Navigating Holiday Birthdays


My brother and I were both born in December, so we have a running joke about people wishing us a Merry Birthmas, wrapping our birthday gifts in Christmas paper, and getting joint birthday-Christmas presents.

Now that I’m permanently 29, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did when I was a kid. But, that being said, it can be a bit tricky to navigate birthdays that fall close to the holidays.

At a birthday lunch a couple of years ago…note the Christmas tree in the background.

As a kid, you just want your birthday to be as special as all your friends’ days were earlier in the year, and you don’t want to feel shortchanged. Now as a parent (whose girls were blessedly born in late January and June), I can better understand why my mom kept asking if I didn’t want to have a “half-birthday” party in the summer.

Be sensitive with the gifts

When they’re little, make sure to have presents from you that are just for their birthday (that aren’t under the tree and aren’t wrapped in Christmas paper). But try to help them understand that, for family and friends, buying double at this time of year can be a challenge.

Be creative with party ideas for friends and with suggestions for the grandparents. Adjust your expectations to make it easier for loved ones to celebrate your kids’ birthdays, and the kids will follow suit.

As they get older, too, help them appreciate the idea of joint gifts and getting one “big” present instead of two smaller ones spread out through the year.

Embrace the decorations…and the weather

Whether it’s for Christmas or the Fourth of July, use the already-in-place decorations to make their day special and even more festive than a run-of-the-mill birthday. (And, let’s be honest, to save yourself one more thing to do, too.)

If it snows, well, that’s an extra special birthday present to you! (Or that’s what my parents told me when my fifth-grade skating party was “snowed out.” And, that year, it worked!)


Do a birthday de-briefing, and ask them what they enjoyed or would like to do differently next year. If they don’t want to have a half-birthday pool party, don’t make them do it. If they are still sensitive about joint gifts when they’re 18, make sure they get two separate gifts.

Whenever it falls, it is their birthday, and it deserves to be celebrated and special–even if that’s more challenging for some birthdays than others.

Do you have a holiday birthday or have a child with a holiday birthday? How do you still make it separate and special?


  1. My oldest’s birthday is on valentines day and she thinks it’s awesome. Heart dress and red party every year. But I realize we’ll need to get little presents for all of our other children in a few years, so they don’t feel left out. Now… I’m due any day with twins so the Christmas bday thing will be inevitable, too. We’ve talked about doing 1/2 bdays already. But I guess we’ll just play it by ear and see what they want! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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