By Karen Hendricks
I had a dream—you know, the vivid, completely real kind, that give you pause when you wake up (was that real?)—and in my dream, I had a daughter born on Christmas Day. At the time, about 14 years ago, I didn’t even know that I was pregnant with our second child. But lo and behold, my dream almost came true! My daughter Kelly was due on December 18 and arrived a bit later, on December 30. What a beautiful, blessed, magical time of year to bring a child into the world. But what a stressful, hectic, over-scheduled time of year to celebrate a child’s birthday. After a few years of experience, I’m happy to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way… and I would love to hear your experiences and tips as well!
Having a child with a December birthday is both a blessing and a curse. The challenge is to focus on the many positive benefits of having a December birthday:
- With holiday get-togethers occurring throughout the season, your child is probably able to see more friends and family around the time of his/her birthday.
- There’s a festive electricity running through the month of December—what a fun current to have running through your birthday celebrations.
- In terms of shopping for your birthday child, you can enjoy some of the best sales, prices and shopping of the year!
Having a December birthday can easily get lost in the holiday shuffle. So here are some pitfalls to avoid:
- If you’re planning a party, send the invitations out as early as possible. I know this sounds easy-said-than-done, but try your hardest to make your child’s birthday party a priority before the hectic holiday scheduling hits. If the party will be held in December, save the date in November and begin planning then, or even earlier.
- Prepare your child so that he/she knows there’s a good possibility some friends won’t be able to make the party due to holiday conflicts.
- Or, delay the party until schedules slow down in January. The date would surely stand out as a bright spot once calendars are turned to the new year.
- If you’re making birthday treats for your child’s classroom, sports team, etc: Make them truly birthday-themed; not holiday-themed. Go with your child’s personality, his/her favorite colors and flavors in making birthday treats so they stand out distinctly from holiday goodies.
- Likewise, when wrapping birthday gifts, use birthday paper even if the Christmas paper is handy.
- Regarding gifts: Receiving birthday gifts on top of Christmas gifts sometimes equals “gift overload.” Often, what we’ve found works best for Kelly’s birthday are trips, experiences or tickets to special events. Rather than giving her “things” for her birthday, we try to focus on spending special time together on her birthday or thereabouts, doing things that she enjoys. One year it was very mild on her birthday so we visited the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and it was a lot more enjoyable than during the crowded summer season. I think “making memories” and spending time together is even more valuable than material gifts.
The holiday season is a time of giving… so consider a birthday party that gives back. One of Kelly’s most memorable birthdays was her 9th. She’s always had a love of animals, and our family was collecting items to donate to our local SPCA for Christmas. Those ideas merged with a birthday party we were planning for the end of December. We hit upon the idea of doing cat-themed face-painting as each girl arrived and then snapping photos of them. Rather than bringing presents, Kelly asked each friend, via the invitations, to please bring donations for the SPCA and she listed some of the items requested. We also found unfinished wood picture frames in cat shapes at a craft store, which we could have the girls paint for an activity. And we supplied cupcakes with lots of goodies that the girls could use to decorate in cat or dog themes. While the girls decorated and munched on their cupcakes, I downloaded and printed their photos. My husband helped me insert them into their painted photo frames, dry and ready to take home. What a fun party!
The icing on the cake (so to speak) came a few days later when we packed all of the donations up and delivered them to the SPCA. Kelly was so excited to see the results of her party. As her mom, I was so proud when the staff complimented her on her thoughtfulness. They asked permission to feature a story about Kelly on their website, and that led to a local newspaper writing a feature story on her as well! Many people commented that they were inspired 1) to know that not all young people are self-centered and 2) to consider hosting similar parties to benefit others.
How do you make December birthdays meaningful, especially for children? Please comment and share your ideas!