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Christmas Birthday Gimmes

With the holiday season upon us, us December babies often get the short-end of the stick. When I was in college, for example, I always had finals or was flying home on my birthday, December 15th, so a party or even just dinner out was never an option. That said, it’s not so bad a deal in the end–everyone’s already in a festive spirit, after all! I share a birthday with an acquaintance from school who moved to the same city I did after graduation and was invited to her Christmas/Birthday party last year.

I was appalled to see her invitation state the following:

“So, while I loathe the “2 for 1” in gift giving… for parties, I’ll hit two birds with one stone:

Christmas part: Come over for holiday goodies from moi, and a screening of a festive movie
Birthday part: Bring an ornament to trim the tree as your gift! (Whatever reminds you of me, is “so me”, etc)”

Not only was she complaining about being shortchanged on receiving gifts on her birthday, but admission to the party was specifically a Christmas ornament that was “so her”.

I declined the invitation because I had another engagement, but was quite relieved and glad to do so anyway after being instructed on what self-centered gift to bring her.

I had put the event out of my mind until this year when I posted on Facebook about my first Christmas tree and how I was going to have to start building up my ornament collection. She replied to the post with the comment, “Ask everyone for one for your birthday! (That’s how I got mine started!!)”

Goodness gracious….   1210-12


There is a small contingent of Ehell readers who believe they have the right to host a birthday party or dinner in honor of themselves and see nothing wrong with directing their guests as to the appropriate gift they believe they deserve.   Telling people what you would prefer as a gift IF AND WHEN THEY ASK is fine and dandy, but putting a specific gift request in an invitation is just pure tacky and entitled.    For some reason, when it comes to a birthday, all etiquette sense goes flying out the window.   In this case the birthday girl hostess gripes about the “2 for 1” aspect of having a December birthday but then she promotes it by suggesting that an appropriate birthday gift for her would be Christmas tree ornaments.   It’s a sneaky way to acquire new holiday decor.  So I’m not approving comments which endorse this mindset.

I have a December birthday child.  My youngest arrived December 19th many years ago.   We celebrate with dinner at her favorite restaurant with the family and give our gifts at that time.   She does have an extensive ornament collection primarily because I have bought her a new one each year but more importantly, she has made and exchanged ornaments with friends for at least 12 years.   If you want new and interesting ornaments, you plan and host an ornament exchange party.   I went to one ten days ago.   The hosts of the party requested that everyone bring an ornament that had some tie to the giver and to please include a note as to how the ornament does that.   As guests arrived,they placed their wrapped ornaments in a pile and after chowing down on refreshments, we drew random numbers from a basket, then picked and opened a package in the order of the numbers.   We each read aloud the note and the ornament was passed for everyone to ohh and ahh over.   It was a very pleasant party that was not difficult to host.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Din December 18, 2012, 3:03 pm

    If you’ve got friends of a different faith, please at least consider not hosting a Christmas themed party. Those of us who may be feeling mildly excluded anyway, wind up either not going and feeling excluded, or going to a party that offers us little in the way of participation (and don’t get me started on “Oh, just play anyway! What’s the harm?” That’s a special level of etiquette hell.)

  • Alice December 18, 2012, 3:06 pm

    I just want to be clear: is it terrible to host your own birthday dinner/celebration (especially if you can’t count on anyone to do it for you or have a partner to do it) or was it just the dictating gifts part that was bad. I would never do the gift dictating, but I have set up my own birthday dinner because with an early January birthday (6th) everyone is a bit partied out. On top of that, I don’t want to expect anyone to do it for me. I currently have no partner so there is no “other half” to plan something nice for me. But am I crossing an etiquette boundary by doing so?

  • travestine December 18, 2012, 3:26 pm

    I don’t have a birthday near a holiday (unless you count St Patrick’s Day – mine’s the day before – which is actually awesome, because everyone always wants to party!), but my issue has always been that I’ve always been single on my “significant” birthdays. My family isn’t the type to think of making any kind of fuss over a “big number” birthday and my groups of friends generally don’t know each other or interact, so if I want any kind of celebration with all of my friends, I’ve pretty much had to plan it myself. BUT – I’ve restricted it to naming the day and the time and issuing the invitation, that’s it. No suggestion of gifts, no requirement to pay for my dinner or any portion of the evening – only the presence of my friends was requested. I’ve never had any negative feedback and the evenings were attended by those who wished to come.

