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So far you’ve staged a birthday countdown, created a birthday burst, put up festive decor, exempted your child from chores, and given out a new privilege and new responsibility. Quite the celebration, right? But we’re not done yet!
We’re missing something critical here — FOOD!
Let Your Child Choose Their Favorite Foods
If you’ve been reading along in this birthday series, you know I place a big emphasis on personalization.
It’s about making your specific, wonderful child feel special on their big day.
Of my two older sons, one loves macaroni and cheese while the other will pick a hamburger and fries every time. And that’s the point — there is no one-size-fits-all approach to birthday food.
Here’s our template for a birthday filled with deliciousness.
Round 1 – The Birthday Breakfast
This is not the morning for worrying about a nutritionally balance meal. There are plenty of other days for that! This is about setting the tone for the fun and celebration to come.
Let your child pick whatever they want for breakfast, within reason. Don’t hesitate to use shortcuts to keep it manageable.
For example, at this point in family life, I am not up for making homemade cinnamon rolls; I will, however, happily pop some from a tube into the oven.
Mixes also come in handy. This year, one of my sons chose birthday pancakes, which I made using this mix.
We topped them with whipped cream, strawberries, and sprinkles to make them a bit fancier than our normal Saturday pancakes.
You could also make an early morning run to the bakery to pick up donuts. Or have them delivered!
Round 2 – The Birthday Lunch
If your child isn’t in school or childcare, or if their birthday falls on a weekend, apply the same as above — let the birthday kid choose the menu!
Evan and Nate’s birthdays both fell on school days this year, so I had them eat hot lunch per our usual arrangement. Neither complained, and there’s something to be said for not having had another birthday prep item on my to-do list.
(That segues nicely into a reminder that this series of posts is to provide inspiration, not overwhelm you! Pick and choose what feels right for you and your family.)
However, I love the idea of a mid-day surprise to make a child’s birthday feel more special than a normal school day.
Pragmatic Parent has some great ideas, including a birthday note for your child’s lunchbox (or their backpack, inside a book, or some other fun spot!) or gift-wrapping each lunch item.
Round 3 – Cake!
Getting to choose what kind of cake to have is a birthday highlight for kids (and grown-ups, too!).
If you have a child who loves cooking, involve them in baking their own birthday cake.
Or maybe they’ll choose a pie or an ice cream cake — it’s fun to see how your child’s tastes change (or remain the same!) from year to year.
If the timing works, cake makes a perfect mid-afternoon snack. After all, everyone in your family needs a snack around 2:30 or 3 to make it through till dinner, right? So on birthdays, why not make it cake?
Round 4 – The Birthday Dinner
We usually let the kids pick out a restaurant for their birthday dinner. With the current complication of a baby who has a 6:30/7:00 bedtime, we take the food to go; I’m looking forward to eating at the actual restaurants in years to come.
This year, though, I didn’t actually feel like we were missing out on the ambiance piece since Five Guys and Dairy Queen were the chosen restaurants. Neither would be my first choice by a long shot, but that’s the point — it’s the birthday kid’s call!
Restaurant food is a treat since we typically don’t have it more than once every week or two. It also gives me a much-needed break from food prep in the midst of the birthday extravaganza.
For All Rounds, Use a Special Plate
For any part of the feast that takes place at home, serve the food on a special plate. We only have one blue plate with a patterned border and it has thus earned elite status with the boys.
Including your child in picking out a special plate is a great way to build anticipation and bond over the excitement of birthdays to come.
Since our blue plate is technically in circulation all year long, I might make buying a birthday-specific plate a project to take on with the boys before next birthday season.
There you have it, the blueprint for an all-day birthday feast. Getting to have so many favorite foods in one day will certainly make your child’s birthday feel special.
What birthday food traditions do you have? I’d love to hear your ideas!