How to keep your child's special day from getting lost in the holiday frenzy
Birthdays are kids' most special day of the year; it’s their day to be a star! Everywhere they go, people are sure to know it’s their special day and say, “Happy Birthday!" At school, birthday kids have special treatment; at home they get their favorite food. Family and friends love to gather in celebration of their life!
So how are kids to feel when their big day falls during the holiday season? Some embrace it, but most are afraid their birthday will be lost and forgotten in all the excitement of the holidays. Their worst fear — getting a combo gift!
As parents, we wonder how to balance our child's special day with a friends-and-family party during the holiday excitement and, for better or worse, there is no one answer to this question.
Every family has to create its own unique tradition to make sure they don't forget the child’s birthday while they celebrate the holidays.
Parties with friends
Throw a party near or on the child's birthday!
Many parents and children feel strongly about celebrating their birthday with their friends close to the child's actual birthday. It means a lot to kids to know their birthday is important enough to be celebrated like “everyone else’s” and not be comprised because it's the holiday season.
Some kids enjoy keeping their “friends party” theme separate from the holidays. If it is important for your child to have a dinosaur party or a princess party, go for it! Letting your child experience his or her birthday for what it is and not as an extension of the holidays is part of what lets the child feel celebrated!
Other kids really like to integrate the holiday theme into their “friends party.” Depending on your religion or cultural background, you can incorporate festive foods, decorations and games, all related to your special holiday. Consider these options to make your life easier when planning your child's party.
Since an extraordinary amount of planning goes into the holiday season, planning another party may just seem too overwhelming. To make planning the “friends party” less stressful, try to start early — before winter vacation begins. Hand out invites before school lets out for winter break, and you may have a better turnout at your child’s party.
Consider having the birthday party either in late November or in January when life is quieter. In addition to your lower stress level, your child’s friends may have a better chance of RSVP’ing YES to the party!
Consider having your party at a kid’s party venue. It is one less thing you have to plan, and the kids are guaranteed to have a blast.
In case you just can’t wrap your head around throwing your child a party during the holiday season, celebrate your child’s birthday in the summer on or near their “half-birthday”!
Celebrating a half-birthday offers many benefits. Your child gets celebrated separately from the holidays and has an awesome party! With less competition for other commitments, more kids are likely to come. Also, your child won’t feel as though she is getting combo gifts. If your child is sentimental about being celebrated on the day she was born, have a small family gathering on their birthday proper!
See page 2 for answers to common questions about how to keep your child's birthday separate and special.
Should we wait to decorate for Christmas after my child’s birthday?
My niece has a birthday on December 9th. In her family, it’s important that they not decorate for Christmas until after her “friend party.” Her parents make sure to have her friends over in early December, and on Dec. 10 they buy the tree and trim the house.
On the opposite spectrum…
Another family where both the mother and son’s birthdays fall on Christmas embrace the holiday and integrate the two events, celebrating their joint birthdays throughout the entire holiday season!
How many gifts do I have to buy? I can only afford so much.
Buying gifts can add up, but there are some great options for those who need or want to save a few pennies on combo birthdays!
One family shared a story of how they got their daughter a pile of gifts, wrapped them in neutral paper and let her pick a few she wanted to open for her birthday and which to open on Christmas.
Another family mentioned a family rule that they only buy six gifts total — three for the birthday and three for Christmas. That way, they don't go overboard with spending too much money.
However you choose to split up the gifts, try to keep the two very special occasions (holiday and birthday) separate, and shop as if your child's birthday were not during the holiday season.
I have a Christmas baby! Now what?
There are a few guidelines I would recommend you follow to help your child feel special and celebrated on Christmas:
- If the child’s birthday falls on December 24th or December 25th, make it a house rule that birthday gifts are wrapped in birthday paper and Christmas gifts are wrapped in Christmas paper. No one likes to receive a birthday present in anything other than birthday paper.
- Please don't ‘double up” on gifts! Children tend to feel cheated if they get one gift for both Christmas and their birthday. Celebrate the child with separate gifts meant only for his birthday.
- Everyone in the house should make a conscious effort to wish the birthday child a happy birthday before wishing her a Merry Christmas.
- Designate one meal during the day that is specially made for your child's birthday.
Other families say they split Christmas up into AM and PM. In the AM, they have Christmas morning. In the PM, they celebrate the child's birthday with the family.
It can be really difficult to balance your child’s birthday and the holidays, but with a little thought, organization, and consideration, your child can feel special during each individual event!
Jessica Mungekar gathers and writes about party options and tips at Jessie's Party Stop, South Jersey's Guide to Kids' Parties.
If you have a holiday baby and want to share how you celebrate his or her birthday separate from the holiday, Jessica would love to hear from you via email.