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.
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The first part admitting her loathing of being “short-changed” on gifts is pretty grubbing, but the rest isn’t all that bad… the idea is pretty cute and creative. She doesn’t explicitly say “YOU CAN’T COME IF YOU DON’T BRING AN ORNAMENT” so she’s not exactly being rude. Besides, the hostess suggesting a Christmas ornament as a gift is much cuter, cheaper and more personal than having guests stress over what to buy her. I don’t think this deserves Ehell.
I have to admit as a December baby (16th), I’ve never felt especially short-changed, but it DID used to grind my gears when friends/family would wrap something they claimed was a birthday present in paper that had Santa or holly or some other obviously Christmas theme. If it was the only gift they were getting me (which I didn’t – and don’t – mind!), just call it a frackin’ Christmas present – or make the effort to find some paper that isn’t absolutely obviously Christmas-related.
The worst part of it is that one of the main culprits was someone whose birthday was on the 31st December and it used to driver HER nuts if she got birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper, so why she thought it wouldn’t bother me, I don’t know…
I must be a tacky heathan..because I don’t see any issue? o_o I mean asking for christmas ornaments that your friends think fit you doesn’t seem like a half bad idea if you were born on christmas….NOW If she had been expecting both a christmas AND birthday gift that woulda been over the top
I am going to reply a bit in defense of the birthday girl, though I can certainly understand the OPs point of view.
My closest circle of friends and myself always bring each other a gift, and we all appreciate some help when it comes to gift-getting. So we all include a small wishlist on the very informal invitation by e-mail. Or we direct people to our spouses with the message “should you wish to bring something along, knows what I like”. Because we all do this and all appreciate it, we do not consider it a faux pas – though I have to emphasize I would certainly not send this message to other friends of family. As OP did not appreciate it in this case, I’d say this was a faux pas, though maybe unintentional, and for the following reason:
The Christmas ornaments, to me, would sound like a good idea. It is personal, it is not expensive (it can be, but does not have to), and it can be a fun game guessing why friend X thought an ornament with devil horns is “so me”. You can even make an ornament yourself by buying a plastic round ornament for less than a dollar and decorate it yourself. So for me, this does not feel like a “gimme pig” request. She’s not asking for a high prized gift, but for a personal one. It can be that she indeed started this as a fun challenge for friends, and with the Christmas ornaments, she will be reminded every year of your friendship and how you see each other as a person.
Granted, it would have been better if another person that was invited started this and asked all invitees to participate, but that was not the case. Either way, I do feel this request has a good intention and is more about asking for something personal from friends, than actually asking for a (big) gift. The comment on Facebook later on can just be a cheery comment because she was so happy she got something she values a lot from her friends.
For the 2 birds with 1 stone part: I feel this might come from her childhood. I know some people born in December, that were always jealous of other children because they got gifts twice a year. They, however, got minor or no gifts on their birthday or on Christmas, because (part of) their family felt they had just gotten something already. As a grown up, this is not that horrible, but for a kid it can cause quite some spite. It sounds like birthday girl used to be in a situation like this. I can see where that comment is coming from, though she is directing it at the wrong people. She might just want to get it off her chest after years of frustration. I wouldn’t think too much of it.
Officially, it is a faux pas. I’m not denying it. But – maybe some of the above is of relevance, and OP might reconsider on how she takes the message. Having said that, maybe the OP can tell me if the birthday girl has pulled off stunts before on etiquette or on gift giving, and I’m completely in the wrong here. But for the story as it is now, I can’t help but feel sympathy for the birthday girl.
I agree with OP’s hesitation but if someone asks you what you want for your birthday I think an ordiment isn’t a bad idea. They can be homemade or relatively inexpensive. Most certainly it’s a small gift, not asking for an ipod or something ridiculous.
I think the part that put this over the top was ‘bring me an ornament that’s all about ME!’ Not even ‘bring me an ornament that reminds me of you so I can think of you fondly when I decorate my tree.’
I was just sitting here tying to think of any way a ‘bring me an ornament’ party could work. The best I could come up with would be if I threw a party for my friend, and said ‘bring or make an ornament that symbolises your friendship with her.’
Happy birthday, OP, by the way!
I’m a December baby, too… but at this point, I’ve all but given up on people remembering it or caring.
My ornament collection started when I was very young. Dad would take my sister and me on a special trip to pick out a new one (or two. or six. – as long as it fit in the price limit) each year. After I moved out on my own, I kept both the ornaments I really liked and the habit. Now, mumblemumble years later, I’m considering getting a larger tree to hold all of them.
I think suggesting people give you Christmas ornaments as birthday presents, or even having a tree-trimming party where the host keeps the ornaments brought by the guests isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but your acquaintance was pretty tacky about how she phrased it in the invitation.
When people ask you what you want for your birthday, saying “ornaments” is fine. Sending an invitation to one’s party in which the price of admission is an ornament is not fine. Asking for one that is “so me” is a little strange. I like the ornaments that remind me of the giver.
