My birthday is December 27. The cool thing about that is that I share a birthday with silver-screen goddess Marlene Dietrich. The uncool thing about that is basically everything else. I'm a "Christmas baby" — that unlucky tribe of sad-sacks whose birthdays fall in late December, completely overshadowed by Yuletide glitz. When it comes to the precise crappiness of our birthdays, we can only really understand each other. So if you're a parent whose child was likely conceived in early April (and whose fault is that?) let me help you understand how to handle your Christmas baby's birthday.
First, a word of hope: If this is the worst thing that's going to happen to your child, then your kid is among the most fortunate people on the planet. Like, I'm being extra right now (I'm an extra person... probably because I had to compensate for having such an easily-overlooked birthday), but having a Christmas-adjacent birthday really isn't a fate worse than death or anything. It's emotionally on par with going trick-or-treating with your friends, and they all get a king-sized Snickers and you get a fun-sized Butterfinger. Like... you still got candy, but it definitely feels like you were cheated.
The truth of the matter is, there's only so much you (or anyone) can do to mitigate these less than ideal circumstances — it is what it is. But here are just a few of the big "Do"s and "Don't"s to help you make your child's special day as special as possible.
Do: Get A Separate Birthday Present
Fun fact: Christmas babies are actually legally permitted to throat punch anyone who tries to pass off one present as counting for both occasions... like... not really. BUT STILL.
Look, it's not that we're greedy monsters who insist upon annual tithes. But. If you are someone who would give us a present if our birthday was on June 27 (or who regularly gives a gift to our sibling whose birthday is in March or whatever) don't crap out on us just because we had the misfortune to be born in late December. Unless it's something completely extravagant, combination Christmas/birthday presents are just a way of saying "I didn't get you a birthday present."
Don't: Use Christmas Wrapping Paper On Said Birthday Present
It's a small thing, but it's a weirdly big deal to Christmas birthday kids (and, I'll level with you: Christmas birthday adults, too). Even if it's not the case, Christmas wrapping paper on our birthday gift highlights the fact that our "special day" is overshadowed by Baby Jesus' special day and can make us feel like an afterthought.
Yes, you are probably more likely to have wrapping paper with Santa on it right about now and it would be easier to just use that, but that little bit of extra effort on your end will be truly appreciated.
(Also, pro tip for life in general: Always have a couple rolls of gender-age-and-occasion-neutral wrapping paper in your home. You never know when a birthday, baby shower, wedding, etc. is going to creep up on you and there's no hell quite like buying over-priced paper on the way to a fete and trying to wrap a present on your lap in the car.)
Do: Get Pumped For Their Birthday Ahead Of Time
You know all those memes where people are like "It's my birthday month! LOL!" Yeah, December babies can't ever hope for something like that. We're lucky if we can engage people for, like, an afternoon.
Look, I get it. December is a busy time of year. In addition to the holidays and the obligations to go along with that, a lot of companies have end-of-year deadlines to take care of, so it can not only be a personally busy time of year, but professionally as well. One little ol' birthday can get lost in the jumble, and understandably so. But if you're a parent of a Christmas baby, try to give them the same exciting build-up their non-holiday-born peers look forward to. Mention their birthday throughout the month. Get them pumped up! Let them know they aren't the only ones getting excited.
Don't: Incorporate Christmas Themes Into Their Birthday
For the love of God, no.
Over the years, I've heard a lot of lovely, well-intentioned ideas to make a birthday special for a kid who was born around Christmas-time... but often those ideas involve incorporating the trappings of the holiday into the birthday--a "Birthday Tree," for example, which is when you remove all the Christmas ornaments from your tree and replace them with balloons and streamers (even for me, that's a bit over-the-top), or decorating a party with gingerbread houses or whatnot — and these aren't necessarily bad ideas! In fact, I'll bet a lot of kids would be really into that.
I can tell you, however, that not all kids would be into that because those things would have super-annoyed me.
Look, I know my birthday is near a holiday. I want as few reminders of that as humanly possible — honestly it smacks of desperation. So just check in with your kiddo before making this decision. (Unless they're too little to really have their own preference, in which case, go for it if you want.)
Do: Consider Half-Birthday Parties
Despite drawing the short-straw on birth dates, my mom always threw me really awesome birthday parties. However, we learned early on that trying to have a birthday in late December meant that basically no one would be able to come because everyone's out of town visiting with family or vacationing or just plain busy with Christmas or New Year celebration. Solution? Having a party in June! I really liked this option because more people were able to attend, there were more venues available (indoor and outdoor), and because my family still celebrated on my actual birthday (albeit much more quietly) it was sort of like getting two birthdays a year... which, frankly, is the least that you can do for a Christmas baby.
Don't: Insist On Half-Birthday Parties
Some people are really into their birth date, even if it's crappy. So, as with Christmas-themed birthday celebrations, check in with your kid... again, if they're below a certain age, do what you want because they don't know any better.
Do: Try To Have A Birthday Cake If The Family Can't Get Together For Both Christmas *And* Your Child's Birthday
It's completely understandable if, days before or after everyone gathers for Christmas, family members won't be able to gather again for a birthday celebration. But in that case, speaking from experience, it's nice to have a little time in the day set aside for a quick rendition of "Happy Birthday" and some cake. (No Christmas themed cakes! Real birthday cake! #funfettifordays)
Don't: Leave Their Birthday Present Under The Christmas Tree Leading Up To Their Special Day
I feel like probably only my mom was evil enough to do this one but, seriously, don't. Because then your kid will grow up to be a bitter 35-year-old-writer and complain about you on the internet for a living.
Do: Keep Up The Festive Energy
This may be particularly difficult for children born December 26-31, because you're just so done being jolly at that point. We know this whole season is a lot, but hold on just a little bit longer. It'll be over soon.
Don't: Make Too Big A Deal Out Of The Fact That Late-December Birthdays Suck
We all know it, but calling attention to it is only going to make things worse. Stay positive and, just maybe you'll trick your kid into not noticing for a few years.
Do: Follow Your Kid's Lead
The biggest issue with having a near-Christmas birthday is that it's like you don't really have a day to feel special. But nothing will make a kid feel more special than asking them about their thoughts and feelings and letting them tell you how they want to celebrate. Even if they can't get everything they want because no one is around for a party, they will see that you're trying for them and that will be appreciated... if not immediately than eventually.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.