Birthdays at School

Birthdays at School

When it comes to birthdays at schools, children can be surrounded by sweet treats and of course, birthday cake. In this day and age, it is almost instinct for children to associate birthdays with sugar.

However, we want children to think beyond sugar and know that there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to celebrating birthdays in the classroom.

After reviewing our latest results taken from the Rewards Review survey throughout June and July 2019, we found that many schools had come up with some innovative ways on how to reward children with sugar-free alternatives.


Responses from our Rewards Review Survey

‘We have a fake birthday cake with candles that the child blows out’ – The Cheshire Day Nursery Group

‘We all sing ‘Happy Birthday’ – Drumlemble Primary School

‘A special mention is announced in assembly’ – Wessex Primary School

‘They get to be the Line Leader for the day’ – Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School

‘Students are given a birthday card and birthday badge – Acle St Edmund C of E Primary School

‘Nursery students get a book’ – Model Primary School Derry


Need more inspiration?

We’ve put together a helpful list of non-food related rewards that can help celebrate children’s birthdays in the classroom. Do you have any ideas? Get in touch and share your thoughts with us…


  • Sing happy birthday in class or assembly.
  • Invite the headteacher into the classroom to personally wish them Happy Birthday.
  • Let them bring in something for a birthday ‘Show & Tell’.
  • Let them be the Line Leader for the day.


Get creative:

  • Plan an art class where children can make cards and banners for the pupils birthday.
  • Get the class to group together to create birthday bunting for the classroom.
  • If the weather is nice, take the class outside for one lesson.
  • Bring in a plain white t-shirt and have the class sign it with birthday messages.


Let them choose:

  • See which game they would like to play in P.E.
  • Ask them to choose a friend to sit next to for the day.
  • Let them borrow a book to take home to read overnight.


Non-food items:

  • Reward them with a birthday badge or let them wear a special sticker for the day.
  • Gift them with a ‘Birthday’ pen or pencil to keep.
  • As well as this, choose a cuddly toy that is only allowed out on birthdays, and let the pupil look after it for the way.
  • Gift them with a birthday balloon to take home at the end of the day.



Perhaps donate a book to their class on their birthday, rather than bringing in cakes, as this is a lovely way for the children to enjoy something that will last, and will benefit the class for the rest of the year.

You could even add a book plate at the front with their name and birthday and put on a protective cover before the book goes into their class reading corner. If you’re still looking for ideas, you may find some ideas over on our Alternative Rewards blog.


What are the guidelines for parents for Children’s Birthdays?

Can they bring in Cakes/Biscuits/Sweets/Chocolates?

After taking a look at some of the answers to this question, we found that the majority of schools who took part in our survey said there were no guidelines to what parents could bring in on their children’s birthdays. Many schools mentioned that they often bring in cakes and sweets to share with the class and some even bring in cake for their mentor.


So, what can you do?

Ideally, your school policy would not allow parents to bring in cake to school, even if they do not eat it at school. Depending on their age, stickers, small items of stationery or balloons can be just as fun. Some of our partnership schools have used “nut allergies” as an excuse to ban cakes being brought into school. Above all, children will have cakes outside school, so there will be no need to bring it into school as well.


Have you taken our Rewards Review yet?

Do you know someone who works in a school or nursery? Are you a headteacher or assistant headteacher? We would love to hear from you.

Take the Rewards Review here and we will send you a bespoke report free of charge, packed full of low-sugar advice.

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