Happy Birthday blah blah blah

5 Ways to Spotlight the Real Star of the Show

You all know that I am a real fan of traditions – even boring ones – if they bring us together and remind us of something important. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t revisit some of the tired ones every now and then, polish them up and give them a new shine. Help them hit their targets more directly.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – CURRENT STATE? A 30-second song and then blow those candles out. For approximately one minute we focus on the birthday person before food and fun for all. (I know – I oversimplified.)

What are we really celebrating? Every culture around the world and across time appreciates the fragility of life. Each day – each year – is a gift. Birthdays give us all a chance to say to the celebrants, “We see you. We are glad you are here. Let’s celebrate you!”

If not for birthdays, then when do we marvel over someone’s simple existence? It’s not because they won an award or finished chores in record time. We want them to know that our world is a better place because they are in it. With a tweak or two of some happy rituals we can change that. Are you in? Here are a few ideas.

#1 STANDING ON THE THRESHOLD – The birthday star stands in the doorway into the room (the room with the cake) while the guests are seated. First the birthday star turns away, facing the other room, and says goodby to “7-years old!” They might say something they really liked about the past year. Then they turn toward their party and say, “Hello 8-years old!” “This year I want to get good at ….” As their parent, you might help them prepare – offering ideas like skateboarding, learning a song on the piano, learning how to swim ….etc. Then they move onto the cake, candles and song.

#2 BIRTHDAY BOOSTERS – After they blow out the candles and are cutting the cake, the grown-up leader of the party can say something like, “Who would like to be a part of the (name) Birthday Booster Club – which means that, if we can, we will try to help (name) make that wish come true. We will give you a Booster kit if you want to help? Who is in?

The group then either does one big pinky swear (all hands together) – or pinky swears with those around them. When they leave they each get a pack of 3 support/reminder cards to use over the course of the next year.

#3 BIRTHDAY BUTTERFLIES – Earlier, as guests arrived at the party, they were asked to fill out one quick little tag – perhaps in the shape of a butterfly. “I like (birthday name) because ………” These are collected in a bowl which is passed around and everyone takes one slip. The leader of the party gets everyone’s attention and reads the first one – suggesting/demonstrating that if anyone else at the table has that same feeling, they should make their hands do a butterfly flying. (Example: if the butterfly card said, “I like Sylvia because she makes me laugh,” you ask if Sylvia makes anyone else laugh? “If yes, make your butterfly fly!” Demonstrate hooking your thumbs together then making your fingers fly.

Everyone takes a turn reading the note they have drawn – followed by the butterflies. When the feast is over, they all go up and pin the tag around a picture of the birthday person.

#4 BIRTHDAY BOSS – We can give the birthday person another chance to feel special – to experience being the boss. After cake time, Birthday Boss time begins. For five minutes everyone at the party has to do what the Birthday Boss says to do. They can lead them in a march – or have to eat something without using their hands – or have to use only Pig Latin. Or all play tiddlywinks to see who wins. You get the point. Something fun – and a little silly. Perhaps with a special five minute song playing in the background. I already know if I get the chance to be the Birthday Boss, I would give everyone a tie-dyed scarf, play “Dawning of Aquarius” and have everyone share the 70’s hippie euphoria with me.

#5 BIRTHDAY BONUS – And, finally, one last way to keep the focus on the birthday person. The familiar parting gift could include a collection of the birthday star’s favorite things – favorite cookies, candy, favorite tongue twisters, favorite knock-knock jokes, favorite Mixel, Guests leave with even more reminders of the person being celebrated. And don’t forget the Booster cards in the parting packet.

And your ideas ….?

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  1. Virginia Hilton says:

    What fabulous ideas for a birthday party! –Wish I had gotten this years ago!!

    Thanks so much, Susan!!!