The Christmas (or Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or even Festivus) spirit may be permeating everything this time of year, but for your little ones born on or near the holidays, especially the older toddlers and early school-age children, it’s their birthday and it can often seem like no one cares in the face of so much Christmas cheer. Frazzled parents are even more stressed, decorating, shopping, wrapping, hiding, cooking, baking, hosting, and so much more that we can make what seem like perfectly reasonable decisions to co-mingle our children’s big days with the rest of the big ones; it does minimize our parental stress, but can also create anxiety and disappointment for the very people we’re doing it all for—the kids.
Licensed clinical social worker, Tami Meer, recently discussed the issue for The Daily Herald. "I knew one child who would be sad because only a handful of people would show up for her party due to the winter holiday break, but everyone would show up for her siblings' parties. It made her feel left out."
Other areas of concern for holiday babies include themes (Christmas themes every single year), or the dreaded, oft-discussed, combined gift. While it is true that these are certainly “First World problems,” like many things that occur in childhood, memories of perceiving the short shrift on holiday birthdays seem to leave indelible marks on holiday babies lives.
Holiday baby Hayley Hendricks recalled, “Mine is December 28th and I remember always having to pick a few gifts from under the tree before Christmas, and save them to open for my birthday. Talk about a bummer in the eyes of a five year old.”
And Jennifer Sneddon, a Christmas Eve baby, now all grown up, had this to offer. “I could never have a party on my birthday, and there was always the ‘This is your birthday AND your Christmas present’ gift. I am O.K. with it now as a grown up, but as a kid, I hated it.”
New Year’s baby, Kara West offered, “My birthday is Jan 3. As an adolescent, my friends always gave me one gift and said ‘This is for Christmas and your birthday,’ I always felt gipped. As an adult my family usually just forgets because it's the first day to really breathe after the holidays. I say 75% off my family calls me the week after and says, ‘Sorry I forgot, happy belated birthday’.”
Perhaps our favorite entry in awful holiday-themed birthday memories came from Kristi Brooks. “November 26 [birthday]. I'm still haunted by a birthday cake topped with a turkey and two pilgrims.” Others speak of over-stressed parents forgetting birthdays completely and one woman told us of her mother sticking a candle in a green bean casserole on Christmas Eve as a “cake.”
If you’re the parent of a holiday baby, we’re sure you can relate to a casserole-as-cake sentiment. There doesn’t seem to be time or energy to do it all for the holidays, let alone birthdays thrown into the mix. Chicago Parent asked Stacy Leonard, the parent of a Christmas baby, about what it was like doing it all on her child’s 12/25 birthdate. "There is a photo taken of me that day that says it all. I'm sitting in a chair, sound asleep. We had Christmas morning, church, Christmas dinner, birthday cake and presents. It was too exhausting."
Leonard, like many parents of holiday babies, has come up with an alternative celebration to not only help her child feel cherished (they hold her party two days after Christmas now), but to allow mom and dad a chance to recharge their batteries, at least a little, before the next big event. Parenting advice the internet over abounds with suggestions for “half-birthdays,” “un-birthdays,” and more. Keeping it as organized and simple as possible for you is what we’re about at Ideal Baby, so why not use our Gift Registry to allow your child’s friends to know what he or she wants for the big day. Register and include the URL in your invitations to make other parents’ birthday shopping a snap.
The half-birthday is a party that takes place at the six month mark. For most holiday babies that means they’d celebrate their birthday in June instead of December. This may work quite well for families, but for school aged children it can pose a problem because everyone is on summer break and possibly vacation. That said, who doesn’t love a good pool party?
The un-birthday allows for more scheduling flexibility and can get your kids into the act by asking them to help choose the date of the event. Because the only caveat is that it not be on the child’s birthday, a party could be held in March or September, whatever is most convenient for everyone. However, it’s important not to change the un-birthday date once it’s been decided. It can begin to feel fishy to the child, and the invitees, if the party date varies from season to season.
One great idea from parenting blogs large and small, including Parents Magazine, is to hold the party as near the actual date as possible, but away from home. Booking a party at the local pizza parlor, rec center, or water park may cost a little more out of pocket than DIY-ing it at home, but the trade off in stress relief, and no need to clean a house, prepare food, or host on your own, could more than make up for it. Doing an off-site party also provides an instant non-holiday theme and keeps the day all about your child.
This idea also gives you the added bonus of being the cool parent who gave all your children’s friends’ parents a few hours of blessed kid-free holiday prep while they attended your child’s party. What better gift can you give your fellow parents than that?