We don't usually make big "birthday things" at our home. We use birthdays as a symbol of growing up and life milestone, not a party event, which has some interesting effects on our kids.
On a birthday, the kid in question is given a small, symbolic gift - it isn't a toy or clothes, nor anything like that. Normally is a symbol of growing up, something they can have with them forever. Something with lasting value - mementos, in other words.
Those gifts include small handcrafted things that me or my SO made, like little animal totems, a dream-catcher, a bracelet made of wooden spheres, and so on. We keep a little tribal side to our family with those traditions, giving the date more of an emotional value than a opportunity for a party.
Of course, our kids also get toys or special clothes from time-to-time, but those are tied to their achievements in life, not really on a date. If they keep getting good grades and being the great kids they are, they will get their privileges. The only exception to this gift-giving strategy is during Christmas.
During their birthdays, we also hold a special dinner. The kid which is having the birthday can choose the menu for dinner, and it can be anything they want as long as they help with the cooking and with the cleaning. This sometimes end up being a cooking challenge for us, but it's part of the fun - there are few things more awesome than trying to make chocolate cotton-candy at home with your kids without the proper equipment. The resultant disaster is, by itself, incredibly fun for everyone.
The secret is making the a birthday - or any special date for someone - fun for everyone. That way no kid will be singled out and everyone can have a good time. Don't do things like "we will have a big party for you", do things like "we will one of those things for the family today. It's your birthday, so you can choose".
One of the best presents a child can have comes in the form of power over a decision. Kids try very hard to gain any sort of control, and giving them choice is sometimes way more powerful and lasting than giving them a toy.