIY project while another looks on feeling defeated by her sense of inferiority. I tap into my sister’s bag of tricks all the time when I am just not feeling it. So, here’s what’s in my birthday bag this week:20 Ways to fill your child's Love Tank on their Birthday [the House of Hendrix}

  1. Build the excitement with a COUNTDOWN. There are many ways to do this. This week we counted down with a chalkboard.2o ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday
  2. Decorate the Bathroom Mirror. Use a window marker, dry erase marker or lipstick. Balloons, streamers, it’s all good.The energy I used to spend on big birthday parties is now spent on one simple thing...making my child feel extremely loved and special on their birthday. Here are some unique ways we've done that. the House of Hendrix
  3. Window Marker your car with “Honk! It’s Lily’s 10th birthday!” This has delighted my children for years. With every honk, we all cackle with joy. (You can buy them at here for a few dollars).20 Ways to fill your child's Love Tank on their Birthday [the House of Hendrix}
  4. While they are sleeping, decorate their room with streamers and balloons. Even just the doorway makes a big effect

    20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday

    photo by Sidetracked Mom

  5. Candles in their breakfast, why not?

    candle in pancakes - 20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday

    photo by lilmissbossy

  6. Put Water Balloons in their bath

    water balloons in bathtub -20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday

    photo by Learning4Kids

  7. Use the special “Celebration Plate”. We made one years ago at a painted pottery place. We’ve used it on birthdays, potty training milestones, soccer goals, and when loved ones visit.celebration plate -20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday
  8. Declare it a Screen-free Day for the parents. If the child is awake, put your cell phones down and turn off the tv/computer. Be present, not distracted.
  9. Wrap each food item in their lunchbox. Throw in a balloon if it will fit. Pure delight.decorate the lunchbox - 20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday
  10. Measure them. We have a wall, a very messy wall, with dates, ages, and heights of our children, nieces and nephews, and neighborhood children. Kids loved to be measured!
  11. Retell their birth story. Even get their baby book out. My baby books stopped after the 1st child, but they take such delight in hearing about their first cry in the delivery room. My mother still calls me at the exact hour I was born with “Oh, I feel a contraction. Ouch. I think you’re coming today Allison.” I love it.
  12. Make or buy them a special shirt or socks with their new age on it.IMG_6434Palmer's 5DSC_0827DSC_0952

    Cutest socks in town!!! Perfect gift

    Get a pair of socks that say “I AM SPECIAL”

  13. Allow your child to pick the dinner for everyone.
  14. Eat at the fancy table. We have a formal dining room table we NEVER use. Last year we used it to eat the delivery pizza for my daughter’s birthday. We light candles and the kids knew without doubt, that day was SPECIAL.
  15. Have siblings serve them, clear the table, and do their assigned chores for the day.
  16. It is a tradition in our family to play “My favorite thing about Palmer is…” and we all go around share. Our cousins even call in with their favorite thing20 ways to fill your child's love tank on their birthday
  17. Celebrate the Waiting – in a world where we get everything right now, it’s tough to teach kids to wait, especially for good things. We thought we’d give them some practice in small areas (chewing gum, make up) so they’ll have some experience waiting for the bigger things like intimacy.  We make our kids wait until they are 10 to drink soda, then have a cooler full on their birthday. We celebrate those Waiting Milestones big time.

    celebrate the waiting

    photo by Michelle March

  18. Fill their closet or the kitchen cupboards with balloons. When they open them, they will fall out. Delight!

    photo by A Subtle Revelry

  19. Teach siblings that the most important thing on somebody’s birthday is making them feel special. When we go to a birthday party, our goal should be to make the birthday person feel special. This can be an especially difficult in a society when the party favors are sometimes nicer than the gift brought.
  20. Make a party hat for your pet. I’m kinda kidding on this one, but kinda not. It doesn’t make your child feel special, but it sure is funny. 
  21. Let your child know that your greatest joy in life is that you GET TO BE THEIR MOMMY! They need to hear it…and often.

