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35 Meaningful Birthday Traditions For Kids

These special birthday traditions for kids can add a whole extra element of excitement to an already special day! Birthday traditions create lasting memories for children and get the whole family involved in making it a happy birthday celebration.

But birthday traditions don’t need to be any extravagant!

These ideas will include simple traditions and more elaborate ones. Whether it’s a big or small gesture, these meaningful birthday traditions can be a wonderful way to add your own unique family traditions to a birthday celebration!

Starting A Birthday Tradition: What Makes Them So Special?

You’re here looking for meaningful birthday traditions to start with your family, yet you might be surprised to realise how many birthday traditions you’ve already formed with your family.

Most of us have some birthday traditions already that we do every single year.

It be as simple as opening gifts in the morning or waiting until birthday dinner to do so, when you sing happy birthday or have a birthday cake and blow out the candles.

For us, it’s always the first thing we do on a birthday morning, before school, work, parties or anything else that might be happening on a birthday day.

However, there are so many fun things you can turn into your family’s birthday traditions that might seem quirky to other families, and that’s okay!

Essentially, a tradition is something you aim to do consistently, just like these Christmas tradition ideas for families, it becomes something you do for each of your child’s birthday celebrations.

And if you miss a year, it’s okay! It’s your tradition to follow as it suits you and your family.

Some traditions might be every year. Others might be a milestone tradition when your children each reach a certain age.

Either way, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for starting your own birthday tradition below, so let’s get into it!

Fun Birthday Traditions For Kids

These kids’ birthday traditions are the perfect way to celebrate kids’ birthdays in a way that will give them even more reason to look forward to their special birthday:

1. Decorate Their Bedroom Door

Surprise your child first thing in the morning by decorating their bedroom door.

Adorn it with balloons, streamers, baby pictures and more. Have each member of the family write a post-it note to stick on there to start the day with lovely birthday messages too.

2. Balloon Avalanche

Take it a step further and set up a balloon avalanche for when they open their bedroom door and all the birthday balloons fall down onto them.

This idea is great for older kids who sleep with their door open so opening the door triggers the falling balloons.

What a magical moment of surprise for them.

3. Have A Special Breakfast

Happy little boy looking up at camera with a huge stack of waffles and berries.

Serve a special birthday breakfast that includes all their favourite birthday foods.

You can serve them waffles or a stack of pancakes with loads of sweet toppings such as chocolate chips, berries, ice cream and whipped cream for a birthday breakfast they will adore. And definitely not something they get any other day of the year!

4. Birthday Scavenger Hunt

We recently started doing a birthday scavenger hunt on the birthday morning. The kids absolutely love it and it starts the day with such fun.

Hide one or more birthday gifts around your home and give them clues to solve for where to find each gift.

Your birthday kid has to work a little harder for their gifts but it’s a load of fun compared to just handing the gifts over.

Free printable birthday scavenger hunt clues.

5. Make A Birthday Wish

For as long as I can remember, making a birthday wish as you blow out the candles on your special cake has always been a tradition from my childhood that has continued on into the next generation.

It’s a simple one but a lovely way to encourage your child to make a wish for something that is important to them.

Let’s be real… as a kid, many of these wishes were things like getting a new toy you’ve been wanting or getting $1M, but as the birthday kid gets older, they will make more realistic wishes that they can turn into goals.

6. A Birthday Eve Photo

Take a final photo together before your child’s age goes up a year as a fun way to commemorate them being another year older.

One of my best friends always does this with her three boys, usually snuggled up in bed with their final big cuddle before they fall asleep.

7. Wear A Birthday Crown

Pretty little girl in fancy dress holding a pink balloon and putting on a crown headband.

Have a special birthday crown worn by whoever the birthday person is in your family on the day of their special day. This could be something you reuse each year as a family keepsake or something you make just before their birthday.

If a crown is a little too embarrassing for heading to school, a birthday badge can be a great alternative that’s a little more subtle but still announces that they are a birthday boy or birthday girl that day.

8. Family Birthday Photo Shoot

Commemorate the day your child turns into a year older with a family photo shoot!

Have the whole family dress in nice clothes or just create your special memories in your everyday outfits, capturing the moment exactly as you all are.

I have a friend who always takes a party selfie with all the friends and family in the background for every single one of her kids’ birthday celebrations. It’s a lot of fun to see the different theme parties they celebrate with and how the kids grow a little more each year.

