Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Let your child know how special this date is
Only one in 1,461 people are born on Leap Day (February 29), with about 200,000 across the country and 4 million worldwide. So the mere act of being born on this day is exceptional, and you want your child -- and possibly everyone else -- to know it. "A birthday lawn sign or an ad in the local paper honoring your child's unique day is a fun shout-it-out-to-the-world way to pay special attention," says event planner Leesa Zelken, CEO of Send in the Clowns in Los Angeles (www.sendintheclownsla.com).
You can also put the spotlight on your Leap Day little one by making her a special button, T-shirt, or cap to wear on the day. This way, everywhere she goes people will be sure to stop to wish her a happy birthday!
Get inspired by "leap"!
Playing off the word "leap" to come up with your child's birthday party theme is a fun way to celebrate the date, Zelken says. Some of her ideas include:
LEAPs of fun with a gymnastics party at a local gym. Make sure to reference Leap Day on the invite with something cute like "Our (birthday boy/girl) is turning 4 by 'leaps' and bounds! Be sure to hop, skip, and leap on over to our special celebration."
A sLEAPover party, with fun games and activities honoring the day.
LEAPin' Lizards or LEAPfrog Party, with plenty of green décor, food, crafts/games, a frog or lizard piñata, and sack races (with dyed green pillowcases). You can also invite a local exotic animal show company to entertain (be sure they provide said creatures), or have the party at the local zoo.
Showcase the red, white, and blue
Because February 29 rolls around only every four years, you can tie it in with another special event that happens in that time interval, the Olympics, and use it to incorporate a red, white, and blue party theme, Zelken says. You can include relay races, hand out medals to all of your guests, and have a cake decorated like the American flag.
That patriotic color scheme would also work with a Superman/Supergirl party. Clark Kent (aka Superman) celebrates his birthday on February 29, so you can use that bit of info to host a superhero party for your boy or girl. In fact, this is a great chance to combine your child's birthday festivities with a costume party, having guests (even the adults) come dressed up as their favorite hero. Just be sure your son or daughter is the only Man of Steel or Supergirl in attendance.
Lucky number 29!
This theme works especially well if your child is into sports, as you can put his name and the number 29 on a jersey to showcase this special birthdate, says event planner Lynn Jawitz, owner of Florisan in New York City (www.FlorisanLLC.com). You can organize some games in your backyard or neighborhood park, or bring your child and some pals to a local sporting event.
Don't be afraid to take the theme to extreme, incorporating 29 into all elements of the day's festivities. "You can make sure you have 29 cupcakes, 29 balloons, and 29 gifts to open (small items and gag gifts are perfectly acceptable so you're not breaking the bank)," Jawitz says. "The possibilities are endless."
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Get others in on the celebration
If your child is young, chances are his schoolmates might not know or understand what Leap Day is all about. Ask your child's teacher to partner with you to honor the day at school with a treat, fun facts about the day, or a cool craft, Zelken suggests. You or the teacher can read a book about the day to the class, such as It's My Birthday...Finally! by Michelle Whitaker-Winfrey ($9.56; amazon.com), Mommy, Where's My Birthday? by Lakisha Cornell ($9.99; amazon.com), and Leap's Day by Stephanie Bee Simmons.
And during "off" years, don't be shy about reminding family and friends about your child's upcoming birthday. If the actual date isn't on the calendar, it can easily slip someone's mind.
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Take the day off
This special date doesn't come around very often, so why not make the most of it? Take the day off from work and let the birthday boy/girl play hooky from school. Go to the movies, the zoo, the beach -- wherever happens to be your child's favorite place at the moment. You can even make a Leap Day scrapbook, filled with photos, ticket stubs, and other items from your special day together.
If you happen to live in the area, take a drive to Anthony, New Mexico or Anthony, Texas. Both consider themselves to be the Leap Year Capital of the World and cohost a Leap Year Festival every four years, where Leap Day babies young and old are invited to celebrate their special day together. You can find more info about the festival at www.anthonychamberofcommerce.com
Celebrate twice on "off" years
During the years Leap Day doesn't occur, you can celebrate on February 28 and March 1; just to make up for "lost" time, Zelken says. If that isn't doable (maybe another family member's birthday falls on or near one of those dates), then choose one of them and be sure to celebrate on that same day every off year. This way, there is some consistency for your child when it comes to his birthday. According to an online poll, 47 percent of parents celebrate their child's Leap Day birthday on February 28.
Another idea is to have the birthday boy/girl choose which day to celebrate by putting and choosing month names from one hat and days of the month from another hat!
Sure, adults born on Leap Day might get a kick out of jokes about being four years younger, but kids might not get the humor in it. "Kids like to feel special, not singled out or different, so be sure not to tease or taunt them about being one when they are four, and so on (unless it's their idea!)," Zelken says. And make sure siblings and friends don't get in on the act either.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.