Find family gatherings incredibly stressful

Survey birthday customs ... :-)

Written by MM on January 5th, 2012, 4:06 pm

Hello, due to current events (our son's birthday is in the next few days) I'm interested in how birthdays are celebrated in different countries / cultures :-)? So what are your typical customs, how does it work?

Do you celebrate as part of the family and / or also a children's birthday party ("children's party")? We are now doing a children's birthday party for the first time (I'm curious how it will be ;-)), and then on Sunday with grandma (s) and grandpa (s) as always.

Here in the Czech Republic, children's parties are not as widespread as in Germany (my impression), or most of them only start "later" (school age). But I think it's actually quite logical, most small children don't want to stay anywhere without mom and hardly anyone has such a large apartment where, say, 5, 6 or more children PLUS parents fit in ...; -¨)

Otherwise - we have a birthday cake, a birthday song, blowing out candles, then games at the party ...

But e.g. I can remember from childhood in Germany that one was lifted up in a chair as often as one was years old :-)! Do you know that? That was probably for the song "He / she should live high, three times high", I think ...

Do you know any other such customs?

I'm curious! Regards :-))))


Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromDK-Ursel on January 5th, 2012, 5:10 p.m.


In DK, the birthday is definitely an occasion worth celebrating.
You invite the whole class to do this (in large classes you can also separate the sexes - so birthday girl, guests also girls, ditto boys - bad luck, if daughter of all people is best mistaken with a boy in class ... then the whole class!)

However - and I have 2 daughters 19 and 15) I have NEVER seen someone go to as much trouble as I know from German mothers.
Although books are slowly appearing on the topic, there is seldom a themed birthday or the like.

The process is pretty much the same, a mother who worked as a teacher once confirmed to me):
You usually pick up the children from school (or invite them to the weekend), then there is something to eat, then presents are given / unpacked - the sequence is usually determined by spin the bottle.
After that, most of them start a scavenger hunt - off the mouse, the rest is self-employment until the children are picked up.

In addition to the class birthday, we also invited friends separately, so the above-mentioned teacher also said that her daughter could always remember these birthdays very well and fondly.
Trick: We were a lot less then and so I was able to tinker with the girls.

As soon as the children are a little older, bpowling or swimming birthdays are also celebrated - if possible outside to let off steam.
With the teenage years, these class birthdays become obsolete --- then the teenagers either don't celebrate at all or in groups.
So we're pretty much done.

Oh yes, gifts are initially agreed in the class (so, the amount of the day) and that is far below what is in Germany. Seems to be common (but ends up getting a lot of stuff that flies around again).

In later years, groups often get together - that's really nice.

At 10 o'clock, for example, the birthdays are also postponed to evening, when I refused for a long time, because I don't see that these children can no longer romp around in the afternoon.
We didn't really have evening celebrations until we were teenagers, if at all.

I don't know now.

Oh yes, when you eat, if you don't really cook (lasagna or the like), both cake bars are definitely "boller", so soft rolls, smeared with butter as a kind of "filler" so to speak, and that includes the cake woman / cake man - So a big cake shaped like a figure, which is decorated with lots of sweets.
A special highlight can then be a Danish "lagkage", ie a cake that has different "layers" (base and in between cream with possibly fruit).

As I said, I think, compared to German birthday parties, everything here is rather unimaginative and very similar from house to house.

Greetings from Ursel, DK

Answer post

Thanks in advance! :-) Hm, that's interesting ...

answer fromMM on January 5th, 2012, 5:38 pm

... I didn't even know that birthday celebrations in Germany seem to have become a major event ;-) (?). It sounds a bit like this to you ("compared to Germany" etc.)

I don't know, in Germany I only know it personally from childhood, and that was a while ago ... ;-)
There was the typical children's birthday of mostly cca. 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. (later primeval times only when we were teenagers, we then had, for example, "tea parties" in the afternoon to sometimes in the evening :-)), possibly a little longer, e.g. in summer. You came, congratulated, gave the birthday child a present and then first of all there was cake / cake and a "coffee" drink. We have often played games like "Stopessen" or something like that (or just nonsense ;-)) ...

After that, different games were played either outside (often in the garden) or inside, depending on the weather and situation (I can remember different guessing games, "Hänschen beep once", "Reise nach Jerusalem" ...), and / or in between " just like that "raved. Sometimes there were small sweets at games as a reward / prize.
In the summer there was also something like a scavenger hunt (for those who live near the forest ;-)), occasionally with 10+ years there was also something like bowling, etc. But that was not necessarily standard.
In the evening there was something to eat again, traditionally and popularly pasta, french fries or something ;-), possibly pizza. And then the children were said goodbye and either picked up or brought home by the Gatsgivers.