Click here for 14 More Ways to Fill your child’s Love Tank on their Birthday

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157 thoughts on “20 ways to fill your child’s love tank on their birthday

  1. What great ideas!! We don’t have children yet, but I am pinning this post for when we do 🙂 These are also great for adults! I am excited to put some in action for my husband next year. We have a similar plate – ours says “You Are Special”. My husband made it when we went to a pottery painting place while dating 🙂 I also did the candle thing for him this year, but stuck it in his fajitas at dinner. Lol turns out that wasn’t the best plan, since the hot food began melting the candle! 🙂 I am new to your blog (found it via Pinterest) & am enjoying reading through it!

    Blessings! 🙂

  2. we always wake up the birthday child (with all of the siblings and both parents) with a cupcake, candle and all.. and we sing Happy birthday on the top of our lungs, the kids LOVE it and are always waiting to sing and wake up the next kid 🙂

  3. I LOVE all of these!!! my little guy just turned 2 so i’m afraid most would have been a little beyond him – except the $1 store happy birthday sign i hung that he loved and actually just today realized it wasn’t there anymore lol. He loved hearing happy birthday and blowing out the candles though and we had to relight it several times on his party day – we also had to relight it for the next few days just so he could blow it out!
    i love special traditions for birthdays – my mom always made a fuss about our birthday’s growing up. Even just little things are the best memories! we had to wait in our rooms in the morning until we heard the birthday song come on loud on the stereo and then could come down and open presents before school.
    then cake and special dinner when we got home!

  4. I am OBSESSED with these ideas! I’m expecting my first, but want him to feel special on HIS day once he’s old enough! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Alison, my name is Darcy Smith, but my maiden name is Rashford. I am Christa Rashford (Gurka’s) younger sister. I used to sing the national anthem for your volleyball games when I was in 8th grade! Anyway, I just happened to stumble upon this blog post on pinterest and I recognized your face. What wonderful birthday celebration ideas! I am definitely going to implement some more into our house since with 8 (almost 9) kids we want to make them feel as special as possible! Hope you are well.
    God bless,

    • Oh my goodness! I remember you perfectly. I just played volleyball with Christa at the Ransom reunion a few weeks ago. Congrats on #9! I’m going to find you on facebook to see pictures of this beautiful family you are creating. So glad we reconnected.

  6. My son turns 21 tomorrow and I still fill the hallway to his room with balloons and hang streamers on his door. I put special birthday signs up around the house. He still loves all that special stuff 🙂

  7. I love all these, with 9 children, I also feel the need to make each one of my children feel very special on their day!! A few things we do, they get to pick their favorite breakfast, and dinner and cake, I put balloons in front of the house( that way everybody knows we’re celebrating) I take balloons into the school and tye them to their chair, the night before their before birthday it’s considered child’s name eve, (you know like Christmas Eve) and they get new Jammie’s!! We take them out of school for lunch to pizza factory where they make them their pizza in the shape of their age!!
    I think I will be adding a few more thanks for the great ideas!!

  8. Great Ideas!!for my kids birthday if they have school that day I pack their lunch in a happy birthday gift bag and put s bow on it my kids love it and then all the kids at the lunch table sing happy birthday!!

  9. My daughter turns 14 tomorrow and we have had a tiara that she got when she was about 3. It is a cheap plastic tiara but she has worn it every year on her birthday all day long. This is her favorite tradition even though their are many. We decorate their rooms while they are sleeping. Usually do the crate paper hanging from the ceiling and bunk-beds are enclosed with them. They also have relatives that call before school to sing happy birthday to them. They get a cupcake for breakfast, we go to their school with a special lunch (usually McDonald’s) and another cupcake. and their favorite meal for dinner. all the grandparents, and aunt & uncles come for dinner and cake, ice cream and presents. As a child my family did everything humanly possible to let the world know it was our birthday and how much they loved us and wanted to celebrate the day we came into this world. I try my best to do that for all 4 of my children now. I realize how important it is to celebrate the day of someones birth especially now as a mother. My birthday has come and gone and no one knows but any one else in our family I make sure that their is no one that forgets!!!:)

  10. I was afraid of crepe papering my daughters door at night because she’s a traveler and I didn’t want to freak her out in the middle of the night, so I hung birthday banners across her room (above her height level so she wouldn’t clothesline herself) and put balloons in there to bob around….SHE LOVED IT!!

