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Birthday on a holiday
Illustration: Lauren Rebbeck.

Celebrating a Birthday When it Falls on a Holiday

How to make your child's birthday extra special, even if it falls on a holiday.

My daughter’s birthday is on a holiday and always seems to be overshadowed by that celebration. How can we make her birthday special and also participate in the holiday?

Haley Ivy Di Virgilio, manager of Wands and Wishes Occasions, shares the following advice for parents:

The world of a child is small, which makes a birthday celebration an especially big deal.

If your daughter is having her festivities stepped on by another holiday, and they’re old enough to notice the injustice, it might be time to give her the reins. Some holidays are already a stressful time for many families; having a plan can keep things running smoothly and let the birthday kiddo know exactly what to expect.

Give Them the Power

By giving your child the opportunity to choose what they want to do, you give them a feeling of control over the situation. Sit down with your child a few weeks in advance and talk about options for the special day. Outline two or three choices for them, giving them the power to choose, but don’t let them get overwhelmed with the possibilities. Here are a couple of examples:

• If you are having a holiday dinner, let them choose whether they would prefer to have a birthday breakfast or lunch. They can pick their favorite food, blow out candles, unwrap presents, and still participate in other holiday activities.

• Would they rather celebrate on another date that’s just for the birthday? Come up with a few specific dates that work with your family’s schedule and let your child pick which of those days they’d prefer to celebrate.

Make Them Feel Seen

Families can do many things to make a birthday special:

If your house is already decorated for the holiday, dress up a space that’s just for your child. Decorate their door or make birthday signs for their walls. Hang some streamers in doorways for them to walk through on their way into the kitchen. If you give them a space that focuses on their birthday, they won’t feel as overshadowed.

Create a scavenger hunt for the birthday child to find their presents. Make clues that send them throughout the house (you can use words or pictures to show them where to go). Put their presents in various spots and get the whole family to watch and participate.

Coordinate with friends for a special surprise. When changing the date isn’t a possibility, have close friends and family record a short video birthday greeting, write a letter, or take a photo with a handwritten birthday sign. You can gather everything from friends before the big day and present the greetings when your child wakes up or when it’s time to serve cake.

Celebrate a half birthday. Especially if your child’s birthday falls over winter break, determine a date in the summer that is close to six months away from their birthday, and plan a party then.

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