Hmmm…I don’t think she phrases it exceptionally well, but that’s Facebook for you I suppose. Two of my cousins have birthdays round this time – Jane’s is on 3rd Jan, so she doesn’t often get much of a celebration because everyone is all celebrated out by that point. Jack’s is on Christmas Eve, and when he was little it wasn’t unusual for non-family members to get him a single gift which they wrapped in Christmas paper and declared to be ‘your birthday and Christmas present all in one!’. The problem being, Jack’s brother would have had his birthday a few months previously and would receive a present then, plus another one (often of roughly equal value to Jack’s ‘double gift’) at Christmas, which never seemed very fair to us as kids. So I can see this girl’s point, even if I do think the execution could do with a re-think and a bit of etiquette polishing.
I do feel sorry for the December babies. Mine’s August, so the problem I always had growing up was that everyone was gone on some vacation, or we were. Having to travel on your birthday sucks! Now that I’m not a kid it isn’t a big deal; I have no problem celebrating a week earlier/later. Two of my immediate family are December birthdays and I always go out of my way to make sure I use birthday or otherwise nuetral wrapping paper. It’s odd, because I’ve certainly used Christmas wrapping paper the rest of the year. (Turn it inside out, let the plain white side be your wrapping, and then decorate with markers if you’re artistic or stamps and bows if you aren’t.)
The Birthday Girl’s idea isn’t terrible, but demanding presents (and dictating the present) is awful. A better idea would have been to let word of mouth do the trick that you’re embracing the near-Christmas aspect of your birthday and would love a special ornament.
Grass is always greener, I’d love to have a Christmas birthday– I hate celebrating my birthday now that I’m an adult and would be thrilled to sweep it under the rug in favor of Christmas!
This wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, although she does come off as incredibly self-centered. I’d definitely bristle at being ordered to give an ornament that made her think of HER. Seriously?
I think that the problem with overindulging children for birthdays is that they grow up to expect that kind of treatment as adults. The whole, “Stop the world– it’s my birthday!” attitude is something I saw a lot of when I was in my young twenties. I was an unfortunate perpetuator for a couple of years until I realized that just being acknowledged on my birthday was a gift of itself.
Of course with facebook reminders and mass emails sent out from companies with cold birthday greetings, remembering someone’s birthday is no longer the symbol of friendship it once was, it’s all a bit pointless now.
Here’s a revolutionary idea: celebrate your birth by throwing a party that you sponsor without an expectation of gifts. Or take everyone out to dinner on your dime instead of expecting them to contribute to the check. So much better than the inevitable disappointment when people don’t live up to the expectations one’s entitlement sets for them.
I think that a good rule of thumb is to avoid using the word “loathe” when issuing invitations.
Not much to say about ornament thing because had actually never heard about specific ornament collections. But about the birthday parties, I have to comment that around here birthday parties are especially thrown by the birthday person (well, parents of course host for kids) and I’ve actually really never heard that anyone else would be hosting. There might be a odd surprise party thrown for someone but they are rare. And this “opposite thinking” goes also to offices and so on, instead of fellow coworkers getting something to partygirl/boy, the one celebrating treats coworkers with something, usually a cake/sweets/etc. I haven’t got the idea of why somebody else should host a party for something I want to celebrate (I might be doomed to ehell forever).
I have wondered about this in some other birthday related posts as well so I would like to ask, is always e-hellish to throw a BD party for yourself (especially in US where I assume admin is) or is the problem the fact that offender in the letter requested a gift. (Which is something I do think is not proper, as gift should not be requested.)
If I can make an addition to my previous post: I just re-read the admin’s comments. I personally live in a country where you host your own birthday party, and it is very uncommon for someone else to host it. Even more: you are expected to host your own party and people will inquire if you do not make it known you are having a party or not. That might also be why I am more sympathetic: I am used to hosting my own party, and the idea of someone else doing it strikes me as odd instead of normal.
Just wanted to say I thought the ornament swap party idea sounded fun! I may have to host one next year!
I have a birthday that is just after Christmas so most of my gifts (from family) came wrapped in Christmas wrap. I have learned not to expect much as people are partied out, shopped out & usually have the post-Christmas blues so I just suck it up and now enjoy that my birthday is a mere blip. My SIL on the other hand takes the opposite approach. My MIL has always made a point of reminding every one about the birthday, stressing gifts etc. My SIL had been single for a long time so didn’t get many gifts etc (just whatever she wanted from her parents & Daddy paying off her credit card every month). We complied for many years until this one. My SIL lives in another city so we do not see her unless she comes home for a brief visit over the holidays and was not coming home this year. We mailed off her Christmas gift but no birthday gift this year. The reason? If she cannot even bother to phone or email her brother or niece on their birthdays (I do not expect a gift just an acknowledgement) then she receives the same courtesy on her birthday that she shows others.
How timely! I have an colleague who has a birthday today ( Dec. 18th) and a friend who has a birthday on Saturday (Dec. 22). I already have my friend’s present and this morning I ran by a lovely local shop on my way in to work and got the colleague a personalized ornament. ( The shop owner is a fantastic artistic. He was able to personalize the ornament while I waited and put it in a special box that allows the ornament to dry without smearing!) She has an unusual name so it is impossible to get anything with her name unless you special order it.