    To play off the announcement in window paints on the car windows.. my friends and I kinda bomb their car with all kinds of decorations after they are home for the night. So when they wake up in the morning there is crepe paper, balloons, confetti, window marker messages all over their car…. think “TPing” someones house, only its colorful sparkly birthday fun all over their car!!

    Also… we eat cake and ice cream for breakfast on birthdays….we might eat it twice that day.. but hey, it’s youre birthday, and my daughter thinks its SO awesome to not have to eat breakfast food for breakfast. When else would you’re parents let you eat dessert for breakfast?!?!?!?!

  11. I love wrapping the lunch items! Thats a great idea. When our kids birthday falls on a school day My husband and I meet them and eat lunch with them at school with all their friends. I put plastic play food in his lunch box that day because we brought him lunch:) I love your ideas and will definitely steal some, thanks for sharing:)

  12. I LOVE your idea about things worth waiting for. My daughter’s birthday is coming up so it motivated me to put together a list of things for our family to wait for. I wanted to have one thing for each age that we can then celebrate at each age but I’m having a hard time coming up with enough ideas. Is there any way you can post the list your family uses or e-mail me if you have time? I think it teaches so many great lessons and also makes their birthday extra exciting! Thanks!

  13. We have celebrated every birthday for the last year with special bakery donuts. The kids love it because we don’t have donuts during the rest of the year and we look forward to this tradition together. We also have a big banner we hang over the table.
    Tradition is so important!

  14. Great ideas….thanks for sharing! We have a tradition of hot Pillsbury cinnamon rolls served in bed on the morning of the birthday. One word of caution though about the balloon in the lunch box. I teach school and I know that many, if not most schools, have a no latex balloon policy for the building since there are children (and adults) with life threatening latex allergies. I would check the school policy before I’d put a latex balloon in a child’s lunch box.

  15. I do a few of these as well, but wanted to add another idea – every year, after the birthday child goes to bed, I sit down and write them a letter. I seal it and write “to (child’s name), on your Xth birthday, all my love, Mommy” and I will give them to them when they’re all grown up.

    • ohhh I have that as well. I started it before they were born and they both have their own binder of birthday letters. I don’t know when they will get them, but I will make it special. Wedding maybe?

      • I think it would be sweet to give them their binder when they find out they see expecting their own children… then they will be able to understand what it means to watch a child grow….

  16. i keep each child home from school on their birthday (assuming its a school day). We do something together ALL day, and let them pick the lunch spot. it is their day!.

  17. congratulations! you are doing it great. my mom used to do pretty similar things to me. and you never forget those moments. and the concept of waiting for special things, well i support that. Greetings from Argentina! =)

  18. My little boy’s name is Palmer too! (Palmer is my maiden name) He turned 5 last week, and we did several things you mentioned- he loved having donut holes with candles for breakfast. He got a week of birthday celebrations, and he loved every minute of it 🙂

  19. Love your ideas….My husband has brought flowers to school each year on my daughters birthday. An amazing father/daughter tradition! 🙂

  20. My daughter is turning 8 tomorrow. I love your idea about writing a Happy Birthday message on your car windows. We’re driving through town tomorrow, so that will be a fun thing to do.
    My oldest is almost 14 and ever since she was 3 we started to hang streamers on her door and put helium balloons in her room. My kids get however many balloons their age is. So, this year she will get 14 balloons.
    Several years ago, my 4 kids have returned this fun tradition by waking up early each year and decorating mine and my husband’s door before we wake up.

  21. Number 17 such a good idea. We have talked about this and I am so doing this at 10 years old. Now just have to get the aunties and grandma on board.

