In the movies, families and friends plan birthday parties for the day or week of someone's birthday. They have a cake and decorations, lots of people over and games for everyone to play. Presents are opened and cards are read, games are played and people spend time together.
When I was young, my parents decided since my sister and I were born only a month apart that they would give us a party in between those days. at first, they would have a bunch of family over and there would be a scene that was pretty close to a scene in a movie. As we grew older, though, there were less parties and mostly just a special day or lunch to celebrate along with a couple presents. The 16th birthday was special, but except for that, birthdays became a normal day for our family.
My mother's side of the family celebrates family birthdays together. For the grand-kids, we got together as a family for a cook-out or went to the skating rink as a group to celebrate everyone's birthdays. For the aunt and uncles and my grandparents, we got together at my grandparents' house to have cake and ice cream and talk. We don't give presents, but we do spend a few hours together to celebrate.
My dad's side of the family is probably the most far away from a traditional birthday celebration. Often times, the scheduling didn't work for us to get together on a person's birthday, so we regularly schedule a late lunch for everyone to get together and eat at a high priced restaurant and talk for a couple hours. the fun thing is that sometimes the dinner might be a long time after the person's actual birthday. For example, this weekend we all went to Red Lobster to celebrate my dad's birthday, which was in January, because it was finally the first time we were able to get everyone together. We even have a special version of the birthday song that we sing each time. My grandmother's favorite way of explaining this phenomenon is that we are just "extending the birthday" and that makes it more special.
I have to admit that I really like having all of these different ways of celebrating something as simple as birthdays. I think it makes life a little more interesting to think of how other people celebrate someone they know getting older.