Motherhood

A Birthday Ritual

Half birthday cake

Nothing is more exciting to a kid than getting older (Toby cannot wait to be this age), so one thing we’ve been doing over the past few years is…

Half birthday cake

…celebrating the boys’ half birthdays with half a cake. Every November (and then again in January for Anton), we walk to the neighborhood bakery, where the boys get this small one. Back at home, we slice it in half and serve it up. The other half is saved for the grown-ups later that night;)

Half Birthday Cake

And with that, Toby was officially 7 1/2! “I’m basically eight now,” he said, after blowing out the candles. “And I think I’ve gotten taller so now I can probably ride the roller coaster at Coney Island.”

Half Birthday Cake

Do you have any birthday rituals you like? When I was little, I always requested pumpkin pie in January, and my friend puts a bunch of balloons in her daughter’s bedroom while she naps, so she wakes up to a party!

P.S. An ode to rituals, and slamdunk birthday presents for kids of all ages.

(Thanks to our friend Ana Gambuto for the photos.)

  1. I can’t believe he’s seven and a half! I remember your engagement and before your wedding, the wedding, you getting pregnant and then rushing to the hospital in a taxi–just so so soooo crazy and so many great stories over all the years. Love reading along–I can always count on feeling joyful and light when I come and leave your site. Happy half birthday, Toby!

  2. Emily says...

    My twins were born very prematurely, and after a long NICU stay ended up coming home a week apart from each other. We’ve decided to celebrate their “Coming Home Day” sort of like a second birthday so they each get their own special day.

  3. Well this is so adorable. What a sweet idea. Your babes are the cutest… I feel like I’ve been watching them grow up after reading for so many years! For our birthdays, my mom would always have a homemade banner hanging over the kitchen table with one really special present sitting in the middle. Then we would always go to breakfast as a family (she and dad would go into work late, and we’d get to miss a little bit of school in the morning on weekdays). It always felt exciting and special when we were little. Happy almost 8th bday to Toby!

  4. Christina says...

    Aw that’s so cute! My half birthday is Christmas so it’s always eventful. Growing up, I always had noodles on my birthday. My mother said that eating long noodles brings a long life! Pretty sure it’s a Filipino superstition. Now every birthday I write a letter to myself about the highs and lows of the past year and how I’ve grown as a person. I also create a new birth year resolution for myself! It’ll be a great way to look back on my years when I get older.

    • Emily says...

      Wow what a great birthday tradition! I love that idea of writing to yourself and setting a new birth year resolution!

  5. Addie says...

    My mom always gave us a package of those mini powder sugar donuts for breakfast on our birthday. But she’d stack them up on a plate and stick candles in them and we’d sing happy birthday :)

  6. Janet says...

    My kids get a piece of cake for breakfast :)

  7. barb says...

    Toby is the sweetest – I sure do hope he’s tall enough to ride that rollercoaster, it’s a good one!!

  8. We serve cupcakes at our boys’ birthday parties. Each cupcake has a lit candle and all guests receive a cupcake just before we sing “Happy Birthday”. While our son is blowing out his candle and making a wish we ask that our guests blow out their candle and make a wish for his next year.

    • Emily says...

      How sweet! What a great sentiment to have everyone make wishes for the birthday kiddo!

  9. Allison says...

    My daughter was born on my half birthday, which we both think is pretty neat. Since her real birthday is close to Christmas I’d love for her to celebrate her 1/2 birthday on my birthday, but we already have so much cake! I can’t wait to dig through the other comments to see if people have other fun ways to celebrate half birthdays!

  10. Vicki says...

    My first son was born on my half birthday, so we’ve always acknowledged it because our birthdays are like mirror images (obviously my birthday is his half birthday). When my second son came along he wanted to know about his half birthday and celebrate. So. the boys get to pick a place to go to dinner for their half birthday. A lot of people think I’m crazy (it doesn’t help that I also give them a small unbirthday present on their siblings birthday) but I think everyone deserves more celebration

    • emma says...

      my grandma always gave me an unbirthday present because all other siblings/cousins had their birthday at the same time, so it was really nice to feel included!

  11. Erica says...

    My younger brother was born exactly a year and a half after me, aka on my half birthday. When I was little, I took this to mean that everyone’s half birthday is whenever their brother’s birthday is. I can remember when I was 4 or 5, my friend trying to figure out when her half birthday was and I said to her, “Well, when is your brother’s birthday?”

