‘Twas the night before a birthday,
When all through the house
Not a child was stirring,
Only mom and a mouse!

Getting ready for a birthday is a close second to the work that I do on the night before Christmas.  The tape, scissors, bows, ribbons, streamers, markers, paper, balloons (you name it!) are pulled out.  But it’s not for decorating presents.  It’s for decorating our kitchen.

The tradition dates back to the days when my sister and I were little.  Our parents would designate one chair at the kitchen table to be the birthday chair, and decorate it with bows and shiny ribbons, maybe even a balloon tied to it for good measure.  I loved this.  And still do.  It made me feel so special, kind of like having a throne for a day.  The commoners sit in the drab, plain chairs looking on with such desire at the shiny, colorful delight that is my birthday chair. Ah, to be queen for a day!

I have happily kept “the birthday chair” tradition alive with my own children now.  And they love it.  The kids wake up the next morning and run to see the kitchen, “How did mom decorate this time!” Anticipation is half the excitement.  Each year is different.  Each child’s is different.  And the tradition has since started to grow bigger, spilling over onto the kitchen ceiling, walls, and table.  Because why stop at the throne?  

And you don’t need much to make things festive and fun for your child (or spouse!), in fact you probably have so many things in your home already that can be transformed into birthday decor.  So save yourself a trip to the store and some money, and get your creative juices flowing!  And remember, the idea is to surprise the child so the decorating is done the night before when not a creature is stirring

IDEA:  Use construction paper to make a Birthday Banner.  Have older kids help with writing the letters and designs on it.


IDEA: Turn empty rolls of wrapping paper into magic wands, with some crepe paper taped to it.  And tear some longer pieces to decorate the ceiling too!


IDEA: Use all those saved gift bags by hanging them as decorations.


IDEA: Use tin foil (it’s shiny and comes in a roll!) to wrap up the birthday chair or make a customized place mat. 

savanna 3rd decorations

IDEA: Make a big name sign (another one that older siblings can help with) since everyone loves seeing their name in “lights” (or in bright washable marker)


IDEA: Don’t forget to decorate the birthday chair!  Use saved ribbons and bows from previous year’s presents (please tell me I’m not the only one who saves these things?!) or tin foil sheets customized with their name and age

And why not keep the excitement going in the morning after the Birthday recipient awakes to their small little throne and kitchen party, by having a “Birthday Breakfast” ready for all to see.  It’s kind of like a centerpiece.  A bag of donuts never looked so good.

IDEA: Let the birthday child choose a breakfast treat for all to have on the birthday morning.  Make something homemade or let them pick out donuts, sugary cereals, croissants with “chocolate crack” (aka Nutella) when you are at the store the day before.

Bentley's 8th decorations

And don’t leave out the adults in the house either.  I so wish I had taken a picture of the Birthday surprise that I came home to last year when my kids and Sean taped fake flowers around the entire top of the kitchen walls and strung them across the ceiling.  I kept it up for a month.  You are never too old for the throne treatment!

IDEA: Tape paper together in the shape of the birthday age and hang from the ceiling

Sean 40th Decorations

  Hopefully these decorating ideas got your juices flowing.  It’s not about being fancy and having things look all perfect.  Keep it simple, yet fun: use their name and new age, tape a lot of shiny decor, add words of Birthday cheer, and throw in some sugary food…and voila!  You’ve got yourself some birthday traditions that your child will anticipate each year to come.

What decorating ideas do you do for birthdays?


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