Growing up, I hated having a birthday less than two weeks after Christmas. I wasn't ready for another set of presents yet. And that meant no more presents for 11.5 months. And then there's hearing, "This is your combined Christmas and birthday present" or "I spent too much at Christmas so you're getting a smaller birthday present." My mother's birthday is two days before mine, so she was never the one that said that.
It's important for families who have children born on or near Christmas to come up with their own unique ways to make those birthdays just as memorable as birthdays that are celebrated other times of year. Here are some ideas:
· Make the birthday a totally separate occasion from Christmas. If the birthday actually takes place on Christmas Day, consider celebrating the weekend before or after. Decorate especially for the birthday. Fill your child's room with brightly colored balloons and crepe paper streamers. Avoid Christmas colors. Just as Christmas is a once-a-year occasion, so is your child's birthday.
· If you choose to celebrate a Christmas birthday on Christmas day, make it a separate celebration. The Christmas festivities end at 5 p.m. and then it's birthday time. Replace the Christmas decorations with birthday ones for the evening. Enlist your family's help in doing this. Many parents share that relatives tend to combine the presents for the holiday birthday even though they give separate birthday gifts for birthdays during the year.
· If you have a party for friends and classmates, have it before Christmas vacation starts so school friends will be more likely to come. Plan the same kind of party -- roller skating, bowling, video arcade -- as you would if the party was at another time of year.
· Celebrate Christmas for its meaning, not the presents. Consider putting less emphasis on material goods at Christmas and more on helping others in need. Save the bigger gifts for birthdays no matter what time of year they fall.
· Budget ahead. Set aside money during the year for your child's party, presents, entertainment, annual portraits and other birthday expenses. Make a list of everything you'll need just as though the birthday is coming up, then keep the list and bank the money.
· Celebrate half birthdays. Each of my children gets a half cake to share with the family on his or her half birthday. Just make or buy a whole cake, cut it in half diagonally and freeze the other half for the next half birthday or other occasion. Some children with holiday birthdays like to receive one or all of their presents on their half birthday although this might be confusing for a younger child. As an alternative to this, designate a certain day in the summer as your special family day. Decorate with balloons and streamers, have pizza and cake and watch family videos from past vacations or holidays.
· Have special birthday traditions for birthdays that you use for each special day no matter when it falls. This might include having a special birthday plate, the child choosing the menu for the day, a special privilege or some other way of marking another year of growth.
These are just a few ideas to make holiday birthdays special, not lost among other holiday happenings. Try some of these ideas and develop special traditions of your own. Your child will have happy birthday memories to last a lifetime.