  • Cat December 18, 2012, 3:33 pm

    For those who don’t want to go out into the snow-filled wonderland of the north to get birthday paper, use the comic section of your local paper. It works fine as wrapping paper and isn’t as annoying as getting a b-day gift in Christmas paper- that’s if it is something that is important to the b-day boy or girl.

  • Elizabeth December 18, 2012, 3:41 pm

    My best friend if 45 years turns 48 today, Dec. 18. I ALWAYS wrap her gift in birthday paper. It just seems wrong to not make this small effort.

  • Powers December 18, 2012, 3:43 pm

    I believe the OP overreacted. This sounds like a valiant attempt at a theme party.

    Is it tacky to dictate gifts? Yes. But this is requesting relatively inexpensive tokens for the tree, as a substitute for more lavish gifts. It’s actually rather modest — note that she doesn’t ask for Christmas gifts, either.

    Clearly, part of the fun of this party was going to be hanging the ornaments everyone brought. It’s hard to do that if not everyone brings an ornament.

  • Amanda H. December 18, 2012, 4:15 pm

    My oldest daughter (turning 6 this year) is a December baby, born just a few days after the holiday itself. We’ve made a point of not getting her combined “Birthmas” gifts yet, because she’s still at that age where she’s more likely to care about the number of packages to open rather than the overall dollar value. I figure we’ll clear the option of 2-in-1 gifts with her later (with appropriate budget adjustment) when she’s old enough to understand the concept and choose for herself.

    We usually hold her birthday party itself either a few weeks before or, this time around, the week after her birthday since her actual birthday is during the winter break and at least half of her friends have families that travel during that time. We still have a family-only party for her on her birthday itself, with a dinner of her choosing and family gifts and the like, so she doesn’t feel like she’s being “pushed aside” for the holiday. So far it seems to work. When I was a kid, my siblings and I frequently had our birthday party a few days off from our actual birthday, such as holding the party on a Friday night because we were having friends over for a sleepover.

    As for gift wrap, my daughter probably wouldn’t care if we used Christmas paper instead of Birthday paper, but I do actually keep a stash of gift bags in the closet salvaged from past celebrations, including our wedding and any showers that have been held for us, so we can reuse those bag when appropriate events come up. This includes some birthday-themed bags that we trot out at each kid’s birthday to put the gift in, then fold up and return to the closet when the party’s done.

    As for the birthday girl in the OP? I agree with others that it’s rather tacky and ham-fisted to decry 2-in-1 gifts, then basically ask for those just a few lines later by dictating that guests bring ornaments as their gifts. Perhaps not neccessarily “gimme,” depending on her other behavior, but certainly tacky.

  • Amanda H. December 18, 2012, 4:24 pm

    Oh, and I forgot to add…since others are sharing how they got their ornament collections started, I thought I’d add our family’s. We collect ornaments as souvenirs when we go on vacations or do other fun things that we think warrant a memento. Hubby and I started when we got married and decided to get an “Our First Christmas” ornament for our tree. One of us suggested getting them for trips and things, the other agreed, and our collection was born. Sometimes we have to get creative, like picking up a keychain or small figurine and rigging something with it (yay for crafting experience), but we’ve now got a fun collection of eclectic ornaments that bring up happy memories when we trim the tree each year and look at it afterward. We even commemorate our kids by getting snowman ornaments with their names on them the year they’re born. In another year or two, we’re going to have to get a bigger tree.

  • RedDevil December 18, 2012, 4:26 pm

    My husband’s birthday is Dec 14th, so there’s a rule in our house: the Christmas Tree does NOT get put up until after his birthday – it means his birthday isn’t overshadowed by Christmas.

    Unfortunately, his family don’t have the same view and are happy to ‘split the difference’ or give christmabirthday presents. I think it shows a lack of respect for the birthday person to do that.
    And what fun it must be for the person once they hit Christmas day when they have nothing to open when others are opening theirs…

    My own birthday usually falls right in the middle of Easter, so I get gifts of Easter Eggs sometimes – good thing I love Choclate 🙂

  • RigaToni December 18, 2012, 5:07 pm

    I look at being a December birthday a bit different. This year, they scheduled the Parade of Lights on my birthday (Dec 1) so I got to have a PARADE for my birthday. And you know I got all into it and kept joking “thanks everyone for celebrating my birthday with me!” My company did a float and I helped plan it and it was awesome.

