Let me start by saying Happy Birthday to my Ironman!

Birthdays have always been a big deal in my family and I look forward to my own every single year.  Ironman and I used to do gifts, but a few years back we changed up the way we celebrate.  Here are three ways that we make our birthdays special without giving gifts!

PAMPER.  One way that we make birthdays special is by pampering the birthday girl or boy!  We always go out for breakfast to start the day off with an early morning celebration.  Shopping or pedicures or something else fun may happen mid-morning for the girls.  Lunch together is a must.  Coffee surprise is always an afternoon treat that the boys love.  The day really depends on whether the birthday girl or boy has to work and what they want to do if they don't.  Finally, we always end the day with a big family birthday party at my parents house.  The birthday girl or boy gets to pick their favorite dinner and dessert and relax while others get everything prepared and decorated.  Ironman almost always asks for a cookie cake, like the enormous ones that you buy at the mall.  Plus, the birthday boy or girl gets to eat on the special red plate!

ENCOURAGE.  Another way we make birthdays special is by saying why we love the birthday girl or boy.  After we have had dinner and dessert, it is our family tradition to go around the room and each person say one reason why they love that person.  For instance, when it's my turn tonight, I might say "I love Ironman because he is a hard worker, he never complains, he selflessly puts others first, he is generous with his time and money and he is a good listener".  Then, once, I am finished, it is someone else's turn to say why they love him.  It can sometimes be awkward when we have new friends over...we are just getting to know them and they have to say why they love us!  haha.  We usually end up bickering about who gets to go first so that we get to say what we love before someone else "steals" that reason...because we can't all love the same person for the same reason, right?  And we always make Lizzie go last since she always has the most to say!  One birthday of mine, Lizzie went on and on for so long that she got confused and forgot why she was talking and ended with "amen".  We all just died laughing and remind her of it at each birthday.  If you are not able to tell them why you love them in person, do it through snail mail!  Skip signing your name on a hallmark card and instead take the time to write a real, heartfelt note...I bet the birthday girl or boy will keep it forever.

TRAVEL.  A few years ago, Ironman and I were low on cash.  I told him that instead of him giving me a gift, I wanted to do something fun.  So, we went to Greenville for the weekend, stayed with his parents, ran the Color Vibe and biked on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  We absolutely loved it and have continued to trade out gifts for travel each birthday now.  Ironman always chooses camping, so this weekend we are headed up to Lake Hartwell with some friends!  We love going off and doing something fun together to celebrate a birthday, especially when we can cross it off of our Bucket List!

As you can see, it is easy to make birthdays special without gifts!  Instead, focus on how to make that person feel special by spending time with them, showing them how much they are loved and making new memories together...it's so much better than accumulating more stuff.

Do you have a birthday tradition that doesn't involve gifts?  We loved to hear it in the comments below!

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