Christmas Birthdays Don’t Have to Suck
By Chantal Saville
Photo © fit-ographer/Twenty20
Dec 21, 2018
My dearest daughter was born two weeks early on December 23rd. She was supposed to be a January baby, avoiding the holiday baby issues that a friend of mine shared when I announced my due date.
“Just hope she’s not early,” Janice had said, a December 25 baby herself. “She’ll hate sharing her birthday with all the holiday hooplah.”
Turns out, at least up until now, Janice was wrong.
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My daughter Nikki revels in being a holiday baby. She gets to have her birthday party a month early in late November, to make sure that all her friends can attend, spreading out the fun. She gets a three-day smorgasbord of gifts and special outings: birthday, Christmas Eve (we have a Christmas Eve box tradition in our family) and Christmas Day.
In contrast, Nikki’s best friend, who is a summer baby, complains that no one is around to celebrate with her in August. Another friend, whose birthday is in October, complains that she has to go to school on almost every one of her special days. Nikki? She’s usually on vacation by the time her birthday rolls around every year, with the school holidays more or less starting around her big day.
Dealing with her holiday birthday wasn’t always tinsel and light.
And this year, she discovered that if she agrees to combine birthday and Christmas gifts, she can get something bigger! (It’s a video game console, for the record, but nobody tell her that Santa is coming through on her wish!)
Dealing with her holiday birthday wasn’t always tinsel and light. During Nikki’s early years, in an effort to avoid her hating being a holiday baby, I started out on the wrong foot. I overcompensated by not allowing the tree or any holiday decorations to go up before Christmas eve. There wasn’t a spot of eggnog or a scrap of tinsel to be found in our house and Christmas movies were verboten. I even went so far as to re-wrap anything that arrived for her from family, as it almost always arrived swathed in red and green Christmas paper. I was militant about keeping birthday and Christmas separate.
Not surprisingly, my endeavours didn’t last past age five: Mommy was getting too cranky every year, trying to keep Christmas under wraps right up until the zero hour! Ask any holiday baby and they’ll tell you there are good and bad aspects about being born during the festive season. And even though there may be cons, that doesn't mean it can't be done well, on budget and lots of fun.
- Gifts only appear once a year. If you’re a lover of wrapped boxes, bows and labels, getting to indulge in them only once during the year is a little less exciting. And yes, some of those gifts will be wrapped in Christmas paper, but that’s a small thing.
- In bigger families, a holiday birthday can fall by the wayside, with everyone wrapped up in the holiday festivities.
- It’s a lot of expenses, all at once, at a time of year when most of us are already stretched a little thin.
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- Being on vacation for every birthday, instead of at work or school. Who hasn’t wanted to play hooky on their birthday at some point? Holiday babies never have to worry about that! Instead of a crappy cupcake at work, or slogging through math class, the holiday baby is enjoying their time off. Nikki is an epic sleeper who discovered the art of sleeping in at age five, so for her, not having to get up and go to school on her birthday is an extra perk!
- Family who might not be on hand for the birthday will probably be around for the holidays, so it’s an extra special event for the birthday boy or girl.
- There is a lot of relaxing and enjoying festivities and fun going on already; you need only enjoy it!
Things to Consider to Make December Birthdays Great
- Plan parties with friends for November or January — I do Nikki’s party a full month earlier, at the end of November, and it works out beautifully! A lot of people are available and not quite into the hectic pace of the holiday season yet. A party in January works for my friend Janice: people are feeling flat after the end of the holiday period, and a fun get-together perks them up.
- Make the birthday less about presents and more about an experience — as soon as she was old enough, I started taking Nikki on an outing for her birthday gift, rather than lavishing her with boxes of stuff that she didn’t need. We’ve done Disney on Ice, The Nutcracker, the opening of the new Star Wars movie. As for this year? Well, it’s a surprise.
- Start putting aside funds or buying gifts earlier — the key to not feeling the financial crunch of a holiday birthday is to spread out the pain. If their birthday was in July, you wouldn’t be in quite the same pinch, right? So buy some of their presents earlier, or set aside some funds for them.