Does someone in your house have an awkward birthday? You know, a birthday that lands right near the holidays?

It can be hard to figure out how to celebrate when a child’s birthday lands on Thanksgiving Day or December 20th or December 26th or January 2nd. I even know a couple of people whose birthday is on Christmas! While it can be a memorable FIRST birthday when a sweet baby makes his or her entrance on Christmas Day, it can make celebrating challenging in the years to come.

However, awkward birthdays do not need to be any less fun or special! Yes, it may be challenging to plan a party with friends. But we’ve got some tried-and-tested ideas for creating birthday memories that will make the birthday child feel loved and celebrated!

My fourth son has a birthday on January 3rd. When he was little, we planned to save the gifts for his half birthday in July, but by the time he was turning three, he knew when his birthday was and looked forward to it with gusto! The rest of the birthdays in our family (and extended family) fall between April and July, except for Gresham who is in October. All year long, Jonathan watched everyone else having a birthday. Someone asked him when his birthday was and he responded, “My birthday is NOT now!” So then of course we had to make a big deal out of his birthday when it finally arrived!

Here’s a collection of ideas for celebrating an awkward birthday!

These ideas came from readers of my Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls Facebook Page, as well as from family and friends. So many great suggestions!

Ideas for Making the Birthday Special:

  • Consider your decorating schedule. If the birthday is early in December, consider waiting on Christmas decorations until the birthday celebration is over.  If it’s after Christmas, maybe take down the decorations before celebrating. Consult with the birthday person, though. Maybe they WANT the holiday decorations up!
  • Plan ahead to make the day just as special as the rest of the family birthdays. This is hard for us because when Jonathan’s birthday rolls around, we’re all tired of celebrating and ready for our normal routine again. However, his enthusiasm helps us get in the mood!
  • Don’t use holiday wrapping paper for birthday gifts!  Several people were very adamant about this.  Make the birthday a completely separate event with birthday paper and decorations.
  • Combined gifts are another no-no, although older kids will probably start to appreciate a combined gift if it means that they will be able to get a larger item that they want.  Keeping a separate budget for birthdays can help with the temptation to combine gifts.
  • For family members who give a combo gift:  If the child notices the combo gifts and the fact that other siblings get a separate gift, it might be worth it to mention the issue to the family member.  But be understanding of the fact that it’s sometimes tough to buy another gift at the same time.  One commenter suggested asking the family member to combine gifts for all of the children in the family so that it will be more fair.  I thought that was a very wise suggestion!
  • Combined gifts are seen by children as unfair, but receiving two rounds of gifts within a few weeks time can also be overwhelming, especially for younger kids.  It may also be difficult to think of ideas of what to get!  To avoid this, try doing a family outing or activity on the actual birthday (dinner out or a visit to the zoo, for example), and then do gifts on the child’s half birthday.  I love this idea, although it hasn’t worked for us.
  • Shop for birthday gifts WHILE shopping for Christmas gifts. I did not do this last year and regretted it! It really helps for us to plan out Jonathan’s Christmas and birthday gifts at the same time. Also, the stores tend to be very picked over after Christmas, and it’s not the best time to shop.
  • Make birthdays a celebration of the life that God has given.  This was one of my favorite suggestions!  Keep birthdays (all birthdays – not just the child with the holiday birthday) simple as far as gifts go, and make the day about celebrating your children’s life.  Go on a fun outing together.  Look at photos and home videos.  Have all of the members of the family share something that they love about the birthday person.
  • A perk of holiday birthdays – there are usually extra options for fun outings! Go ice skating, attend a nutcracker performance, attend a musical event, or go for a carriage ride. So many options at Christmas time!
  • Consider doing an overnight trip with the birthday child. This suggestion came from a mom with 5 boys and 1 girl. She takes her girl on an overnight getaway to a hotel for her birthday! Such a great way to make her birthday special, plus it’s a nice break from the holiday hustle and bustle.
  • Adults who responded said that they were disappointed as children when teachers and others forgot their birthday because it got lost in the shuffle.  Since we are homeschooling, I don’t have any experience with how to combat this as a parent.  I’d love for you to leave comments with suggestions!

Ideas about Parties:

  • Kids don’t need a party every year.  We only do parties when the kids turn 5 and 10. (Poor Gresham’s 10 year old party was delayed until he was 12… but that’s another story!) On the “non-party” years, we do a small celebration with family, and maybe invite one other family over.
  • Consider throwing a birthday party early. This works well if your child’s birthday is very close to Christmas. Having the party a week or two early can make it possible for more guests to attend. On the other hand, having the birthday party after the fact can help with birthdays that are right after the holidays. We had Jonathan’s 5th birthday party on January 10th. It was a much better date for everyone than the 3rd.
  • Make the party a true “birthday” party and not just an extension of Christmas.
  • Or, go all out and make it a Christmas party!  One mom said that one of their most successful parties was a Christmas themed party.  They roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and drank hot chocolate.  There was even a visit from Santa who handed out candy canes, and each child got their picture taken with Santa!