  12. Shannon says...

    I looked after a family that celebrated their kids birthdays, half-birthdays and also the day they were conceived (‘baby day’ I think is what they called it) haha! It was the dad’s idea, and I think it was because the mom didn’t like to have dessert except for on special occasions, so it was the dad’s way of ensuring more dessert around the house. I don’t think the younger ones understood exactly what a ‘baby day’ meant but they were totally willing to celebrate it!! haha.

  13. Casey says...

    My son will be 4.5 on Saturday and he can.not.wait!!!!

    We are planning to go out for ice cream! He’s my first child and I love that he loves the half way point. Just another reason to celebrate life, and we could always use more of those!!

  14. Sarah says...

    We hang streamers and balloons after the kids go to bed on the night before each birthday. When they wake up they are so excited about the decorations. The favorite is the streamer “curtain” that we hang across the doorway at the end of the hall. They love to run back and forth through the streamers.

  15. Denise says...

    We wear cone birthday party hats for breakfast (especially if it’s a weekday). Makes it festive and fun :)

  16. Lisa says...

    When my son turned two I started painting the inside of the downstairs windows with polka dots and the number representing his age. Year after year as he got older I would quietly wonder if he was getting too old for this. But every year from the time he was about 10 he would ask me the night before his birthday, “you are still going to paint the windows, right?”. It means so much to me that he still wants me to do it. Every year when I paint the windows, I relish the tradition and hope that it is not the last time that I do it. Keep your fingers crossed for me this year, he will be 15!!!!!

    • Mrs D says...

      Fingers crossed! I love this story, thanks for sharing.

  17. That is wonderful!!! You invite so much light and celebration into your life. I hope we can all take a note from you :)

  18. Sasha says...

    The half a cake on half a birthday is so sweet!

    I’m a nut for rituals, celebrations, holidays etc. When my girls were little we started half *un* birthdays, a la Winnie the Pooh. On the child’s half birthday we had an unbirthday party. Any dessert requested EXCEPT cake, and presents given BY the unbirthday child. They had so much fun finding things to gift little friends they’d invite. And how fun for friends to come to a party and get a gift :) Plus, dessert.

    We also celebrated old befana and three kings day and st Nicholas day and advent and may day and equinoxes and solstices, ground hogs day…any occasion where there could be treats and decorations, we were in.

  19. We love half birthdays in our house and celebrate with ice cream sundaes, a candle and a song – “Happy Half Birthday to You!”. Fun to see the tradition on your site! :)

  20. MMG says...

    Chocolate fondue for birthdays! I make the birthday girl (my daughters) or birthday boy (my husband) their favorite meal and follow it up with a huge platter of cut fruit (clementines, apples, raspberries, blueberries, and pineapple are the usual suspects), as well as cut up pieces of a basic lemon loaf because it’s just so good, and a big pot of dark chocolate fondue in the center. Before we spear our fruit of choice, we say something we admire or love about the birthday boy/girl, then it’s time to swoon over the classic combo of fruit and chocolate! It has become our favorite birthday tradition and is so easy to do (no baking) that I almost feel guilty…except I don’t :-)

  21. Kristen says...

    My mom always decorated the kitchen with streamers and a sign she decorated so we’d have a party waiting for us when we woke up. When I was a moody teenager who (very stupidly) skipped homemade breakfast in favor of a granola bar and extra sleep, she moved the decorations to the bathroom so I’d have a party when I was getting ready for school. I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I loved her commitment to the tradition.

  22. what a darling tradition!

  23. Sharon in Scotland says...

    My birthday is in the last week of December. My mum had no truck with “this is for Christmas and birthday” present nonsense, I got separate presents, cake and a party. As a kid I always loved the date of my birthday, it meant I NEVER had to go to school on my birthday!!

  24. Bonnie B says...

    Such sweet pics! My nephew was born on Christmas night. I thought that his family might celebrate his half birthdays due to this but they haven’t. Instead, they chose to dedicate Dec 25th all to him and his Birthday and celebrate Festivus on Dec 23rd. My Dad was born the day after Christmas so we make sure to give him an extra special celebration every year on his Birthday since it was always overshadowed when he was growing up. He’s going to be 71 next month and we still do this for him.

  25. Leah says...

    We celebrate half birthdays too. Recently my husband reminded me that when Sammy turns 4.5 this year, 25% of the time that he lives with us before college is gone. Then my heart broke in one million pieces.

    • t says...

