Ideas for Parents

We have been collecting ideas about the following topics from parents who are working to have birthdays without pressure. These ideas have worked for others but may not be right for your family. See which ones might work for you.


Keeping Gifts from Getting Out of Control

Many parents have expressed concern about their children receiving too many gifts, not having places to store the gifts they receive, and gifts being too much of a focus at birthday parties. The following ideas were suggested by other parents as helpful in keeping gifts from getting out of control. Each idea has worked for actual families. See which ones might work for you

Ideas for Simple Party Games

Many parents have expressed the need for more examples of fun and simple party games so they don't have to hire others to provide entertainment during parties. The following ideas were suggested by other parents. Each idea has worked for actual families. See which ones might work for you.

  • 3-legged race
  • Sack race
  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • Pin the carrot, piece of coal, hat, scarf, etc., on the snowman
  • Relay race: Each person on the relay team carries the egg on a spoon across the yard. The game ends when each member on a team has successfully carried the egg across without dropping it.
  • Relay race: Each person on the relay team carries a spoon full of water from a full cup to an empty cup. The game ends when a team has filled up their empty cup with water.
  • Outside play: Have the invitees play outside with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and .50 cent inflatable beach balls.
  • Night time treasure hunt: Give each child a flashlight and have them look for the hidden treasure outside.
  • Hide and Seek
  • Put an old white sheet on the table with lots of permanent markers, and let the invitees draw all over the sheet and sign their name and ages. Pull the sheet out again at future parties.
  • Balloon catcher: Blow up a bunch of balloons. Work together to keep all of the balloons up in the air.   
  • Cardboard box maze: Tape various shaped cardboard boxes into a tunnel and then freely paint the boxes with washable paint.
  • Feed your favorite pet: Have invitees bring their favorite stuffed animal along with a can of vegetables, fruit or meat for the homeless. Play “make believe” and feed all of the pet animals.
  • Musical chairs
  • Bobbing for apples
  •  Cake drawing: Have each invitee draw a birthday cake with their eyes closed. Have the birthday child pick their favorite cake.

Ideas for Family Birthday Rituals

Many parents have provided ideas about simple things they do in their families to make birthday celebrations meaningful and family-centered without being high-pressured. Each idea has worked for actual families. See which ones might work for you.

  • Most years a family-only party, occasionally an extra party with friends.
  • Family guests and just a couple of genuinely close friends.
  • Birthday child selects the menu for family birthday dinner at home.
  • Birthday child selects the restaurant for the family meal celebration.
  • Waking up the birthday with the whole family singing “Happy Birthday,” with their choice of birthday menu.
  • During the birthday dinner, each family member shares something they especially love about the birthday child.
  • Taking family vacations around the child's birthday.
  • One to one traditions such as mother and child going out to a special place each year.
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