    I was pretty lucky growing up that my birthday was treated fairly special and I never had to worry about Christmas giftwrap. Although when I was 12 my father and brother FORGOT my birthday and I got squat. I kept looking around the house for the secret cake. That was a bummer. Funny now though.

  • Skyline December 18, 2012, 5:25 pm

    28th here. Growing up, only my immediate family celebrated my birthday, but as a) I got separate gifts from them; and b) my brothers and parents didn’t have large birthday dos either, it never bothered me. Christmas paper wouldn’t have bugged me either, but they always used birthday paper.

    What irks me: people sending me a Christmas card and writing ‘PS–happy birthday!’

  • manybellsdown December 18, 2012, 5:31 pm

    My sister’s birthday is the 21st. She’s not overly fond of parties in general, so I give her a birthday gift in June, on her half-birthday. My other sister’s birthday is at the end of June as well. Combo birthdays!

  • Batale December 18, 2012, 5:35 pm

    Ironically, I was always envious of my brother for having a December birthday (Dec 27th), because it always meant he got to celebrate it since all the family was around (everyone lived far off and only really made their way to each others once a year) and he had the day off school. He’d get a cake and usually two presents or one present that clearly cost more than mine. I on the other hand, was born in late January, and as such my family was not around and everyone was still recovering from Christmas so nobody really wanted a party (one time, we went out to dinner in ‘celebration’ along with a friend of my mother’s and her son – she’d done the same early January for my brother when he hadn’t had a big celebration due to circumstances. When we got to the restaurant? Turns out said friend had no idea it was my birthday dinner and just thought it was just a night out!). Got even worse as I got older, as all my friends spend January broke and after a month of study leave at Uni, we’d always end up back the week of my birthday! I’d never thought that people with December birthdays would be so upset about it, but guess it depends on how people treat them.

    To be honest, I don’t feel the request was that bad – her wording definitely needed some work, but ornaments are so cheap and plentiful around Christmas that I’d love a December friend to suggest this idea.

  • Pam December 18, 2012, 5:43 pm

    I was born on Christmas and my husband was born on Christmas Eve so I can talk about this. 🙂 When I was a kid, my mom would always have a birthday party for me, or I’d have a sleepover. Most of the time it was early November to stay out of the way of Christmas so I never felt overlooked.
    I think it’s all about your attitude. People usually tell me that they feel sorry for me…. Actually, I never have to work on my birthday, I always spend it “celebrating”, all my family remembers to say “Happy Birthday” – what is so bad about that?!!?!? The whole world celebrates with me!
    I think the recipe for a miserable birthday, is to take that day and make it all about yourself. Having a birthday that I “share” takes the pressure off of trying to make it a “perfect day” for myself –

  • PM December 18, 2012, 5:45 pm

    My friend’s daughter was born on Dec. 26 and solved this problem with “half-birthday” parties. She organizes a special party for her DD in May, just before school lets out. She invites her DD’s friends for an outing to the movies, skating, water park, bowling, etc., but doesn’t tell the kids it’s a birthday celebration. There are no presents involved. Afterwards, my friend, her DH, the “half birthday” girl and her sisters have a “half-birthday” cake for just the family and the half-birthday girl gets a few small gifts.

    There’s no expectation put on the friends to provide gifts. The birthday girl gets some special attention. Everybody’s happy.

  • whiskeytangofoxtrot December 18, 2012, 5:58 pm

    Happy birthday, Phoebe161, I’m a Boxing Day kid, too :). It was a bit of a bummer having a birthday so close to Christmas when I was a kid, true, but not the end of the world. Now, I’m amused that others think it’s a bummer. I tell them that I’ve never had a birthday any other time of year, so I don’t know the difference- to me, a birthday in July would be strange. The only thing that really bugs me now are people who think they *have* to do something because I have a birthday near a holiday, as if they have to “make it up” to me, somehow. They mean well, but really, it’s not their fault! LOL

    Soliciting gifts, any time, any kind, for any reason, though, is just bad taste, IMO.

  • Cat Whisperer December 18, 2012, 6:03 pm

    RedDevil said:

    “…My husband’s birthday is Dec 14th, so there’s a rule in our house: the Christmas Tree does NOT get put up until after his birthday – it means his birthday isn’t overshadowed by Christmas. …”

    One of my friends was born on February 14th. When she and the man she eventually married started getting serious in their relationship, she told him that Valentine’s Day and her birthday were two separate occasions, never mind that they shared the same date, and if he ever forgot that, there would be CONSEQUENCES!

