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How to Make a Birthday Special When It Falls on a Major Holiday

Abby Slutsky's son has a birthday that falls close to Thanksgiving. It can challenging to celebrate both holidays.

Bring out a cake with candles that focuses on the person celebrating his birthday. Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Bring out a cake with candles that focuses on the person celebrating his birthday. Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Having a birthday on a major holiday, especially Christmas, has its pros and cons because the birthday person may be stuck having the same party every year because it is rolled into the holiday celebration. On the plus side, all the relatives may be present.

However, the birthday boy or girl may be limited as to whether they are able to have friends share their day. Sometimes friends will have their own family celebrations, and the birthday person’s family may not have the space to include friends when they are celebrating a major family holiday. Some holidays dictate a particular menu, so the birthday person may not even be able to select the meal they want. Therefore, celebrating a birthday with a major holiday, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving or something else, can be challenging. Here are some ideas for making the birthday person’s celebration the star when they share it with a holiday.

Make the Birthday a Priority by Celebrating the Holiday on a Different Date

Horrors! Did I just say do not celebrate Xmas on Christmas or Thanksgiving on the holiday’s date? Actually, yes! Over the years, many of my friends move holiday celebrations to suit their needs. Sometimes an adult child cannot get to the house in time for a holiday celebration or a vacation makes some family members want to modify the holiday date, so they can celebrate with their extended family but still enjoy time away with their immediate family.

Holidays are not about a specific date; they are about celebrating in a way that works for you and your family. Why not give the birthday person the opportunity to plan a party on the day of their birthday? If your household is hosting, celebrate the major holiday the next day, so no one is overwhelmed preparing two big celebrations. Moving the holiday may not be a fix for every year, but even if you do it on milestone birthdays, the birthday person will feel acknowledged.

Use separate cards and gifts to help keep the holidays separate.

Use separate cards and gifts to help keep the holidays separate.

Do Not Give Birthday/Holiday Combined Gifts and Cards

Treat the gift giving as though the holiday and birthday fall on two different dates. Do not give a combined birthday-holiday gift because neither holiday gets center stage. Make sure the gifts are wrapped separately with separate cards to commemorate each holiday separately. Avoid wrapping birthday gifts in holiday wrapping paper.

Plan a Birthday Celebration Near But Not on the Actual Birthday

Often birthday parties are not planned on the exact date of a birthday. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with celebrating the birthday on a date that does not coincide with the actual birthdate or holiday. Purchase or make a cake, invite friends, plan a theme around an activity that the person having a birthday likes, and have food that you know the guest of honor likes. In fact, planning a party on a date other than the actual birthday may allow the celebration to be a surprise, if desired.

Be Flexible on the Menu

If you do celebrate the birthday on a holiday that normally has a set menu, be flexible by serving some menu choices that the guest of honor chooses. Remember the birthday person may not want turkey or ham just because it is traditional for the major holiday.

Decorate for the Birthday Instead of the Holiday

Although your house may look beautiful decked out with Christmas lights and a tree, make sure an area of the house has birthday appropriate decorations. If the birthday person is a child, he or she can even choose the decorations he prefers to commemorate his special day. Birthday decorations in at least one room will provide a personal touch that will make the birthday boy or girl realize his birthday is all about him or her.

Whether you travel abroad, within the country, or take a car trip, traveling can make the birthday special and create memories.

Whether you travel abroad, within the country, or take a car trip, traveling can make the birthday special and create memories.

Additional Way to Celebrate a Birthday During the Holidays

Take a Trip

Either as a surprise or with the birthday person’s knowledge, plan a trip to celebrate their birthday. Even a weekend away can make a birthday seem special. Often people have extra days off during a major holiday, so it can be a convenient time to travel without using too many vacation days.

t can be tough to juggle a birthday celebration that coincides with a holiday, but with a little thought and effort, you can effectively accomplish it. Be organized and plan ahead, so the birthday person will recognize that his or her celebration is more than an add on to another holiday.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Abby Slutsky

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