Stores are already decked out with decorations for Christmas, though Thanksgiving hasn't even arrived. Everyone's focus for the next couple of months will be on the trifecta of celebrations: Thanksgiving, and Christmas or Hanukkah. For my two children born in December, that means sending out invitations months in advance and keeping our fingers crossed that people remember their birthdays and are in town for their parties.
I thought it would be fun to have December babies when I was pregnant, and I still enjoy it. Unfortunately, studies show my children may not be so crazy about having their big days smashed between holidays. People with winter birthdays report being the most dissatisfied with their birth dates. The reasons are many. November and December birthdays have to share the spotlight with major holidays, and January babies receive the leftovers when the festivities have ended.
Birthday presents are often skipped or improvised because people are strapped for cash during this time of year, and gathering a group for anything besides holiday celebrations during this chaotic time is a challenge. There's also the cold weather and shorter days that can cause moods to be low. Children who have birthdays during the winter months share their special time with sick season as well. It's possible that children planning on attending a birthday party in winter will be wiped out by the flu or a stomach virus before the big day even arrives. That leaves the birthday kid without a crew to celebrate with on the big day.
We learned early on that many things would be out of our control when it came to planning great birthdays for our kids if it involved anyone outside our home. Still, we've learned a few tricks along the way. If a child has to have their big day smashed in between all the other big days, there are ways to make it work.
Wrapping paper seems like a small thing, but it's not. When children receive birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper, it shows that the extra effort to differentiate between their birthday and other celebrations wasn't made. It's enough to bring the winter birthday resentment to the surface. Wrap gifts in old newspaper if birthday wrapping paper can't be found, but do not give a child a birthday present bearing candy canes, elves, or snowmen. The same goes with decorations. Christmas or Thanksgiving decorations don't double as birthday décor.
Not every child will be into this option because no one should have to celebrate their birthday six months away from the actual date. However, for those who are sick of being overlooked in the swirl of turkey dinners and twinkle lights, the half-birthday celebration can work. A child can choose to celebrate their half birthday, giving winter babies the option to party at the pool or stay outside with their friends during the never-ending summer days. Parents can still offer a personal celebration on their actual birth date, but this takes the pressure off of trying to round up friends around the holidays.
Birthday the week of Thanksgiving? Do not choose the weekend after for the party. Birthday the week of Christmas? Do not try to party that week. Plan birthday parties for friends to attend away from any family or travel obligations, or prepare the birthday child to receive RSVPs all marked no. On the actual day of a child's birthday, immediate family members can celebrate and make the day special. However, depending on others to be available around the holidays is a ticket to disappointment.
A good rule is if you wouldn't do it for a non-holiday birthday, don't do it. Neither kids nor adults like having their birthday and Christmas presents combined. They are separate holidays, and even if a child's birthday falls on the day of a particular holiday, he should receive gifts that are designated for the birthday. Otherwise, a child is celebrating two big events but receiving half the notice.
It takes a village!
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