‘Merry Christmas… And, er, happy birthday too!’
Birthdays are the one time of the year you get to milk your existence for all it’s worth – an opportunity to drag your friends to the bar you’ve wanted to try, make your parents buy your favourite meal, or have people make the day about you.
But if it falls on or is close to Christmas, this probably gets lost in festive celebrations.
It can be frustrating and there are things people with Christmas birthdays wish you would do – or not do.
Don’t skimp out with one present
Here’s a helpful hint to start with: skimping out on one present isn’t going to go unnoticed.
Kate, a 52-year-old baking teacher at Dolce Lusso Cakes, says it’s important to get two separate gifts, or one extra special one.
She says: ‘I was always lucky as a Christmas baby because my family made sure I had separate gifts and cards (wrapped appropriately) for both birthday and Christmas, so I didn’t miss out.’
Molly, 26, agrees, admitting that as a child when she’d only get one gift she’d feel ‘slighted by it’.
‘It was like I was just an afterthought. It wouldn’t have had to be anything big, just some chocolate wrapped in birthday paper (rather than Christmas paper) would have been enough to prevent this feeling.’
Don’t get a duo-message card
On that note, don’t get a one-size-fits all card.
Molly, who works in her family stationery business, says: ‘My biggest pet peeve when it comes to my birthday is people saying “Merry Birthmas” or birthday cards that say “On Your December/Christmas Birthday”.
‘This is such a big deal in our family that I refuse to let my mum sell these cards in her shops.
‘It just really rubs me the wrong way as at no other time of year do you see this type of card or have people use that expression.’
Kate adds: ‘One year someone sent me a Christmas card and had quickly scribbled “Happy birthday” onto it‘ – she wasn’t impressed.
Make an event of it mid-year
Kate wishes when she was younger she had made everyone celebrate her birthday earlier on in the year.
‘If I could change one thing, it would be to have a non-official birthday in May so that I could have a party with my friends and celebrate my birthday properly,’ she tells us.
‘But I’ve taken matters into my own hands and now celebrate for a whole month.
So, from December 11 it will officially be “happy birthday to me” until the tree comes down on January 6! It drives my family mad but I love it.’
Molly also feels an early celebration is necessary. She says: ‘I definitely felt left out growing up as often people were too busy to celebrate in December and too “partied out” to celebrate in January.
‘Many people suggest that I celebrate my birthday on my “half birthday”, which would be the 25th June, but this is my grandma’s birthday so that doesn’t work for me either.’
Essentially, make time for the date they set aside.
Geoff, who will soon be 68 and lives in Australia, has made a tradition of celebrating with his family on Christmas Eve.
‘As adults, my kids and partner have been wonderful about making a special event for me – we quite often have a separate event on Christmas eve to celebrate my birthday,’ he says.
‘The great advantage of that arrangement is that it’s attended by family and friends who might otherwise be engaged in their own families on my birthday.’
Split Christmas day up
Growing up, Geoff would celebrate on the actual day by dividing Christmas into two halves – one for his birthday, and one for Christmas.
He tells us:: ‘Fortunately my Mum was fantastic about making my birthday both a separate event to Christmas and uniquely special to me – I was lucky that my Dad and sister, very unselfishly, understood that the early part of Christmas day was focused on my birthday.’
Molly had a similar experience, sharing: ‘My parents tried to make the 25th a day for me too, so when I lived at home they wouldn’t have Christmas decorations in the kitchen and dining room, as that was for birthday things.
‘We would always do Christmas in the morning and then after dinner I would unwrap my birthday presents and get my cake.’
Switch up the food
If you can get something in the fridge that’s not festive, it’ll be appreciated.
Molly says: ‘It’s always been a bit of a sore point that it would always be the same meal for my birthday every year and that everyone would be too full to eat any birthday cake until the next day.’
Sing happy birthday
Making traditions unrelated to Christmas can go a long way.
‘One thing I adore about Christmas Day is that my parents would wake me up by singing Happy Birthday,’ Molly says.
‘To this day I refuse to get out of bed unless I have been sung to.
‘I don’t know when or how this tradition started but it is my favourite thing to happen for my birthday and now I don’t live at home, my partner has taken up the mantle and sings to me in the morning.’
Let them enjoy their birthdays
Kate says you should allow the birthday person a chance to rest from Christmas duties.
She says: ‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m lucky to have family that make the effort but it’s never just your day. Everyone is celebrating… Christmas.
‘When you have a large and extended family like mine, you spend most of your Christmas on the phone as everyone wants to wish you a happy birthday.
‘And when they live all over the world you’re watching the clock and waiting for the next call to come in dependent on where they live.’
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