How to Celebrate Student Birthdays (Without Draining Your Bank Account) - Elementary Education

How to Celebrate Student Birthdays (Without Draining Your Bank Account)

I blame it on my mom. Every year, I looked forward to my birthday because she had a way of making it the most special day for us. We got to help decorate our cake any way we wanted, and she hung up one hand-drawn birthday sign for every year of our age–this is a trend that continued through college. The older I get, I realize it’s because we all deserve to have one special day. It’s a virtue I’ve adopted as a mom and as a teacher–birthdays are fun and the person of honor deserves a bit of love!

cover photo for blog post that reads, "How to Celebrate Student Birthdays (Without Draining Your Bank Account)

Now of course birthdays aren’t academic, some might even say not “necessary”, and most schools don’t even “do” birthdays anymore (not like we used to anyway–everything short of a clown making balloon animals).  Don’t get me wrong—I’ve got my own two kids with allergies so all the praise hands for non-food birthdays. 

And–change is good. But sometimes hard, so I decided it was high time we took a fresh look at birthdays in the classroom (check out my other birthday post here).

Believe it or not, there is a way to celebrate all student birthdays in the classroom without food, without spending a ton of your own money, and without monopolizing the entire school day–all in a way that makes each student feel loved, special, and important. Plus: the parents will LOVE this. And this is not too good to be true (I promise!):

3 Tips for How to Celebrate Student Birthdays

  1. Prepare for all birthdays before school even starts

Being able to prepare for all the birthdays in one fell swoop is the best because it creates a grab-and-go birthday situation that is easy as, well, grabbing and going. There are a few ways to do this, and I’ve changed it up throughout the years, but my most recent find is this birthday cup that is as handy as it is cute (and easy!) I wish I could remember who originally posted it, but all I know is that I saw the idea on TikTok and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

a plastic cup filled with colorful confetti, a crazy straw, and a sticker on front that reads, "Happy Birthday, Annie!"

Here’s what I put inside mine:

I ordered everything on Amazon (the links for similar or same products are listed above), and it took me about 2 minutes per cup to assemble. Each cup averaged out to be $1.00, so for about an hour of work and $24, I call that a birthday miracle win.

aerial view of plastic up, plastic lid, 2 erasers, and confetti

For what it’s worth, I used to do almost this exact same thing but with birthday bags instead. The switch is purely aesthetic so if bags are more your style, have at it.

2. Get the others involved

Honestly, this one will cause tears. From the parents, that is. I used to have students create a birthday book but that has since morphed into these painfully simple and lovely writing prompts. Grab the cup, click to turn on the screen, and 💥 BOOM: Birthdays have never been easier.

whiteboard journal prompt that reads, "What do you think Olivia will wish for when she blows out her candles?"
Unicorn drawing on notebook paper

The things these kids write to each other are a real treat and to see the student proudly receive his bound copy at the end of the day is priceless. Not only is it a great keepsake, but it’s sure to make parents weep (do you smell that? Oh, it’s your brownie points baking 😬).

I mean seriously though, can you imagine sending a kid home armed with that adorable cup AND the book of student notes? Could it BE any more special? (Channeling my Chandler; IYKYK).

3. Always remember there’s birthday potential at every turn

Consider what other bday perks you can grant the person of honor in addition to material things. See the list below for simple things to implement that will go a long way with your students on their special day:

A lanyard that reads, "I'm the birthday student!"

When you really sit down and think about it, there are a lot of small things we can do out of great love, and this is one of those times. For many of our students, especially lately, some of the only joy they get is at school. Birthdays account for 1 day out of their year–that’s pretty cool. Let’s make it count.

Get your free birthday prompts here:

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