6 Ways to Handle Your Kid’s Holiday Birthday

6 Ways to Handle Your Kid’s Holiday Birthday

Follow this advice to make sure the day stays special for the guest of honor.

By: Leah Maxwell

Ask a kid to list his top three favorite days of the year, and chances are one of them is his birthday. The presents and cake and party are all great, of course, but more importantly, there’s nothing quite like a having a whole day just to celebrate YOU. What sometimes throws a wrench into the works, however, is when everyone else uses that day (or week, or month) to celebrate something else. We interviewed moms on how they handle holiday or holiday-adjacent birthdays in their family, and they gave us some good options and advice on how to keep the day special for birthday boy or girl.

1. Reschedule the celebration. Many parents give a little nod to the child’s actual birthday but move the formal celebration (party, gifts, etc.) to a time when the energy can be more focused on the birthday girl or boy himself. Emily Cobb Henry, from Rochester, New York, has two kids with December birthdays and says moving the celebration to a more convenient time has been a great solution for her family over the past five years. “We love off-season birthdays!” she says. “I have time to actually plan a fun party instead of running around like a chicken with my head cut off … their parties don’t always have to be winter-themed … [and] our families catch a break financially and don’t have to purchase double the presents within a two-week span.” Henry says she makes sure her girls still “feel like rock stars” on their actual birthdays, but it’s definitely much better for everyone that the party and gift-giving occurs at a different time.

2. Celebrate the half-birthday. For families who are fine with moving a birthday but don’t want the date to feel completely arbitrary, a good option is counting six months out and celebrating the child’s half-birthday. Tara D’Angelo’s daughter, Eriana, was also born in December, but they celebrate in June. “She calls it her ‘summer birthday’ and loves it for now,” she says. One way they mark her actual birthday without having to break out the party supplies and wrapping paper is by skipping presents and doing a charitable act instead. One year they donated diapers to a city organization, and another years, they donated dog/cat food to a shelter. D’Angelo says if her daughter eventually decides she wants to celebrate her birthday in December, she’s open to changing the tradition, but for now, this solution works well for their family.

3. Keep it separate. For those not comfortable celebrating a child’s birthday on a different day, a good option might be to do your best to keep the nearby holiday as separate as possible. Many parents say they won’t decorate for the holiday until the birthday has passed, or, like Laura Decker from Walnut Creek, California, they take down decorations early if the birthday falls soon after the holiday. Cari Taylor’s husband was born on Dec. 24, and the family makes sure the entire day is all about him -- no holiday activities allowed. “We can’t help [some] decorations,” she says, “but we make it as much birthday as we can.”

Shalini Miskelli shares an October 31 birthday with her son and says neither of them has ever wanted a Halloween-themed party. Instead, they celebrate much earlier and “pretend there’s no conflict,” she says.

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4. Embrace it. Whether it means blowing out candles while Independence Day fireworks blast overhead or inviting party guests to come dressed in their Halloween costumes, some kids might be fully on board to play up their holiday birthdays. Alison Carey’s son Marty was born on New Year’s Eve, and she says she couldn’t have picked a more suitable day for the kid known as “the One-Man Party.” “We totally embrace it,” she says. “The world celebrates with Marty!” There’s no reason to assume sharing a birthday with a holiday is a bad thing; once they’re old enough, ask the birthday boy or girl how they feel about it and then go from there.

5. Go above and beyond. One way to win the holiday/birthday battle is to go all out to make the birthday super special. Jennie Canzoneri, from Roanoke, Texas, says her parents always made a big deal out of her Jan. 3 birthday “to compensate for its crummy timing.” She says the tendency to over-celebrate has stuck around into her 30s, and she loves her birthday and wouldn’t change it, despite its less-than-ideal timing. To make sure the occasion always feels special, she jokes, “I usually take the planning into my own hands, which suits my Capricorn control-freak side just fine.”

6. Just make an effort. Remember that whatever you do, it’s the effort that counts. Sarah Peveler, from Durham, North Carolina, loves her July 8 birthday now but wasn’t always a fan as a kid. “Everyone was on vacation, [and I] never had a ‘bring cupcakes to the class’ birthday. Sad parties. Totally stinky,” she says. What helped, though, was knowing she wasn’t entirely forgotten about. “As long as people tried, I was fine,” she says.

Jenifer Gonzales’s son Rowan was born in mid-December and she says although her family always makes a point to celebrate the day, it’s not the what but the how that matters. “As long as he feels special,” that’s what’s important, she says.

A few more dos and don’ts from those who have come before:


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DO ask the birthday boy or girl how he or she prefers to celebrate.

DON’T give joint birthday/holiday gifts.

DO send party invitations early, before guests’ calendars fill up with holiday events.

DON’T give holiday-themed gifts, use holiday-themed gift wrap, or bake a holiday-themed cake.

What advice do you have for celebrating a holiday birthday?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/lisegagne

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