A decade ago, I found myself alone with two young children and a handful of teenage girls on a Friday night. Having finished up the assignment the teenage girls were in charge of, everyone was looking for something to do. It seemed almost providential that at that very moment I realized my little boy was one and A HALF, that very day. Without any further ado, I set out to bake half a cake while several faces stared at me, not quite catching my sudden excitement.
That Friday night, a new family tradition was born — we began celebrating half birthdays.
We love birthdays at our house. Birthdays are a big deal. But slowly, yet surely, half-birthdays are creeping up as a close second. Even though we keep half-birthdays simple, that calendar date is anticipated weeks in advance. I mean, who doesn’t want an excuse to eat chocolate cake?
Here are the four simple things we do to celebrate a half-birthday.
1. Bake half a cake
I always get lots of questions about the half a cake. It’s easy. Cut a round cake in half and layer it. At our house, the half birthday cake is always chocolate cake with sprinkles. Mom’s choice. Your real birthday, you pick. Your half-birthday, it’s mom’s pick.
2. Snap a candle in half
Place it in the cake and light it.
half of the traditional “Happy Birthday” song.
4. Half wrap
a small gift from the dollar store.
That’s it. There’s no party, no special dinner, no friends invited, no big gifts. Of course you can add your own twist to the event, but keep it simple and low stress, or the likelihood of it becoming a beloved family tradition is next to nil.
Like I said, half-birthdays are a big deal around here. So much so, that in the days leading up to my fifth child’s birth, I lost sleep that he may be born on March 31st and therefore be exempt from ever having a half-birthday. September only has 30 days. Imagine my relief when he was born at 8:30 p.m. on March 30th, and therefore has a lifetime of half-birthdays ahead of him.
My daughter also understands the significance of half-birthdays, but learned the hard way that they aren’t as significant to others. Her disappointment was apparent as she returned home from church on her 5-and-a-half-birthday a few years ago and lamented, “Nobody wished me a happy half-birthday.”
Who doesn’t want to add a little extra to an otherwise ordinary day — with very minimal effort? A definite advantage of this family tradition is half-birthdays have a set date marked on the calendar, and therefore won’t end up on a one day we’ll do it list. If you want to get really precise about the date, try this calculator.
Try it. Look up the next half-birthday at your house, and bake half a cake.