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Super Summer Birthdays

A child's birthday is the one day of the year that's her very own. But what if it's during the summer, when there can't be a classroom celebration and it's tough to coordinate a party around friends' various vacation plans? Your child is bound to be a little disappointed, "so you may want to put extra effort into acknowledging your youngster's birthday and make it as similar as possible to birthday celebrations that fall during the school year," says Lynn Aikin Price, Ph.D., a Dallas-based clinical psychologist.

Some ideas:

  • Accentuate the positive  -- no homework; bikes, skates, and other outdoor gifts can be used right away; celebration options abound, including pool parties and barbecues.

  • If you're planning a party, send out invitations early  -- about four weeks ahead of time  -- with an early RSVP. This will help assuage any disappointment your child may feel on the big day when only a handful of kids show up. It also allows you time to rethink the event to fit the number of acceptances. Fewer kids may mean you can afford a fancier fete.

  • Rather than having a summer party, consider celebrating your child's half-birthday when school's in session. Ask his teacher if a half-birthday celebration in the classroom is a possibility, and plan a regular party for friends as well.

  • If your child will be at camp on her birthday, ask the counselors to provide some sort of recognition, and find out if you can send cupcakes or some other celebratory treat.

  • If possible, take the day off from work. Designate your youngster "king for a day," and let him make certain family decisions, such as where to go for lunch or dinner, whether to play miniature golf or see a movie, when to cut the cake.

  • If your child's birthday falls during a family vacation, celebrate with presents and other trimmings. Whatever you do, don't forget the cake! Order it from a local bakery or arrange to have it delivered to your table at a restaurant, complete with candles and a "Happy Birthday" serenade.

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