  22. We have a birthday hat complete with candles that you have to wear for the day. Love the waiting idea very relevant with today’s kids wanting everything NOW

  23. You seriously must be the greatest mom in the world. I love this. As soon as my daughter is old enough to understand the concept of birthdays (she is 19-months-old) I am going to do this for her. I’m bookmarking your page. Your children will never wonder if they are loved. I love that!

  24. A lot of these ideas are great for older teens also! I struggled this year with what to do to surprise my turning 19 and 17 year old boys. I ended up with doing the car decorating…back up, their birthdays are 2 days apart ;)…oldest’s birthday is first and it’s his first year in college. He thought the “Spirit Committee” at his college decorated his car. Yay Mom!!! Then when he saw the youngest’s car they realized it was me. So fun for all of us! I can’t wait to use some of these other ideas.

    • My son and daughter’s birthdays are 3 days apart. Older one comes first. I really struggled this year with how to make each of their days special without having 5 party days. I love having them so close though because we can be fair with gifts, they don’t have to wait a long time before their day, and I get to go in birthday mode once a year. Any advice?

  25. Pingback: How to Make your Child’s Birthday Special « Live More Daily | Live More Daily

  26. Love, love, love, your ideas for celebrating birthdays. We have made milestones in our home celebrations too. We all desire to be celebrated. And the celebrating is about acknowledging the gifts our children are from heaven. My children are now 19 & 17 and we still find other ways than just birthdays to celebrate….getting driver’s license, admitted into college of choice, AP test exam scores…. Somewhere in our children’s souls this takes root and they know they are loved and cherished. They get maybe a glimpse of how much their Heavenly Father cherishes them.

    You are my kind of mom. This is the first blog that I have felt compelled to respond to. Job well done!

  27. great ideas! They like to be remembered as teenagers too! When each of my 4 were in high school on their day I ok’d through the school office then brought 2 extra large pizzas at their lunch time to share with their closest friends. I also brought a container (with a ton) of candy to share. Just seeing the look on their faces as their peers watched their mom bring in something especially for them was priceless. If their 18th birthday happened during the school year, I again ok’d through the school and decorated the outside of their locker with 18 pictures of them. 1 for each year. (Just a paper copy so as not to lose any pics) and wrote a little comment. They loved it and wondered how I got into the school!

  28. when your child is in college, send a card for the number of the birthday. If 19 send 19 cards. You can put them all in a manilla envelope to save postage. I first did this for my oldest son. His college room mates were floored. They asked who would send 19 cards? I signed some from the family pet, the president. etc. He loved it and loved the attention and conversation from his friends. You could tell he was really proud that this friends were impressed that his family would support him in this way.

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  30. This is so great! I just pinned it to my Five Love Languages board! Let me know if you’d like to be a part of it! 🙂

  31. Pingback: Birthday Festivities | Pin of the Week | Knowledge of Medicine

  32. This is absolutely wonderful! I stumbled upon your post on Pinterest and I am so glad I did! My little guy turns six this week and the day is jam-packed with school and soccer, I’m so glad I found a few ideas to make the day extra special for him.

  33. What fun ideas. We do some of these for our children, but I’m always looking for ways to change it up and surprise them and make them feel extra special on their b-day. Thanks for sharing!

  34. I so appreciate this! We don’t have any family close to us, so I struggle with what to do for my boys’ birthdays. Parties just aren’t practical. Plus, my boys are only 15mos. and nearly 3yrs. Thanks for being generous and sharing your ideas!

  35. This is perfect! I loved this list and I can’t wait to impliment them! We have a bday in oct, 2 in nov and another in december – so, this was a tiemly message! Thank you!!

  36. I love this. I especially love the fact that Im not the only person on earth that thinks soda is for when you are older. My daughter is six and isn’t allowed to have it until she is older. I haven’t decided on an age yet. For now, it is as long as I can get her to make healthy choices.

