No book work for the children on their birthdays is one of our family traditions. It means that we can have a relaxed start to the day, and they can have time to play with any new presents and start any new books.
This makes it easier to fit in another birthday tradition - the birthday child's choice of breakfast. We often cook breakfast anyway, but the children usually choose pancakes for breakfast on their birthdays, which is a bit more time consuming.
When the children were younger, we allowed them to choose what theme or design that they would like for their birthday cake, and we would attempt to make what they asked for. As they have grown older, they have increasingly wanted to help make their own cakes, especially with the decoration.
My eldest helped quite a bit with his dalek cake last year:
My 8 year old covered his dinosaur cake in smarties:
Yesterday, my now 10 year old spent hours in the kitchen creating this masterpiece, with very little help from me at all:
|The finished cake...|
|...with a surprise in the middle!|
He loves baking, and has been planning this for weeks.
When my eldest turned 10, we decided that we'd add two new "gifts" for his birthday: a new privilege, and an additional responsibility. We did the same for our second son today. He will now receive a more substantial (though still not enormous) amount of weekly pocket money, and he has some additional cleaning to do each week. It's not a massive change - he already has a fair number of regular chores - but it is a way of us indicating that we expect his responsibilities to increase as he gets older, and that the freedoms and privileges that come with age are tied to these responsibilities.
Of course, we also have presents and cards, and often a party or at least a birthday tea with friends (depending on the preferences of each child). Often, our celebrations are fairly simple, but they are remembered fondly and anticipated eagerly.