9. Decorate A Birthday Tree

How often do you wish you could enjoy your decorated Christmas tree throughout the year… not just in December? Well, you totally can!

Not only can you turn it into an Easter tree or a Halloween tree, but you can also make it into a birthday tree!

Decorate it with bright-coloured streamers, bows and baubles for a fun place to put the birthday gifts.

10. Use A Special Birthday Plate

Set them up with their own extra special place at the table with a birthday plate and other accessories for their meal. They only get to use this special set on your child’s big day so it will make any birthday meal extra special for them.

11. Letterboard Photo

Child holding a large letterboard to celebrate her 4th birthday with her favourite things listed.

One of our birthday traditions is to update our large letterboard each year with their current favourites and career aspirations.

You can make your own birthday sign in a program like Canva instead if you don’t have a letterboard and have your child hold that up for their solo birthday photoshoot.

What makes it so fun is seeing how much their interests change over the years, from wanting to be a ballerina to a teacher to a vet or their Pokemon obsession turning into Minecraft.

12. Write Them A Birthday Letter

Create a birthday by writing a heartfelt letter to your child. It’s like a love letter to your child that they can keep and read through the years.

There are a couple of ways to do this. You might choose to give them the letter to read as part of their gifts or read it to them if they are young children, then put them away as a keepsake for later.

Or, put each of them away in a special birthday box to gift them at a certain age, such as when they turn 16 or 18. Or when they are ready to move out into their own home.

13. Create A Personalised Birthday Shirt

Your child will feel more like a main character when the whole family wears a personalised birthday shirt! Or just make a birthday party shirt for your child.

If you have a Cricut machine or similar, you can make your own at home using a cheap basic t-shirt, or get one printed in-store.

14. Have A Birthday Party

There’s nothing more celebratory than throwing a party for your child’s birthday!

But having a party is a big commitment and can be expensive, so you might choose to do this for special milestone birthdays such as turning 1, double digits at 10, when they become a teen at 13 and so on.

Other families choose to have a birthday party every second year and a more quiet family celebration in the year in between.

Either way, there are so many fun kids’ birthday party themes to choose from and they will love celebrating with friends and family members.

15. Birthday Interview

Do an annual birthday interview with your child to learn all about their favourites at their current age.

Your interview might include their favourite food, favourite TV show or movie, hobbies, favourite colour, what they want to be when they grow up and even a favourite memory.

This can be done as a birthday eve tradition or on their actual birthday.

Put each one into a folder or journal for your child to create a birthday keepsake for them – much like a time capsule birthday tradition.

Get my free birthday interview printables (and lots of birthday questions for kids)

Printable birthday questionnaires for kids on pink background with party decorations.

16. Volunteer At A Local Animal Shelter

Raising kids with a grateful heart is something that as parents, we all hope to do.

One way to do this is to incorporate a volunteer session into your kid’s birthdays.

While younger kids might not understand this so much and may be limited from volunteering, this is a special way for older kids to learn to give to their community.

It doesn’t need to be on their actual birthday. You can do it sometime near their birthday though as special birthday tradition you can do as a family.

17. Family Movie Night

Let the birthday child create the theme for family movie night by allowing them to choose what movie you all watch together.

Kids love having choices and this will make them very happy to get free choice for movie night. Along with all the yummy movie snacks of course!

18. Backyard Camping

Get outdoorsy even if it’s just in your own backyard!

Set up a tent and your camping chairs in the backyard for some backyard camping. Well, maybe we call it glamping since you’re a few steps from real bathroom facilities!

It’s a fun birthday tradition that your kids will love, especially when there are s’mores!

Backyard camping can be with the whole family or your children’s friend group invited to a sleepover. 

19. Play Party Games

You don’t need to be hosting a party to enjoy party games! Have a family party game session with egg and spoon races, sack races, charades, balloon stomp or some minute-to-win it games to keep everyone entertained.

20. Piñata Smash

Here’s another fun idea that most kids look forward to. A pinata loaded with treats and prizes.

While this is typically a birthday party tradition, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your pinata fun with just the extended family.

21. Let Them Choose Their Birthday Meal

Family celebrating a little girls birthday around the dinner table with a birthday cake.

Let your child choose their birthday dinner, whether it be their favourite meal at home or a special treat from their favourite takeaway or restaurant.

This family dinner tradition is one that can easily be done every single year, even on a school day.

22. Measure Them On A Growth Ruler

It’s so much fun to see how much your child has grown each year and a growth ruler can be a great way to document this.