The bottom line seems to be – listen to your child and what makes them feel special! 

This post was originally posted in December 2012 and updated in October 2019.

21 Comments

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  1. Tracy Dec 3, 2012

    Thanks for posting this! My twins will be 2 on Dec. 5th, and I've resisted all temptation to do anything Christmas-related thus far (aside from doing some online shopping). NO tree, no lights, no cookies, no music. They don't understand now, but I am setting a precedence for the future. I want their day to be as special as it can be 3 weeks before Christmas!

    Reply
    1. [email protected] Dec 3, 2012

      It's post like this that make me realize how special my mother is - I was born on Dec. 23rd and she always had a party for me on my birthday, special cake and all. My family use to say the holidays started with my birthday because it would be 3 days of something going on. And I loved celebrating on my actual day - it was cool to never have to be in school on that day, I could just do what I wanted :-) I really think it is easy to make the day special because it is fun to have a birthday near the holidays.

      Reply
      1. Bonny Dec 3, 2012

        Thank you for posting about this. My son is a December 15th baby. Ever since his 1st birthday, we have had his "party day" the first weekend of December. There is a greater chance that guests will be able to attend, and also gives as wide a gap as we can get between celebrating him and celebrating Christmas! We actually had his 6th birthday party this past saturday, and it was great. On the 15th it will be just the 4 of us, dinner and a cake (and a new bike! shhh...) I want my kids to know they are celebrated and loved everyday, and on their special day, all calendars aside! And in this house, we'd not want to celebrate any other birthday on Christmas except for Christ's! :)

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        1. Angie Dec 3, 2012

          My DD's birthday is on Christmas and she'll never know it any different. I tell her that we got the BEST Christmas gift and blessing from God that year. We have done a party early in December and a party late in January. Both were fun but what we decided was to make her birthday about experiences for her that will last longer than presents. I tend to want to limit the amount of "stuff" we acquire anyways and making both my kid's birthdays about events like big trips and special vacations has been so fun. We plan our work schedules around it and look forward to it all year. We have been blessed to have family that are so generous that Christmas gifts last the whole year anyways. When she's older, we'll let her choose to either continue the tradition of birthday vacations or have a traditional party at another less busy time of year. So far it's what has worked in our family.

          Reply
          1. Penny Dec 4, 2012

            This is great! Thanks so much for writing this. It's just what I needed for twins that turn two on Jan 3rd! I'll have to say one thing. I love getting the boxing day bargains for their birthday pressies though!

            Reply
            1. Emmy Gallodoro Dec 4, 2012

              My nephews birthday is also January 3rd. He lives in another state from me so I have to ship his Christmas and birthday gifts. It would be cheaper just to ship both together however I wait until after Christmas to ship his birthday gift so that he feels special.

              Reply
              1. Lisa Dec 5, 2012

                my daughter's birthday is January 3 also. What we have decided is that before we celebrate her birthday ll the Christmas decorations come down. We also wait for school to be back for a least 1 week then we have er party with school friends. We celebrate as a family on the actual day..

                Reply
                1. Shannon Dec 5, 2012

                  My daughter was born last year on Christmas. It's a busy time! We have decided until she gets older and can tell us what she would prefer we will have a family party the weekend after Christmas, whatever day it works out to be that year. On Christmas we will celebrate Christmas until naptime and then after naptime it's Stella Mia's day- favorite dinner and do something fun after. Our son's birthday is her half birthday so if we celebrated her half birthday he would be jipped a bit. It's tough but we will do our best to make both of their birthdays special.
                  Thanks for the post- it's nice to see ideas.

                  Reply
                  1. Victoria Dec 5, 2012

                    My son is turning 2 on December 30th. I want to keep his birthday special and separate from Christmas ahe gets older, we plan to give him the option of a 1/2 birthday celebration or not. Unfortunately, both his Uncle and Nana have birthdays on 1/3 and 1/5, so while they understand having a birthday close to the holidays, last year for his First birthday, he almost got pushed aside to accommodate celebrating their birthdays also. I had to push to get decorations and make it special for him. I was disappointed our family did not make a bigger deal, but I will continue to try and make it special for him throughout the years. Thanks for the post, helpful hints. :-)

                    Reply
                    1. Dee Dec 9, 2012

                      Our two younger children have December birthdays, the 18th and 19th. We have a family celebration on their actual birthday with cake or cupcakes or a big cookie, and the child's favorite meal. We have a Half Birthday party in the summer with their friends - an outdoor party or a sleepover. It works out great, and allows the kids to feel special and gives us time to really focus on their special day.