    (Since this was a husband-and-wife thing, and this was a rule she only levied against her husband, and he didn’t seem to mind, I always figured she had the right to make her feelings clear.)

  • JGM1764 December 18, 2012, 6:23 pm

    When I was in elementary school I had a classmate whose birthday was on December 25. Instead of letting his birthday get lost in the holiday shuffle, his parents threw him half-birthday parties in the summer. I always thought that was nice of them.

  • Chicalola December 18, 2012, 6:37 pm

    I had a friend in school who was born on Christmas Day. I wasn’t rolling in the cash, so for her birthday/Christmas one year I got her a pair of earrings. Yup…..one for her bday, one for Christmas. I look back and realize that she probably was wronged a lot by people……and I always made it a point to recognize anyone else’s birthday in December as separate. Now I have 2 December kids of my own…..and I vow to make sure they feel special aside from Christmas 🙂

  • Lisa Marie December 18, 2012, 7:06 pm

    My dear friend is a Christmas birthday and years ago I started a new tradition with her. On her actual birthday (this friday) I will take her out for lunch and we exchange our Christmas presents. Then one day in the next month or so, I will surprise her (we usually lunch once or twice a month) with it being her birthday! and give her a present then even a small cake. She enjoys that she gets to celebrate it away from the holiday when most people would say that is your birthday and Christmas present.

  • SCUlawstudent December 18, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Din December 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    So you want others to go without a party to celebrate THEIR faith, so you are not ‘left out’ ???
    did I understand that right?

  • Kendo_Bunny December 18, 2012, 7:18 pm

    I’m one of the school that makes a big deal out of birthdays. In my mind, holidays are awful things that involve a lot of work, growsing, and an inevitable family argument. Birthdays are not family things – they are friend things, and they involve fun. Every year for my birthday, I try to make a fun plan that my closest friends will enjoy, so I can spend my birthday with them. I do not ask for presents – I am very clear that my birthday celebration is so I have a lovely excuse to have a lot of fun with no horrible pressure, no fighting, and so I don’t end the day in tears. I don’t believe that’s rude.

    For the person in question, I think as soon as she asked for ornaments, she crossed the line from “Let’s have a cool, fun evening because it’s my birthday, and I want to spend it with cool, fun people!” to “I want stuff and my birthday is a good excuse!”

  • Anonymous December 18, 2012, 7:43 pm

    The way I see it, it would have been SO easy for the birthday girl in the OP to avoid being labelled as a Gimme Pig by organizing an ornament-making party instead of a “give me ornaments” party. That way, the guests could either make an ornament for the birthday girl’s tree, an ornament for their own Christmas tree at home, or, if they were feeling really ambitious, they could make one for each tree.

  • MonkeysMommy December 18, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Meh… I’ve seen way tackier, this really isn’t Ehell worthy, it’s kind of a cute, cheap idea. It’s not like she demanded anything outrageous.

  • Mini Monster December 18, 2012, 9:40 pm

    Cat Whisperer,

    My son was born December 13th (he just turned one) and the “half-birthday” is what we plan on doing when he gets to be school-age. That will be the party day and his actual birthday will be celebrated with family.

  • Tsunoba December 18, 2012, 11:01 pm

    @Cat: ‘I might end up with Miss Piggy, Barbie, a Wookie-who knows? Imagine the thank-you note-” Thank you so much for the Wookie ornament. I know I should shave my legs more often.”’

    Thanks for that, I needed the laugh.

  • Alyssa December 18, 2012, 11:23 pm

    My sister’s birthday is the 21st. Mine is November 21st. We are at an age where we get combined birthday/Christmas presents now and we both feel we get the raw end of the deal – out other two sisters are in the middle of the year. The problem with our combined gifts is that often our sisters get the same thing as us(or monetary value) plus their birthday presents. Additionally, for me, I either get my present on my birthday and nothing on Christmas or I have to wait over a month to open my birthday present. I’ve taken to buying myself Christmas presents so I have something to open (we don’t have any extended family in this country so I only get presents from my parents and my sisters are all younger so don’t buy presents yet).

