Christmas birthday?
December 22, 2005 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Is your birthday on or near Christmas Day? If so, how do you feel about it?

I'm thinking the 23rd through the 27th, for example. Our baby will be born or induced during this time period and I'm already feeling bad for the little guy. Other than the very obvious tip not to buy one gift and pass it off as being for both Christmas and birthday, do you have any advice?

What do you like and/or dislike about the timing of your birthday? Do you celebrate at a different time of year instead? Did your parents do anything in particular that made your birthday more special, or is there anything you would recommend we NOT do?

One last note, we have always opened presents on Christmas Eve night, so a Christmas birthday would not change that. If our baby is born on Christmas Eve, we'd change our tradition to doing Christmas on the morning of the 25th.
posted by peep to Human Relations (49 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It also sucks because school will usually be out on your birthday, so no special cupcakes or singing 'Happy Birthday' in class. I had a friend in high school who just moved her birthday to May. It was always a great excuse for an end of the year party. Perhaps you could have a small party near Christmas when he is young, but then move it to a less busy part of the year when he gets old enough to understand.
posted by Alison at 9:49 AM on December 22, 2005

I'm the 20th, which though outside your range is close enough to Xmas to be annoying: as a kid, you miss the fun of having your birthday at school, with attendant cupcakes and singing; as an adult it can be hard to get a party together since there are a million holiday parties and everyone's leaving town.

My mom did make my half-birthday a little more of a party when I was little, and that was nice. It was only within the family, but I got a little present and a little cake. Also, we didn't get the tree till the twenty-first.

Beyond that, it just sucks, and there isn't much you can do to mitigate it. Other people's birthdays are a bigger deal because what else is there to celebrate in March, and you are permanently forgotten. And it will never change.
posted by dame at 9:50 AM on December 22, 2005

My birthday isn't that close (Jan 5th). However,

A) I like getting one gift for both. One big gift rather than two little ones is way better.

B) Not having to go to school/work on or near my birthday is fantastic. Even as a kid, it meant we were on vacation/out of the country for my birthday, which made it extra special.

Now my birthday is far enough away from x-mas that even with one gift, it's still a separate celebration. I think the lack of a separate big deal is what would suck about the birthday really close to Christmas, as dame indicated.
posted by duck at 9:53 AM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: My brother's birthday is on the 27th. Two things that I know were important to him:

Birthday Gifts should not ever be wrapped in Christmas Paper.
Chrstimas Leftovers should never be served for Birthday Dinner.

And while he often received big, combined birthday/christmas gifts worth several hundred dollars (entirely new ski set, for example), my Mom always made sure he had something to open for both Christmas and his Birthday.

Now that he works for a company that offers a free day off on your birthday, he enjoys having the extra day of vacation at just the right time.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:54 AM on December 22, 2005

My daughter's is on the 17th, and we just celebrated her 3rd birthday. Every year, so far, it's been a cavalcade of presents (i.e. each weekend we seemingly open presents), so it hasn't seemed to dampen her spirit.

When my wife and I were figuring out when to get married, we had decided on May 31st to increase the gift-giving potential of anniversaries. :)
posted by thanotopsis at 10:03 AM on December 22, 2005

My wife's is the 23rd. And as jacquilynne correctly pointed out NEVER wrap birthday gifts in paper that has any hint of red or green. No red or green cakes or sweets and certainly no holiday oriented ones.

The celebrations should be kept entirely separate. Never have a joint party.

Try to get friends together on the birth date and explain to them the above rules. The birthday person wants to be recognized as someone who is distinct and separate (there's the word again) from that other holiday.
posted by captainscared at 10:07 AM on December 22, 2005

My mom's birthday is on the 28th, and when she was a kid, she (and her twin sister) "traded" their birthday with their dad's, which was June 6. So the family celebrated the twins' birthday on the day that was technically dad's birthday, but as kids it was more important to them to have a celebration distinct from holidays. I think it also was kind of a nice bond with their dad.