  37. Hi Allison,
    I was just perusing Pinterest and noticed my photo linked to your site – the Balloon Avalanche. Thanks for including me in your list! I’m so glad you liked the idea. Our son got a huge kick out of opening his bedroom door on his his birthday and being “bombarded” by an avalanche of balloons and then having to break his way out (though at first he tried to carefully climb through hehe)
    We did the the birthday cake pancakes, too!

    • Cathy, Your avalanche is AWESOME!!! We tried it a while back but it was NOWHERE as pretty as yours. I linked to your post so hopefully you are getting some traffic. My sons birthday is Thursday and he wants “new birthday surprises, I haven’t done before” so I have 48 hours to come up with a new bag of tricks. Any ideas?

  38. Your list is the FIRST list of any kind that I liked! Your pictures added to the impact and have created ideas swarming in my head. My oldest ‘baby’ will be 4 in December and I am excited to do some of these. Thank you for highlighting that parents need to teach our kids that a birthday is to help the person of honor feel special. I love that!

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  40. We use sidewalk chalk to write Happy Birthday (name) on the driveway while the birthday child is still sleeping. Then they loll out the window to see their wish.

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  43. This is wonderful!! I absolutely love it! The favorites game is my favorite!! With two small boys we they are just starting to understand birthdays and now each one will be extra special!! And I love that these are simple things and don’t put value on materialistic things! Thank you for this!

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  45. Great ideas! My baby is turning 1 in 2 months and I’m trying to create some traditions. These are wonderful and will definitely use a few. Thank you!

  46. Pingback: 20 ways to fill your child’s love tank on their birthday | CRAFT

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  52. I love the idea of Waiting Milestones. Do you think you could write a post about what milestones you chose for your kids and why? I’m so interested and would love to hear more about it.

  53. My baby just turned 19…and because he works weird shifts and his birthday was on a Tuesday…I was at work, I wanted him to feel super special on his big day – so I stuck 19 happy birthday stickie notes wishing him a happy birthday! He called me when he found the one in his laptop 🙂 I know this made his day! I love the ideas above – I will be suggesting them to my daughter for my grandkid’s birthdays. Thanks

  54. So glad I found this. My son will be 3 on Oct 31st and we always try to make sure his birthday is special. I will definitely be incorporating some of these ideas. As he gets older, I want to make sure his birthday is special and not just about trick or treating or dressing up for Halloween.

  55. Allison, this actually made me tear up! Maybe because I feel the love and how special you make your children feel. My son is coming up on his 1st birthday and I can’t wait to do all of these and more for him every year. Yesterday was our dog’s 2nd birthday and we spent the afternoon doing what SHE is obsessed with….and that was going kayaking on the river (she’s our water dog). Thanks for this post! 🙂
    PS. Loved the ‘no soda’ idea!

  56. These are great! With 7 kids, birthdays can become stressful, expensive and end with a house full of unnecessary clutter rather quickly. So, I’ve instituted a special “day” that costs me less than $20, but they all look forward to year round. They each get as many $1 bills as the age they are turning, then they get to “shop” for their own birthday presents. I don’t put limits on what they buy and it’s interesting to see their choices. This has the added benefit of teaching them about money. Then, they get rainbow pancakes from a local restaurant in town. (about $3.99) and then whatever is left (usually about $5) is spent at the arcade. The whole day is just them and me….which is a nice break from the chaos of so many siblings at home. Simple, cheap, and they love it. As soon as one returns, I hear the other talking about “well for my birthday….”. The oldest just turned 10, and this plan is still going strong. Not looking forward to those teen years when the $1 store isn’t as glamourous. 🙂

  57. When my sister, brother and I were younger, our mom made our birthday very special! On that day, the birthday child got to sit in the front seat of the car the whole day, we didn’t have to do our chores on our birthday, the birthday child went to McDonald’s with mom for lunch (just the 2 of them) and we got to choose what we were having for dinner! My mom is a single mother, she didn’t have much money, but she always makes us feel special on our birthdays!!

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  60. Excelllent Ideas! Thank You! You must be a very creative Mom. I have one other idea I would like to share with you. To make my loved ones feel special on their day I make a very unique yet creative lol! My daughter loved it and wore it before and after her birthday! lol!

