The way I look at it, kids really get into and remember birthday parties, particularly from ages five to eleven.  That’s seven parties, few enough that parents can really work to make them something special.

To ensure they’re special, ask your child what he/she wants to do.  Assuming the request is not to go to Disney World with a half dozen friends, try to deliver.

And dads, try to be there.  I believe I was at every one of my three children’s parties.  And without exception, I had a great time.

For Eric, I organized a mini-Olympics competition for his friends.  For my daughters, I did a lot of filming of all the excitement surrounding the arrival of each new girl.

In later years, we added another birthday tradition the kids really loved–breakfast in bed.  The special birthday honoree (child or parent) sits in bed and waits for a favorite breakfast to be brought in.  After the breakfast is finished, cards and presents are opened.  This is a wonderful follow-on for kids who have outgrown birthday parties.