When Holidays & Birthdays Collide: Tips for Parents

when holidays and birthdays collide

Does your child share a birthday on or near an important holiday? If so, you know the extra headache this can mean when it comes to planning a party, getting guests to attend, and just making your child feel special on their day! Read on for some tips on how to keep the birthday and holiday separate and to (hopefully) keep a little of your sanity.

Keep Gifts Separate

If your child’s birthday is on or near a holiday where gifts are typically exchanged in your house, try to resist the “double gift.” Unless your child has asked for an unusually large gift and combining presents would be the only way for him/her to receive the gift, resist the temptation to simplify. Combination gifts may actually be a perk when your child gets older and learns the benefit to getting one larger item, but it is usually difficult for young children to appreciate.

Plan The Party Accordingly

One negative aspect of having a birthday close to a major holiday is that your friends and family members are likely to plan vacations and family gatherings around these times. If school is also out of session for an extended period of time, it can be especially hard to find a date to get your child’s friends to attend their party. Do your best to take these factors into consideration and talk to other parents and family members early. While it may not be ideal to host a birthday party several weeks in advance of the actual birthday, your child will appreciate being able to celebrate the occasion with others. If this is the route you take, do your best to explain your rationale. Hopefully your child will appreciate the fact that you want to celebrate her/his special day separately from the holiday.

Use Birthday Wrapping Paper

Assuming you aren’t planning a strategic “double gift” aligned with another holiday, make sure your gift is wrapped in birthday specific wrapping paper. This little touch can go a long way in signifying a clear separation of holidays in the eyes of the child. Sometimes it is the details that matter.

Use the Holiday To Your Advantage

People are usually in a good mood around the holidays. This need not be winter holiday specific–even around the 4th of July or Labor Day, people are in a good mood thinking about taking advantage of time with friends and family. If your child likes doing activities that center around the season, use them to your advantage!  For example, if your child has a birthday near Halloween and she/he enjoys painting or carving pumpkins, make this part of the birthday party! Similarly, if your child has a winter birthday, you might try ice skating, taking a group of friends out for sledding and hot chocolate, or have a cookie decorating themed birthday party. On the other hand, if your child wants a party theme that is way out of context of the holiday, try to embrace it. If you already have Christmas decorations up, turn your tree temporarily into a Minecraft themed tree or put your fall leaves, gourds, and pumpkins up for the day to turn the house into Queen Elsa’s castle.

Coming from personal experience, this tip specifically brings back fond memories. As someone with a birthday VERY near Christmas, I have fond memories of using my birthday as the “special” day to visit Santa. I delighted in telling Santa it was also my birthday and spending the entire day doing what I consider to be the best of the holidays–ice skating, hot chocolate, and decorating cookies. In fact, I still do these things (minus Santa) because it is the only day of the year I can convince my family and friends to ice skate! I still love it, but not many others do. Therefore, I use my birthday to take advantage of these typical holiday activities.

Try To Keep The Holiday Stress At Bay

Planning a birthday and holiday festivities certainly can be stressful. However, with advanced planning and consideration, they need not be. You (and everyone else) will have much more fun if you can get a head start on whatever work is needed to pull off all of your plans for both occasions. You might find yourself silently wishing these few weeks would just hurry up and get over with, but try not to lead on to the stressful aspect.  Most importantly, don’t let the stress take the fun out of either event for you. As a parent, celebrating your child’s birthday marks a significant milestone.  You’ve made it through another year. Try to remind yourself to slow down and enjoy it.

Do you or a family member have a birthday near a holiday? What was the experience like for you? Please feel free to share your tips and ideas in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Check out these other articles on how to make it through the holidays:
Stress-Free Holiday Planning Guide (day by day)
Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas

Photo Credits: Title Image: Gillnisha (CC-Public Domain); child opening gift: Memoirs Photography; Birthday Party: allison (CC); ice skating: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (CC)

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Katherine lives in Kansas City with her husband, toddler, and 3 furry children. When she is not at home with her daughter, she is finishing up her Ph.D. in psychology or working on one of her multiple half-finished art projects. She loves ceramics, crafts, fitness, paper mache, and pretending to learn French and Spanish.

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