I’m still recovering from July, which is our family’s birthdaypolooza. My son, husband, and mom are all within two weeks of each other. Throw in those wedding anniversaries, too, for good measure.

In some ways, I have to budget for July gifts like I do with the holidays in December. With all the other fun summer events taking place, it ain’t always easy. I often rack my brain, striving to find cost effective ways to make my son’s (and everyone’s) birthday special.

When creating this list, I thought of my dad’s mother, who emigrated from Germany when she was six years old. Living the typical immigrant’s childhood (aka, poor), birthdays were an afterthought. Grandma Gussie swore that her own mothering experience would be different, even though she raised seven kids on a tight budget. “No chores for the day” and “Choosing the birthday dinner” were just two of the ways in which she made this happen.

It Can Be Cheap and Easy to Give Your Child a Fantastic Birthday!

Here are 10 ways to make your child’s birthday special (without breaking the bank):

  1. Declare it a no-chore day
  2. This could be expanded to say “no things birthday boy/girl hates to do for the day.” My son isn’t crazy about going to the daycare at our Y, so I skipped my workout on his birthday. This leads me to the next one…

  3. Break from routine
  4. I’m not advocating to play hookie from school (although I’m sure some do), but just to mix it up. #3, 4, and 5 are ways to do just that…

  5. Stay in pajamas all morning
  6. This is one of those things that my little one loves to do. Maybe yours likes to get all fancypants on you. Either way, he thought it was a hoot to go to the bagel shop in Buzz Lightyear pjs.

  7. Sleep in
  8. This may pertain more to the big kids. However, if you’re a working parent and your kid has to wake pretty early every morning, it would definitely be a treat for him to spend an extra hour sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast with mom or dad.

  9. Make breakfast in bed
  10. Yeah… I’m not doing this one for awhile, but just thought I’d throw it out there.

  11. Let the birthday kid choose the meal(s)
  12. There is very little control that a child has in her routine, so it’s nice to let her give input once in awhile. As adults, I think that we forget how annoying that must get to always be told what we’re going to do, even what we’re going to eat. On her special day, give the birthday girl some autonomy and let her choose the menu.

  13. Bake a fancy cake
  14. Talk about the perfect homemade gift: Baking requires ingredients that are super cheap, many of which you already have in your kitchen. Even if you used a Pinterest idea and #nailedit (meaning that you, in fact, royally messed up the décor), it’s probably going to taste amazing. That’s the magic of butter, my friends.

  15. Spend $5 at the Dollar Store
  16. Purchase birthday hats, plates, balloons, etc at the Dollar Store. If your kid is like mine, he won’t wear a hat, but you can still choose to look ridiculous…er…festive.

  17. Bust out the baby albums
  18. Taking the time to leaf through photos and read aloud from the baby book can be entertaining for all. “Big” kids love seeing and hearing what they were like as babies.

  19. Experience a gift (with just mom and/or dad)
  20. An experience gift can really encompass a wide price range, but expensive is not a requirement. You can do anything, from taking the birthday boy to a pro baseball game ($$$$) to bringing a picnic lunch to the beach, forest preserve, or favorite park ($). The important thing here is that it’s quality (perhaps solo) time with mom and/or dad, doing something that the child loves.