Having 5 children can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to birthdays. It has taken us a while, but we are starting to develop some birthday traditions to help with the cost and at the same time give our girls something to look forward to.
First of all, our girls share a birthday celebration with a sister. They have many of the same friends, so it works out nicely and they have been quite happy (thus far) to share celebrations. We have two winter birthdays and two spring birthdays. Our newest fall blessing might get to celebrate on her own but it will be a while before we have to decide about that. In general, we just do small, simple family birthdays until the age of five. At that age, the child can invite more friends to a party shared with a sister if it is a party year. We used to take the girls out to eat for their birthdays, but now that we have 5 children, it is too expensive to do that. So now I let them plan a menu for breakfast and dinner on their special day and that has been quite fun for them to do! After dinner, we share presents with the birthday girl. The sisters usually choose something from their own toys to give to the birthday girl that they know she has always liked. It is always sweet and funny to see what they come up with. My husband and I don't spend a lot of money on birthday presents, but we try to find things on sale during the year that the child will love. For instance, my eldest loves to bake so she received some silicone muffin liners and cookie cutters that I found for a good deal, along with some special pens that she loves to use to write down recipes for her recipe collection. We also try to take time to look at baby pictures and talk about what we remember about their birth and talk about what a special time it was. In addition, they always get to help make a special birthday treat to take to school and share with their friends. In our family, we definitely try to make the day special rather than giving many expensive presents.
My parents started a few traditions with the girls to celebrate certain birthdays and it has been so fun for them to look forward to those years that we have added a few more of our own. Here are the ones we have come up with so far:
5 Years - first party with friends
7 Years -- can receive an American Girl Doll as a present and begins birthday lunch date and shopping trip with Grandma and Papa
9 years -- Destination birthday but no friends party (My eldest desperately wanted to go to the American girl store so we planned a fun trip to Charlotte and let them shop at the mall there. I think when my second-born turns 9 we are going to take them all to the Great Wolf Lodge!)
10 years -- Special fancy lunch date at Hotel Roanoke with Grandma and Papa
11 years -- Can get ears pierced and attend Mama-Daughter retreat at Camp Eagle (our church camp provides wonderful date nights that we would love to attend each year with all our girls but they are too expensive for big families like ours. We've opted to wait and enjoy them individually at the crucial "tween" stages because they provide a good opportunity to chat about issues too old for younger sisters.)
12 years -- sometime during the 12th year Daddy will randomly whisk her away on a special trip for a couple of days for just the two of them -- it will be a complete surprise when and where.
13 years -- Arbonne make-up party to learn how to apply make-up and figure out colors for skin-type