    I’m stunned that the OPs friend thinks its ok to suggest what people buy her. Its a nice idea but she shouldn’t have stated that on the invite – thats a bit crass.

  • Melalucci December 19, 2012, 2:42 am

    Miss Jeanne, my birthday is December 19th, too. 🙂

    I’ve never minded getting birthday presents in Christmas paper, or vice versa. All that matters to me is that those I’m close to at least acknowledge my birthday. Even a “Happy birthday!” will do. I try to do it for others, and I think everyone deserves one special day.

  • Ergala December 19, 2012, 9:07 am

    My oldest was born December 12th. We’ve never had an issue, at least not yet. My mother on the other hand has started merging gifts/cards to save on postage. So she will send his Birthday stuff with his Christmas gifts. I told her that has to stop and asked how she would feel if I did that to her (she was born in October). She doesn’t have to send a gift or a card, just a phone call would be fine, but that doesn’t happen either as she is very busy. My son is now 7 and is old enough to realize she didn’t call or send a card and I’ve had to shush him on the phone when I’ve been talking to her. One day he did ask her about it and when she said she is sending it with his Christmas gifts he kept asking why. She didn’t have an answer.

    I was born a few days after my sister’s birthday. She is Jan. 29th and I am Feb. 1st though we are 5 years apart. My cousin and grandfather also were born on my birthday. Our parties were always combined so I never got a party to myself but my sister did. It’s very important for kids to have their own celebration I think. It’s only socially acceptable to get really outwardly excited over your birthday for so long and it’s wrong to rob a kid of that.

  • Stepmomster December 19, 2012, 10:22 am

    I love the idea of an ornament exchange party! It would be so fun having ornaments that friends picked out or made, I think I would hang them on the tree with a ribbon marked with their name, so I would remember them every year when I decorated my tree. I love ornaments, from fancy to plain, Great Idea!

  • gellchom December 19, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Although I ordinarily am at the strictest end of the never, never solicit gifts continuum, I don’t think that asking guests to bring an ornament to a Christmas party is wrong (the whole birthday “I get cheated” part was inappropriate, though). If I’m invited to a party, I’d bring some sort of gift or wine or flowers or something anyway, so this saves me the trouble of thinking what to bring, and an ornament probably costs considerably less than anything else I could bring.

    An ornament exchange seems like a perfect solution – if you only invite friends who observe Christmas. But if your party is for others, too, please try to remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I don’t. I would feel out of place at an ornament exchange party; I probably wouldn’t go. But I happily attend our friends’ annual bring-an-ornament Christmas party.

    Yes, there are some non-Christians who have Christmas trees, but far from all, and it is very pushy and insensitive to suggest that everyone should. (And while you’re at it, please don’t tell your children that Santa brings toys to “all the good boys and girls.” Get it? Our kids are nice enough not to blab the truth about Santa to yours, so please don’t lead your children to the conclusion that their non-Christian friends aren’t “good.”)

  • Rmmuir December 19, 2012, 8:03 pm

    Pffff, I wrap everybody’s gifts in Christmas wrapping paper all year long.

    @Ergala: Surely the solution would be to send the Christmas stuff with the birthday stuff for the 12th. Then you can separate the gifts and she still only has to pay postage once. Or am I misunderstanding what you’ve written?

  • Dot December 19, 2012, 9:26 pm

    I was born in early January, so I can relate to the annoyance. However my experience wasn’t too bad. Yes, I had a couple relatives who tried the “2 in 1!” thing, but its pushing it when its 2 weeks apart. Most of the time, if I had wanted something (as a kid) and I didn’t get it for Christmas, I could ask for it for my birthday! So it worked out well.

    And several people mentioned not using Christmas wrapping paper for birthday gifts. Personally I never cared, as it was only going to be on for 5 seconds til I shredded it, but if someone doesn’t care for it I would not use it just to be safe.

  • kingsrings December 19, 2012, 10:10 pm

    It’s tacky. You NEVER tell others to bring you a gift, let alone telling them exactly what to give you. If someone asks you, sure you can tell them then, but otherwise, don’t solicit at all! I’m seeing this entitlement and assumption more and more nowadays. I recently saw a housewarming party invite where the guests were instructed to donate money to the owner’s outdoor movie theater system. Another party invite was asking for donations to cover the rental cost of the place where the party was held. And don’t get me started on how many people throw potluck birthday parties, asking their guests to bring a dish!

