Little Miss E turns seven next week. The following week sees one nephew’s third birthday, another nephew turning 12 and a niece turning four. Shortly after, Miss E’s best friend from school also turns 7, as does her best out-of-school friend. Add to that, my dad and brother both celebrating birthdays at the end of November, plus the first-borns of all my antenatal friends having their birthdays in late November, December and early January. And that’s not to mention the various other birthday parties my children have been invited to this month, most of which we can’t attend as they clash with family birthday parties.
This time every year, while most people are getting festive with all manner of Christmas occasions, we’re also in full-on birthday party season. It’s expensive and it’s busy. Despite my own birthday being in June (fab as a child; rubbish as a teenager as it was always in exam season; spent many birthdays in my 20s at friends’ weddings; and now I’m a mum, it always coincides with the school summer fair) I feel I’ve come to understand a lot about December birthdays.
Here’s a few things I’ve noticed.
- Finding an available hall or venue for a party is really hard because everywhere is booked up months in advance due to Christmas fetes and parties.
- Half your children’s friends won’t be able to make it because they are off seeing Father Christmas or going to the panto.
- People will give out Christmas cards at the party. That’s not a criticism, I do it myself because it saves a fortune in stamps, but it does take away from the birthday element.
- There will always be one person who wraps the birthday present in Christmas wrapping paper because that’s all they had to hand.
- There will always be at least one guest wearing a Christmas jumper.
- Planning a birthday day out for your child is not easy because everywhere is booked up.
- If you go for a birthday meal, the table will be full of Christmas crackers.
- There’s a smaller selection of birthday cards in the shops for December birthdays because the shelves have all made way for Christmas cards. All Miss E wanted for her birthday last year was a badge with a number 6 on it. I had to visit three card shops before I could find one. When I finally did find a shop that sold them, the shop assistant told me they were all tucked away in a secret cupboard behind the card display until January.
- Half of your children’s friends’ parents will be hungover at their birthday party because they had their work Christmas night out the previous night.
- Joint birthday and Christmas presents are a blessing and a curse. Yes, it means you get something big and awesome – but you only get one thing to open and nothing for the rest of the year.
- Keeping your fingers crossed that no one buys them a birthday gift which you have already bought them for Christmas.
- The dilemma of what to do if your birthday falls on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day. One friend who has a son with a Christmas Day birthday celebrates Christmas in the morning and his birthday in the afternoon. Another Christmas Day friend, as a child, always had to celebrate the day before, so never got her birthday on the actual day.
- If your birthday falls between Christmas and New Year, as is the case for one of my friends, everyone is too tired and stuffed full of food to want to celebrate. They’re all having a few down days to get over Christmas and prepare for New Year’s Eve, or are off doing family things which mean they can’t celebrate.
- Some people make such a fuss about Christmas birthdays being forgotten about that they end up having more of a celebration than anyone at any other time of the year. For example, my friend’s mother and father have their birthdays on Christmas Eve Christmas Day. They both insist on having their own full-on parties a week or so earlier so they don’t get forgotten about, despite the fact that no one else in the family does anything close to this kind of celebration.
- January always ends up full of birthday parties too from the people who wait until after Christmas to celebrate because December is too busy.
- You wonder if your child feels they are missing out because everything comes at once for them and they never get to have a birthday celebration when it’s warm.
- Completely running out of ideas for presents, because you not only have to decide what you are going to buy them for both birthday and Christmas, but you have to let all their family know too. And you know the house will be overrun with gifts.