As a kid I had a friend whose birthday was Christmas day, and that always seemed kind of cool, even if it meant she ran into the same problem as my mom. But it seemed different to be born "around" christmas so your birthday gets lost in the muddle, vs. being born on christmas, where it seems like you become the star of the biggest family holiday of the year.
posted by mdn at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2005

One of my best friends has his birthday on the 30th. He hates it. We try to throw a party for him in the summer or fall each year and that makes it better for him. This year, due to family events and other necessities, his birthday was celebrated during Halloween weekend. So, we had a pirate themed costume birthday party. It was great fun and worth the effort.

My Mother-in-law's birthday is the 24th. We make a point of getting her a birthday present that has nothing to do with Christmas. I don't know how she feels about it. She doesn't talk about it much. I doubt she ever thought to celebrate it on a different day. To me, it is very sad that her birthday is overlooked by the extended family because that's the day when my Father-in-law's family gathers for a big Chirstmas dinner and gift exchange. They rotate this meal around to the various houses so every few years, she ends up spending her day cooking for everyone else.

As for not having a special thing at school, this is no different than those of us born in the summer. My birthday is in the middle of June and I've never had cupcakes at school.
posted by onhazier at 10:15 AM on December 22, 2005

++ keeping holidays separated
posted by dame at 10:17 AM on December 22, 2005

I'm a Christmas baby, and I'm happy to say I have never felt ripped off. When I was little, my parents always made sure that I got to have a proper birthday party -- usually 2 weeks before the official day -- and always kept the birthday and Christmas presents separate.

Plus, I always got to have cake for dessert with Christmas dinner, which I think is a nice way to keep a portion of the day focused on the birthday-kid.

And in point of fact, I still get to have birthday cake for dessert with Christmas dinner because my mother is a soft touch and is willing to play along with her now 30-year old child's silly demands :-)
posted by melimelo at 10:18 AM on December 22, 2005

But you could have cupcakes at camp.
posted by dame at 10:18 AM on December 22, 2005

Mine is on December 6th. Not that close but close enough to be affected by Christmas. Growing up I sometimes felt cheated "well, you got the small Lego set and your brother got the bigger set because you just got one for your birthday..." and then come March he'd get another set. Stuff like that. Also "there's too much going on what with the Holiday season so we'll have to keep your party small."

I hated it. Even now sometimes my wife will do the same thing, though this past year she made a big deal out of my birthday because she realized nobody ever makes a big deal out of it. It was nice.

So yeah, I don't like having a December birthday. But in the grand sceme of things, as a 36 year old, it's pretty minor, I don't resent anyone and I'm not in therapy because of it.

It mostly sucked because my parents weren't aware of how they dealt with it. Just the fact that you're aware of it means it'll be ok. Just keep the events seperate, including gifts, and if you want to have a party plan it early enough so people aren't already booked.
posted by bondcliff at 10:20 AM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: Wow, you celebrate birthdays in school? That blows me away. I guess this is giving away my life under Jante Law in Europe ;-)

To be honest, I'd rather have my birthday at a time when I can celebrate it properly, rather than (usually) in the middle of the working week during a period of year no-one takes vacations. All the people I've known with birthdays over the Xmas period seem to have quite relished it, though it's less common to spout off about your birthday here. I tend to keep mine secret and for those close to me.
posted by wackybrit at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: My mom's b-day is on the 27th. She never received seperate gifts as a child - so we, her kids, try to make sure to make the day extra special.

I have a son born in Dec. School birthday parties (an acknowledgement by the teacher & principal) are done monthly, so he's never missed out on that. Some parents with children born in Dec. celebrate "half" birthdays - summer time so the kids can have outdoor parties; or an end of school year party so all the kids can be invited without worrying about how busy families are at Christmas time.

I would suggest deciding how your family will celebrate birthdays and just go forward from there - make it the same for everyone in your family and there shouldn't be any problems.
posted by LadyBonita at 10:23 AM on December 22, 2005

My eldest nephew is the 23rd, his mother (my sister) is the 24th, my best friends partner is the 25th.

I loathe their birthdays, but I always:

- Wrap birthday gifts is non-Christmas paper

- Call specifically for them on their birthdays

- Serve birthday cake, if in the area/appropriate

- If combining gifts to make for a "nicer" gift, be sure to give a birthday card.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:26 AM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: My birthday's today!