  • Mary December 20, 2012, 12:01 am

    The comment about no Christmas decorations until after the December 14 birthday was amusing. My birthday is the 13th and I put up all of the Christmas decorations up on Thanksgiving weekend! I’ve had very few issues with my birthday. It’s provably just far enough away from the holidays. Very few combined gifts and no Christmas wrapping paper. The only problem is if we go to the nearest larger city to eat out its always pretty crowded because everyone is doing their shopping.

  • LonelyHound December 20, 2012, 11:16 am

    Please correct my etiquette (if it is needed). My friends and I always throw ourselves our own birthday parties. We all live away from family and all childhood/college friends so each year the person whose birthday it it throws a BBQ or takes all invitees out to dinner. The condition is that the person throwing the party PAYS. So, I have been to a BBQ of a friend that she and her boyfriend threw in honor of his birthday. They provided all the treats, did the cooking, bought the beer (though people bring and leave their own as well) and decorated. No gifts were ever mentioned or asked for, and everyone brings soemthing small to eat, like chips or crackers, because they do not because they have been asked. If the birthday person decides to eat out usually he/she pays unless the guests have decided otherwise or it is specified that it is Dutch. Is this wrong?

    • admin January 1, 2013, 10:01 am

      So, in other words, it is quite out of the question for your group of friends to host birthday parties for one another? I fail to see how a group of friends can have the resources to host their own birthday parties yet be completely oblivious to the idea of actually hosting for a friend.

  • KAMS December 20, 2012, 11:53 am

    I’m a December 24th birthday and have never had a birthday party. I am 48 years old. The reasons have varied but simply coming down to the family beging too busy with Christmas. In the past couple of years, I got up the courage to tell my sister/family that celebraring my birthday ON THE DAY is very, very important to me. I want to be celebrated and not told I am second best. I explained it didn’t matter what we did — breakfast at Denny’s, a afternoon movie, or something else non- Christmasy — and the response was “that’s stupid, grow up, birthdays aren’t important.” I was hurt but stood my ground. Then this last weekend, my sister grouped three December birthdays into one family dinner and told me that I had to accept this since my name was already on the cake. She did this without checking with my husband (who had ordered a gift and cake for the 24th) first. I was hurt and didn’t attend which has caused a family rift. My father yelled at me for being inconsiderate and my sister told me “You hurt my feelings when I was being nice.” I want to tell them how inconsiderate they were to me and my husband. What do you think is the best way to do this?

  • KJ December 20, 2012, 12:16 pm

    If this has been covered and I missed it, please excuse the repitition.

    Birthdays closed to Christmas (January 5, for me) can be hard when funds are tight. I am very happy to report though that my family has always been thoughtfull about keeping the special days separate.

  • Anonymous December 20, 2012, 2:20 pm

    KAMS–I feel for you, because my birthday always got swallowed up by the “June rush” of prom, exams, and other end-of-the-year activities in high school, and in university, it was smack dab in the middle of summer vacation. So, while my family remembered, my friends often didn’t, even after I’d taken the time to make them cards, etc. It sounds like you sort of have my situation in reverse. So, you said that your husband ordered you a birthday cake, right? In that case, I think the best thing you could do would be to create a new tradition, and celebrate your birthday with just your husband, and/or any friends who might wish to attend, who either don’t celebrate Christmas, would like a break from Christmas, or just understand that you’d (legitimately) like your birthday to be separate from Christmas. If I knew you in real life, then I’d definitely be up for a non-Christmasy December 24th birthday outing with you, both to make you happy, and also as a break from the two-or-three-month onslaught of CHRISTMAS!!!! from the media and in stores.

  • Anonymous December 20, 2012, 2:24 pm

    P.S., KAMS, if you do my idea, then you could still go to your family Christmas/three people’s birthdays all in one celebration, and just plan your “real” celebration with your husband and/or friends for whichever day the family thing isn’t on. That way, you’d still get what you wanted, but without creating a rift, although your family members don’t seem like very nice people, judging by what you told us. One question–since you say there are two other relatives who also have December birthdays, have either of them spoken up and said they felt the same way, or do those people normally get celebrated separately, because they weren’t born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

  • Kris December 20, 2012, 6:35 pm

    As a kid birthdays weren’t too much of an issue as my parents always managed to throw a great party. My dad was a Christmas eve baby so when I came around with the 27th plastered on me he made sure no one double gifted. One for each day, so all in all I made out like a bandit.

