Birthdays at Christmas Time

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Birthday cake with number 5 candle and paper Mario brothers toppers.

Every December 23rd without fail, my mom calls her younger brother, my Uncle Ed. She could wait until the 25th when she calls the rest of the family. But, she calls him then, too. You see, today, the 23rd, is his birthday. (Happy Birthday, Uncle Ed!)

While I don’t have a sibling or child with a birthday near the holidays, I do have a brother-in-law, father-in-law, and nieces who do. And from what I’ve heard, it can be a little challenging to make a birthday special when it falls between Thanksgiving and mid-January. Either everyone is wrapped up in holiday plans or they’re too broke to make merry for a birthday. Often well-meaning friends and family try to lump the occasions together which doesn’t always make the birthday person feel “special.”

How can you avoid the Birthday Blues at Christmastime?

Plan Ahead – Last year my sister got blindsided and found that, all of a sudden, her husband’s birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, and two girlie birthdays were upon her in a matter of a few days’ time. She learned that preplanning was the key to her success this year. We have a similar phenomena in the Spring when Mother’s Day, my birthday, our anniversary, and three FishKids’ birthdays occur in a five week period. I have to have a plan to survive with a smile on my face.

Make Each Holiday Special – It can be tempting to present a gift that is a combination birthday/Christmas gift. Many friends with winter birthdays have said they preferred that the day be acknowledged separately. Yes, it can be a little more work or cash at the holidays. Just shop in June and you’ll avoid some of that.

Bake a Special Cake – Yes, December is full of sweets. But, there’s something so fun about having a special cake. It’s a magical thing — and a great break from pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies. For inspiration, consider buying my cake book that is full of cake themes for a wide range of ages and interests. Or browse the cake archives.

Don’t Use Wrapping Paper with Santa On It – It’s easy enough to buy solid colored paper in the holiday section. In fact, it’s a more prudent choice anyway. Buy solids and you can use it all year long.

What do YOU do to make birthdays special at Christmas time?

Related Reading:

  • Amy’s Deliciously Pink Princess Party made her daughter’s December birthday special and included Christmas elements into the theme without seeming overly Christmas-y.
  • Nichole shares how she lays down the law regarding her son’s birthday six days before Christmas.

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  1. I’m probably impractical, but I actually choose my Dd’s birthday to be December 31st! Let me explain: 4th baby, 4th c-section and my due date WAS December 29th. Except, back in May when we found out that I was infact going to have a baby – we were also using all of my hubby’s vaca time to go to Disney World (one week from when I found out mind you!) So, no vaca time on the 29th to have hubby help out after baby is born. I would have been in the hospital until close to the 1st either way – but hubby would not have been able to stay at home with kids to take care of them. I actually had to set it up WITH my dr’s to have a c-section scheduled for the two days AFTER my due date (I’ve never popped early thankfully!) So low and behold, I spent New Year of 09 in the hospital with my brand new spanking baby! LOL!
    Thankfully, I’m old enough to not care too much that we won’t be celebrating New Years Eve like I might have when I was younger and single (not going there). Although, I do have family members who might be celebrating that night. This last year, we through the birthday party between 6 – 8 at night (and the grandparents are definietly not staying out late on that night anymore!) but I realized how silly it is to insist on having the party at night! Almost everyone I know has the day off from their jobs – which means we can have the party earlier in the day, and if anyone does want to go out and celebrate New Years Eve – it won’t conflict with the two. I’m sure as she gets older (as well as my older kids) we will want to make staying up late as part of our celebration – so we’ll figure out how to have a party earlier, and then do a late night movie and snackie night to make things easier on all of us (yeah, right -easier on ME!)

    1. @Lynette, I forgot to mention that his vacation time started over with the 1st of the year – so that’s why I had to move it close to the end of the year!