I actually like having it close to Christmas. Growing up, it just felt even more special to have lots of decorations, sweets, and general goodwill around my birthday time. I liked the fact that I got double the presents in a short span of time, and I was able to have lots of holiday-appropriate birthday parties: ice skating, carolling and cookie decorating, etc. My parents were very aware and careful not to let my birthday get lost in the holiday shuffle, and I think in that sense it was even *more* of a big deal than if it had been in May or June.

Negatives: not having a school celebration (as mentioned above), often getting winter-related illnesses around birthday time, and having lots of friends be out of town when I wanted to have my birthday party.

Overall, though, it's a good deal.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:27 AM on December 22, 2005

My birthday is today and, as someone who has traditionally preferred little to no fanfare regarding the event, I'm almost happy that it's overshadowed by all of the surrounding holidays.

That notwithstanding, happy birthday to everyone at MetaFilter who shares a similar plight!
posted by Danelope at 10:28 AM on December 22, 2005

January babies rule.

I was not born really close to Christmas but here's how I look(ed) at it when I was a wee lad : The Holiday Season ran from Thanksgiving to January 9.
On January 9 it was okay to take the Christmas Tree down because by this point I had opened my final gift of the Holiday Season. I reveled in it.

I still do as a matter of fact ...
posted by Makebusy7 at 10:30 AM on December 22, 2005

Thanks for asking this question, peep. My daughter's first birthday is coming up on the 27th, so this will give us some ideas from here on out. I was thinking the half birthday thing might be good, but the "swap with her Dad" is also a nice idea.

And happy birthday/holidays to Bella Sebastian and Danelope!
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:38 AM on December 22, 2005

In addition to not wrapping the presents in Christmas paper, don't put them under (or even near) the tree. And if you combine gifts, make it for something big (computer, iPod, trip to Aruba, etc)
posted by stefanie at 10:39 AM on December 22, 2005

Heh. duck and I share a birthday. I hate parties and big to-dos, so I'm much happier with one big present anyway. I try to ignore my actual birthday as much as possible.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:40 AM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: My birthday is on the 24th (32 in two days). I tend to put a lot less emphasis on everyone's birthdays as a result I think. I don't care about them that much and I get annoyed when other people make a big fuss about their own birthdays. It's just another day.

It's not a big deal and it's surprisingly common.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:42 AM on December 22, 2005

Doing your homework, peep?
posted by JeffK at 10:44 AM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: My father's birthday is the 26th. I always make it a point to get him a separate birthday present. We usually spend Christmas evening at his house, but I also make a point to keep his birthday free and call him in the morning to see what he wants to do to celebrate. Usually he's so tired from Christmas that it's almost invariably low-key, but I know he appreciates my flexibility and having me around. When I was grownig up, I felt really bad for him because he spent his birthday cleaning. My mom is a shopaholic, and I can't remember a single birthday of his when they were married that she actual spent with him instead of at the mall.

My birthday is usually on or around Thanksgiving. It was on Thanksgiving this year, when I turned 21. I've been vegetarian since I was 12, and for a long time Thanksgiving was my most hated day of the year. I'd be dragged kicking and screaming to a big family dinner on/around my birthday, and not a single family member remembered it was my birthday. No presents, no cake, not even a card from any of my many aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. I'm sure I resented it even more when my little sister got her birthday card each year in May with gifts and money.

Which brings up my other point: if you do holiday celebrations with extended family and friends remind them beforehand of your kid's birthday. That way they don't forget and your kid won't be sad at having their birthday forgotten.
posted by booknerd at 10:44 AM on December 22, 2005

I think if family and friends make the effort to specially celebrate the birthday, it'll be fine. My mother's is Dec 20, and she says she hated it, but she had an extremely deprived childhood anyway (horrible parents, no plumbing or electricity, malnutrition).