      Oh my gosh! NOOOOO. My twins will be 4.5 in January and this crushes me.

    • Emily says...

      Oh noooooo

  26. Kathleen says...

    So sweet. My daughter was born on my birthday which is extraordinarily special but I do feel a little sad for her that she doesn’t get to have her own day. So we celebrate her (technically our but we make it all about her) half-birthday as well, with a half-cake or cupcakes and candles. At this age (she’s 7 too) those extra six months are a big deal to get to claim! :)

  27. EM says...

    My family has a tradition that when you turn the age that is the same as your birth date, you get a cake with that number of layers. (e.g. I turned 9 on the 9th, and my mom made me a 9-layer cake). This, of course, is easier to do for people born early in the month, though one time my sister baked a 23 layer cake for her friend. But so far, all my nieces and nephews and my own two sons have been born in the first half of their birth months, so they are young enough that it is exciting and not too difficult to pull off.

    • Do you call this a “golden birthday,” because that’s what I grew up calling it!

    • Jill says...

      We called it a golden birthday too!! I like the cake idea, but my second was born on the 29th….that sounds impossible, haha.

      My third is turning one on Friday, so it’s already his golden birthday. I’m trying to think of a special golden birthday tradition to start now, but I gotta act fast!

    • Sabrina says...

      We also call this a “Golden Birthday”.
      I do love the cake idea!

    • Tracey says...

      You could do a crepe cake for the bigger ones. They’re so yummy! And achievable too.

  28. Cynthia Miller says...

    I can’t believe Toby is 7.5! (Well, technically 8 apparently). My youngest is 6, and I forgot Toby is actually older than he is. Does time pass differently in blogland?

    • Cynthia Miller says...

      And I should have added- my sister did an interesting 1/2 birthday twist this year- she didn’t get the kids cards mailed out for their actual birthdays in the Spring, so she sent “Half-birthday” cards to my two oldest. My brother did that with my middle child this year, too. Not so much a tradition as a not being very good at keeping up with things!

  29. Elise says...

    In the first picture, is Toby trying to block Anton from blowing out the candles? :)

    Great family tradition!

  30. Jessica says...

    We started doing a simple celebration of my children’s half birthdays as well and they totally love it. Watching their faces light up for something so simple makes it worth it.

    I got the half birthday idea from my childhood. When I was in high school, I worked in an office full of older adults. They threw me a surprise half birthday party, complete with half a cake, singing me half of the birthday song and half a card. I’ve never forgotten that.

  31. If he’s basically 8 then I’m basically 40 and I’m not ok with that yet! :) Now that I think about it, my family has no traditions around birthdays for humans. The dog is a different story. Her birthday is in July and she always gets a birthday swim!

  32. I’ve always wanted to do a half-birthday tradition, but I also want it to be significant to me and I can’t decide what I should do. Mine is December 2nd, and I will be basically 28. :)

  33. Talia says...

    I always made a donut cake (essentially, just layered donuts on a plate) and sung happy birthday to my girls as they woke up on their birthdays. After all, who doesn’t want to wake up to donuts?!?!

  34. Gillian says...

    I am not a cake person, there is something about frosting that just isn’t my favorite. So after years of buying or making beautiful frosted cakes, my mom gave up and started making me pineapple upside-down cake. Even as an adult who has been out of the house for longer than a decade, my mom always makes it for me on the weekend we celebrate my birthday. It is my absolute favorite part of getting a year older.

    • We always had birthday pies! Strawberry for me, lemon meringue and mint chocolate chip ice cream for my two brothers.

  35. Sabrina says...

    We also celebrate half birthdays in our family. This is especially important for our middle child who is a classic middle child and also has a birthday close to Christmas. Poor kid wasn’t even supposed to be born in December but he decided to come six weeks early. I always fear his birthday will get lost in the craziness of Christmas, so in June we do an extra fun half birthday. I’m sure all my other kids will get a complex about it, but I never said I was a perfect mother.

  36. Nicole says...

    Those photos are so pretty! My birthday falls close to Christmas, so I got small half-birthday celebrations growing up as well.

  37. That’s a super cute tradition! I love birthdays so this just adds to the fun.

    xx

  38. Juliette says...

    A few years ago I started celebrating my husband’s half birthday as well. His actual birthday is on the 28th of December and is always a bit drowned in Christmas/New Year celebrations. I usually give him a card and a cupcake and also buy him a present that is for us rather than just him like tickets for a concert or something to do together. He loves it.