I don't know exactly how it is "usual" in Germany, although I know people there. But how do they celebrate, huh ...?

Here in the Czech Republic we have only been to a few children's birthday parties. Mostly it wasn't "organized" at all, there were cakes, sweets, chips, juice etc. and the children raved about as they wanted. However, some of the mothers were also there and gossiped over coffee in the kitchen (they were all celebrations where everyone knows each other well / is well known or friends). It was OK, but not really my thing either - I'd rather have a "real" conversation with a friend than small talk with 5 acquaintances. I also found that a little "program" would not have harmed the children, as it sometimes degenerated into bigger nonsense and chip-eating orgies, just out of "boredom" or I don't know exactly ...
So it will be something in between with us - the kids come without parents (I'll get them straight from school / after-school care), then there is cake, I have a few game suggestions in my head and our son also has ideas of his own :-) . But let's see how it develops ... In the evening there is homemade pizza, which I prepare beforehand.

It's interesting that you celebrate with the whole class. Here the birthday child "only" brings a little sweets to school for everyone and the teacher and classmates serenade them :-).

Answer post

Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromPamo on January 5th, 2012, 6:54 pm

In my area in the USA, the birthday parties are usually celebrated as organized events in which all children in the class or a selected group are invited to an external location for the celebration.

Usually the two-hour rule is adhered to and the parents usually stick with it. The process is: organized part approx. 1-1.5 hours (bowling alley, zoo tour or hilltop castle, etc.). Then the children eat pizza and cake while the parents stand in the background and wait. Sometimes the children open the presents there in front of everyone, sometimes they are taken home unopened due to lack of time. In any case, it is documented who gave what and the birthday child sends a thank you card to the guest.

Regardless of this, the children also have a family celebration at home if the family lives within reach.

We do it very differently, of course. We don't have a family celebration, which I found totally boring as a child. We invited a couple of children to our home and played simple games or open romping times afterwards. Cakes and snacks were offered and the children had a lot of fun. I didn't write any thank you cards and I didn't know exactly who had given what. I am not so concerned with formalities and am therefore feared or admired as a strange specimen.

Answer post

Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromDK-Ursel on January 5th, 2012, 6:59 pm


I have not written anything about a major event.
But I have the impression (although my children were never there for their birthday, but I read in some German parents' foen and have friends and acquaintances there) that German mothers make a lot of effort.
And even on potty dishes or scjkoladeessen, as we have tried it here, are largely unknown games and was very (!) Atypical that nuts about fun beyond a scavenger hunt (which we have always avoided on principle ) took care of the guests.
And if I did this every year at my daughter's more private party with handicrafts (in Advent), then it was precisely the birthday that the children would remember years later.
The others are all the same, scheme F.

I meant THAT, please don't interpret it anymore - read again how I described the Danish building:
Food, gifts, scavenger hunts - play alone (like outside or in the birthday child's room or in the Wozi with older people with karaoke or something - but just: mother doesn't play along, doesn't direct).
Pick up (sometimes with a coffee for the parents who pick them up, especially if they know each other like in our village and because it's a class.

Greetings from Ursel, DK

Answer post

Ursel, I read again ...

answer fromMM on January 5th, 2012, 7:06 pm

... but didn't really think that we had any great discrepancy ;-) ... I found your contribution interesting and everything was OK :-)!

With the "event" (in Germany nowadays) I probably came up with it because I've now also looked at the children's birthday forum here, where I've never been before ...

Just find it interesting how it works where and what developments there are / have been.

Does anyone know about the "lift up on the chair"? :-)

As a custom, I also know that you were allowed to wish what was available for lunch / dinner ... :-)

Answer post

Re: Ursel, I read again ...

answer fromDK-Ursel on January 5th, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

Hey MM!

Well, then it's clear - I actually thought of my own children's birthdays at my place, but also my friends many years ago:
Here, too, the mothers somehow got involved a lot more by having games (and small prizes) ready.

It has been customary here for some years now to give the little guests a bag of sweets when they say goodbye - we have NEVER done THAT.
When my husband still had the machines for it, the boxes could cut DIN A 5 pieces of paper out of colored paper, which my husband then glued into a block, or we just gave the tinkered things in the private celebration or there were soap bubbles, who were blown away to their parents when the goods were picked up or Jojos, who then passed the time.
Such things are cheap in Germany. - just as prices - to buy, that's when I stocked up on visits.
In any case, the following applied to us:
What is eaten is what is on our table (and as with all other sweets you can serve yourself), but I don't give anything back home.

