How do you celebrate birthdays that fall on, or close to, holidays?

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Happy birthday, Laura! We got you a Christmas cake because it’s also Christmas. (Photo by: Kyle NishiokaCC BY 2.0)
We are an agnostic family, and while Christmas is not my favorite holiday, we welcomed our sweet baby boy in to the world last year on Christmas Eve.

My husband’s birthday is the 28th, so he’s not a stranger to being forgotten at Christmas time (probably one of the reasons we don’t celebrate Christmas much).

But in this Pinterest-crazed day and age, I feel kind of put-out that we won’t be able to have big birthday celebrations, as almost everyone will be busy with Christmas festivities.

Any suggestions? -Colleen

That guy I married was born on New Year’s Eve. My niece’s birthday is around or on Thanksgiving. And my mom’s birthday is weeks away from Christmas. Yeah… we’re a family full of birthdays over-shadowed by holidays.

So we’ve come up with a few solutions:

  • Instead of trying to out-do New Years Eve, we pour all the goodness of birthdays — friends, cake, and partying — into that guy I married’s Shark Attackiversary every year. So at least one day a year he gets all that “you are special today” energy.
  • My sister has been known to throw ThanksBirthdays for her kid — presents and then delicious Thanksgiving dinner with family.
  • My mom’s is far enough away from Christmas that she still gets a special day, but she also still gets that “this is for your birthday AND Christmas” bullshit. So I make it a point to get her different gifts for each.

Who else is a victim of holiday birthdays? What solutions have you come up with to keep the party going, even when others are out of town, or distracted?

Comments on How do you celebrate birthdays that fall on, or close to, holidays?

  1. How about celebrating their Name Day (if they have one)?

    It’s more a Catholic thing, but my husband and I have been doing it, just for kicks. We don’t do presents, just something nice for the one whose ND it is – mine was just last weekend and though we happened to be away for a triathlon he was racing in, we went out for breakfast and to some hot pools. Another year I got brought breakfast in bed. Last year I made him his favourite pancakes, this year I baked him that bread he loves, that sort of thing.

    We’re planning to do the same with our kids, no matter when their birthdays are – just something little, like they get to choose their favourite meal for dinner, or we’ll take them to a movie and ice cream. It’s a fun way of not having to wait until your next birthday to get some special attention 🙂

    I have always been glad I was born at the end of January, because while it makes it an expensive time of year for present-buyers, it’s far enough away from Christmas that the celebrations don’t get combined!

  2. My birthday is also Christmas Eve! My fiance’s is December 20th! His brother, who is 9 years younger, is also December 20th! And this year, my fiance is turning 30, and his brother is turning 21. So! We are planning a joint party for them both tomorrow (on the day because most people actually live in town, which is both a blessing and a curse) with pizza, dinosaurs, and laser tag, and then we will hit the bars afterward.

    The best advice I have is this: make sure that your son’s birthday is treated as his birthday, and that relatives give both birthday and christmas presents (assuming you do presents; some people don’t). The biggest thing for me was always that my family made a point of spending time with me on my birthday— we would go sledding together if there was snow, or watch movies or another activity if there wasn’t snow. Then they would make dinner (I got to pick whatever I wanted) along with a dessert of my request. Those things meant a lot more to me than the presents or any of that because they showed that they cared about spending extra time and effort with me, even though the holidays were already crazy.

    The other thing I would do is have a birthday party a few weeks early, like mid-December, before things got really insane and people were out of town. No, it wasn’t on my birthday proper, but that was okay because the important part was getting to spend time doing something fun with my friends.

    So I guess what I’m saying is treat his birthday the way you would treat his birthday if it were on any other day of the year, and you should be good to go! 🙂

  3. My hubby was born 3 days after Valentine’s Day, so I have always gotten gifts for him for both occasions just because he prefers to have both holidays acknowledged that way. I just watch how much I spend on each gift. The big one-on-one date is typically for Valentine’s Day, and we have traditionally gone out with his parents to celebrate his birthday.

    Also, when we got married we made sure not to have the wedding fall in February or March (which is when MY birthday is), and we didn’t want to have our birthdays, Valentine’s and our anniversary fall so close together. (For the record, we got hitched in November on our 7th dating anniversary.)

