Party Themes: The Half Birthday Party

Celebrate a party idea whose time has come

“Ho, Ho, Ho, she’s already 1, but a party at 1½ is even more fun,” read the invitation for Delaney Allen’s first birthday party.

Delaney was born in January, but her parents celebrated this major milestone in summer. Their Hainesport, NJ backyard became a winter wonderland for a Christmas-in-July theme, complete with a Hawaiian-clad Santa.

“We wanted to wait until the summer so we could be outside, and it had just been Christmas on her real birthday so it felt like a very overwhelming time,” explains mom Renee. “The guests appreciated that we waited until a less busy time. It wasn’t Christmas, but it felt like it.”

A half-baked party idea?

There are lots of reasons to celebrate half birthdays. A big sector of celebrators are like Delaney, holiday babies whose parties otherwise might get lost in the seasonal shuffle. The trend’s also popular with summer-birthday kids who want classmates to be around for their party. In the opposite direction, plenty of winter-birthday kids want pool parties.

A growing segment is the 6-month birthday — even though the guest of honor won’t remember the event. “Six months go so fast; it’s such a big landmark for the parents,” says Jerry McTigue, founder of

Halfsie sprees have also been thrown to let siblings born in the same month have their special day, give divorced parents their own chance to fully celebrate or to take advantage of having a loved one home (say, an uncle on military leave or a cousin who goes to a far-flung college). It also resonates with the many people who feel that, indeed, you can never have too many parties.

Is this trend just another form of conspicuous consumption? “Our culture tends to focus too much on material possessions,” says Gary Emmett, MD, professor of pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University/Nemours. “Yet if you can do it as a family event and not an excuse for giving gifts that people don’t need, then it’s a wonderful idea.”

A very merry unbirthday

Serpe & Sons Bakery in Elsmere, DE has been making half-birthday cakes for two decades, but lately as many as 15 a year. The most popular are a half-buttercream base with a ½-birthday candle, says head cake decorator Nicole Wilson.

Juanelle Mochel, from Doylestown, PA, celebrated her granddaughter Hannah’s half birthday last summer because Hannah lives in Sweden, a cold place to visit in February, her real birthday month. Now 8, Hannah enjoyed a summer party that incorporated half a cake, gifts of half-dollars and half a Barbie outfit. “We had half sandwiches and Arnold Palmers — half tea and half lemonade,” recalls Mochel. “It was quite a bit of fun.” 

Terri Akman is an MK contributing writer.

Categories: Party Features