5 birthday traditions that we miss today
Last reviewed 27th November 2023
3 min read
Birthdays have changed quite a bit over the years.
Remember how exciting it was to hand-write invitations and give them to your classmates?
Nowadays, it seems all invites are made online.
So what else has changed about birthdays since we were little?
Below, we take a look at the birthday traditions we miss the most.
1. Mum's no-nonsense birthday cake
When we were little, really fancy birthday cakes weren't the norm.
There was certainly no showy fondant, and never more than one tier. Mum didn't have time for all that!
She might make you a Barbie or a He-Man cake. Maybe you were lucky enough to get a rainbow Funfetti affair.
But more often than not, it was just two sponges sandwiched together with lots of gooey icing.
Mum's wonky chocolate sponge (covered in hundreds and thousands, if you were lucky) was the best thing you'd ever tasted. And all your friends agreed.
2. The no-frills party games
There were no horse riding parties or bouncy castle extravaganzas when we were little.
Instead, we played Pin the Tail on the Donkey in the living room. (The tail always ended up on the donkey's head).
There'd be a round of Pass the Parcel, too.
We'd pray for the music to stop so we could unwrap the next layer and find the toy.
And how could we forget Musical Statues?
It was tricky to balance on one leg when the music stopped – especially when we were all giggling so much.
And the icing on the cake? Making it to a seat just in time during a game of Musical Chairs!
3. The yummiest birthday feast
Back in the day, there wasn't a caterer in sight at our birthday parties.
Mum would lay the kitchen table herself with a paper table cloth, paper plates and plastic cups.
We'd all jump with excitement when we saw the spread...
Big bowls of Golden Wonder crisps. A cheese and pineapple hedgehog. Jam sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
We'd wash it all down with R. White's Lemonade and Quatro. Or Panda Pops – so we could show off our bright-red tongues to our friends.
And the best way to finish off such a tasty treat?
With a bowl of ice cream and strawberry jelly, of course. Or maybe even mum's trifle.
4. The wonky photographs
These days, every moment of a kid's birthday party is snapped and put on social media.
When we were little, there wasn't a selfie in sight.
Dad took a few photos with his fancy camera (which would blind us with a big flash).
Or there'd be a disposable camera on the table so anyone could snap away.
We'll never forget the excitement of picking up the photos from Boots.
It was always fun looking through the pictures. (Even if there was a thumb blocking the view in a couple of them).
And dad always managed to get a great picture of you proudly blowing out the birthday candles.
5. The treasured memories
For your 18th birthday, friends, family and neighbours would pop round to your house.
Cans of beer would be cracked open. Dad might even ladle out some punch.
There was usually dancing. And maybe some falling over. But there was lots of laughter.
And the best bit? There were no camera phones.
You could enjoy the night without worrying about embarrassing photos ending up on Facebook.
You didn't have to worry about your outfit looking perfect for Instagram.
You could just enjoy your birthday and focus on making memories that you'll treasure (or regret!) forever.
SunLife offers a number of products for over 50s, including life insurance. We also have a range of articles about later life: