How I Make My Kids’ School Day Birthdays Feel Extra Special

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Erin Wengrovius)

Celebrating kid birthdays is a pure joy because kids have very few expectations. Once I asked my daughter what she wanted for her birthday party and she said, “balloons, cake, and my friends” — how simple is that?

When your kiddo’s birthday falls on a school day, though, celebrating them on the actual day can get tricky. For starters, they are going to spend most of their day away from you in a classroom and then after school you’ll still need to stick to your pick-up, dinner, and bedtime routines. No time for special trips to the aquarium or the zoo! Luckily, I’ve discovered that kids need very little to feel special — here are the five things we do to celebrate every birthday in our house, even on school days.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

1. Make a breakfast pancake cake.

We celebrate every birthday in our house with a stack of fluffy pancakes topped with a candle. We all sing happy birthday to the birthday girl or boy and they get to kick off the day with a wish. It may seem like an over-the-top Pinterest-inspired idea, but it is incredibly easy to pull off whether you use frozen pancakes, or whip them up from a box or from scratch. Pro tip: If you’re making them yourself, smaller silver dollar-sized pancakes make for a taller, more celebratory stack.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

2. Let them dress with flair.

You know that brightly hued and sparkle-adorned dress that your daughter wants to wear all the time, even though it came from the dress up-box? Their birthday is the perfect day to allow it. No acceptable dress-up clothes? Make a paper crown or send them to school with a single helium-filled ballon to trail them down the hallways and sit with them in class.

3. Send something special to share at school.

You don’t have to go crazy with full-sized cupcakes, each painstakingly decorated. My favorite classroom treat to send in is doughnut holes — they are easy on sugar, and a breeze for the teacher to portion. You don’t even have to send an edible treat: My daughter has come home with temporary tattoos, bubbles, and other small toys that school friends have brought to share on their birthdays.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

4. Let them pick dinner — any dinner.

This is a birthday tradition from my own childhood that I love and still practice: On your birthday you get to choose dinner. Any dinner you want! My husband, for example, always picks his mother’s lasagna (which is more of a baked ziti), my daughter has chosen dinners at her favorite restaurant a few times, but her favorite dinner request is fresh pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese. No vegetables, please. And once a year on her birthday I’m more than happy to oblige that request.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

5. End the day with cupcakes or ice cream.

What’s a birthday without cake or ice cream? We choose to celebrate with either a few cupcakes picked up from our local bakery or a scoop of ice cream after dinner. There’s another candle and more singing, but everyone is still in bed at their regular bedtime.

What do you do to make a school day birthday feel special?