Amy’s Free Ideas


Seasons > Birthdays > Decorations

Birthdays are a good time to focus attention on one child and make him or her feel loved and glad to be a part of your family. Decorations are one way to visually tell them, “You are important to us! We love you enough to do special things for you.”

Birthday “Throne”

A simple idea to make your child feel special is to make a birthday “throne.” I just pulled a pillow case down over the back of a dining room chair.  Only the birthday child was allowed to sit in this special place. You can probably come up with creative ways to create a special place to for your birthday child to sit.

Birthday message swag

Most American party good stores sell birthday banners or swags. Even 100 yen stores sell them if you don’t mind them being in English. But if you can’t find any in a store near you, you can make them.

Method 1: On your computer, write out your message in large letters. Print out the letters onto sticker paper (used for making labels, and sold at 100 yen stores) Stick the printed letters to thin cardboard, (such as empty cereal or cracker boxes, backs of used notepads, or inside new shirts.) Cut out each letter, being sure to leave an inch (2cm) tab at top of both sides of each letter for a place to fasten them together. Lay out letters on the floor in the right order. Fasten the letters together with brads, or punch holes in the tabs and tie with short bits of string or ribbon, or run a long ribbon through all the holes.

Method 2: Hand draw letters on thick colored paper, or poster board. Cut out each letter, being sure to leave an inch (2cm) tab at the top of both sides of each letter for a place to fasten them together. Lay out letters on the floor in the right order. Fasten the letters together with brads, or punch holes in the tabs and tie with short bits string or ribbon, or run a long ribbon through all the holes.


Children have a blast playing with balloons, so more than putting them up as a decoration, leave them on the floor so they can play wIth them. However, DO NOT let infants and toddlers play with balloons--if they bite and pop the balloons, they could be suffocated by a tiny piece blocking their windpipe.

Mylar balloons inflated with helium are an easy way to decorate because you don’t have to figure out a way to hang them. Make a cute anchor to keep them from floating away--tie the balloon to a tiny gift bag filled with something heavy (a rock, etc) or tying them to your child’s teddy bear or doll. Dollar stores often sell these for one third or one fourth the price of party goods stores.

If you can’t buy helium balloons locally, you might be able to find “stems” to fasten non-helium balloons to. I have purchased these both at American dollar stores, and Japanese 100 yen stores. They look like extra long plastic straws with a small plastic cone on the end to fasten the balloon on. If you can’t find these, wooden dowels with a ring fastened to the top end will work just as well.

view how to make a balloon bouquet

A nice balloon substitute is tissue paper flowers. Make them as big as balloons, and they can festoon doorways, windows, beds, tables, or make a tissue flower bouquet. Layer 5-10 sheets of tissue paper squares, accordion fold them, and fasten in the middle with a wire. Separate layers to make a pom-pom flower. Pre-folded tissue paper is sold at some 100 yen stores. Mix and match colors, and cut the ends rounded or in points before separating layers for numerous variations.


Make one for each child. Design them so your children will want them displayed even when they are teenagers--this means no cute little cars and trucks, even though your 4 year old son adores them--he will be embarrassed to have it when he is 15! Don’t just hang the banner for their birthdays--use them for many occasions.

Make a short banner strip that says “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” or “We love you” or “Wow! You Did it!” or “Hang in There!” You can mix and match this message portion with the name portion, depending on the occasion. For example, if her basketball team wins, you can hang the banner with “WoW! You Did it!” When he graduates, pair it with “Congratulations.” If he broke his arm or failed a test, hang his name banner with the “Hang in There” top, as an encouragement to keep going, even when he encounters problems.

If you make it out of felt, you don’t even have to sew anything--just fold over the top edge and glue a place for the dowel to go. Then decorate with fabric paint, pins, etc.

Small arrangements

Surprise your child with little birthday displays all over the house. Group piles of wrapped presents, photos of the birthday child, “Happy Birthday signs” and mini balloons for fun decorations all over the house. The birthday boy will be delighted to find a reminder of his birthday on his nightstand or dresser, the foyer, or bathroom. The birthday girl will feel special when she sees a photo of herself along with tiny wrapped presents on her desk or bookshelf, or her teddy bear holding a balloon.

“You are Special” sign

This  is versatile because it can be used for anyone, on any occasion, and put anywhere. This one is held with a clip that has a suction cup on it, so it can easily be hung in many places--on windows, mirrors, doors, etc. A curly ribbon hides the hook. Hang it in a different place each day during the week leading up to your child’s birthday, for a surprise message each day. It is easy to make, too--just write your message with fabric paint on a piece of felt, and let it dry.

Wind sock or outdoor banner

These make a good marker for friends trying to find your house for a birthday party. Even if you don’t throw a birthday party, it is nice for the birthday child to see it fluttering in the breeze as he or she comes home from school.

Photos of the birthday child

Display photos of your child they can start at birth, then one per year, or every other year. This is a great way to help your child gain confidence--to see how much they have grown and developed over the years. But the lesson might be lost if this is not combined with words--point out the skills your child has mastered--whether it is being potty trained and learning to dress himself, or learning to ride a bike and learning to read and write, or learning to drive and making the varsity basketball team or school choir.  A birthday is a great time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments, and thus help him to gain confidence.

Special Plate

Use it on your children’s birthdays, and other noteworthy days. It can be any plate that is unlike any other you have, and that is only used on special occasions. It is how it is used that makes it special, not what it looks like. It can be a red plate, or one with hearts on it--it doesn’t have to be expensive--one from the 100 yen store or flee market is just as good as an expensive one. My teenage son still talks about how honored he felt whenever he was presented with the “Special” plate.  If you want to try your hand at designing your own, there are companies that sell kits--you draw a design on paper, send it to them, and they make the plate and send it back to you. Or, you might be able to find a shop where you can paint your own design on ceramic plates, then go back and pick it up once it has been fired. If you buy a clear glass plate, any plate can become a special plate. Write the “You are Special” phrase on paper, put it on a plate, them put the clear plate on top of that.

Birthday Party Themes

If you want lots of kid-friendly ideas for particular themes for decorations, food, and games, check out the Family Fun website. Their ideas are divided by age and whether the party is for a girl or boy, so you can more easily find ideas that will fit your child.

Link to Family Fun website

Method 3: On your computer, or by hand, write out a message, print out, and tape the sheets of paper together for a long narrow banner. Optional variation: cut the banner into narrow strips, leaving a 2 inch (4cm) boarder at the top to hold it all together. This border can be reenforced with tape, if you want it to last more than one birthday.

Seasons > Birthdays > Decorations