It is also common in many Danish families to sing a birthday song with the guests at the table, either Happy birthday to you or a Danish one.
We rarely did that - on the other hand, in our private family, the birthday child is woken up with song and candle by the whole family.
My children are always allowed to choose food - I don't think that's typical of the country.

In the obligatory cake woman / cake man there are often candles that have to be blown out.

And of course you flag - the big flag in the garden on the flagpole, but also small paper or plastic flags (Danish national flag, of course) along the driveway, so that everyone passing by can see that there is a party!

Well, if I think about it for a while, a few things come together - only the celebration itself is very undemanding, I think.
That's where class size is about for most parents. To keep the pack reasonably peaceful and busy and to survive the day as unscathed as possible

Greetings from Ursel, DK

Answer post

I am happy about that.

answer fromCata on January 5th, 2012, 7:44 pm

I also don't stand by with my notepad when my children unwrap presents. That's why there are no thank you cards from us here.
I don't like to invite the whole class either. My children decide who they want to invite.
Home baking fails after a bad experience. An artificially colored birthday cake with lots of frosting is more popular with Americans. The same goes for the homemade pizza. When I see what ends up in the garbage can, I'm too bad about my work. Some only eat the topping, others only the dough, others only the green frosting from the cake.
We don't have goody bags either, who needs the scrap? We already have a box full of pencils and felt a hundred flummies.
In general, children's birthdays are more of a nightmare for me.
That's why I'm happy about my 15 year old. She is overjoyed about a spa day for her all alone or with me (massage, hairdresser, manicure, pedicure) and a dinner with us in a restaurant of her choice. She exchanges every party for this.

Answer post

Re: I'm happy about that.

answer fromPamo on January 5th, 2012, 7:58 pm

Yes, the goody bags! I provide them, but they can also be bought already filled. My child thinks it's so great, that's why it's done. And I don't have to remember anything but the number of children.

It's funny when a child turns up in a party dress with a petticoat and is then carried away completely crumpled in the early evening with sand in their hair, tattoos on arms and legs. She finally had a lot of fun in my mind.

We make cakes ourselves because we have a tradition that we bake birthday cakes together. How the other children like it is of secondary importance to me.

Yes, the average party at Pump it Up & Konsorten is boring and annoying for me. But my child has a lot of fun and that's why I move heaven and earth to let them go there.

Answer post

Re: I'm happy about that.

answer fromDK-Ursel on January 5th, 2012, 8:10 pm

Hey Cata!

What did I weather earlier against class birthdays.
But they are addressed here right at the beginning of school at the first parents' evening - and are more or less "voluntary forced labor".
Or you don't even celebrate, and I didn't want to do that to my daughters either, especially since everyone invited them dutifully.

For the Danes, this is part of the socialization process - also take a look at how other people live, who the others are, etc.
And yes, don't exclude anyone (although I have made it clear several times that we would never invite only 14 out of a group of 15 - it would have been the reverse case).

But children's birthday parties are like that here - nobody has been able to change that.

Greetings Ursel, DK - who is honestly happy that those times are over - my big daughter was never so wild about it, my little one was definitely.

Answer post

Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromstreepie on January 6th, 2012, 11:24 am

Here in France it is rather unusual to celebrate a child's birthday - the celebration takes place in the family.

In the Ecole Maternelle there is a birthday party every month for the children whose birthday is in that month. The parents bring cakes and drinks, the teacher puts candles on the cake, and a birthday song is sung.


Answer post

Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromForeignmother on January 6th, 2012, 11:21 pm

With us in fr. In CH, at least in elementary school, the entire class (without parents) is usually invited and, at least in winter, an indoor "event" is almost always celebrated (at the moment (for the 9-10 year olds), laser games are very much here popular, as well as bowling (it used to be indoor playgrounds), and swimming pool parties in summer. The goodie bags are also common here along with the bad habit of pinatas.

In the meantime, however, the kids are getting to the age where they want overnight parties. But then you rarely have more than 4-5 children. So, as it ages, it relaxes. How it will be with the teenagers, I don't know yet. I'll let that come to me.