Or you might have a wall in your home where you mark this off. My aunt and uncle use their shed wall to track their kids (and now their grandkids) growth each birthday.

The benefit of using a special growth ruler instead of your wall is that if you do move one day, this sentimental memory can come with you.

23. Start A Birthday Countdown

Who says an advent calendar should only be for Christmas countdowns? Why not have a birthday countdown too?

It doesn’t need to be an advent calendar, but if you want to make a unique birthday version, these DIY advents can easily be adapted into a daily birthday countdown calendar.

Each day have a little sweet treat, a tiny gift or even just a lovely note with something you love about the birthday child as they get closer and closer to their actual birthday date.

24. Take a Trip

If your family loves to travel, taking a trip is the ultimate birthday tradition each year.

It can be a weekend trip or a day trip to the beach. Give them some input into somewhere they’d like to go, whether it be a theme park day, a camping trip, or a visit to the museum.

For more meaningful birthday traditions that are a little more extravagant, one of my favourites is taking your child on a special one on one birthday trip when they turn a certain age, such as when they turn 10 or 16 for example.

I am planning this for when my daughter turns 12 since it will also be just a week before she finishes primary school too, so a mother-daughter trip is absolutely the plan!

25. Birthday Memory Book

Create a birthday memory book or scrapbook.

Each year, add a page with photos and notes about the past year, what they’ve accomplished, and what they’re looking forward to in the coming year.

This is also a great place to add your kid’s birthday interview.

26. Family Video Messages

Ask friends and family members who don’t live locally to send short video messages or greetings for your child’s birthday. Put together an annual birthday video to play for them on their special day.

27. Birthday Book

Each year choose a different book that is suited to their age to have signed. This is especially a lovely sentimental tradition for younger kids to have a picture book signed.

We did this for my daughter’s first birthday and I wish we’d continued the special tradition.

As they get older, the books will be chapter books rather than picture books but still remain a sentimental keepsake to have all party guests sign the book each year.

28. Breakfast In Bed

While breakfast in bed has often been a Father’s Day or Mother’s Day tradition, it’s also a really adorable way to have the birthday child feel adored as they wake up to a tray of breakfast in bed.

29. A Birthday Documentary

Create a simple birthday video reel with photos and short video clips of your child from the last year to show at their birthday party or during family dinner.

You will get plenty of laughs and maybe have Mum and Grandma sobbing at those beautiful memories.

30. A Pocket Money Increase

This one sits in line with your family pocket money routine. For some families, pocket money goes up by 50c or $1 each birthday and it can definitely be considered a family birthday tradition.

They might like it less if it also means extra chores to suit their more mature age though… HA!

31. School Birthday Celebration

Class birthday treat ideas for school

While you do need to check with your child’s teacher before you plan anything that involves school, most schools are happy for you to bring in a birthday treat to share with classmates or even goodie bags.

If you want to avoid the usual cupcakes, there are loads of school birthday treat alternatives.

32. Take The Same Photo Each Year

We’ve talked about birthday photo shoots above but what about one that is posed in the exact same place or position each year?

This makes it extra fun to see them grow up and their surroundings shrink around them.

Your child next to the old mango tree in your backyard as they get closer in height to the lower branches or them holding a number balloon with their age each year in front of the house, for example.

33. Try Something New

Make it a tradition each year around their birthday to try something new, whether it be a new food or a new hobby.

This is a great way to add some adventure into each birthday and it helps develop your child’s confidence and resilience with getting outside their comfort zone.

This makes for a great family bonding experience for birthdays too!

34. Let Them Stay Up Late

For birthdays, you can make an exception to bedtime and let them stay up a little later. It can be 30 minutes extra, just to give them another little thing to look forward to.

They won’t mind extending their birthday by an extra half hour or so either!

35. Eat Cake For Breakfast

If their birthday party was celebrated before their actual birthday or if you just want to make their birthday breakfast a little more wild, serve up leftover birthday cake or a cupcake for breakfast.

This is next level on the fun birthday breakfast tradition.

Conclusion: Family Birthday Traditions

These birthday boy or girl activities will help create a meaningful birthday tradition with your child each year and add some extra fun to their birthday month. After all, there are so many wonderful ways to celebrate a birthday aside from having birthday parties and cake! but those are fun too!

If you do need some party planning help, check out my guide for planning birthday parties for kids. There is also one for birthday parties for adults, since us adults love celebrating too!

What special traditions have you started with your own kids?