Birthday Tables

I’m sorry about the quality of the pictures in this post. I was going back over several years to gather examples and not all of the pictures are the greatest.

The Birthday Table has been an evolving tradition in our house, one that we’ve all grown to love. It is, quite simply, a little tableau that I set up especially for the birthday child. It isn’t always a “table” per se, sometimes it’s a shelf or a bench or whatever else makes sense at the time.

Ideally, I set it up the evening before, after all of the little ones are tucked into bed. That way the birthday child gets the joy of discovering and exploring it upon waking. But there have been years where that wasn’t a possibility. When we were in the Little House, there simply wasn’t enough space to devote to an all day display. During those times, I would send everyone outside so that I could be alone to set it up, just before the cake and whatever other festivities we had planned.

Some aspects remain the same from year to year and from child to child. Others change. Each table, for each birthday is a unique creation. It’s such a simple thing, that takes very little effort on my part, but it really lends a magical air to the day.

I frequently use a rainbow cotton play-scarf as the base. Then from there I add things that are appropriate for the season and the child, postcards and pictures, the candles that are to go on the cake, other candles for atmosphere, little wooden animals, and so on. All of the presents get worked into the display somehow. The birthday crown is placed somewhere where they can easily grab it without disturbing anything else. Then here and there I will layer in little bits of greenery, pretty rocks or marbles and anything else that might strike my fancy.

With Iain’s birthday being right after Christmas, I’ll often add in some little ornaments. A couple of years when we had a particularly beautiful advent calendar, I used it at the background for the display. Elijah’s birthday falls right after Mother’s Day and my Mother’s Day flowers are often incorporated into his. Galen’s being a week removed from Valentine’s Day is likely to feature hearts and lots of red.

If the Papa has to work on the child’s birthday he will leave a special note on the table to be read in the morning. Last year, when Iain was really mastering his basic math skills, and having a lot of fun in the process, I made him up a special “math sheet” where all of the answers came out to his age!

Ever since the dragons came to live with us, each child’s own dragon, graces his table and guards over the entire day.

Some years I’ve included a special poem and picture for the child. Iain’s Wonder Book (you can read more about his Wonder Book here), usually appears somewhere on his table. Elijah will have his own Wonder Book this year and the same will be true for him. A scrapbook or a photo album of the child’s first year, or really any year, makes a lovely addition and a trip for everyone down memory lane is a delightful way to celebrate another year! I have plans to make a book out of our Rainbow Bridge story for each child, telling the story with a picture for each addition and adding to it every year (similar to what I did with this post). Once these are done, I’ll include them on the table as well.

Birthday Table Ideas for a Child with a Winter Birthday:

  • crystals, especially ones that resemble icicles
  • pretty rocks or stones
  • evergreens
  • hibernating animals (perhaps tucked into half a coconut shell or curled up in a play silk)
  • sun symbols
  • pine cones
  • candles
  • images or wooden figures of snow birds
  • blue, silver and white play silks
  • paper or crocheted snowflakes
  • small ornaments
  • drawings of winter scenes
  • bits of wool “snow”
  • anything with silver or gold glitter
  • snowflake fairies

Birthday Table Ideas for a Child with a Spring Birthday:

  • blown eggs
  • pictures of spring scenes
  • images of robins and other spring birds
  • pastel colored marbles
  • blown and painted eggs
  • fresh ferns
  • bouquets of whatever bulbs might be in bloom
  • bunnies, ducks, chicks
  • play silks in greens and pastels
  • anything with butterflies, dragonflies and ladybugs
  • rainbows
  • spring bulb flower fairies

I personally only have experience with winter and spring babies. It doesn’t seem as though that is likely to change any time soon, but I’ll happily share some of my ideas for the other seasons as well, whether I ever have a chance to use them or not!

Birthday Table Ideas for a Child with a Summer Birthday:

  • sea shells
  • sea glass
  • pretty colorful pebbles and marbles
  • brightly colored silk scarves
  • flowers fresh from the garden
  • a bird’s nest
  • feathers
  • drawings of summer scenes
  • flower fairies
  • anything with butterflies or dragonflies
  • rainbows
  • sun symbols
  • a pot or tray of grass
  • potted plants that are in bloom and can come in from the garden for the day

Birthday Table Ideas for a Child with an Autumn Birthday:

  • leaves! Lots of beautifully colored leaves
  • wooden squirrels, foxes, bears
  • squashes and gourds in interesting shapes and sizes
  • jack ‘o lanterns
  • god’s eyes
  • acorns and pine cones
  • vines with dried berries
  • dried grasses
  • strings of dried peppers- if appropriate for your area
  • rocks or pebbles
  • bouquet of autumn flowers (mums, asters)
  • root children figures
  • silks in all shades of red, yellow, orange and brown

12 thoughts on “Birthday Tables

  1. jumbleberryjam

    I have been lurking here for some time and you never cease to amaze me! This time you’ve really outdone yourself. These tables are beautiful and so filled with love, I can feel it from here. What a wonderful Mama you are!!

  2. Melanie

    I love this birthday table idea! My middle boy Winter has his birthday coming up- right after Christmas. It always gets lost in the shuffle of holidays- this will be a great way to make it extra special!

  3. taimarie

    Such a lovely idea. I love that the objects are not new birthday gifts, but rather beautiful things you already have arranged in a special way. I think birthday tables might become part of our tradition here!

  4. Nicole

    It’s me again ;)

    Oh my goodness – I just went back and read the “wonder book” post – the recounting of each year of your little guy’s life got me teary-eyed. So sweet!

  5. Charlotte Area Babywearers

    My goodness, thanks for all your hard work to put this together. My twin girls turn 2 in a few weeks and this may be a nice tradition to start with them. And my soon-to-be 4 year old daughter can really appreciate it in a few months.

  6. Iris

    Wow, what an amazing post! We do birthday tables for our girls too and it’s wonderful to get so much inspiration from your pictures and suggestions.

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog and am very much looking forward to browsing through your archives. I was particularly drawn to your post on ‘what is a healing home?’ I realised after reading it that my husband and I have been actively trying to achieve this environment, but had never consciously categorised what we were hoping to create in terms of healing. Having it formulated in this way somehow legitimates some of the more difficult decisions and tasks that have to be carried out to achieve this goal. Love it!

  7. loliecraft

    I love the birthday table idea. What a special thing for the birthday child to wake up to each year. You can really see how much thought and care you put into each one. Thank you for including ideas for each season, I’ll keep these in mind for the future!

  8. Penny in VT

    Melody – these are so sweet!

    I also wanted to let you know that you’re in my thoughts – I think you’re due pretty soon – is that right? I’m sending you lots of good wishes for a peaceful, joy-filled and gentle birth…

    Be well :)

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