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Saint Paul Public Schools, District 625
360 Colborne Street
Saint Paul


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Rethinking Classroom Celebrations

As students get back into their school routines, SPPS is working to find ways to rethink classroom birthday parties and celebrations by taking the focus off of food, while incorporating more physical activity into the school day.

“We want to see classroom celebrations focus on fun, not food,” said Carol Grady, the District’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership Coordinator.

Over the years, the number of monthly classroom celebrations has increased, resulting in students having sugary treats multiple times a month, Grady said. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits and help fuel childhood obesity by filling kids up with empty food calories.

Bringing food may exclude students with cultural restrictions and/or allergies and medical conditions. It may also put a burden on families to buy treats for the entire classroom.

The classroom birthday celebration suggestions align with the SPPS Wellness Policy. Please ask your teacher for fun alternatives on how to celebrate your child’s birthday.

Here’s a list of 10 ways to celebrate birthdays at school without food:

  1. Have a 10 minute classroom dance party
  2. Send a favorite book to school with your child and have the teacher or a special person read it aloud to the class
  3. Have your child wear something special
  4. Ask the teacher for extra recess time on your child’s birthday
  5. Eat lunch with your child
  6. Organize a special classroom craft
  7. Ask the teacher if your child can have a special role on their birthday (e.g., Line Leader, Teacher’s Assistant)
  8. Create a special birthday box that children can use to exchange birthday wishes
  9. Have child bring in a picture collage or video about themselves to share with class
  10. Ask the teacher to schedule time to play with a fun item that doesn’t get used every day or is saved for special occasions (e.g., parachute)

Non-Food Gift Bag Ideas

Non-food gift bags may also be given for birthday celebrations or everyday recognition.

These may include:

  • Pens or pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Erasers
  • Key chains
  • Bracelets
  • Rings
  • Necklaces
  • Notepads
  • Coloring books
  • Sticker tattoos
  • Crazy straws
  • Sidewalk chalk