m Christmas and birthdays are exciting times for children. But what if they happen at the same time? If you know a child with a birthday at Christmas you are probably aware of how annoying it can be for them, having to share their special event with the other festivities.
It can be hard to differentiate between the two events, particularly if the birthday is on Christmas Day itself, but experts say it’s crucial that parents do.
They say you shouldn’t combine Christmas and the birthday – they must be treated separately. This is especially the case if children have a sibling, because otherwise they will feel they get half the presents and celebrations their brother or sister get to enjoy.
How to make a birthday at Christmas special
1. Keep celebrations separate
It’s important to keep any celebrations separate, particularly if your child’s birthday is on Christmas Day itself. If they’re having a party, hold it the week before or after Christmas Day. Maybe theme the party around something they’re passionate about to really highlight the difference.
Contact the parents of children invited to the birthday party well in advance to find out dates their children would be able to attend. It can be risky to pick a date too close to Christmas as many parents will have family plans. There’s nothing wrong with picking a date a couple of weeks in advance, and it’s often better to do it before their birthday rather than afterwards.
2. Have birthday decorations
If your child’s birthday falls just before Christmas, try to ensure no Christmas decorations are up in the room where you celebrate their birthday, so the themes don’t cross over. Make sure you place birthday decorations where you can for their big day, and make them feel like it’s their special day.
3. Turn the Christmas tree into a ‘birthday tree’
If you have got the Christmas decorations up, turn the tree into a birthday extravaganza tree for the day with balloons and ribbons. Leave the Santas and snowmen off for now.
4. Give separate presents
Having separate presents for birthday and Christmas is an important signal to your child that they aren’t missing out compared with their siblings or friends.
There may be a birthday present which requires another part which is given on Christmas Day. This can cause frustration, so split the gifts carefully and make sure they’re completely separate in nature.
5. Have half the day as a birthday
One way of dealing with a birthday on Christmas Day itself is to do ‘half days’. Treat the morning like Christmas, with stockings and all that. Then do the birthday in the afternoon. This helps to separate them slightly. You can also ensure they feel like it’s their birthday rather than just Christmas by having birthday games set up, and you might want to ditch the Christmas-themed movie and opt for a great family film they love instead.
6. Don’t wrap birthday presents in festive paper
Don’t be tempted to wrap any birthday gifts in all the Christmas paper you’ll have lying around. It’s OK for the paper to be Christmas-coloured, e.g. red or green, but don’t use Christmas-patterned paper to make sure they know their gift is special and just for their day.
7. Make sure family and friends follow your lead
Tell your family and friends how you’re trying to keep your child’s birthday separate from Christmas, and lay down some rules. Ask them that there are no combined birthday/Christmas presents from family and friends, no Christmas wrapping, and only birthday-specific cards from them.
8. Look for the positives
Try to come up with some positives of a birthday at Christmas together. Things like they’ll never have to go to school or work on their big day, they’ll get to see extended family members, and people will make an extra effort to wish them a happy birthday.
It’s important to help them feel as special as they would with a birthday at any other time, and see beyond any of the potential downsides.