There's no shortage of parties during the holiday season, so it can be easy for your child's birthday celebration to get lost in the flurry of invites. That's why many parents choose to commemorate the "half-mark" of their child's birthday. "We have a small family celebration on each of my daughters' actual birthdays with just us and their grandparents, then have the big party in May," says Alana Purple, a mom from Cleveland, who has two daughters with late-December birthdays. "My daughters love the outdoors, so we want to have their parties outside -- and I can't imagine having a bunch of toddlers running around my house in the middle of winter!"
Christy Cook's son has a December 30 birthday, so they throw a party for him in June. "This way, he can receive outdoor toys and activities rather than only winter gear," says the mom from Toronto.
If you'd like to celebrate on or near your child's actual birthday, plan in advance. Holidays usually coincide with vacations, so you want to make sure people will be around for the party. Before booking the date, send out a quick email to friends and family to find out if they'll be in town. If not, consider moving the party to a few days before or after the real birthdate. "My daughter was born the day after Thanksgiving, so she is inevitably not in school on her birthday," says Heidi Waterfield of San Francisco. "We celebrate her birthday before and after the actual day. That way, she ends up getting a family celebration on her birthday, a party with extended family before the day, and one with her friends after. All in all, she ends up getting more celebrations than the average person -- and she loves it!"
It might be tempting to have a snowman theme for your child's party -- after all, there's plenty of winter wonderland d?cor to choose from in the stores. But it's important to keep the party theme centered on what your child likes. In fact, it might be even more exciting to go with something completely opposite of the season. For example, an "Under the Sea" theme if your daughter loves the beach, or a baseball theme if that's your son's favorite pastime.
"My son's birthday is January 4, so we make sure his birthday has nothing Christmas-y to it," says Michelle Johnson of Singapore. "We celebrate as we do with the other kids: what kind of cake does he want and what kind of birthday meal would he like to have served. We don't let the holiday dictate what his birthday will be like."
People get a lot of mail during the holidays, so be sure the birthday party invite doesn't get lost in the pile. Choose a bright hue for the envelope (no red, green, or blue), and, if possible, create an invite in an odd shape that will stand out, such as a beach ball for that "Under the Sea" bash or a baseball glove or bat for a sports-themed celebration. And if you can, think about hand-delivering them to your guests so you don't have to worry about the invites going astray or being delayed with the holiday mail. Not doable? You can send invites by email. Sites like evite.com allow you to design your own invites, track RSVPs and even send out party reminders as the big day gets closer.
Waterfield has one rule for her daughter's post-Thanksgiving birthday: no turkey leftovers! "She chooses what she wants to eat for her birthday dinner -- even if it means I have to make another homemade meal from scratch!"
If the birthday lands on the actual holiday, make your birthday boy a special breakfast that morning to make up for the fact that he's forced to have turkey (or any other holiday-style fare) for his birthday dinner. And of course, always have a birthday cake on hand -- no pumpkin pie with a candle stuck in it.
Sure, it's easy for family and friends to give a "two-for-one" gift to your child, but it can leave the birthday boy or girl feeling a bit slighted. Spread the word to everyone that you'd like them to give your child two separate gifts -- one for the birthday and one for the holiday. "We encourage our girls to make both birthday and Christmas wish lists," says Tori Tait, a mom from Murrieta, CA with two late-December daughters. "And when it comes to wrapping, birthday paper is a must -- no holiday prints allowed!"
Skip putting any birthday gifts under the tree. And if your child's birthday happens to fall directly on a gift-giving holiday, carve out some special time when only she will be opening presents. Don't have him do it when everyone else is ripping open their boxes.
"Because our home and yard are typically decorated for Christmas by the time their birthdays come, we carve out a 'birthday' space to decorate just for them," says Tait. "One girl might wake up to her bedroom decorated with birthday banners, and the other might walk into the bathroom to find balloons and the mirror covered in 'Happy Birthday' messages."
Johnson makes sure her family's tree is down by the Saturday after Christmas so they can decorate for her son's birthday. "Prior to that, most of our attention is focused on Christmas, so we wrap it up quickly."
It's the one day a year that it can really be all about them, so be sure to make your birthday boy or girl stands out on his or her special day. "The day of their birthday -- even though it is just days before Christmas -- is always just about their birthday," Tait says. "No holiday shopping, no holiday baking -- just plain old birthday fun!"
Katrina Parris Pinn, a mom from New York City, really went all out when her son's birthday fell on Thanksgiving last year. "He wanted pizza for dinner, rather than turkey! So, instead of celebrating Thanksgiving, we celebrated Giving-Luke," she says. "For one day it was all about what you were "giving" Luke on his special day. We really made the day all about him -- breakfast and lunch was his choice, and, for dinner, we all took part in a family feast (of course to celebrate him!). With some creativity and imagination, we were able to really put the focus on him. Luke had the best day ever, and we were thrilled that we could have both turkey and pizza for dinner to celebrate our son's birthday!"