    Middle and High school? Found whatever friends could get away from their fam and spent the day mall crawling and seeing whatever movie was out.

    As an adult with a kid, and with adult friends who also have kids its a bit harder now, but I manage. Usually its dinner and drinks, and as long as people show I really could care less about a gift.

    I’ve never told anyone what they should get me, unless asked, my parents raised me better than that.

  • Laura December 20, 2012, 6:40 pm

    My birthday is December 2nd, my boyfriend’s birthday is December 6th, & my sister’s birthday is January 2nd. Fortunately, dad’s birthday is December 21st (today!) & mum’s is February 14th (Valentine’s Day), so my family have always been aware of celebrating the holiday event as well as our birthday. If we wanted something big though, we could bargain with mum & dad for a combined birthday & Christmas present.

    When my brother’s birthday comes around in August, we’ve glad of any excuse to celebrate in the middle of the year.

    It could have been done with more grace, but I like the invitation writer’s idea of suggesting her friends help her decorate for Christmas, instead of getting her a birthday present. Most of my friends apologise for only getting me one present in December, & I completely understand. Giving everyone a simple suggestion takes the pressure off my student friends who are wondering whether or not they have to get me a birthday present, too.

  • The Elf December 21, 2012, 12:29 pm

    KAMS, I think the trick will be to handle your birthday yourself. With you and your husband (or just you, depending on your preference) decide to do something extra special on your actual day. It could be dinner out, it could be dinner in, it could be a special event, whatever. If you want others there, invite whoever you’d like to invite, and if they can make it great. If they can’t, don’t sweat it.

    What I’m trying to say is that your birthdays will be much happier if you don’t depend on anyone else to deliver that happiness. Personally, I love to spend it by myself doing all those things I don’t get a chance to do, which is to say, doing nothing. I’ll have a lovely big breakfast out (so I don’t have to cook it), relax in the bathtub with a book or some music softly playing, maybe get a massage or go for a hike, whatever. What I don’t do those days: Work, run errands, cook, clean, yardwork, or anything that “has” to be done. Some years I don’t even answer the phone or get dressed. It can wait a day.

  • Enna December 21, 2012, 1:23 pm

    This does sound piggy.

    However I do think it is cheeky for people to buy only one gift when they buy everyone else 2 gifts.

  • --Lia December 23, 2012, 11:41 am

    KAMS– There really isn’t a good way to demand that other people celebrate your birthday the way you want them to, and there isn’t a good way to tell them that they’ve been inconsiderate when their best efforts weren’t to your standards. The best suggestions have been to let go of your attachment to a particular day and celebrate on another day, maybe in the summer. Alternately, you could do the entertaining. You could throw yourself a birthday party, invite the family– but don’t expect/demand gifts.

    But let’s look at what’s really going on. You “got up the courage” and “want to be celebrated and not told you’re second best.” This goes way beyond birthdays. Families that choose favorites don’t just turn things around when someone speaks up. They didn’t choose to cast you aside because you were born on the “wrong” day or because you didn’t get the courage sooner. There’s something else going on here. I’m not qualified to say what it is, and for all I know, your family might have a point when they group 3 birthdays together. That doesn’t mean your father should yell at you. (I assume you let your sister/hostess know you wouldn’t be able to attend well ahead of time and didn’t just decide not to show up.) One way or another, family rifts like the one you hint at go beyond rules of etiquette.

  • Lindsay December 26, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I am SO thankful that I was born into the family I was born into. I was born in early December and *never* knew the concept of not getting a separate birthday until I was… oh, probably between 6 and 8 and acquired this book of Christmas stories. One of those stories was about a little boy whose birthday was on Christmas, and he was sad because his family didn’t give him a separate birthday (until, basically, a little Christmas Magic changed his feelings). Being so young, I found that a “Startling Tale of the Outside World”, so to speak, rather than something my young and inexperienced mind could yet empathize with (since before a certain age, most kids can’t truly empathize with something unless they’re going/have been through it without a lot of assistance from older people), although looking back (I still have the book) now it just seems cute. But now that I’m older I can say I’m glad I didn’t have the 2-for-1 parties because it’s like… another thing to look back on and be really grateful for. Though I do have plenty of such memories, gratefulness isn’t exactly something one can overdose on.