How to Handle Holiday Birthdays
Make a birthday close to Christmas special
As a kid, I remember being excited to receive presents two times every year—my birthday in the summer and Christmas. When my daughter was born in December, I felt sad that she’d only have one month to look forward to for gifts. So I have been brainstorming and asking around for ideas on how to make that one time of year a month to remember:
- I decided to make the big presents the birthday gifts and leave the smaller ones for Christmas.
- I have vowed to never, never, never use Christmas wrapping paper for the birthday gifts!
- My husband’s worry when he found out our baby was due in December was that family members would try to give her “dual gifts,” as in one gift for birthday and Christmas. With as generous as our families are, I don’t think he really had to worry, but that idea has been banned to be safe.
- I will make sure to buy season-appropriate gifts. It’s hard enough only getting presents one time of the year, it would be cruel to make my girl wait until Spring to ride a new bike!
- I’ll leave any Christmas-themed toys or books for Santa to place under the tree.
- This year I pretended her special day fell another time of year. I bought all the Scooby-Doo themed cups and plates and snuck in a birthday party among Christmas shopping and festivities.
- But if I feel like I’m just not pulling it off, I can always fall back on making a big deal out of her half birthday in June and throw a pool party.
Here are some ideas from other moms:
- Betsy Freese: “My son Warren was born on Christmas morning. We celebrate his birthday in the evening with pizza, cake, and presents, so it's separated by a few hours at least from stockings and Santa (He's older now, so it doesn't matter quite as much). The upside: Everyone in the family remembers his birthday.”
- Heather Melzer: My daughter’s “birthday is Jan. 3, and the one thing we try to do is take down all of the decorations before her birthday or make sure to leave one area of the house clear of Christmas decorations so that the focus of her party is on her birthday. It's stressful, but it's something she appreciates.”
- Noralee Peterson: “My daughter’s birthday is the first week of December. We usually try to do some sort of activity or party to kick off the holidays. Making gingerbread houses was a big success when she was younger. Snow parties are also good.”
- Sandy Ellenbolt: “My birthday is Dec. 22. Mom always gave me the normal amount of Christmas presents and a birthday present, but for added fun, I got to pick what gift I wanted to open. So if there was a Christmas present that I was curious about I could pick that instead of my birthday gift and then just open my birthday present on Christmas. Also because no parent wanted to be sending their kid to a birthday party right before Christmas, my mom always let me have a Halloween party. It was a given that I would have one every year in place of a birthday party. That way families didn't have the added expense of buying me a birthday present when they were just trying to survive Christmas, and I still got to have a party.”
- Liz Alt: “For my daughters, I do a family party a few weeks before the actual day. On their birthdays it is their choice for meals and activities for the entire day. Since they are winter birthdays and we are in the Midwest, sometimes we will do a little overnight stay at a hotel within the area to let them swim and have fun!”
- Jennifer Karch: My daughter’s birthday “is Jan 3, after all the holidays. It can be tough since all the family was just together, but we always try to plan a party as if her birthday was in June. Last year we did Chuck E. Cheese, and this year we are going to the American Girl Store in Chicago to let her buy a doll and have lunch. We never combine gifts and always make sure there’s a cake.”
- Leslie Lightfoot: “It’s tricky because you want to make their birthdays special, but to children, Christmas is a huge deal. Two of my three children have December birthdays. My son’s birthday is Dec. 13, and my daughter’s is Dec 17. When my son, our first child, was a baby we were overly conscious about it and didn't put up our Christmas tree or decorations until the day after his birthday. But, we quickly learned that he was excited for Christmas and didn't want to wait to start the celebrations. To make their birthdays special, I have always tried to plan big parties for them. It can be very hard to carve out time to celebrate two birthdays that are only four days apart. This year we planned my daughter’s party a couple weeks before her actual birthday. My son is busy with hockey so we usually plan his birthday party after Christmas. On their actual birthdays, we will have a small family affair with cake and hugs and some gifts too.”
- Laura Peterson: My daughter’s “birthday is the 24th. Several years ago we made the big decision to no longer travel at Christmas. With us in Wisconsin and all of our family in Iowa, when we would go home it would turn into Christmas celebration after Christmas celebration, and no time to set aside for just her. So we told everyone that they are welcome to visit us anytime, but we'll stay home for Christmas from now on. That way we can just concentrate on celebrating her on her day. There are more and more restaurants open that night now, too, so we can usually go out for a family celebration that night. And then our family tradition has become that we leave out birthday cake for Santa, rather than cookies."
- Elsa Lee: “My daughter's birthday is Dec. 27. A friend gave me the idea of a birthday tree! "Magically" all the ornaments come off and streamers, balloons and banners go on so she wakes up to a birthday tree. It's a great tradition. We also have had half birthday parties in June instead of trying to do them in December. If we do half birthdays we accept gifts, if we do a December party we accept pet gifts to take to the Humane Society.”
- Nikki Sargent Meiners: “My son’s birthday is on Christmas Eve. We give him a party in a different month. Since it is Christmas Eve, we let him get a free ice cream for breakfast, and we take him out for lunch, and they sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ and he gets another dessert. Now that he’s older, I give him the option of a gift for his birthday, at his party or combine it with his Christmas present so it can be something a bit more expensive than what we would normally buy.”
- Melissa Inman: “My daughter’s birthday is Dec. 30. We never combine birthday or Christmas gifts, and family is really good about that, too. Since so many kids are traveling during the holidays, we always hold her birthday party a few weeks later. The up side to having a birthday so close to a holiday is that we travel at that time ourselves, so my daughter has spent her birthday in different states with relatives and even in a few foreign countries. Her first was celebrated in Mexico, and her sixth was celebrated in Croatia!”