    • That is so sweet! I have a good friend whose birthday is 2 days after Christmas. We should totally start celebrating her in July!

  39. whitney says...

    What a darling little boy. Thank you so much for sharing these sweet photos of such a happy moment.

    We now celebrate our 2 girls half birthdays with a cake thanks to your mentioning it before on here. They love it so very much and it has become a special tradition throughout the years.

  40. Alyssa says...

    I have loved reading everyone’s comments because it’s so sweet seeing the traditions that people have.

    My parents and I all have birthdays in the exact same week (next week in fact!) And since our birthdays are so close to Christmas, my mom and I try to celebrate our birthdays with seeing something Christmas-y like a festive concert or play. And usually I’ll buy her some fun presents that are Christmas-themed and give them to her on her birthday so she can enjoy them for the remaining few weeks. Overall, it’s made my love for Christmas grow more year to year to because it also feels like my own little celebration season.

  41. Kate says...

    Growing up, I had a much larger family than my fellow students. My classmates cekebrated their half birthdays with treats and presents. As kid in a family of five, that wasn’t going to happen for me. My mom was smart about it. She woukd point iut that our family got more birthday cake throughout the year than most families even without celebrating half birthdays! She also made a BIG DEAL about hoosing cake flavor and frosting color. We would all be worked up for days before a sibling’s birthday: “he chose devil’s food! Green frosting!” Some of the cake choices were…. interesting. But having the whole family anticipate your choice was half the fun :)

    Two of my siblings are three years and three days apart. Their birthdays were the best. Basically a whole week filled with cake!!

  42. Colleen Hodge says...

    I would decorate the front of my home -lights, tulle, and decorations (different themes for different kids and years)for when the birthday child came home from school. They loved it and would run home from the school bus to see what the house would look like.

  43. Alice says...

    My kids were both born in China, where I also celebrated lots of birthdays before moving back to Scotland. Birthday traditions are something we noticed a contrast in straight away. Parties here are huge, and expected!
    In China, on your birthday, first things first you thank your mother for giving birth to you and raising you which is something I now do and encourage my boys too (of course!). Also, as an adult over there, if you go out for a meal to celebrate, you pick up the bill! I like how these celebrations are generous, appreciative, and less self-centred. I’m thinking of getting my boys out for a day or weekend for their birthdays, into the mountains to see the snow and wildlife, maybe go to the same spot and check what’s changed every year, and appreciate the world around. I just don’t want them growing up thinking birthdays are about presents only.
    BUT there must be cake. My almost 2 year old thinks birthday means cake. Cake is important! And a half cake might just become a thing in our house! And Jo, It always looks like your boys have lovely low key friendly parties :)

  44. Maria Castro-Castillo says...

    Your kids are so cute Joanna! It is a lovely ritual, mines are already older so, another phase of life rules for me now.At the moment, I am trying really hard that they celebrate every day like if it was special and that they cherish the moment, something as simple has turned out to be an epic battle in the teenage years!

  45. My son celebrates this too! But we dont have cakes. I only greet him and give him big hugs in the morning. Sometimes in random he would say ‘oh I am 6 and 8 months old’ for him every 19th is a birthday needed to be celebrated =)

  46. Lali says...

    In the evening before each birthday, we lit candles in the balcony to say goodbye to the number they are leaving. If she is turning 6, we lit 5 little candles (the ones with a metal cup ¿tealights?) while we have dinner and get ready to go to bed. This is like a farewell to the number that was a part of their identity, before welcoming the new age number!

    They love it!

    • Meghan says...

      Omg! So cute!

  47. Julia says...

    I’m not a mother, I’m an aunt with a handful of nieces and nephews. My Husband – the fun-Uncle – and I as the crazy aunt play our role quite good: we *always* bring balloons to the kids birthday party – the number of baloons matches the kids age. The eyes of the little ones (and even when they are older) always lit, they smile at them and it’s always a hit.
    And it’s fun to walk through the streets with a colorful bunch of ballons in ones hand – it makes so many people smile we meet on the way to the party.