By contrast, there are MANY December and very early Janaury birthdays in my family (my mother, one of my sisters-in-law, my sister, one brother, and three nieces) and none of them have ever seemed to mind. (Though I mind that my Christmas shopping is pretty much doubled.)One little niece has a December 5th birthday, and between the early, date specific, and belated birthday and Christmas gifts, it's a continuous stream of presents all month. By about Dec 27, she wakes up in the morning and asks, "Do I get presents today?"
posted by orange swan at 10:46 AM on December 22, 2005

Mine is on Christmas day but it only matters once or twice every four years (my family celebrates Hanukkah). I will say that it is nice to never be at work on a birthday, and that it's better to celebrate it a week before (rather than a week after). I usually take advantage of the situation and go skiing... almost no one is on the slopes!

It is slighly lame that everyone always remembers your birthday... I am awful at remembering theirs.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 10:46 AM on December 22, 2005

My birthday is on the 24th (32 in two days). I tend to put a lot less emphasis on everyone's birthdays as a result I think. I don't care about them that much and I get annoyed when other people make a big fuss about their own birthdays. It's just another day.
                  Mayor Curley

Get out of my brain! I was just mentally composing the exact same paragraph as I scrolled down...

One addition: the leverage of a Dec 24th birthday allows you to ward off overly christmasy family members thusly: "Hey! It's still my birthday, dammit!"
posted by Aquaman at 10:54 AM on December 22, 2005

Oh, another hint: don't bitch about how hard it is for you that someone's birthday is right before Christmas. Or how much you hate December. We can't help when we were born.

Or, you could hope your kis is just the "I don't care about borthdays" type. I think the more you care, the more pissed off you are.
posted by dame at 11:02 AM on December 22, 2005

Response by poster: JeffK writes "Doing your homework, peep?"

No, actually, I didn't catch that thread. My doctor scheduled my induction today, which is what prompted my question. Thanks to everyone for answers so far; every one of them is helpful. And happy birthday, everybody!
posted by peep at 11:06 AM on December 22, 2005

My dad's birthday is January 27th. You'd think far enough away to not be affected but we've fallen into the habit of giving "fun" presents on Christmas when all the kids would be playing with their new toys too, and "practical" gifts on his birthday since it's only a month after (we're talking socks and new work shirts).

I don't know if he had this growing up, or only since he became an adult and doesn't make a big deal out of his birthday, but that would be AWFUL as a kid. So while I agree that you should designate "Birthday present" and "Christmas present" please don't give any themes beyond that.
posted by nelleish at 11:06 AM on December 22, 2005

My birthday was yesterday (Dec 21), and I just turned 26. I've never really had a problem with my birthday and Hannukah (I was raised Jewish) being close together until I started budgeting my own money. I like asking for things that I want, but that I'd never really purchase for myself. But since both of my gift-receiving holidays are at the start of the winter, I don't usually ask for the summer-related gifts that I would otherwise. I've wanted a new hiking pack for three years now, and when it comes around to people asking me what I want, I think "Man, I won't be able to use that for months."

I've been considering celebrating my half-birthday instead of my birthday. I'd get too many questions and dirty looks, though, so I haven't really decided, yet.
posted by Plutor at 11:17 AM on December 22, 2005

My mum's is the 25th. I think she's over it now, but I don't know how she felt about it as a child. When I was a kid I always bought her separate presents; these days I either buy two or one at double the cost, as the mood takes me.

As an August birthday myself, I was always very grateful I didn't have to spend it in school.
posted by Leon at 11:34 AM on December 22, 2005

My birthday is April 15. That sucks way worse than any negative effects as a result of the Christmas season. Try asking for a bike when Dad just filed his tax return...
posted by Heminator at 11:59 AM on December 22, 2005

27th. Sucks for a bunch of reasons... the gift side, which is pretty well-covered, but also the family entanglements side. Like, it's tough for me to do anything cool for my birthday because there's usually some sort of holiday travel going on right around then. This birthday will be spent driving across the state of Wisconsin. Whee!
posted by COBRA! at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2005

Mine's close to Xmas, and as a kid I was delighted as all the cool new toys would be in the shops in time for me to choose them for my birthday.
posted by punilux at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: Christmas exactly. I haven't yet been able to spend my birthday with friends, because they're all home with family. When I turned 21, my parents put a bottle of wine with a ribbon around it under the tree. The next time I got home from college, it had already been drunk.

