6 Tips for Christmasy B-days:
- Planning and shopping in advance ensures that you aren't running out for cake ingredients and last minute gifts with the rest of the holiday crowds. Menu planning is up to the birthday child. She chooses early on so that everything can go on the grocery list in a timely way.
- Keep the gifts separate. Not merging the holiday presents makes her birthday feel unique, and not an after thought.
- Decorations: I use the same ones for all of our family's birthday celebrations for each year- a banner*, balloons, etc. They are very accessible and always in the same spot. I never want to repeat the manic panic for them in the midst of Christmas chaos that I once had a few years back. I have opted for bright and bold unisex colors so that we can all use them and as a bonus- it is an obvious detour from the red and green of the holidays.
- Family celebrations vs. parties- we always celebrate with just family (and maybe an honorary family member or two) on the actual day and wait to have a friend party several weeks after everyone returns to a regular post holiday routine.
- Gift schedule... slow and steady. All presents and cards are waiting at the breakfast table on the birthday morning. My kids know the routine by now. One or two small presents are opened at each meal until dinner. After dinner we have cake and the final presents, including whatever is the main gift. This routine helps to prolong the celebration and gives her some breathing room from what could easily turn into days of frenzied gift opening.
- I spend one evening sorting through gifts and determining what presents will be fun for Christmas and which ones feel like an honoring of my child to save for her birthday. I also sort which ones will logically work first. For an example, I will often get a book series and give the first one on Christmas. The next one or two will follow on her birthday. The same could be done for a birthday that comes before the holiday... just in reverse.
I'm so grateful that these steps were in place long before I became a single parent, because without such a steady manageable system a state of overwhelm could easily take over. Instead we had another calm and loving celebration. The slumber party on Saturday night? Not so calm, but a little wild sleeping bag frolicking is what a bunch of 9 year old girls need now and then!
*Although I consider myself the queen of handmade banners, the year we couldn't find our b-day one I gave myself permission to go to the store. It's now the one of choice. Ha! So if you are in the midst pre-birthday madness and are presented with the choice of hand-made or store bought, do yourself a favor... opt for simple-whatever that looks like for you.