Many parents feel the pressure at this time of year. This time of year can be overwhelming for parents at the best of times, but add planning a birthday party at Christmas into the mix and it can be pretty tough.
So, what about children who are born in this month? How do busy parents cope with organising everything for Christmas and plan a birthday party? How can they make their child’s day feel special when it can be over shadowed by Christmas?
As someone whose birthday is on Christmas Eve, I know exactly how a child feels to have a birthday close to Christmas. I remember it usually meant one present, albeit a rather larger present than normal, because my Christmas and birthday presents were often combined. I’m not saying I minded, just that I was aware that this was not what happened to other children. I also tended to receive my larger present on Christmas day, rather than my birthday, so I had to share my birthday present opening with siblings who questioned why their present wasn’t as large as mine. Then there was the wait for a whole year before something special happened again.
Birthday parties were also something I had to share with Christmas. Decorations, cards, and food were always going to be part of the scene.
I felt both special that my birthday was near Christmas and envious of others as theirs weren’t. I loved that I didn’t have to go to school/work and that I always had my family around me but a bit sad that I never had anything else to look forward to.
So how to plan a party that stands out from the biggest event of the year?
If you start the tradition while they are young enough, you could get away with delaying the party – building it in as a family tradition, as though this is what everyone does if their birthday happens to fall near Christmas.
Perhaps have a small family party on the day then plan a party late January. This gives the Christmas child something to look forward to. Try to talk to your child’s school so that if they normally sing “Happy Birthday” and hand out sweets to friends your child can have/do the same, just a bit later. Christmas is a busy time of year for schools too, often a Birthday Child will get forgotten about, make sure this doesn’t happen to your child by asking their teacher when they can do it. Set the date so it can be the same every year.
If you do want to have a party on their day then planning a birthday party at Christmas can be fun. Just make sure you leave yourself plenty of time. How about a theme that couldn’t be further away from Christmas… such as beach theme, Hawaiian theme or jungle theme where every can come in fancy dress with party games to match?
Turn the heating up, add a prop or two, a little imagination and away you go!
Or do the opposite and make the most of the fact that their special birthday is near Christmas. Choose a ‘Christmasy’ theme, uh-hum, whilst also reminding everyone that it’s a birthday party not a Christmas party.
Here’s a few ideas:
Frozen party – very popular at the moment with little girls.
A Polar Express party or other Christmas movie theme.
Winter wonderland – everyone comes dress in white, everything is in white, plates, cups etc White goodies in their white party bags.
Have a craft party – Decorate a ginger bread house or biscuits and make Christmas decorations.
Christmas jumper party.
Snow white or pantomime theme party.
Complete no-no’s! What not to do…
Don’t sympathise or say sorry to your child. Don’t make it into a bad thing, or mention that it’s a lot of hassle. You couldn’t help giving birth when you did (even if you could have planned it better) and your child certainly didn’t.
Never wrap a birthday present in Christmas wrapping paper. Yes, it’s offensive. Unless the present is gold, frankincense or myrrh.
Do buy separate presents or at least have a token present for the birthday child to unwrap on the day – and I can’t stress this enough, wrap it in birthday wrapping. If you are going for that one big present idea… make it BIG, no, bigger than that, bigger, BIGGER! Hey, you were the one’s who thought it a good idea to be amorous around Easter.
If siblings get a large present too then it diminishes the birthday present. I’m talking a physically bigger present for a small child, monetarily to an older one.
Do NOT tag a birthday message onto a Christmas card. I still can’t believe people do this, but every year I get at least one.
Turkey is not a birthday meal, nor is ham.
Think, “Oh, well I guess they don’t know any different.” Er yes, we do. We have friends and relatives whose birthdays are not at Christmas, that’s how we know, surprising isn’t it? We can see they’re different. Not necessarily better, but different.
If their birthday is just after Christmas and you managed to pick up a fantastic bargain, great! Just don’t proclaim that you got them a bargain. If it looks too expensive, they will know anyway. If you know they really wanted it, great, otherwise don’t do it.
Christmas cake and Christmas Yule log cakes ARE NOT BIRTHDAY CAKES!! ….Ok, that may have been a message to my mum there, sorry mum, I love Yule cake. Even after 53 years.
Complete do-do’s! … if you get what I mean.
Make time. As a parent you will be up to your eyes with food and gift wrapping. Make sure everything is dealt with before their birthday so that you have time to focus on them. Arrange a time to go out somewhere they would like to go, park, zoo, museum, cafe, anywhere where the time is focused on them.
Make it special. Tell the child special stories around their birthday, or it’s circumstances. My parents frequently tell me, at least once a year, the story of their doctor who told my gullible 24 year old Dad in a very serious voice, to hold out his arms (which he did) and to shake my mother because he didn’t want to miss his Christmas lunch. Makes me smile because each time they tell me it’s like the first, and my Dad’s eyes still sparkle.
Hang a birthday banner, and keep it there for the same length of time you would your other children.
Sing Happy Birthday, loudly enough to cover over all the Christmas carols.
Call. Everyone likes to hear ‘Happy Birthday’ on their special day, no, you won’t be intruding.
Make it a good excuse for a pre-Christmas get-together meal or drinks. Suggest it. I’ve had the best birthdays ever as an adult because a good friend organises a Christmas drinks get-together every year, they always include my birthday and they get everyone to sing. I love it!
Remember, please, make their day feel special because it’s their birthday. Besides, most likely, when they become parents themselves they’ll be too busy to notice it’s their day at all.