Are you a family who loves traditions? The first birthday is an important and memorable event. Well, maybe not for the child, but it is for those who attend and especially for the parents! It’s a celebration of life and for getting through the first year and all it’s crazy ups and downs! Whether you choose to go with a jungle theme, Mickey Mouse theme, or a farm animal theme, you’ll love going above and beyond in not only party planning, but tradition planning! Give your children something to look forward to each and every year! Traditions bring excitement and allows your littles to feel seen, known, and special.
The “first year” can look different for everyone. For my family, “the first year” means something different for all of my children. For my three oldest, their first years in my family began when they were 8, 5, and 2 years old. I missed all the birthdays before then as we didn’t know of them or adopt them until later in their lives. My youngest child is biological, and being able to be there for his first birthday meant the world as I knew what it was like to not have those memories with my other children. My three oldest children had HUGE “first” birthday celebrations to make up for the years that were lost and we enjoyed every minute of celebrating! My youngest daughter had a unicorn-themed party, my oldest daughter had a zebra theme, my oldest son had a transportation themed party with the “garbage truck” as the main highlight, and my youngest had a woodland theme! Each party was decked out and we began some fun traditions! Since I’m a writer, the first tradition I made was to write each of my kid’s an illustrated short-story based on that birthday year. We keep stories of ballerinas, woodland foxes, and princess in one large storybook.
No matter when that “first year” occurs, it’s a time for celebration no matter how old! Make those memories and traditions and treasure them.
We want to give you a list of 7 birthday traditions to start the first year your kids are born. You don’t need to do all seven, just pick one or two that you’d like to start and could stick with you! Or, make the first year a time to try them all and see which ones you and your family likes best!
1. Create a time capsule.
Starting with year one, grab a collection of your kid’s favorite things! Include photos of your child, an outfit from the first year, newspaper clippings, a favorite toy and a list of “firsts.” As the child grows, include their artwork, awards, and school papers worth remembering. You can have family members write down their favorite memories of your child to put in the time capsule as well. Those memories will be so much fun to relive years later. Make this time capsule small enough that you can continue this tradition for many years without taking up a bunch of space. Use a small shoebox, an envelope, or even try tote bags. There are some fun tote bags that can go along with the birthday theme and also hold time capsule items. Some of our favorite tote bags are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Princess, and Superhero! You can find all our tote bags here.
Be intentional and include items that will bring you and your family joy year after year.
For more time capsule ideas, print our time capsule list of ideas >>HERE<<
For more time capsule ideas, check out this list of ideas from timecapsule.com:
Collected from throughout the year:
Newspaper front pages with major headlines
Ticket stubs (concerts, movies, sporting events, etc.)
Sports trading cards (or other collectibles)
A list of popular expressions (slang)
A popular toy or doll
A sample of product packaging
An extended family tree
A floor plan of your home
A list of popular music
Your favorite magazine
A menu from a favorite restaurant
Items from your job or school (business card, etc.)
Year-in-review issues of magazines or newspapers
Written letters to the future:
From Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, & Friends
The exterior of a gas station (including price board)
Downtown or suburban skyline and storefronts
A succession of cars traveling down the street
Scenes from your neighborhood
The outside of your favorite restaurant
Movie theater marquee with movies listed
Anything that you think is likely to change
Interior and exterior shots of your home
Photos of a favorite outfit
Photos of your car(s)
Photos of your workplace/School
Vacation or fun-time photos
Videos (save on a USB along with pictures):
A video tour of your home
A video tour of your work
A video tour of your daily life
A “Predictions for the Future” session with friends and family
Family history interviews
Video Messages to the Future
2. Add to your home library.
Parents are always encouraged to read to their children, and birthdays are a great time to add to your home library! Books make great gifts, so why not start a tradition with them? Start year one by adding a book to the home library and then make it a tradition for every birthday! Pick a book that goes along with a theme from that year and then write a short note in the cover. You could even get a personalized book for your little one! Take it a step further and head to a book store together for your child to choose a book! He/she may surprise you and pick a different book than you had in mind. Read that book at bedtime as a part of the tradition as well. What’s so fun about this tradition is that when your kids are grown, they can take the books with them and maybe even pass them down to their own children!
We love this list of 50 must-read classics taken from Teach Beside Me. You can’t go wrong with choosing a book from this list! These will be treasured for years to come!