Answer post

I think the celebrations here are huge

answer fromSally_98 on January 7th, 2012, 1:07 pm

So we live on the border between Austria and Bavaria. And I do think that there is a huge party here nowadays.
My children are only 4 and 6. However, it is quite common for 8-20 children to be invited to celebrate. Often the parents stay and are offered prosecco and coffee.
For the children there are of course cakes and in the evening pizza or very popular (if not winter) there are campfires.
And in between a game room is on the program or for the girls the pony yard, some also invite the magic clown.
The inviting parents pay for it all!
Those who do not want or cannot "have" to get creative. You can always do handicrafts with girls. Some have already made ceramic mugs or painted pictures on canvas.
My daughter wants to make kaleidoscopes in March, when she will be 7. I still find that very humane.
And for boys there are often scavenger hunts. We do that too.
And of course all children still get presents to take home. And some parents don't spoil themselves. We already had gift bags that were worth 10 euros for sure.
I certainly do not subscribe to this abundance. That's just how much we spend on the birthday child when we are the guests.

Oh yes, and of course we celebrate separately with the family, as far as they are there. Completely normal with a cake, a song and sparklers.

By the way, there is also a party in the Kiga. The parents then bring cakes or sausages for the whole group. Then the child tinkered a crown and they sing Happy Birthday in all languages ​​where they have children. This is the case in almost all kindergartens here.

LG Sally

Answer post

Thanks for all the answers! And @Sally, a question ...

answer fromMM on January 7th, 2012, 1:58 pm

... how do you make a kaleidoscope yourself? My boys would love that (regardless of birthday or not) ... :-) Thanks for any tips!

But why do you think scavenger hunts are only for boys and kaleidoscope crafts are only for girls ??? That would never have occurred to me ... Somehow I don't think so, in these "drawers" or how I should say it (not meant to be angry, I just feel that way) ...

As I said, I thought spontaneously that our boys would surely like kaleidoscopes - I had one myself, but today and here I don't know where they are available or how you could make them yourself.

And we used to do scavenger hunts, for example at my birthday parties (I had in the summer) it was very popular at the time, after that there was still a campfire, etc. And even today I see in our environment that practically all children, boys or girls, have fun makes!

Oh yes, and everyone else - purely out of curiosity: How do you do it when the whole class comes, purely in terms of space? Do you all have such large apartments / houses, or do you go straight to the swimming pool / indoor playground or something, without having to eat cake at home or something?

With us it gets tight with 5-6 invited children, and so it is with most of the families I know - unless they have a house, but there are only a few. Hence the question (which may seem stupid to some, but is not meant to be ). Thanks! Greetings, M.

Answer post

Streepie, that's interesting ...

answer fromMM on January 7th, 2012, 2:15 p.m.

... as you describe it (children's birthdays rather unusual, celebrations especially in the family and also mostly in school / kindergarten) it was here in the Czech Republic until recently too. I actually only knew children's birthdays from earlier in my childhood in Germany.

However, this seems to have changed in the last few years and it is becoming more and more common and more frequent to celebrate children's parties (but often "only" from school age). And I would say there are elements of everything that has been written here, just everything in a somewhat smaller and less "perfectionist" framework. At least until now, that can change ...

Answer post


answer fromSally_98 on January 7th, 2012, 3:07 pm

Of course, girls can also go on a scavenger hunt. - But my daughter complained after the last 2 and doesn't want to anymore.
And boys are also allowed to do handicrafts. But mine would only get carried away with a sword ;-)
I order sets for handicrafts from the Wehrfritz catalog. Without that, I would certainly not be able to achieve a kaleidoscope.

And yes, we live so rural here (to the bakery 4 km, Kiga 8 and school 20 km) that almost everyone has enough space for guests. We also "only" have one apartment and I always write on the invitation "only in good weather". That means I will give them out at short notice and follow the weather report. And yes, the few parents who really live closer than we or have children from November to February go straight to the play or riding arena.

Nevertheless, I think it's all exaggerated. My big one was allowed to invite 10 children for a long discussion. Well, I somehow feel obliged to give so many invitations a counter-invitation somehow. Nevertheless, it is exhausting and expensive.
If every child is invited to 1 or 2 celebrations per month, we will spend at least 20 euros, rather more. Then you always have to organize who drives you there, picks you up, and ideally stays there. We're both working (that's mostly just the father here), so it's not that easy.

Answer post

Birthday party

answer fromgermanit1 on January 7th, 2012, 5:17 pm

So far, mine has been invited to 2 birthday parties (both on the same day).
The first took place in a large rented tent. Two children celebrated their birthday together. There was a buffet with cakes, chips, popcorn, pizza, .... The presents came on a table and were opened by the two birthday children at the same time. At some point there was a cake for every birthday child. The children did what they wanted (no organized game). You have also been outside for a moment in the playground. Parents and siblings were also there. I don't know how many children there were in total.

The 2nd birthday took place in a restaurant. The birthday boy has unwrapped the presents. Then the children could order something to eat. Then they played something else. We parents were also asked if we would like to have a drink. In the end we ate the things that the children hadn't eaten (pizza, french fries).

