Making Their Birthday Special

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets opens with a scene that’s all too familiar for many children and teens in foster care: experiencing an unmemorable, unnoteworthy birthday. On average, foster children have never experienced basic, customary birthday traditions, such as a themed birthday party, blowing out candles, or anything more than a “happy birthday” in passing. 

“Happy birthday” is the saying, but for most, it’s anything but happy. Birthdays are often painful memories for children in foster care. They are reminded of the years spent in foster care, separated from family. A happy birthday is often only dreamt about. 

Creating an unforgettable, special birthday can heavily impact children of all ages in foster care. You may find these suggestions helpful when planning a celebration. 

Personalize the experience as much as possible.

Seeing their name on a card, banner, or cake goes a long way. Personalize the day in honor of them and their likes. 

Personalized items:

  • Balloons in their favorite color
  • “Happy Birthday” banner with their name on it 
  • Personalize the message on a cake
  • Send party invitations 
  • Let them choose the food/restaurant 

Choose a theme.

Discuss a theme for the celebration with them. The options are endless. What sounds exciting to them? What brings them joy? 


  • Circus
  • Superheroes
  • Unicorns
  • Science
  • Mermaids
  • Sports
  • Disco
  • Beachy
  • Pirates
  • Animals
  • Cars
  • Video games
  • Based on their favorite movie or TV show

… the list could go on. 

The little things can make a huge difference.

A cake, balloons, presents wrapped with a big red ribbon, and birthday candles are all simple pleasantries that are typically glazed over but can make a huge difference for those who have never experienced them. 


  • Have them blow out the candles on a cake
  • Place the same amount of candles as the age they are turning
  • Have a surprise waiting for them 
  • Have the restaurant sing happy birthday to them
  • Have a calendar displayed with their birthday listed 

Plan activities to do. 

Just like birthdays, many children in foster care haven’t experienced even some of the simplest activities. Add a fun activity to the celebration. 


  • Decorate cookies or cupcakes
  • Musical chairs
  • Arts & crafts 
  • Yard games
  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Roast s’mores 
  • Water balloons
  • At-home spa day 

Simply ask.

Asking them what they want or have always dreamt up is a grand gesture on its own. Executing those wishes can leave a lasting impression. 

If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of children in your community, contact us to learn more about becoming a foster care parent and open the door for a child to be able to see his or her choices for life. 

Read our previous blog for more tips on how to make your foster child feel special and loved.