  48. Katie says...

    My brother and I used to have “chair birthdays” when we were kids (I’m German, my parents called it “Stuhlgeburtstag”). On my brother’s birthday I would always find some little present on my chair (hence the name) and on my birthday it was the other way around. This way we both really looked forward to each other’s birthdays and never got jealous for attention/presents. I think it’s a tradition from my father’s side of the family!
    To be honest, I haven’t thought about “Stuhlgeburtstage” for years, so thank you for this post :D

  49. Irina says...

    My birthday is January 9 and when I was a kid I would remind my parents that I was having a “little birthday” whenever the 9th of any month other than January rolled around (and then of course there was the actual birthday and celebration on January 9, usually with family or school friends). We didn’t really celebrate the “little birthdays” but my announcement would always make my parents smile. Also, I remember feeling super-sad about turning 10 because I realized my age would never be expressed as a single digit again, it would be double digits from here on out.

  50. Nina says...

    My son loves a half-birthday celebration, too. He reminds me if I forget. On his birthday he picks a restaurant to go to.

    I love your boy’s expressions – such excitement for T and so intent for A.

  51. Also… It blows me away that he’s 7 1/2…. because I remember reading this BEFORE YOU MET ALEX how did this time go by?!!

  52. Oh my goodness. You have posted a lot of cute things about the boys…. but this is the cutest : ) Put a smile on my face!

  53. This is one I’ve never heard of until it happened to me…

    My husband (then boyfriend) and I went up to Calistoga for a few days as a break from working on our iPhone app. We had a nice day by the pool and then went out to dinner. When we got back, there was a birthday cake and champagne on the dining table and I was like, “what’s that?” It was neither of our birthdays – like not even close. Then he starts singing happy birthday to me, while holding the cake. I kept looking at him like he was a crazy person, and kept repeating while laughing: “It’s not my birthday!” I thought he was gas-lighting me!!! Then I bothered to read the script on the cake, and it said: “Happy 10,000 Days!” Apparently it was my 10,000 day birthday, which he thought was something worth celebrating. It was definitely a unique surprise, and very thoughtful too.

    • Jessica says...

      OMG, I just looked it up and my 10,000 day birthday is in 2 weeks! Something to look forward to :) Thanks

  54. mia says...

    my son has a christmastime birthday. every year after we celebrate with family we get McDonalds french fries (a rare treat for us) and eat them while we drive around the fancy Sacramento neighborhoods (the blue house neighborhood from Lady Bird, basically!) and look at the Christmas lights!

  55. KIm says...

    Every year since my daughter turned 5, I set up a surprise for her to wake up to on her birthday. At 5, it was a room filled with balloons. At 6, tons of streamers everywhere. At 7, a scavenger hunt around the house that began with a note on her bedside table and ended with her birthday gift. At 8, I strung yarn from her bed and it looped all around the house and ended at her gift (I stole this idea from the Anna and Elsa short). For her 9th birthday, my daughter begged for another scavenger hunt. I think I’ve created a monster because now she EXPECTS a big surprise and I’m running out of ideas! Thank goodness for the internet.

    • Stephanie says...

      The scavenger hunt is such a cute idea! I think I will do it for my daughter’s 13th. Thank you!

  56. When our family members would have birthdays, we use it as an opportunity to buy a great cake. Our son would sing Happy birthday for the person (cousins, grand parents, etc) and blow the candle and we would send the video of that. Our family (our moms, siblings,etc) are scattered across the globe, so it makes them feel that we are celebrating with them since they are usually without family working overseas. Of course, we get to keep and eat the cake afterwards. We thought it was a more thoughtful way of sending a greeting and of course my toddler really enjoys it.

  57. Amy says...

    Oh my, your boys are so sweet and have grown so much. I still remember when I first found your blog and my daughter was only a baby and you announced you were expecting. It’s been so amazing to watch your life evolve over the years especially with your boys being a part of the blog experience. My girls are now 8 (as of Saturday!) and 5. I feel a sense of parallel closeness as they pass through such similar ages/stages. Thank you for sharing these glimpses into your life like this.

  58. Caroline H. says...

    I have a summer birthday, which means that I never got to bring treats to school to celebrate. Instead, on my half birthday (in February), my mom would send treats for my class. It was so much fun to get to bring treats for everyone on a day that wasn’t *really* my birthday.

  59. I love this idea, I’m sure the boys will remember this very fondly! I was really tempted to adopt the tradition but we have 4 young children and the idea of 8 celebrations (plus Christmas, Hanukkah, and everything else in between)… I’m not sure I could keep up the pace!

