Our newish special breakfast tradition.

Our new-ish special breakfasts tradition

A little over two years ago I set a goal for the year: to celebrate special breakfast with my kids. We all loved it, the habit stuck, and I want to tell you more about it. 

Our special breakfasts were originally inspired by Gretchen Rubin. We began with minor holidays like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween: the holidays that are fun to mark but don’t merit the all-out celebration of a Big Deal Holiday like Christmas. 

Recently, we’re likely to have “special” breakfast on a regular Saturday.

Here’s what we do to make a breakfast special.

How we do simple special breakfasts: they're not complicated but they're so much fun. A tradition worth trying. Decor

Special breakfasts were kind of a pain when we first started because I didn’t plan ahead and never had the fun stuff on hand: no colorful plates, no paper straws, no decorations. I finally overcame my underbuyer instincts and stocked a drawer full of dollar store paper plates and cute IKEA napkins. It’s become a habit: when I see cute tableware for a great price, I snatch it up and stash it in the drawer.

(I could end the post right here. My kids think anything served on a colorful paper plate is special.) 

If I’m feeling ambitious—or if the kids want to help—we might also spruce things up with fresh flowers, confetti, paper garlands, place cards, or balloons. 

How we do simple special breakfasts: they're not complicated but they're so much fun. A tradition worth trying.

Our go-to recipes

We keep the food simple, because if special breakfasts turn into a hassle we won’t make them. Our favorites include:

• bacon/sausages/smoked salmon
• fresh fruit or baked apples
• pancakes (for a crowd)
• smoothies
• hash browns

We would never do all these things at once! Just two or maybe three on a very special day.

How we do simple special breakfasts: they're not complicated but they're so much fun. A tradition worth trying.

Instant special-makers

Anything that’s not traditional breakfast food also qualifies as special around here:

• chocolate in any form (even chocolate chips sprinkled on toast)
• cold pizza
• fruit crisp or pie
• ice cream in any way, shape, or form—like on pancakes or included in a smoothie
• anything snacky on toothpicks

How we do simple special breakfasts: they're not complicated but they're so much fun. A tradition worth trying.

This instant tradition has been easy to implement, and lots of fun. Totally worth it on all counts.

I’d love to hear your go-to ideas for special breakfasts. What do you do, or what would you like to try? 

How to Make Breakfast Special


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  1. MelissaJoy says:

    Chocolate sprinkles and colorful paper straws make an ordinary breakfast special with my family.

    The weekends are typically when we plan for more involved breakfast menus. Our shining stars are pancakes (in all forms, ricotta being one of our faves), Strawberry Brunch Soufflé (Simply in Season cookbook) made with fresh fruit or a seasonal compote and a sour cream coffee cake (inspired by a Betsy-Tacy book).

  2. Deborah says:

    I’ve long loved setting a pretty table and I like pretty napkins and straws and like to have them on hand. I also love dishes and have some fun glasses and mugs. Quite a few years ago, I realized that it only takes a few minutes to pull out a few fun things, to light candles, or take a little bit of extra time setting the table and it adds beauty and sparkle to the meal and day.

    It seems like most kids love this kind of stuff. I’ve read other stories and talked to other moms whose kids love teaparties or fixing the table etc. The fun part is none of it is elaborate. Just simple details added or taken time for. Cheese & crackers can become a teaparty! And so many foods are fun if you just cut them into small pieces.

    One of my friends just posted a super cute serving idea on Instagram. They were eating outside and she had taken veggies and fruits and cheese and had them in small pieces and then filled the cups on a muffin tin to serve it!

    Your special breakfasts are a fun tradition and a great memory maker for your kiddos!

  3. Anne says:

    Getting ready for one tomorrow! I’m putting green M&Ms in pancakes, trying out the green pear applesauce, and putting shamrocks on the table. I’ll set the table, too. Fun!

  4. Katia says:

    This is such a great idea! We have pancakes on Sunday mornings, but our weekend mornings have become busy as of late. However, that’s not a good excuse and I thank you, Anne, for the reminder about special breakfast. Perhaps, for our family, we can turn it into a special Saturday or Sunday brunch / lunch instead. Hmm…

  5. Faith R says:

    Growing up our home life was stressful. My parents didn’t get along and they didn’t try to hide it. But there was one thing they could agree on – books and breakfast. My happiest memories (other than sitting on a blanket outside my older sister’s piano teacher’s house reading the Chronicles of Narnia) are making pancakes with my dad. The older we got the bigger the production became – pancakes remained our favorite breakfast food but we also made sauces – pear sauce and pudding sauces – we made turnovers and sausages. And we were happy in those hours together in the kitchen.

