Perhaps your family faces the same dilemma mine does: Christmas and birthdays falling on the same day…or pretty close to the same day. This is something I’ve faced all of my life. My sister’s birthday is Dec. 21. I was born the day after Christmas. A niece and two friends are in the same boat.
With budgets already stretched, calendars filled and too many rich desserts already crammed into one month, it’s tempting to avoid or under-celebrate a birthday. No need to do that – here are some ideas on how you can blend a birthday celebration into your already-busy December without straining your budget.
1. Find the time. Regardless of the age, nothing is probably more precious a gift as your time and attention. Maybe that means taking a friend out to lunch or arranging to spend the birthday afternoon watching your birthday boy play in the playground inside your local McDonald’s. If allowed, consider taking cupcakes or snacks to your child’s elementary school. This is one birthday celebration your child will never forget. One piece of advice: make sure the cupcakes are birthday cupcakes, not Christmas cupcakes.
2. Send a card. Most people with December birthdays can count the number of birthday cards they’ve received on their fingers. A present isn’t always necessary, especially for adults. A birthday card, arriving amidst all the greetings of the season, will become a very special keepsake. (Plus the card may remind family members of the important date. December birthdays are that easy to forget!)
3. Celebrate it early or late. In some European cultures, this is bad luck. In America, it happens all the time. Usually it’s just a day or two off, but in the case of a December birthday, a month or two off isn’t too long. Most people will understand. If you feel like you need to offer a reason, explain that your holiday plans have forced you to party early. For children, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a natural. Most parents will appreciate the availability of a party, giving them shopping time on the busiest day of the year. And the expenses will come from November’s budget…not December.
Celebrating in January has its advantages, too. Many party places, like Chuck E. Cheese or Mr. Gatti’s, offer specials during the slow month of January. You might even get a deal at the local roller rink. Some of the gifts might have to be returned if they’re duplicates of Christmas. And some of the parents might take advantage of post-holiday clearance sales. Who cares? It’s a party!!!
4. Teens usually don’t want the cake-and-ice-cream, followed by bingo or tag. Instead, consider having a sleeping party or a movie outing the week following Christmas. Feel free to limit the number of invitations. Another alternative is a family celebration centered around a meal. Serve your teen’s favorites and give them the day off from chores if nothing else.
5. Remember, the birthday girl or boy will be getting a stack of presents during the month of his birthday for one of those other holidays! Talk with the parents if you’ve been invited to a party so you don’t get a duplicate. You can, many times, plan something that goes with the planned Christmas presents. Also consider gift cards. People with December birthdays tend to end up with large winter wardrobes and sparse spring duds. With a gift card, he or she can pick out a couple of new shirts when the spring stuff arrives.
6. For a spouse or significant other, nothing beats a weekend in a cabin or on the ski slopes as a birthday present. Make sure the landlords know it’s a birthday celebration. A complimentary glass of Champaign and box of chocolates will likely be thrown in. And adults can put a new spin with a different month as well. I had a bash attending a 21-½ birthday party in June two years ago. This young lady had always enjoyed Christmas Eve birthday parties, but mom and dad actually surprised her by celebrating her 22nd birthday early with a pool party. That’s something their climate wouldn’t allow on Dec. 24.