    I keep it simple but always bake a cake – I wrote about it here, if it’s of any interest-

    https://themumandthemom.com/2017/01/06/birthday-cakes-the-easy-way/

    Happy 7 and a half! Practically 8 for sure ;)

  60. Rachel says...

    33 years later, I still celebrate half birthdays (mine is April 20th)! My friends and coworkers think I’m weird for it, but I love keeping up the tradition that my mama started when I was a kid, even if it’s just getting a “happy half birthday” text from my mama and sister . Plus, as an adult there’s so much less pressure for a half birthday to feel perfect like we sometimes want a birthday to feel.

    • abby says...

      So funny! We have opposite birthdays- my birthday is April 20, so I celebrate my half day on your birthday!

  61. Katy says...

    This is such a sweet ritual! I love your blog and even though my kids are in college now it’s fun to remember back to when they were Toby and Anton’s ages. I remember thinking 7 was so old! I know it’s a cliche but it goes by so fast…….xoxo

  62. Cassie Feerer says...

    My oldest turned 6 yesterday and both of her siblings had a stomach virus. All of her plans had to be cancelled, but instead my husband and I took turns taking her out on a birthday date! I took her to breakfast and shopping (she had $10 that she COULD NOT WAIT to spend) and later her daddy took her to the park and to a local bakery for a snack. It wasn’t how we planned on spending the day, but we all loved the special one-on-one time so much that we think it should be a new birthday tradition!

  63. kc says...

    My husband goes out super early in the morning and comes back with birthday donuts. That way the kids can start their morning blowing out candles on the donut– and end it blowing out candles on a cake. They really don’t care about what happens in between!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so cute!!!

  64. We celebrate half birthdays with a half cake or cupcake too! My children’s birthdays are sept. 20th and march 25th, almost exactly a half year apart. It always help ease the birthday jealousy with a little half birthday.

  65. Hilary says...

    When I was a kid, my mom would give us a half a cake for our half birthdays, too! We also got half of a small gift–like one sock–which made us laugh, and she sang half of the “Happy Birthday” song by singing every other syllable (“Hap-[silence] Birth-[silence] to [silence]”). The singing part is actually tough to do, which I realize now that I’m a mom and the one responsible for this particular tradition. She was a pro! We learned from this little tradition that there’s value in celebrating the in-between times, which is a philosophy I try to honor.

    • ALI says...

      THIS IS SO AWESOME!

    • Melanie says...

      Imagining a half birthday song made me giggle! I hope I can be that fun of a mom someday!

    • How fun! I wish I knew your mom!

    • Maria says...

      I love this!

    • Alice says...

      This is brilliant! What a lovely philosophy to honour.

    • Kate says...

      “There’s value in celebrating the in between times.” I love this! What a beautiful sentiment.

  66. Heather says...

    We love half birthdays in my family. Growing up, we always had an eclair on our half birthday and I still do. My dad always sends me a card. My 4 year old gets to pick what he wants. It’s a nice tradition.

  67. Claire says...

    No half birthdays over here, but since my son was in 1st grade we have had a back-to-school family celebration party every first day of school. It started out as a way to build some happy anticipation for the day, rather than anxiety, and we’ve just stuck with it every year. He picks the dinner menu, and the flavor of cake we get. He is a junior in high school this year, and his cake read “Happy 11th grade, Colin”. (already!….where do the years go??)

  68. Becca says...

    Growing up, my mom had us celebrate “unbirthdays”! That means when it’s your sister’s birthday, she has to give you a gift. And on my birthday, I gave my sister a gift. Looking back, it was a nice way to help the birthday feel like a family celebration instead of one sibling getting 100% of the attention.

  69. Beth Ann says...

    Homemade birthday cake! It started when my daughter was turning 1 and we were living in Boston. All of the bakeries offered such expensive and elaborate cakes that seemed like a ridiculous investment for a first birthday, so I made one. Some years it’s from a box, and other years it’s from scratch if I have the time/energy, but we love looking at the pictures from the past few years of the messy icing and uneven layers and our daughters loving it just the same!

  70. Lana says...

    My daughter is seven and can’t wait to be 8, too! She actually tells some people she is eight and I have to tell her it’s not a good way to start out friendships. Hahah! But her bday is in May so we’ve never been able to celebrate with her class but this year her teacher suggested summer babies do a half birthday. She about died from excitement!