  4. My daughter is the week before christmas, we decided to do a birthday party the first week of December for her and her friends and then made sure we had a fun night of opening presents and fish and chips, but annoyingly I still had to re-wrap presents from family members for her since they were in christmas paper. Luckily we haven’t had any this is for birthday and christmas but I think that is because I have told everyone that isn’t fair.

  5. My birthday’s on December 26th and I have felt disadvantaged, having to share my day with the holidays. I did get a lot of combined Christmas/birthday presents for years (mostly from family) and growing up we’d celebrate in advance, before the holiday break. Seven years ago I moved to Germany for university and here it is bad luck to celebrate a birthday ahead of time so I only did that twice and also the 26th is still Christmas here, so only few of my friends would have the time or be around on “my day”, since the most would travel back home to their families.

    This will be the fourth year celebrating my birthday with my by now husband and we’ve made a tradition out of it: we’ll go ice skating (embracing the winter and holiday-mood), then to dinner and later dancing with whoever friends want to come along. My birthday has always been a big deal for me and now I enjoy it more than ever, knowing that there’s something very specific to do that day.

  6. My mil was born on Xmas. It took me a while but I noticed no one ever did anything special for her. Every bday she made me a cake and her husband and son(my husband). So I finally told my husband that our Xmas eve dinner we were doing alone I wanted to invite his parents and make his mom a cake. He was all for it. We give her the birthday gift usually something smaller have cake and a dinner. Sometimes my husband’s bday falls on Thanksgiving and we don’t have pie those years but cake for him and he’ll unwrap gifts. I admit my mil loves the effort I put in for her because she never had a party or cake growing up. When my husband and I have a larger place I admitted that I would love to throw a cocktail party for her and invite more family.

  7. My son’s birthday is Dec. 21st. In past years, we’ve just let him pick a place where he wants to go and celebrate, like an indoor trampoline-type place or bounce house place, and then he gets to pick a restaurant to go out to eat. Planning a party is almost impossible because we don’t even spend the holidays with family. Too many are spread apart, or just bitter at each other.

  8. My father has a December 23rd birthday (and my sister January 3rd).
    I cannot stress enough the wrapping paper. Every year I pick up a solid colored paper for them both in their favorite color, or a silver wrap and use a bow of their favorite color. Solid means I can use it all year round, or for OTHER PEOPLE’S Holiday gifts if I need to.

    For my sister it isn’t so bad, but for my father I make a special point to give him whatever present I think he’d be most excited by to him for his birthday. As a child, he never, ever had a birthday party, so we are sure to go out for supper or do something that’s just for him (even if it’s something or somewhere I hate!)

  9. I created ” Cecilymas” a time where everything must be about me and no one can talk about that other day. Well, at least my mom and husband follow that rule. they are the few who will never get me the double gift. It is always strange to have people give me one gift on Christmas since I’m not even Christian. Of course, if you make a choice, buy me a birthday girl. Holidays are not suppose to be solely about gifts anyway. Holidays are about loved ones and birthdays are about the individual. Spoil the heck out of people on their birthday that is the one day that should be all about them. ALso, Ice skating is a common go to for me and my husband too. I definitely agree* embrace the winter season* if you born near xmas.

  10. My birthday is December 23rd. On one hand, I’m Jewish, so I never felt like I had to compete with Christmas when it came to my family, but on the other hand I often had to compete with Hanukkah. I’d get a lot of “Birthday-slash-Hanukkah” gifts from relatives.

    When I was younger, I loved that I never had to go to school on my birthday, and could usually get my friends to hang out. However, once I went out of state to college, I was always disappointed that I couldn’t celebrate my birthday with my college friends since we all would have left campus and gone home for the holiday break by then.

    At some point around then, my family discovered that Festivus (the Seinfeld-invented holiday “For The Rest Of Us”) falls on my birthday, and we made the decision to begin celebrating Festivus in addition to my birthday. This meant we’d have a “traditional Festivus pole,” the “airing of the grievances,” and a “feats of strength.” I think doing this on my birthday has actually added an extra special element to it, making my birthday more fun since we’re all celebrating it. It’s no longer a day just for me about me, but it’s a day for my family to be silly and together.

    It’s been a few years since I moved away from home, and now I celebrate my birthday with my husband (who does celebrate full-on Christmas and wants to make sure that the two events are kept very separate). We usually go out for a special dinner and the movies. It’s pretty low-key, but always fun since we spend the whole day together.