For my birthday I have been known to receive holiday-themed sweaters (living in Florida), Christmassy costume jewelry, Christmas cards with "P.S. Happy birthday!" inside, and Christmas tree ornaments. This doesn't happen so often anymore, but most birthday presents will still come in red-and-green wrapping. And my sister cashed out big on the arrangement because people would feel sorry and get two presents for her as well. Do not do this to your kid.
posted by casarkos at 12:33 PM on December 22, 2005

It all seems a bit self-centered now, but when you're a kid and everyone's having birthday parties left and right all year round while your own is guaranteed to flop from lack of attendance, it really is a big deal. And even if the celebration is moved to another day you're still very aware that it's just a substitute.
posted by casarkos at 1:12 PM on December 22, 2005

I'm a 23rd baby here. Sometimes it was ok to have them combined and my moms could get me something that was a bit out of the normal range if I really needed it by combining both.
Sometimes it sucks bad. I'm 26 Tommorow and I have NEVER celebrated my birthday on my birthday, its allways been 2-3 week early or just tagged onto whatever christmas celebration we were having. The past two years the last day of work before shutdown at my factory has been the 23rd and I was on second shift so that means I got to do nothing besides work. This year I am on third, so I will technically have Friday night off, but I have to work a 12 hour shift tonight. blah. But my wife found someone to watch the kids tommorow night so I think its sushi and Kong for a couple friends and I..

A funny story about being a christmas baby. The first.. ohhh. 6 years of my life or so I thought everyone was decorating their houses for my birthday.. Nice ego boost as a kid..
posted by JonnyRotten at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2005

My 2 year old daughter's birthday is the 18th. Would you believe a tiny reason why we induced a week early was because of not having her on christmas??? (It was also a medical reason.)

Try giving her birthday party a couple weeks earlier. And as everyone said, never the twain shall meet.
posted by aacheson at 2:21 PM on December 22, 2005

A funny story about being a christmas baby. The first.. ohhh. 6 years of my life or so I thought everyone was decorating their houses for my birthday.. Nice ego boost as a kid

my sister was born on July 4 (in the US) and had the same understanding of fireworks for some time...

re: school cupcakes, my birthday is september and so I had the doubly unsatisfying scenario of being in school, but often not really yet knowing anyone / things not being organized enough yet for school parties. So there are plenty of ways a kid's birthday can be disappointing...

basically, as a parent you just have to put the effort into preparing & arranging things so it feels special but not stressful (when I was at a new school I did not enjoy my birthday, being shy to start with, but then forced to invite strangers to my birthday or not to have a birthday - )
posted by mdn at 3:12 PM on December 22, 2005

Best answer: I'm on the 23rd. I've always resented the "why don't we celebrate your birthday on [insert more convenient date]"

Yeah, well, I don't want a party some random time in December, I want to celebrate my Birth. Day. Specifically, to celebrate with the people who make my post-birth days good.

(In writing, maybe this sounds all me me me, but no-one felt it selfish when the kids born during non-holiday times wanted their birthday to be a big deal.)

As I got older, the curse turned into a bit of a blessing -- I celebrate with the couple of people to whom I'm closest. Now I like the fact that I don't have to have some silly obligatory "event" to plan.

++++separate celebrations, wrapping paper, cake.
posted by desuetude at 3:26 PM on December 22, 2005

My birthday was yesterday. Prior to this year, I've basically never really bothered celebrating because:

a. All my friends are too busy partied-out from Xmas preparation and Xmas parties to go to yet another bloody party.

b. Most cards I'd get would say Merry Christmas and PS: Happy Birthday

c. At work, since everyone is rushing to meet Christmas deadlines, nobody takes the time out to sign a card or anything.

But this year, my fiancee essentially kicked me out of my head and made me celebrate it. Even then, we had to move heaven and earth (and possibly Mars too) to make enough room in our schedule to make it happen.

Upshot: If the whole birthday issue is important to you, (and assuming there are no other biological reasons) I'd induce your child after Christmas. Aside from anything else, you can take advantage of the New Year sales for gift purposes!
posted by badlydubbedboy at 3:44 PM on December 22, 2005

My birthday is on the 15th. My mum always made sure to keep Christmas seperate. No holiday decorations were put up until after my birthday. When I was older I was given the option of one bigger gift or several smaller gifts (depending on finances, what I wanted, etc.). I was also "allowed" to relax the no decorations rule and as a result Christmas decorations started going up before my birthday.