  71. Emma says...

    In our house the Birthday Fairy comes overnight while the birthday boy is asleep (I have three boys) so that when he comes down for breakfast in the morning, he is greeted with a decorated table, wrapped gifts, balloons and streamers. My kids are older now so the decor is a little more subdued (as Mom gets older, ha!), but I think they still appreciate the gesture even though they know the Birthday Fairy hangs with Santa and the Easter Bunny ;)

  72. Nina says...

    I love this, and am forever in favor of little milestones! My younger brother’s birthday is at the end of August, and as a kid he never got to have a birthday party with friends because everyone was on vacation. So my mom started the tradition that he’d get an annual half-birthday party in February instead. He loved it, and we loved celebrating him twice. We might have to start your half-a-cake tradition with my two-year old :)

  73. Olivia says...

    I have an identical twin sister and we were born 31 minutes apart—a long time compared to most twins! Without fail, every year on our birthday my parents would light candles and sing for me at 7:35pm, and then do it again for my sister at 8:06pm. It was just a small, but meaningful way to let us each have our own moment of celebration…and cake x 2!

    • Christina says...

      That is really sweet!!

    • Such a sweet idea! A friend of mine just had twins born on two separate days (something like 11:45 pm and 12:15 am) which I think will be fun for separating their birthdays and making them feel special.

  74. KatieC says...

    My son’s birthday is on December 15th. For our advent calendar each year I string up numbered paper bags on the wall, and each one contains an ornament. So every day of December leading up to Christmas my son opens a bag and puts an ornament on the tree. The ornaments in the bags are just the same ornaments we put on our tree every year (though each day is a surprise as to which one it will be) with the exception of the bag with the gold number 15 on it:) I always try to get an ornament that represents that past year for my son. Last year it was a little electric guitar.

    • Libbie says...

      I love this tradition, Kate. How special to see the collection of ornaments grow alongside your son.

  75. Celeste says...

    I have been thinking about the balloon thing for “double digits” in our house next week :)

  76. Molly says...

    He is basically 8 – you always round up!

    Also, is he wearing like a rash guard under his striped tee? Hahaha! Cutie setting his own style.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, good eye, haha!

  77. Jen says...

    How cute is that half candle? Clever!

    My birthday is my daughter’s half-birthday, and vice versa. We love this fun fact about ourselves, and we always make sure to sing “Happy half-birthday to you, happy half-birthday to you…” when it’s the other’s big day.

  78. Yuki says...

    There was one year that I visited my family in Japan during my birthday, which is around the same time they announce college acceptances in Japan. The Japanese like to celebrate these events with puns, and a symbol of luck around this time is the seabream (a fish), which are called “tai”. The reason being, “tai” sounds like the bottom half of the word ‘lucky’ in Japanese (“medetai”). So, the local bakery makes these “tai”-shaped apple pies (true to scale to the fish), and my mom bought it and had them write “Happy Birthday!” on it. Most unusual/ favorite birthday ‘cake’ ever. :)

    • Sarah says...

      This is wonderful! So cool. Thanks for writing about this.

  79. Amanda says...

    I accidentally started a different half-birthday ritual. We gave my daughter a shoe box with one shoe in it and she had to find the other one. Her brother’s 1/2 birthday came around 7 months later and she said it was a ritual. She just found her 10 1/2 birthday shoe this past weekend – think that makes about 6 years in a row!

    • That’s such a good idea. I kind of want someone to do that for me!

  80. Amy P says...

    When you first posted about celebrating half-birthdays, I was so pumped to start the tradition too! And then I realized that my son would be celebrating his half-birthday four days before his younger sister’s actual birthday, and hers would then be four days after his actual birthday. It just seemed a bit too close, like it would be stealing each other’s thunder. The oldest’s half-birthday wouldn’t interfere with anything though. Oh well, we have plenty of other traditions to enjoy! :)

  81. Sonja says...

    Such a sweet and magical tradition! I’d like to start celebrating Swedish name day for my son! But it’s just a few weeks after his actual birthday so perhaps this will do better!

  82. Em says...

    This is so sweet! I hadn’t heard of half birthdays until last year, but I love the idea — even for grownups! They provide a halfway point to pause and
    make sure you’re on the right track, and feeling good about how the year is going. :)

  83. Leanne says...

    It’s funny the things that Parents don’t consider milestones but kids really treasure. My 7 year old started off the summer too short for roller coasters too but sometime in June she grew that final inch and conquered her first coaster. For my 4 year old it was FINALLY getting to play with the little legos instead of the baby duplos.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is so cute!

  84. Jane says...

    Everyone gets to choose their birthday dinner. When my youngest turned nine we had sushi, corn on the cob and lamb chops. Last year it was sushi, corn on the cob and hot dogs.

    • Laura M says...