1. Black Beauty
2. The Princess and the Goblin
3. The Secret Garden
4. Peter Pan
6. Old Yeller
7. The Sword in The Stone
8. A Wrinkle in Time
9. The Wind in the Willows
10. The Chronicles of Narnia (series)
11. Caddie Woodlawn
12. Little House on the Prairie (series)
13. Pippi Longstocking
14. The Phantom Tollbooth
15. The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh
16. Alice in Wonderland
17. Just So Stories
18. The Story of Dr. Dolittle
19. Charlotte’s Web
20. Robinson Crusoe
22. A Little Princess
23. The Little Prince
24. Little Britches
25. Where the Red Fern Grows
26. Trumpet of the Swan
27. My Father’s Dragon
28. Swiss Family Robinson
29. Mary Poppins
30. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (& Other Roald Dahl books)
31. The Twenty-One Balloons
32. Thornton Burgess Stories
33. Beatrix Potter Complete Tales
34. The Railway Children
36. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
37. The Borrowers
38. Cricket in Times Square
39. Sarah Plain and Tall
40. The Indian in the Cupboard
41. The Sign of the Beaver
42. Adventures of Tom Sawyer
43. A Bear Called Paddington
44. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
45. The Boxcar Children
46. Tuck Everlasting
47. Milly-Molly Mandy Storybook
48. Uncle Wiggly’s Story Book
49. Cheaper by the Dozen
50. The Hundred Dresses
3. Plant a tree.
When I was younger, my grandparents planted a tree on their property that my younger sister gave them. It’s been so fun to watch how much it has grown over the years! It would be fun to buy a tree on your child’s first birthday to plant in your back yard and watch it grow through the years! (Be sure to pick a tree that requires minimal care and does well in your environment!) You can even take a picture of your child next to the tree each year to watch them both grow! For those that don’t stay in the same place for long, plant the tree with close relatives who plan to stay in their home longterm!
4. Take the same posed picture.
Speaking of taking pictures, choose some place that you can repetitively go to year after year and take your child’s photo. As he/she grows, you can place the images side by side and watch the changes and growth! You can also have your child wear special clothes like a sports team jersey, a dance costume, or his/her favorite shirt that year! Provide props for the picture that reflect your child’s interests. For an easy prop idea, check out our themed photo props here!
5. Make it a “yes” day.
Within reason, make birthdays a day to say “yes!” For the child’s first birthday, decide to enjoy every minute despite what might come your way. There isn’t a way for babies to express every need their first year, but make it an ongoing tradition to say “yes” on birthdays. In the years after, choose to say “yes” to things like cupcakes for breakfast, ice cream for dinner, and staying up past bedtime. Sure, you’ll have to limit this to an extent if the child takes it too far, but let this be a day of fun and “yeses!” Usually, children do great with this tradition and make it fun for the whole family!
6. Tell the birth (or adoption) story.
Even in the first year while rocking your sweet baby, retell the story of the day he/she was born or the day he/she joined the family. Each year you can tell more and more and include pictures as well! The birth story is precious and most kids love to hear more about that special day! It’s also a treasured time of bonding for the whole family to share the first day you met and recognize all the love you share.
7. Do Random acts of kindness.
Birthdays are a great day to celebrate giving back. Make it a tradition to use birthdays as a time to give towards causes that your child loves. Do an act of kindness in the name of your child’s birthday and as the year goes by, your child will learn the importance of putting others first and will also have one day a year to encourage others to share kindness and support in his/her name.
This sample list of ideas for random acts of kindness was taken from Scary Mommy:
1. When you see a police officer, thank him for being on duty.
2. Pay an unsuspecting family’s dinner bill at a restaurant.
3. Have your kids use their allowance to help pay for a waiter’s tip.
5. Write funny notes on a pad of Post-its and have your kids leave them around town.
6. Have your kids write a note to their grandparents about their favorite memories with them.
7. Wash a neighbor’s car on a summer afternoon.
8. If you are in a drive-thru line, pay it forward and purchase the coffee (or burger) for the car behind you.
9. Buy lunch for a soldier you see in an airport. Thank the solider for their service.
10. Lower a flag to half-mast when a tragedy strikes.
11. Visit a nursing home or an elderly neighbor and watch as their faces light up when they see your kids.
12. Load groceries into someone’s car or offer to return their cart.
13. Volunteer for a local non-profit organization.
14. Put flowers in a random mailbox.
15. Weed a neighbor’s garden and plant some pretty flowers.
16. Use chalk to write happy messages on public sidewalks.
17. Collect can tabs and donate them to the Ronald McDonald house.
18. Bring pet supplies to a local animal shelter. And then stay to pet and cuddle animals who don’t have anyone to love them.
19. Pick up garbage when you see it.
20. Roll down your windows at a stoplight and yell, “Have a great day!” to the car next to you.
21. Donate used books to a local library or take those hardly worn clothes to the local shelter.
22. Adopt or foster a pet.
23. Offer to take someone’s tray to the garbage at a fast food restaurant.
24. Simply say “please” and “thank you” with eye contact and a smile to everyone you meet.
Print these Random Acts Of Kindness cards to leave all the places you spread kindness!
What are your favorite birthday traditions to do with your kids? We would love to add to this list, so tell us in the comments!
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