  11. My daughter was born on Christmas. We choose a weekend before Christmas to have a birthday party for her. We give family and friends about a months notice, so they have plenty of time to plan around other holiday festivities. On Christmas Day, she gets to wear a sash that says ‘birthday girl’ and her favorite tiara. That way she still gets to feel special on her actual birthday, but having had a party beforehand, she does doesn’t have to feel like she’s being overlooked on Christmas. I also make sure that at her party there are no Christmas colors in the decorations.

  12. My birthday is on the sixth, so I very much fall victim to Birthmas gifts. As a kid my mom had a policy that no Christmas decor went up until after my birthday, and friends and family know of my (possibly a bit spiteful) policy that, if you give me a Birthmas gift, you will get on in return, no matter when your birthday falls.

  13. My birthday is December 10th, which is usually equidistant to both Thanksgiving AND Christmas, meaning the family celebration always becomes part of one of the two holidays. I campaigned hard for many many many years for a half-birthday celebration, only had it one year, because I wanted a pool party, dammit. Unfortunately, my mother thought that getting to do a half-birthday was enough, not an ongoing thing. This year, crazy circumstances mean I still haven’t had a birthday celebration and likely won’t, which . . . yeah, I’m cranky about it. (I’m 29 now. I wanted at least some kind of familial gathering.)
    As an adult, I really like getting separate cards. Not getting a Christmas-themed birthday card makes me happy.

    However, due to a really rough birth (emergency baptism at three days old) I spent time in the NICU, so I came home on Christmas Day, wrapped in a stocking. I do like that lining up of events and seeing that stocking every year.

  14. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow! So we will have a family party, with one big present, tied up with helium balloons and a fancy dinner out. All of which are her own unique traditions. Then in the spring we’ll throw her a tea party to celebrate with her friends!

    She definitely misses out on Birthday presents from our extended family. But because we are 4 people in a small 2 bedroom place, we don’t go overboard with presents anyways.

    I understand being distressed about the lack of date planning when I got pregnant (darn St. Pat’s Pregnancy)!

  15. One of my close friends was born on Dec 25th, and she typically has her party either in January or for her half birthday in June. Of course, her half birthday party often coincides with my ACTUAL birthday party, which is annoying… 😛

  16. I have an early December B-Day, also right around the same time as my Dad and Grandpa’s birthdays. My grandparents had the brilliant (in my opinion) idea to put money into a college savings account on my birthday instead of presents. My mom and dad would do a few presents on my birthday, but Christmas was the bigger deal, presents wise. However, they kept this idea going for all their grandkids, so I didn’t feel any different.

    Now, a much bigger deal for our B-day celebrations was that you got to pick whatever you wanted for dinner and dessert. I would’ve been much more disappointed if I had to miss out on that:) One year I had an entire can of redi-whip whipped cream for sundaes all to myself. I felt so sick afterwards, but it was worth it!

  17. One of my friends, her birthday is 24 Dec. She said she would get screwed over even by her own brothers and sisters (she is ALOT younger then them) where she would get a Xmas/Birthday gift from them. Other people who I know who are Christians who have Xmas birthdays generally either do it on their 1/2 birthdays or just do something with their family and are generally pretty good about keeping Xmas and their birthday separate (like birthday cake in the afternoon, getting a pizza for dinner instead of a Xmas meal, etc). On the other hand (I am Jewish), the Jews who have Dec (or late Nov birthday’s since Hanukah changes every year (like Easter)), their families did the same thing. Two gifts on their birthday night instead of the one. Not being Christian, I never understood why people say having Dec birthday’s are bad, esp. if your birthday is Dec 4th lets say (or anything before Dec 19th lets say), as to me there is still enough “distance” between Dec 4th and 25 Dec to make the 4th of Dec special (hopefully that makes sense). Even if your birthday is 19 Dec, people should (to me at least) already have their shit together to not to forget a 19 Dec birthday or even a 24th of Dec birthday.

  18. My birthday is the day after Independence Day, and while that isn’t a gift giving holiday it still has pretty much ruined my birthday. My parents have always been great about making a big deal about my birthday, but I have NEVER had a proper birthday party because most people are gone for the holiday, or as an adult, hung over and not looking to hang out. Or I get “For your birthday we should go watch the fireworks!” like yeah, thats not really for my birthday then is it?