Also - I was due the 22nd. Mum was going to be induced on the 15th so she could get stuff done for Christmas. As it turns out it wasn't necessary. Even so, having my birth considered "inconvenient" has always irked me a bit.

As it happens, the mister's birthday is the 12th and our anniversaries are the 2nd (wedding) and the 18th (meeting day).
posted by deborah at 4:00 PM on December 22, 2005

For some reason many of my closest friends are born around these days. So from I was very young I was taught to give different gifts (not different parts of one gift!) at both birthday and Christmas. Birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper was reason for ill feeling for weeks! Different food is important too, and an easy (?) way to mark it as not-Christmas. A respite from the usual heavy Christmas food is also welcome.

Just don't call the baby Jesus just because he's born on Christmas eve, my friend no-longer-called-Jesus can tell you all about how horrible that is.
posted by mummimamma at 4:06 PM on December 22, 2005

I'm the 24th & it's no problem. The only real bummer is that you can't do the big group birthdays when you're in the 5th grade. (It's doubtful I had that many friends anyway.) I don't really think birthdays are a huge deal but I always received birthday gifts from my Mom & Dad & generally birthday cake or something. The cake has sort of gone by the wayside for a lot of reasons. I'm older now & I probably don't need cake in addition to all of the other seasonal goodies.

Funny thing is: when I was in college I started having (small) birthday parties. Most of my friends would be back in town for the holidays so it was convenient for us to catch up then. I guess now it would be more fun to not be out of town and instead have some sort of party with friends. But who needs a reason for a party?
posted by Wood at 4:25 PM on December 22, 2005

Aside from anything else, you can take advantage of the New Year sales for gift purposes!

Just don't tell them that. My birthday is after Christmas, and every year at least one relative would say "I got you a really nice gift because it was so cheap because of the after Christmas sale!" If someone told me that now, I wouldn't think twice. But as a kid, it really bothered me. So much so that I took to telling people my birthday was in July.

And congratulations on the newest member of your family, whichever day he arrives!
posted by luneray at 4:30 PM on December 22, 2005

I don't do holidays. Or birthdays. Life is so much simpler that way.
posted by yesster at 5:30 PM on December 22, 2005

Ah, well. December 25th baby here, born a bit early and just before midnight. My mom thought I was too much Christmas dinner and almost didn't make it to the hospital in time.

Ah, well. December 25th baby here, born a bit early and just before midnight. My mom thought I was too much Christmas dinner and almost didn't make it to the hospital in time.
I don't have strong feelings about having lost out on the parties or feeling special as a child. I once was presented with a birthday pizza party at Papa Ginos (they let the birthday girl toss the pizza dough and build a pizza themselves!!!!!) at the 6 month mark instead when I was in elementary school, but all the explaining why was met with suspicion from my school mates and all I ended up with were figurines and birthstones from April and the uneasy sense I was a cheater.

Birthdays for me are always associated with sitting around a table listening to relatives I barely know describing upper GI and gall bladder operations in excruciating detail. Made me what I am today.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:28 PM on December 22, 2005

Response by poster: Tons of great info, thanks everyone. Some of these things I would never do . . . PS Happy Birthday? Christmas wrapping paper? Yikes! But of course, grandmas, aunts & uncles, friends, you just can't control what they will do. I will keep all these tips in mind.

We are not big birthday party people, so I don't think we'll have problems with that. Mayor Curley's comment rang particularly true with me. My parents had a very healthy "we love you very much, but you're not the center of the universe" attitude with my brother and I, and we each had one big birthday party (meaning other than immediate family) during our entire childhoods. As a result, I think kids who get parties every year are a bit spoiled and can never imagine indulging my children to that extent.

We'll definitely wait until he's old enough to tell us whether he'd prefer family celebrations on a day other than his actual birthday. Until then, we'll respect his actual birth day. Thanks again!
posted by peep at 10:04 PM on December 22, 2005

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