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Turning 16: A Meaningful Way to Celebrate a Daughter’s Milestone Birthday

January 25, 2016

Today my niece turned 13, and in our family we have a unique ritual for that.  It’s so meaningful.


My sister and I have a saying, “A little intention makes all the difference,” and it’s true.  When we put out just that little bit of extra effort to plan and organize something out of the ordinary, it is a memory that lasts a lifetime, and builds strong family identity.

Marking a special occasion will take some effort – effort that may or may not be appreciated in the moment.  But no matter.  It’s not about the accolades we receive or the satisfaction we get  from doing something important for our kids.

It’s about setting them apart and saying, “Child of mine, you are so loved and cherished, and we want to tell you just how much.  This is your family (or friends if that is who you have chosen to do it with), and we promise to stand by you and with you your whole life long, especially during those teen years when turbulence is a regular part of your daily life. We are your soft landing and solid ground.”

This helps to set a firm foundation, and it matters to our kids.


Because my daughter is one of the oldest cousins in our family, we didn’t quite have this dialed in when she turned 13, so I wanted to do something special and custom fit for her 16th.

She is a words of affirmation girl who loves accessorizing, so… you guessed it… we decided to make the ritual centered around jewelry we could personalize.

My sister conveniently happens to be in the hand-stamped jewelry business (As You Wish Jewelry Design), so that worked out beautifully.

Everyone chose a word or phrase to put on a disc, square, or rectangle, and a charm that represented her or what they wanted to say to her.  My sister and I made sure they didn’t overlap and had some variety in shapes and sizes.


On the night we presented them to her, we built a big bonfire, since she is a {cold} December birthday! One by one we each carried a candle out to her, representing her light, and told her why we chose the charm we did, shared words of wisdom, and expressed to her how we feel about her.










Because my brother lives in California, we had to Skype his family in, but that is the gift of technology!  They could still be a part of the meaningful moment and contribute.  They sent me their items ahead of time so I could present them to her while they talked.


The night was a beautiful display of kindness, generosity, acceptance, and most of all, deep love.  She mixes and matches the charms and words according to what she is feeling like for the day.

And each time she wears them she is reminded that she is known, and of the people who are cheering her on in through this life — who will be there for her, no matter what.

Maybe your child could use this kind of encouragement on their next birthday.  What could you do to be intentional and create something unique and special?

Here are some questions to help you as you design your own special ritual:

  1. What is my child really excited about?  
  2. What makes my child feel loved? 
  3. Who could I ask to be a part of honoring my child who really knows him/her?
  4. Is there a natural area nearby that could serve as a special location for us to use?
  5. How could I document this so my child can keep revisiting this special day when he or she needs encouragement?
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  1. I love this SO much! Your family has given me such a model of living and loving with intention- I cannot wait to celebrate my own kids in such a meaningful way like this.


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