How to Make December Birthdays Feel Special

I used to feel quite smug about Christmas. My European parents celebrate Christmas Eve. My husband’s Australian family are all about Christmas day. There were never any arguments about where to spend Christmas. No ferrying ourselves between houses and fighting over the designated driver. Then my eldest son was born. On Christmas Eve. Now it’s all about ensuring our son’s birthday isn’t dwarfed by Christmas celebrations.


My son arrived about five weeks early. I awoke that morning with a feeling I dismissed as late pregnancy twinges. Mostly because I could not comprehend my baby being born on Christmas Eve. In a few hours those twinges intensified into contractions. By mid-afternoon we told my parents we wouldn’t be around for Christmas dinner and that they were about to become grandparents.

While I consider my son an excellent Christmas present I am not sure is quite so enamoured with his Christmassy birthday. It’s a tough day to be born. I have a good friend who is also born on Christmas Eve. Early on in our friendship, she took me aside and told me the December birthday rules.

They are:

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, wrap a birthday present in Christmas paper.
  2. Do not combine birthday and Christmas presents into one “big” present.
  3. Do not try to pass off the Christmas cake as a birthday cake. 
  4. Do not use a Christmas card for a birthday card.
  5. Do not skimp on the present because it’s an expensive time of year and the birthday boy/girl will get lots of other presents anyway.     
  6. Do make a fuss of the birthday boy/girl. They can feel like everyone else has better things to do than celebrate their birthday. 
  7. Do sing happy birthday, have a cake and do all the other things you’d normally do for a birthday. Just make time for it.

We have added a few traditions of our own:

  1. Christmas Eve is about my eldest son. We do something fun together as a family – maybe a trip to the zoo or a day trip to the beach. We try to avoid doing Christmassy things, unless he specifically requests it. We celebrate St Nicholas on the 5th December with my very understanding parents.
  2. He has a party with his friends either before school ends or early in the new school term.
  3. I take a birthday treat into school during the last week of term.
  4. We make a little display out of his birthday cards, quite separate from the Christmas cards.
  5. He gets a (small) present of his choosing in the middle of the year. It’s a long time between presents for him and then an avalanche arrives at the end of the year.
  6. My friends and family are pretty great at making my son feel special on his birthday. They always remember to ring and sing him happy birthday. This makes such a difference.

Having a birthday around Christmas time can be tricky – particularly for children – but there are some perks. He is always guaranteed splendidly warm weather. Everyone around him is in a happy, holiday mood. He doesn’t have to go to school. But the biggest perk of all is that we all have time off to spend together as a family.

Do you have a Christmas birthday in your family? How do you make the birthday boy or girl feel special?

More ways to make Christmas or birthdays special:

Image: Getty