  2. My daughter, Rachael, turned 3 yesterday 12/22. We had a small dinner, with just us. We decided when she turned 1 to have a small party for her. But when she was turning 2 we decided to have a celebratory dinner and then last June we had a huge blowout barbeque where we invited all the family and friends. Her birthday cake even said Happy 2 1/2 birthday, Rachael. We're going to do the same thing this year too. yesterday we had a dinner with just us. She picked what we had for dinner and she got her b-day present from us. We had a great day. In June, as close to 6/22 as possible, we'll have another big blowout party. We told all the relatives to hold her birthday presents till then. That way we don't deal with the combined b-day christmas present, which we haven't had to deal with yet.

    We tell Rachael that not everyone gets to have their birthday this close to Jesus' birthday and that only special people actually get to be born in the same time frame as he was. We also tell her that she's lucky in that she gets two birthdays a year. So far it doesn't seem to bother her, but we also try to make a big deal about her birthday too.

  3. My brother's birthday is the 27th of Dec and he hates it because all of his life we've been away from home visiting family or at the cabin in the Mts. for Christmas and it's hard for his friends to come to a party. He's gotten lots of the dual gift or the gift in Christmas wrap thing. My mom did a June half-birthday for him one year and he LOVED it and got to have a swimming party, an ice-cream cake, and got a bike instead of winter gear. I think the half-birthday is a GREAT idea if you can have the self-control to not do two in a year. When the real birthday rolls around, go out to eat to celebrate, but save the partying for later. If any of my kids had a Dec. birthday I would do this. I realize you can keep it separate and not mix them, but what about the poor exhausted Mama? All the festivities, cooking, baking, family, traveling, and wrapping catch up with moms. When you don't have a Dec. birthday you can put so much more effort and special touches into it without feeling like a truck ran over you.

    We do have a birthday crunch in our family in the first 2 weeks of November and my solution is to plan ahead and have gifts ready and wrapped and sent. If we lived closer to those family members, I would ask that they combine parties. I did it with my cousin as a kid and it was no big deal. I think we make too big of a deal out of spoiling kids and that they have to have their own special day and everything has to be perfect. This has resulted in 3 birthday celebrations per person for my SIL's family. That's exhausting! I'm of the mindset that if the grandparents can't make it to the party at our house, then too bad! We don't throw 3 parties per kid and we're not against cousins and Grandpa and auntie sharing a cake for a simple family celebration. Keep life simple!

  4. In our family, all the birthdays are clustered between October 23 and March 16, and each birthday is never more than 7 days from another. I was born in January on my grandmother's birthday (I always thought that made me her favorite!) and my twins' birthday is 2 days later. One year the twins' Grandpa asked, "Do you really think they want a birthday present since they just got a bunch of Christmas gifts?" Uh, yes, they do! And he should know – his birthday is 3 days after Christmas! (And we won't even get into the "yes, each twin would appreciate his/her own gift and not one gift that they have to share" discussion [unless it's something big they both want and agree they both want it!]. *Sigh*)

  5. This topic is of great interest to me. Over the years I watched my husband’s grandmother always give gifts during December as a Birthday/Christmas gift and I always thought that was “not the way to go”. Now, years later, I have a daughter with a December Birthday and we celebrate her Birthday as any normal Birthday celebration.

    In my family we celebrate all day long. The Birthday child has the day off to do whatever he or she wants to do. They choose what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they also decide if we go to the “dollar” movies or if we stay home and watch movies on T.V. It is always such a fun day for the kids because they enjoy having a full day just for themselves.

  6. Between Nov-Dec we have 4 of our kids' birthdays, and my husband and my son were both born on Thanksgiving Day, plus we have our anniversary and a grandpa's birthday. Right before Christmas i have 2 sons birthdays that are 3 days apart. It is a challenge! But we always make sure to separate each child's birthday and we always have separate cakes or cupcakes. My husband's mother always celebrated his birthday on Thanksgiving day (a cake along with all that PIE?!!), but we have the cake either a few days before or after, to make it more special. I love "birthday season" though, it makes our holidays even more special.

