Birthday Traditions {Quality Family Time}


When it comes to traditions and celebrations, I love how each family individualizes what connects to them within each one created together.

Our family loves the gift of celebrating intentionally throughout the year and a favorite tradition that we share together is extending one-on-one quality birthday gifts. Brett and I began this tradition when our children were babies, where we would each take them on a one-on-one date together, and each year, the kinds of activities we do keep on giving connecting memories.


It has been an engaging tradition that we value and the kids now are at ages to plan out what activity they want to share in with one another; it is a life-giving part of our year together. It has been an encouragement to watch them apply thoughtfulness in knowing the other person while they plan them out and learn how to steward gift-giving from the heart, along with learning financial considerations on what the budget allows for.

The way our birthdays line up (January, March, May and two in November) gives us stretched-out individual family time throughout the year, where we get to pause and take time to engage and learn even more about one another. 

I am sharing below the steps of how I made my daughter’s birthday surprise gift board that I will be using from now on to share our quality time gifts. I will also include some tips on how we lay out the rhythms of scheduling the different date times. 

There are five members in my family, so we plan out four individual date nights plus time for a family celebration. Depending on the season of the birthday month and the busyness of that time of year, we either schedule them four days in a row prior to birthday week for our individual dates or if it’s in a busier month, we pick one day a week in that birthday month and schedule the dates on that night. We are flexible with it, but I always schedule it on our calendar and honor those times that we set. I love this tradition because it stays constant every year, but gives us the freedom to shift what we do within those quality dates together, so it gives movement for their changing interests every year. 

  • Some years I have done a theme, like “anything outdoors,” where we all pick different activities to do outside (March and May are great ones for that), or “use what you’ve got” (where you take items at home you love and then do a date around those, like roller blading or bike riding together). Another favorite we’ve done is “something new,” and you check out different places in the city like a new park or restaurant that you’ve never been to. 
  • Brett and I set the birthday date budget and then I set the date options around that, so you would be able to plan things that are free, cost-effective, or more of a splurge, depending on what budget you would set for it. When they were little, our date was simple like packing some favorite snacks and going on a walk together, but it began the rhythm of time shared where we poured into one-on-one time together intentionally. 
  • Siblings plan out the dates that they want to give. I give them their budget and then they decide what they want to include in the time together. This has been a great teacher for stewarding money also, where they may choose a “free” activity, like biking or something, because they want to use their money on out-to-eat or ice cream/dessert. Other times, they pick eating before/packing something from home because they want to choose to spend on the activity. It has been sweet to see them learning about one another and have friendship-building time to consider what the birthday person is interested in this year and gift something around that love.

Here is a dollar store quality-time date board I made that I have added to our tradition: the dates are a surprise until the day of and then the birthday person opens the envelope that morning or right before (their choice).

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  • The Valentine section has this hanging heart decoration that works perfectly for our different date options.
  • Take envelopes and cut them in half and cut index cards to fit in the envelopes.
  • Print photos of the birthday person with family members to cut out and use on your index cards.
  • Tape the photo on the card, write the date you will be having your birthday date, put inside the envelope, and then close with decorative tape.
  • Hang in order of date time with craft clamp (located in the craft row at the dollar store).

Here is an example of my daughter’s date board. She LOVES when she gets to do activities outside and this year in Ohio, it gave us some warm days this week, so we used the gift of warmer weather (because typically it’s freezing her birthday week) and gave her some outdoor love. She also has her favorite places she loves going out to eat, so we used the birthday date time to do more free activities and then gave her the gift of going out to eat because she loves it. Her older brother wanted to take her somewhere they have never been, and we have never tried out Victory Pints, the board game venue, and that is something they love doing together.

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The family celebration is typically an at-home night where we cook the birthday person’s favorite meal and do whatever at-home family activity they choose.


Brett and I set the date schedule on our calendars, and then I go ahead and write the date on the outside of the envelopes for when the birthday person opens it.



Happy birthday celebrating!

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Hi, my name is Trishia and something that I value about my story is how my heart is outstretched throughout the world and I have many "homes" that fuel my soul. Being born and raised in Alabama, my southern roots remain a deep part of me. Living in New Orleans and then relocating to Cincinnati, post Hurricane Katrina, I learned how being exposed to culture and diversity can build empathy into a person. Married a generous, humble, hard-working man, Brett, from Cincinnati and then later moved to Kenya, Africa where our years spent working overseas has shaped my soul in more ways than I can articulate. We are now back in Cincinnati, investing in building a staffing company, and after 15 years of marriage are raising an 8 year old son, a 9 year old daughter, and a 10 year old son. Jesus is my anchor; I love quality time, sharing heart to heart;, traveling the world remains a passion; witnessing community loving one another well encourages me; photography is a lens I use to invest into the hearts of others at T Ralston Photography {}


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