People have always thought my holiday birthday fell on the coolest of the year: New Year’s Day. I thought it was pretty cool, too. I always got my birthday off of school and work, and always had a reason to party. Honestly, what kid doesn’t love wishing in the new year and their birthday?
As I grew older, I realized how unfortunate it is to have a holiday birthday.
Not only do I have to share my birthday with other people’s celebrations and traditions, but a lot of times places aren’t open, stress is at an all-time high around the holidays, people are busy with their own commitments, and it’s straight up cold, snowy and blah outside. No one wants to drive around on slick roads – and honestly, the two week radius around the holiday time is just a horrible time for a get-together. Winter birthdays mean picnics and BBQs are out, going out for dinner is a no-go (unless of course you love crowded bars and restaurants), and the obligation to have a good time is at an all-time high – it’s NEW YEAR’S DAY for goodness sakes!
One of my biggest complaints would be the combo birthday presents or parties.
“This is for Christmas and your birthday!” someone would say as they hand me a present wrapped lovingly with snowmen and candy canes. Ugh. While I appreciate the gesture, I somehow feel I’m robbed of an actual birthday. My second child will be born in early April. That means there’s a chance for this little gal to have an Easter birthday at some point in her life. I shudder at the thought because I know how it feels to have to share your special day.
While I can’t change my birthday or the day Easter falls on, I’ve found ways to celebrate myself amidst the holiday chaos. Here are some tips for those of you (or kids) with holiday birthdays on how to handle both:
1. Do your best to differentiate between the holiday and the birthday.
Whether it’s a themed party, a gift, or even décor or gift wrap, ensure that you keep everything birthday-related and holiday-related separate. Pro tip: don’t reuse New Year’s napkins or serve up left over Easter candy on your kid’s birthday party.
2. If possible, reschedule holiday gatherings or birthday parties for a different day.
Don’t try to do both! Don’t serve up a family-style Thanksgiving meal or hand out candy to trick-or-treaters on the day of the birthday. Choose one or the other. I prefer rescheduling birthday festivities for the day or weekend after and really go all out! This not only gives the birthday boy/girl the time of day, but it also greatly reduces stress for parents and family who feel obligated to celebrate both.
3. Dedicate a little time ON your actual birthday doing something you love.
Even if your birthday falls on a holiday, you can still enjoy some of the day doing what you like to do. Maybe catch up on a good book or show. Take a long bubble bath. Catch up with an old friend. Start a DIY project. Get a pedicure. Go shopping – without kids! While it’s not quite the same as having the entire day, every bit of self-appreciate goes a long way in feeling making yourself special.
4. Create a new tradition for holiday birthdays.
If your/your kid’s birthday is on or around Christmas, perhaps they get to choose the theme of the tree or the kind of cookies baked that year. You could even make a birthday tree or leave out birthday cake for Santa in lieu of cookies. You could throw a hotel or indoor pool party for the birthday kid – that way they’re removed entirely from the Christmas theme altogether. For me, it’s always been a tradition that we count down the New Year as a family and we toast with mimosa (sparkling wine when I was younger). It’s held a special place in my heart for all these years.
5. Celebrate the half-birthday.
It’s not quite the same as celebrating the actual birthday, but how cool would it be to celebrate during the opposite season? If you normally have a winter birthday, have a cook out/pool party in the heat of summer – complete with cupcakes, ice pops, slip and slides, and flip flops. Think “Christmas in July” but for birthdays! Of course, celebrate on the actual birthday, but throw the party, invite friends, and go all out on their half-birthday.
I won’t sugarcoat it: Holiday birthdays are difficult, but they don’t have to completely suck! Come up with a game plan or tradition for your family to ensure the holiday birthdays in your family don’t get lost in the holiday shuffle. Make time to make yourself (or your kids) matter!
After all, it is a birthday and it deserves to be recognized.