      I laughed out loud on this one. Congrats on agreeing on those menus!

  85. Clairellyn says...

    I had a horrible 6th birthday (my sister got chicken pox and everyone I invited canceled before the party); as a make up my parents threw me a 6 and a half birthday and since then I have always been very fond of the half birthday. I am all for this tradition. My Dad still calls me (22 years later) to wish me a happy half birthday.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet, clairellyn!

  86. Sarah says...

    uncle jesse!!! i’m laughing out loud at my desk right now. have mercy!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha the boys are obsessed with full house reruns right now, and uncle jesse is EVERYTHING.

    • brianna says...

      Toby made a good choice, since I’m not sure John Stamos ages. He’ll be forever young.

    • Patricia says...

      We were at a family dinner one time talking about our favorite bands. I asked my then-12-year-old nephew who his favorite band was. He replied, in all seriousness, “Jesse and the Rippers.” We all lost it. He is in his twenties now, and we still tease him about this.

  87. Jillian says...

    I love sending each of my friends messages saying “happy anniversary of being welcomed to the universe/world,” and treating it like an actual anniversary by reminiscing on fun memories from our lives together, not just within the past year, and thanking them for the unique characteristics and things that make them who they are. My birthday texts are known to be pages-long because of this, but I like to think it’s a magical idea to celebrate a birthday the anniversary of entering this weird, wild, wonderful world.

  88. DIANA says...

    Not very unique, but my mom would always make us our favorite meal on our birthday. Mine was baby-back ribs for as long as I could remember and she would cook up 2 racks every year for me. She was usually really strict with table manners, but it’s hard to enforce any civility when you’re holding on to/chewing on saucy bones. She would always put a little stack of damp paper towels on the table and try to interrupt my eating with a quick mouth-wipe. By the end of dinner it was just a crumpled pile of amber-mottled sheets and a graveyard of rib bones on my plate and she would just sigh at the sight of me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet, diana!

  89. My mother and I do the same thing for one another on our respective birthdays. We set her kitchen table with flowers and the girliest, most fun linens, balloons & flowers and have a nice breakfast together with a small gift, fancy coffee, something sweet and a make-you-cry card. It always feels so special to come downstairs to a feminine, just-for-me celebration with her.

    • Brooke says...

      I love this. It’s just so special.

    • It truly is! We play bossanova music and have mimosas too. :-)

  90. Katie says...

    How is he almost 8?! I feel like he was just having his third birthday party.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I KNOW!

  91. Katie says...

    Timely as always! My second turns 3 on Saturday and I’m trying to figure out how best to celebrate. My oldest has a really hard time with birthday parties (balloons, wrapping paper, lots of people are all sensory overload) so I’m trying to find a way to make it special but not overwhelm his older brother. Any ideas or tips appreciated!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good question! maybe your little one could choose 1-2 friends to come over to your house, or to do something special-to-him, like go to a favorite park or a new playground or something he’s really into. you could do something low-key and relaxed and have a yummy cake. sometimes the simplest celebrations are the nicest, i think!

    • A little different but my oldest is turning 4 in a couple weeks and we’re planning on having it at a park outside even though -gasp!- its winter! Unless its insanely cold, we’re bundling everyone up and planning on bringing warm drinks (cider and hot chocolate) and treats. Anyways, its for similar reasons– he gets really overwhelmed at parties with lots of people and honestly doesn’t really like them. We think running around in the woods will be less intense for him. I thought people would be reluctant but so far no one has commented on the outdoor venue.
      Wasn’t there an article on here about a Norwegian (?) saying, something like, “no bad weather, only bad clothes?”
      Anyways, maybe you guys could do something similar?
      (Also, by request, there will be no “happy birthday” singing:) )

    • Alice says...

      My eldest gets a bit overwhelmed too, he’ll be 4 in a couple of months. My boys birthdays are two years and two weeks apart, in February. We’re thinking outdoor parties (treasure hunt in the communal garden, the woods, a park, a hill) or going away for the weekend in between their birthdays to my folks or my sisters or someplace out of the ordinary. I think birthdays can be made special without the excess associated with them. Is there a unique natural occurrence near you, like masses of geese migrating, or some kind of natural spectacle? That would be an awesome thing to celebrate alongside a birthday. We’re in Edinburgh and could drive North to the snowy mountains for a sledge fest and to spot deer and stags, for example.

    • Ellen says...

      Would reusable fabric gift bags be good? They wouldn’t crinkle like paper…