    These days – my go-to for a special breakfast (or breakfast for dinner!!) is readi-whip. They LOVE the kind that sprays out of a can. We put it on pancakes or French toast with strawberries but even whip cream on smoothies makes everybody giggle. When my second-oldest describes the happiness of her future adult life she sums it up in having a can of ready-whip that she can spray directly into her mouth… Preferably while she is reading.
    I love your suggestions about pretty paper plates and celebratory straws – I’ll have to be on the lookout for those. I’m usually way to cheap to splurge on stuff like that 😉

  6. jeri says:

    Keep making memories! When your kids are married it is so fun to watch them share these special times with their families.

  7. Communal meals are so imperative for family bonding, in my opinion. I love that you made it a goal for yourself and your family this year. It really is the little things like extra decorations that can really make a difference. Also, chocolate anything makes it special. 😉 I love the cold pizza idea!

  8. Leigh Kramer says:

    When I still lived in Chicagoland where St. Patrick’s Day is A Big Deal, I would make a full Irish breakfast for my friends before we’d go downtown for the parade. It was so much fun and a great way to kick off the day!

  9. Shauna says:

    I love this! I’m going to have to decorate more often.

    We do breakfast for dinner every Sunday. Our go-to meals are breakfast burritos and baked oatmeal. The basic baked oatmeal is delicious and has endless variations: adding pumpkin spice and pumpkin puree in the fall, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, nuts, etc.

  10. Dana says:

    Breakfast for dinner is a favorite at our house. It is a great meal for a rainy or snowy or cold night…especially Friday nights. A perfect excuse to put on pi’s early, have our breakfast for dinner and then read the rest of the night.

    I make frittatas …they are great because you can put lots of leftover veggies and such in and use up the bits of bell pepper or onion…or whatever.

    French toast and bacon

    Scrambled eggs, sausage, toast and fruit or a sweet listed below

    Scratch “fairy” biscuits . We call them fairy biscuits because they are tiny and fun.

    Scones with lemon curd

    Yogurt and fruit layered in parfait glasses

    Big bowl of fruit salad.

    Orange juice served in wine glasses with a little sparkling water

    Cinnamon rolls or pumpkin or banana muffins

    Of course not all at once…..
    Getting out the cloth napkins and my grandmother’s breakfast china is also fun.

  11. I like the idea of special breakfasts, but sometimes little kids are just crazy-making. I did green pancakes this weekend. My 3-year-old wanted to help. She was excited to stir in the green food coloring, and to watch me put them on the pan. Then, when it came time to eat them, she stared in horror at the pancakes and said “I don’t want to eat them! They’re GREEN.” I eventually convinced her to eat them, but still…

    • Anne says:

      I’ve learned that most days I would much rather SERVE special breakfasts than MAKE breakfast with my kids. And I can’t believe you talked her into eating the green pancakes.

  12. I babysat three kids full-time one summer. We loved having tea parties or chocolate chip pancakes for our special breakfasts! Admittedly, our tea was usually chocolate milk heated on the stove in a tea kettle. haha

    I think my husband would love this just as much for the two of us. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Tim says:

    Eggs quesadilla:

    Beat a couple eggs. Maybe three if you’re hungry.
    Put cheese and other stuff on a tortilla.
    Pour eggs into frying pan s if you were making an omelet.
    Lay tortilla with stuff on top of the eggs.
    Allow eggs to cook below the tortilla.
    Once eggs are firming up, fold over once. Now all you see are the eggs in a half moon shape.
    Turn egg quesadilla over once to brown the other side.

    Serve and dig into the layers of eggs, tortilla, cheese and stuff, back through the tortilla and the eggs on the bottom.

    It makes a lot even with two eggs. I eat it all by myself as a three egg dish, but you might want to split this among two or more kids.

  14. Jennifer H says:

    Samuel loves breakfast for dinner and recently I threw some frozen strawberries and blueberries in a pan on the stove with a little extra water to serve on top of the pancakes I was making. He has always refused to try strawberries (I’m not sure why), but he gobbled them right up. It’s all in the toppings.

    Sadly, we are a family that is rarely awake for breakfast at the same time, so I never fix a special breakfast, but I do have several breakfast-for-dinner menus

  15. E Clark says:

    Beautiful post! Special breakfasts are the best, especially when weekday mornings are rushed. I had a good chuckle over your underbuyer instincts because I share them and rarely run across another woman who can understand.

  16. Maggie says:

    When ever daddy is home for breakfast the boys make pancakes with him…not the same special with decorations…I need to do those too…as Catholics I could implement feast days…

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