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.