  7. I agree with Chrissy, "It is just the adults that put a downer on Christmas birthdays." My oldest's birthday is on the 29th of December. From the time I was pregnant I knew I'd just have to plan carefully. I try to be done with all birthday and Christmas preparations in November anyway. The biggest fall back for us is other relatives who don't plan, we have never been able to have everyone over for a party. It's sad, but even some close family skip it completely. We even tell them not to worry about the gifts, we just want to celebrate with you.

    But there is always a Christmas tree in the background, and while at times it bugs me, my daughter loves it!!

  8. Gah! My family is full of holiday birthdays. Mine is Dec. 31 and a few years ago I declared that I wanted Christmas presents separate from my birtday presents- no more combining of the two. It doesn't happen when one's birthday is in July, so it no longer happens to me.

    Here are the rest of our dates:
    Jan. 6- my husband
    Jan. 8- his sister
    March 17- my sister (we were both born on holidays!)
    May 9- my dad and it sometimes falls on Mother's Day. He doesn't get combined gifts, either. 🙂

    We have a group party for the December/January birthdays after the holidays and no one uses Christmas paper to wrap gifts, thankfully.

  9. My daughter's birthday is Dec. 26. I treat it as any other birthday. I plan ahead with my purchases (gifts and supplies)when the items go on sale. I also tell our guests the date of the party ahead of time. She thinks Dec 26 is pretty special, since it is right after Jesus' birthday. It is just the adults that put a downer on Christmas birthdays.

    With both my daughters b-days we usually got to I-Hop for dinner. It is a pretty cheap meal and the girls love it.

  10. My oldest sons birthday is Dec. 18th and the next 2 (twins) are Dec. 22…so we just finished our birthday celebrations. They always get birthday gifts wrapped in b'day paper, they pick the dinner menu and special dessert for their day just like their siblings do the rest of the year. You do have to prepare ahead of time and not wait till the last minute. All their birthday pictures have Christmas lights in them and the tree in the background! With my oldest, I tried doing a 1/2 birthday, but he ended up getting extra goodies because we did the birthday and the 1/2…talk about expensive. So now its just on his birthday!

  11. Thanks for posting this. My sons birthday is December 27th. He turns two this year. I'm still trying to figure out how we're going to do it to keep it special. This year he is young enough that a special cake will do!

  12. My daughter's birthday is Dec 5th so I won't setup any of our Christmas decorations until after her birthday. The bigger challenge for us is figuring out a way to celebrate our anniversary on Dec 6th without it interfering with my daughter's birthday.

    Hubby's birthday is Dec 17th and we still make that his day where he picks dinner and we have cake and so forth, but he is old enough to cope with the Christmas decorations being up.

  13. We have LOTS of December birthdays in my family!! My husband and son are 13Dec and my sister is 21Dec.

    Growing up, my mom always waited until the 22nd to decorate our tree and do the SERIOUS Christmas decorating — It wasn't Christmas until AFTER Sarah's birthday!

    We have done something similar in our family too — I set up our artificial tree, but only decorated it with lights and candy canes… and I've pulled out a few things here and there… but we did most of our decorating after the 13th… This keeps the holidays separate!

    Also it kinda helps out the idea of Christmas being Jesus' birthday! We are going to make a special birthday cake for him too — So it all comes full circle! 🙂

  14. What do most kids look forward to? Birthday and Christmas.

    My son's birthday is 15 days after Christmas. This year he turns 2, so he still is young enough to not really realize how close his birthday is to Christmas. Last year some far away relatives either gave him his present early (in birthday paper) or they left it behind for a closer relative to bring to his party.

    As he gets older, since the two days are so close, I plan to do something special in the summer as a kind of "half birthday". I'm a teaacher so we will be home together all summer, and will be a nice way to have some special time with him!