    OP, I think the best thing you can do is what previous posters suggested. Make a good separation between birthdays and holidays. Your kid might miss out when it comes to other things, but at least they’ll know YOU cared enough to make sure they felt important on their birthday.

  19. My birthday is on Flag Day here in the U.S., although hardly anyone celebrates it nowadays, hah. I did read a really cute story when I was a kid, though, about a girl who had a birthday on Flag Day. Every year there were parades and fireworks and she thought they were all to celebrate her. 🙂

    My birthday being on that day never really affected anything since it wasn’t celebrated where I lived, but when I was a teenager I told some friends my bday was on Flag Day and they decided it’d be funny to get me American flag stuff. :p My little punkrock self did not appreciate that.

  20. My birthday falls on December 27th. My close family and friends go out of their way to wrap my presents in non-Christmas wrapping paper (harder to find than you think) and to make sure no one opens Christmas presents on my birthday (out-of-towners). It makes my day really special!

  21. My birthday is on New Year’s Day. I’ve celebrated in several ways. Here’s a list for reference:

    (1) For my upcoming 21st birthday, I decided to have a no-alcohol birthday party! Since I’m one of the first out of most of my friends to turn 21, I figured it’d be best to skip out on the alcohol so that they would have place to go that their parents would approve of. It works for me too since I’m not a huge fan of drinking (it’s part of the reason why most people forget when my birthday is…yes, I have family members who have forgotten even though it’s not that difficult to remember “first day of the year”).

    (2) As an anti-social teenager, I used to ask to spend a whole day at either the library or the bookstore. I preferred places that have cafes and chairs so that I could sip on tea while I read. I’d normally get treated to dinner by someone later on. I have no regrets!

    (3) Go to the mall to hit all the big end-of-the-year sales while everyone else is hungover! Hardly anyone will be there, so you’re likely to score all the best deals! Bring a friend with you.

    (4) Celebrate on New Year’s Eve instead.

    Hope this helps some struggling New Year’s babies out there!

  22. I have a crazy December, my Mum on the 2nd, my husband on the 14th, my niece on the 15th, xmas, then our anniversary on the 29th.
    Luckily they’re far enough apart from xmas that it’s reasonably easy to focus and celebrate for each one, but the expense of presents (not to mention, every single bday I have to buy for is in the second half of the year…), means that I now just keep an eye out the whole year and buy cool things when I see them to put away, rather than waiting for nearer their birthday.

    My birthday is at the beginning of April, often (as is this year) at Easter. I’ve always hated that because people use that opportunity to go away for the long weekend, and no one is around to celebrate with me. After years of being sad no one was able to come, I’ve taken more control over it and made my party the weekend either side of my bday that ISN’T Easter (so this year, after my bday). My husband and I always make the day of special though 🙂

  23. Interesting that so many December birthdays resent Christmas decorations. My brother’s birthday is December 11th, and mine is November 26th. I was always jealous that the Christmas decorations were up for his birthday dinner, but not for mine. Paradoxically, I was also sad that I couldn’t have a Halloween-themed birthday party. Our birthday dinners were the only times the whole year that my mom brought out her wedding china and crystal, and we actually ate at the dining room table. We only had a joint party one time. My mom and my two favorite aunts always took me shopping on Black Friday for my presents, I often had a slumber party that night for my friends, and we usually celebrated my birthday dinner with just my parents, brother, grandparents, and godparents the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. If my birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving, the entire extended family (50+ people) would sing to me. Some years, I had three cakes: friends (Betty Crocker), family (store-bought), Thanksgiving (from scratch). It did kind of suck in college since I never got to celebrate with my friends, though.

  24. I am a twin and born on Xmas day, so I get screwed two ways. I have always shared my birthday and have only had a separate birthday party once. This is how we do it in my family:
    1. Xmas in the morning and birthday in the afternoon. This keeps it separate and allows a special time for celebrating and having cake.
    2. Always have a birthday cake. My sister and I would have separate cakes which was super important.
    3. Separate wrapping paper, none of this choose which one is for your birthday and which is Christmas. This can be important if you have different budgets for Xmas versus birthday gifts.
    4. Sing happy birthday
    Generally carve out a space in the day to really celebrate as a birthday. It can suck sometimes, when your birthday is overlooked, so make it special

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