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  62. Oh my goodness, what FANTASTIC ideas! I especially love your take on waiting, and making it special. I have tots now but I am anticipating all the fun things they will get to do SOMEDAY. I may have to steal the soda one and think of some others. Do you have any posts on other ideas for helping kids learn to wait?

    • I printed a giant letter off of Microsoft word and then cut it out. For the painted tshirt I cut out the letter from contact paper which sticks to the shirt and then painted it with tshirt paint. For the applique shirts, I attached on iron on self adhesive fusing to the back of the material and then cut out the letter. I then ironed it on.

  63. Ok so my son’s birthday is coming up and he’s only going to be 3 but I’m so glad I randomly came across this tonight so I can use some of the ideas (um the toilet one . . . HILARIOUS). We want to make birthdays huge for our kids but haven’t figured out how (thankfully they’re all young still!) so this is a blessing. Thanks for setting a great example and compiling all these awesome ideas!

  64. Love these ideas, this past year for my 4 year olds birthday, I put balloons all over her room while she slept. We said it was done by the birthday fairy and she was in awe of the idea all day.

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  66. So many lovely ideas; I’m not a mum yet but I am pinning this for the future. Also, so lovely to read a parenting blog that focuses on what matters; helping other mums, making children feel special and ensuring that they grow up as wonderful people who think of others. Thank you! x

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  68. All but one of those are good ideas. I don’t understand why you would ruin it with #17, though. In my opinion, encouraging children to drink POISON and even worse, making it a special occasion is NOT showing love.

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  71. Just to clarify, these ideas are better for children under 12 in my opinion. Being 15, going on 16 today, I would literally kick someone’s butt if this crap happened to me. No offense as these are great ideas for younger kids. Just though I might mention this for parents visiting this site.

    • Having a 13 year old, your comment cracks me up. You make a wonderful point that not all teenagers would appreciate being celebrated in this manner. Absolutely no offense taken. While you are here, what advice would you give for a parent to do for a teenager’s birthday?

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  73. What beautiful, loving, & AWESOME ideas! These are the kind of things my mom did for me growing up & what I remember (not the “stuff”). This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I want to do fun, special things for my son’s birthday but lack that creative side. You’re right, Pinterest can sometimes be daunting, but your ideas are doable for even the uncrafty moms! Thank you for sharing!

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  76. I just came across this post. Great ideas, thank you. my one and only treasure will be 5 in a few weeks and i’d love her to always remember her birthdays. I made a string of bunting for her and each year my friend embroiders the year she turn on it and after the day we put a hand print on the back of the flag. we put it up the days leading to the birthday I made it long enough to last until 21!
    THank you for your ideas too

  77. I thought these were some really good ideas! One thing I do for the kids is have the kitchen all decorated and gifts wrapped the night before while they are sleeping (almost like Christmas) and when they wake up we do our birthday party. I just started getting a special cake made for them for their bday (for a small character, design cake cost me about $40.. It’s so worth it)The child opens gifts…We laugh.. We all sing Happy birthday and we eat cake 1st thing in morning. The cake is a surprise..So I pick it up like 630 in the morning before they come downstairs..It is amazing what bakers can design. Then throughout the day we have special food for that child…We have a special chair in kitchen…When the kids were younger I would put big stuff animals (as friends) around the kitchen in chairs..Even small ones hanging from streamers..Coming to the child’s party..Haha we go to the movies if it’s family friendly…We take the child to the mall to spend their money or gift card… We keep singing Happy Birthday throughout the day. My oldest is almost 17..My youngest child is 11 but we have a soon to be 15 year old bday coming up and I just would love to do some of these things. Thanks so much for the them.

  78. thank you SO MUCH of this post! It’s my middle daughter’s 7th birthday on Thursday and I’ve been at a loss of ideas of how to make things special without breaking the budget. This has really made my heart soar as I know she will love every thing mentioned here and fill her love tank!!! Bless you!

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