Merry Birthday-mas?  The Joy of Holiday Birthdays


If your child was born between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, you’ve probably encountered at least one Scrooge who considers holiday birthdays a curse or a tragedy. 

Pay no mind. 

Holiday birthdays are delightful!

Remember:  We celebrate birthdays to rejoice in the life of someone we love.  So, focus on your child’s preferences and make the occasion memorable.  Establish your own family traditions.  Let your kid shine on his or her special day.


Keep reading for ideas wrapped up just for you, courtesy of, about how to make holiday birthdays magical.

Rituals are important

H. Ann Myers advises parents to “make birthdays equal”, especially when there are two or more children in the household.  Be sure to include the rituals that are part of all other family birthdays.  Serve birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday”—even if it’s December 25th.

Allow the birthday child to set the menu for the birthday meal.  Linda DiProperzi has two rules for post-Thanksgiving birthdays:  (1) no leftover turkey; and (2) no pumpkin pie with a candle stuck in it.

Create a “Birthday Zone”

If you’ve decked the halls with boughs of holly, create a “Birthday Zone” somewhere in your home.  Linda suggests hanging  banners in the birthday child’s bedroom, or putting balloons in the bathroom and writing “Happy Birthday” on the mirror.

Time shift the party

It’s not easy to plan a birthday party at the end of the year.  Some of your child’s friends will be away on vacation or busy with Christmas festivities.  Sarah Dees recommends “having a party a few weeks before or after the birthday” to avoid the holidays.

A half-birthday party is another option.  Some parents have a small family celebration on the birthday and a bigger party in the spring or summer.  Rose Richmond has three
children, all born in December.  When they were old enough to make a decision, Rose permitted each child to choose when and how to celebrate his or her birthday.  Rose’s kids
enjoyed planning their own birthday activities.  You might find that your daughter wants a June swim party while your son hankers for a backyard camp out in September.

Laura Amann provides perspective. “No one solution is perfect for everyone. Some kids resist celebrating on any day but their actual birthday, while some enjoy having a day that doesn’t involve the holiday.  It may take a few years to get it right.”

Consider other activities

Sarah believes that “kids don’t need a party every year”.  She “saves the big parties” for when her sons are five- and ten- years old.  Other birthdays are celebrated with a fun,
casual outing such as a visit to the zoo or lunch at a favorite restaurant.

Sarah also describes a tradition of family members gathering to view photographs and home videos.  Each person in turn shares something he or she loves about the birthday child.

Rose takes the birthday child to his or her favorite place and invites friends to join them there. “One year we took all of the kids ice skating.”  In lieu of gifts, Rose asks “everyone to come and spend time with the birthday person.”

What about gifts?

Gifts can be tricky.  Some December-borns feel that combination Christmas-birthday gifts are unfair.  On the other hand, receiving two rounds of gifts within a few weeks can be overwhelming, especially for younger kids.  Every family eventually finds a way to resolve the gift-giving dilemma.  Here are a few examples.

Laura says, “Everyone deserves separate birthday recognition.”  Never use holiday wrapping paper for birthday gifts and don’t put birthday gifts under the tree.  If the birthday falls on a gift-giving holiday, Linda suggests, “Carve out some special time when only she will be opening presents.”

For Christmas, Ann and her husband give smaller gifts to all of their kids.  In their household, birthday gifts are larger, more personal and more meaningful.  “The birthday gift has to be thoughtful, an expression of love, a message that we understand our son’s individual personality.”

Sarah keeps all of her kids’ birthdays “simple as far as gifts go.”  With her youngest son who was born on January 3rd, she planned a family activity for his birthday and postponed gift-giving until his half-birthday in July.

You may need to intervene if Aunt Mary gives a combination gift to the child with the holiday birthday while siblings receive separate gifts.  Sarah suggests tactfully asking Aunt Mary to combine gifts for all of the children in the family.

Wrapping it up

Celebrate your child’s birthday AND the holidays in the way that’s best for your family.  As Ann says, what’s most important is to “put your child first and make him or her feel