During the holiday season, kids born on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s run the risk of having their birthdays hijacked. There’s no arguing that holiday babies have it rough when it comes to a day that should be all about them. These children are forced to deal with fewer presents and friends at their parties, while their parents and relatives drunkenly argue over politics. It’s hardly the Pokemon-themed celebration they had in mind.
“You don’t want you child to feel left out from their birthdays compared to other children,” Alison Mitzner, a New York-based pediatrician and mother of two. She understands this fact deeply, considering her kids have birthdays on Thanksgiving and New Years. “They may feel like they’re missing out and that it’s not fair.“
But Mitzner stresses there are plenty of ways parents can remedy potentially overshadowed birthdays without altering their birth certificates. Making the day special might take some effort and a little creativity with the calendar, but there are several ways to make a holiday kid feel awesome about being born.
Reschedule Their Birthday Celebration
Making a point to set aside a day either before or after your kid’s actual birthday helps them get the special attention without the conflict. Of course, kids are smart and know it’s not their real birthday, which is why families should still absolutely acknowledge the actual day as well with some simple gesture. That said, having an additional day designated for them will remind them that, much like their peers who do not have holiday birthdays, they don’t have to share it with a turkey.
Or, Reschedule the Holiday
In this rare instance, canceling Christmas is good news for a kid. Parents can opt to reschedule whatever holiday happens to be in conflict with a birthday. While this isn’t as common and might be a tough sell with grandparents, rescheduling a holiday is an effective option. Mitzner has yet to reschedule Thanksgiving for her kids but would consider doing that when her children are older. As long as children get to experience both events autonomously, families can ultimately do what works best for them. Grandma will get over it, and may even end up enjoying New Years in February.
Wrapping Paper Matters
The paper will wind up in tatters either way, but it is important to wrap birthday presents in birthday-specific wrapping paper in order to give kids a birthday experience — especially if their birthday coincides with Christmas and Hanukkah. Parents should also stress this rule with relatives who’ll bring birthday gifts to holiday celebrations in lieu of attending a separately scheduled party. It might seem like garbage-to-be, but for children, appropriate wrapping paper is an important signal that the gift is being given because they were born — not because Jesus was. Separate wrapping paper will also help families avoid the pitfalls of two-in-one presents, which should be avoided until kids are older and communicate they’d prefer that.
Prepare Them for Fewer Friends at Their Party
Even when parents reschedule celebrations, there are few things they can do to control the fact that friends may not make it to parties over holiday breaks. And that’s OK, as long as children are prepared and know that their friends want to be there. Mitzner suggests stressing how many friends they have and treating it as a lesson in logistics and why everyone can’t be in the same place at once. Once school starts, parents can help offset any disappointment by setting up alternative playdates with specific peers who couldn’t attend a celebration. “If anything, it just extends their birthdays,” she says.
Frame It As a Really Really Long Celebration
With the best holiday-birthday balance, kids will have their “birthdays” before or after, celebrate with relatives who they wouldn’t otherwise see on the actual day, and then typically party again once school starts in their classrooms. It’s not a bad deal for a kid when it’s framed as a birthday that lasts weeks instead of one day. Hell, people in their twenties try to accomplish this all the time, and they’re not all born on Thanksgiving.
“Sometimes it’s more of a celebration than anyone else ever has,” Mitzner says.