                      Reply
                      1. Kristy Dec 16, 2012

                        Our second child s a Dec 28 baby. We have always ha at addition that Christmas decorations are put away on Boxing Day and we make it a family day including a meal at a restaurant as he loves gong to them. He s 8 this year. (Funny thing is I went not labour wit him whilst eating at a restaurant lol). His olde brother & younger sister' birthdays are the 8th & 12th September. So he tends to feel left out around that time and then fees it is unfair that they get gifts around his birthday fr Christmas. So we this year started the "fake" birthday tradition whereby he gets his birthday gifts on 10/9. (Being all in order of birth and also is 2+8 =10). His fad birthday is or gift giving only. We save his cake and activities for his real birthday whi ch is gift free.

                        Reply
                        1. Tarah Dec 16, 2012

                          I was born on December 22 and I won't be home this year...I'll actually be on a church trip leading worship for the youth (I'll be 20). I haven't been asked what I want for my birthday or anything. Usually I just make a Christmas list or whatever and one of those things ends up being my birthday present. Except for my 16th when I got a birthstone pendant and earrings.

                          Anywho, these ideas are pretty good and my family has followed a lot. I have several family members born in December/January and we have a big combined birthday. I don't like one idea: the very last one. Don't do a Christmas themed birthday party!!! There are already so many Christmas parties and events...in fact, (being a preachers kid), I've gone to MANY Christmas parties on my birthday. And it sucks. I would never want a Christmas themed party.

                          Reply
                          1. Lucy Giffen Jan 4, 2013

                            My nephew's birthday is on Christmas Day so for his first birthday I gave him twelve books themed to be opened each month through the year with date stickers on them. Whilst his parents haven't given him one each month they've used them when travelling or rainy days etc, and they have made his birthday last for a year. I also have a friends daughter whose birthday is on new years eve. This year she and the other kids got a countdown bag with 10 gifts to open every 10 mins as we counted down to NY (their bedtime!) Lots of birthday type things like balloons, confetti, sweets and finally a cake and candles. Kind of linked NY and birthday celebrations but made it a bit special for her. My own son is the 10th Jan so Christmas decorations are down in preparation, he'll get a box of presents with birthday decorations,, a birthday doughnut rather than a proper cake and then a joint party with his older brother mid way between their birthdays in Feb. My third is due close to the eldest's birthday at Easter so timing's not great then either!

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                            1. BJMarley Aug 2, 2013

                              Our family has 3 birthdays in the first 10 days of January. Our solution is to have a family party/dinner on the actual birthday, but we usually wait to do a party (if we have one). Usually a late party means sometime toward the end of January. Once we had an unbirthday party in April for one of our January girls. No one complained about the difference in the dates because the party was outside and we tried to make sure the all the guests had fun.

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                              1. Tara Dec 5, 2013

                                We always hold off on the Christmas decor until after the birthdays (I have two boys with holiday b'days). I also have a friend with twins born Jan 5th who keeps the tree up but takes off the decor and puts on b'day streamers and cards to make it a birthday tree.

                                Reply
                                1. Marj Dec 5, 2013

                                  My son's birthday is December 20th. We have always put up a small "birthday tree" along with our other Christmas decorations. It has colored lights and is decorated with party favors and a birthday party hat on top. We put his birthday gifts under it (always wrapped in birthday paper, NOT Christmas paper!). He turns 9 this year, and he really likes this tradition!

                                  Reply
                                  1. Jaime Dec 7, 2013

                                    My daughter is a New Year's baby. (Yes, she was the first one born at our hospital that year - we got TONS of free swag and a picture in the paper because of it.) When the ball drops at midnight, we say "Happy New Year" then we sing "Happy Birthday." We celebrate on her actual birthday (Jan. 1) with family, then we usually let her have a few friends over a week or so later (after school is back in session). And she always gets to have cupcakes with her class at school after winter break.

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                                      1. Shaelynn Nov 7, 2017

                                        Hello my son is going to be 1 on dec 12th. Should kids get clothes on birthday or xmas? When i was a kid i would get it at both and the big presents were never wrapped for xmas but with his big day so close im worried cause im not made of money

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                                        1. Trusting in Jesus Dec 26, 2018

                                          We have three birthday parties in December my mother in law, my brother in law , my husband and of course Jesus Birthday (Christmas ) and we have family stop in from time to time through out the whole month, so all in all we celebrate about 10 different times or more with dinners and gatherings and sleep overs,it can be very exhausting. Any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated!:)Oh and did I mention we have 6 children of our own!;)

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                                          1. Christine Apr 19, 2019

                                            What about a Christian Easter? I need ideas and fast. My son is turning 9 on Easter this year (2019) and I need to include Jesus' resurrection. I plan to get a cassata cake & would like the message to include both "Hallelujah, He is risen" (or whatever ya's suggest) and a clever way of including Tony's 9th birthday. All and every suggestion is much obliged. Thanks!

                                            Sincerely,
                                            Christine Filippelli,
                                            (Cleveland Ohio)

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