I don't know yet whether we will be celebrating the children's birthday party this year after 2 children had agreed last year (we hadn't heard from others or they had canceled), but then didn't come. The little one was totally disappointed and I was able to eat all the homemade things ourselves. If so, then at most we will invite the children who invited my child as well. We have enough space outside. I would suggest a game or two. You can play alone if you want (they often run around).

Answer post

@Ursel (among others?) - again a very "stupid" question ... ;-)

answer fromMM on January 7th, 2012, 9:17 pm

... which my husband has just raised, which I don't find so stupid at the end of the day, but actually quite logical ... ;-) So:

If it is customary for you (and someone else wrote something similar here) to invite the whole class and there are (I'm thinking now) at least 20 children in one class, then you are on average 1-2 times a month at such a celebration! How does that work in practice? Isn't that just too much then ??? Too stressful??? Isn't that getting too "inflationary" ...?

I mean, normally (as I know it) you might go to a party a few times a year, stop when your best friends are celebrating, and then it's kind of special. But so often?

I didn't even think about it before, but now I'm really wondering ... Thanks :-)! Regards, M.

Answer post

Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromstarfish on January 8th, 2012, 4:35 am

The answer is a bit late, but I'll write anyway

We are in the USA (Connecticut) and have the last 3 birthdays (5,6,7)
so celebrated:

- around 15 children were invited (the whole class - 1 year daycare and then 1st and 2nd class)
- Parents and siblings were invited (we always have 20-30 people on average, since families come too)
- we have ordered a Hupfberg for the garden
- there was a barbecue for all children and parents (sausage, hamburgers, salads, mac & cheese, chips and vegetable sticks) - our son's birthday is in August --- "adult drinks" were also available for the parents, so beer and Wine
- There was always something to do with - this year the children could draw something on a T-shirt themselves.
- Cake is ordered in the supermarket - yes, it's true, we Americans love this sugar-sweet frosting! Otherwise it wouldn't be a birthday cake.
- Each child received a goody bag with a coloring book / crayons and fruit snacks
- the whole thing takes 2-3 hours

Gifts are unwrapped after all guests are gone, and "Thank You" cards are always written.

It's a bit much, but it's so fun! My mother-in-law from Germany was here for a birthday and she was amazed at what we are doing here.

Let's see what we do this year!
LG, Kristin

Answer post

Re: Survey birthday customs ... :-)

answer fromalemana_mex on January 8th, 2012, 13:52

We make a mix of our two countries (Mexico Germany)
There is a piñata, a German birthday game, not only eat cake but also dinner, parents can stay if they want.
We usually start between 2pm and 3pm and the last ones go around 8pm. It depends on the parents.
The "purely German" children are brought punctually and picked up again after 2.5 hours, the children from Mexican or other Latino families usually come a little later, parents sometimes stay with them and help out.
I find it very pleasant.
It's never really stressful. Usually about 6-8 children are officially invited, but sometimes their siblings come along.
It is not as well organized as with German birthdays.
I and my children like it.


Answer post


answer fromForeignmother on January 8th, 2012, 9:39 pm

You are absolutely right, that is sometimes incredibly stressful, even if there are only about 16-18 children in a class with us, and not every child goes to every party. But still "our" record was three parties on one weekend (one on Saturday and two on Sunday). Since the parties only last 90-120 minutes, you can also pack several into one weekend.

Answer post

Re: @Ursel (among others?) - again a very "stupid" question ... ;-)

answer fromDK-Ursel on January 10, 2012, 9:59 a.m.

Hey M.!

Yes, of course it depends on the class size.
In general, it still applies in DK that if there are 28 students, a class should be divided.
The practice unfortunately proves different through austerity measures, there are already numerous dispensations.
But then I think the parents often share the party and invite only the boys from the class when the boy is the birthday boy, and only the girls when the girl is the birthday boy.

Birthdays are rarely celebrated together, but my daughters also had them.

In the end, yes, you can be out and about a lot, but the "prices" are fixed - that happens on parents' evening at school! - and most (working) parents don't care whether they pick up their child in the evening from the party or from the care institution.
The weekends are of course planned differently, but a Friday / Saturday evening is definitely feasible, ditto events during the day.

And as I said:
Here the children are mostly together all day anyway; only the location changes, there is something special to eat, otherwise self-entertainment is the rule here on such children's birthday parties.

It's not that much an event in my eyes either, to the extent that, yes, it's kind of inflationary, but that's how it is here in the first few years.

Greetings from Ursel, DK

Answer post

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