I think that having a birthday so close to Christmas is tough, but I would never host a combo party, then tell people to bring a gift, much less what type of gift. How rude!
I’m a December baby and my late brother’s birthday was four days after mine. Having birthdays in December wasn’t such a big deal growing up, but having to share birthday parties certainly was! I was 18 before I had my very own birthday party. Which isn’t a huge issue when you’re 18, but when you’re 8, it is. I love when people remember my birthday, especially after fighting cancer this year, but I don’t call a lot of attention to it. And I’ve never had a problem with receiving combined birthday and Christmas gifts. A gift is a gift and I appreciate them all! Merry Christmas, and happy birthday to all you December people!
My mother was born on December 24th so I can understand the resentment of those born in December who have had a lifetime of getting one gift wrapped in Christmas paper. Mother hated it too.
I have to salute anyone with the courage to ask for a Christmas ornament that is “so me!” from the giver. I don’t think I would want to know what my friends consider as “so me” in ornaments. 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.”
It would have been best to just have a party without mentioning the birthdate. Your friends would know it was your birthday. Gifts, if they appear, are nice but can never be demanded.
Not to unload the blame because this person is now old enough to reflect and know better (and also not to obsess over her impending birthday like an 8-year-old); however, it’s often the parents who foster this kind of behaviour in little precious in the first place (like yesterday’s story). My sister-in-law currently seems to be making a concerted effort to turn her young children into gimme pigs. She’s got them singing about Santa all day, counting down his arrival and talking about all the things they’re going to get. I shudder to think how this is going to affect them as they get older.
While I agree that it is beyond tacky to demand gifts (a certain kind of gift, even!) in an invitation, I don’t understand what’s wrong with someone having a party for their birthday. Or, for that matter, hosting a group of friends at a restaurant, or what-have-you. If you are single and you don’t have someone to ‘host’ for you, then you shouldn’t celebrate your birthday? I can tell you as a married woman that even parties ‘hosted’ by my husband are really thrown by me – he doesn’t do the cooking, ordering, cleaning and organizing! (at least, he doesn’t take it on – he helps … some.) Birthday invitations do not necessitate gifts, and no proper invitation should mention them anyway. I can’t see what the problem is.
Similarly: do you think it’s rude for a couple to host their own wedding, something more typical for older or more established couples?
What have you done to honor the birthdays of your friends and family? Do you exert the same time, money and effort honoring their birthdays? If you are single and not one of your friends has the decency to host a birthday party for you (they are, after all, consumed with making sure they host their own birthday party to the exclusion of anyone else’s), then to your thinking, the answer is to honor yourself. It’s a selfish circle of self absorbed entitlement to get some recognition for having lived yet another year.
My birthday is Dec 26–the day after Christmas. (I won’t go into why it’s a lousy time of the year for a birthday, but my parents did try to make it special.) However, I think the point of this post was not really the perceived unfairness of having a December birthday as much as the woman was using it as an excuse to be a Gimme Pig. It always amazes me the excuses people use for their own selfish benefit.
BTW, if you do have a friend with a December birthday & you are giving them a gift, please don’t use Christmas wrapping paper, especially for a child!
Like most adults, I don’t care much about celebrating birthdays now, but I admit it bothered me way back when. It was never the gifts; it was wanting a day to stand out and be special, not to have my birthday ignored altogether. By my early 20s, I lit on the perfect solution. I keep a permanent fake birthday. I tell the truth on every government form and legal document, but if someone asks my birthday, I answer that I celebrate on Month, Day. My closest friends and family know the real date and wish me well on the fake date. If someone really wants to know the real date, I tell them, then reiterate when I prefer to celebrate. This actually works pretty well. I feel like my old birthday has faded into oblivion.
My mother, and now my nephew, have December birthdays, and the family follows the rule with my nephew that they did with Mom: no leftover Christmas paper, Christmas cards, etc, and put as much effort/thought into the birthday gifts as you do the Christmas ones. My mom and uncle (also a December baby) grew up getting christmas leftovers and low-budgeted presents while my other uncle got the whole megillah.
I don’t really see the problem with the OP’s friend’s invitation, either. I thought it was kind of cute. It’s not like she was saying “Anyone who thought they could just give me one present – nice try! If you don’t show up with two gifts, you can ride a one-horse open sleigh straight to hell!”
With regards to wrapping birthday presents in Christmas paper – my older daughter has a December 21 birthday, and I always end up wrapping her birthday presents and her Christmas presents at the same time. Plus, I always have tons of Christmas paper and hardly any birthday paper – so, yes, her birthday presents tend to have holly or Santas on them. I asked her once if she minded; she looked at me incredulously and said “I barely notice the paper, to tell you the truth.”
I also have a December birthday, but growing up, my parents always made sure the two were separate. Yes, certain years a big gift might have been BOTH a birthday and Christmas gift, bike, new luggage, etc., but i always got other smaller gifts for both birthday and Christmas.
as an adult, i have a group of friends who used to celebrate the holidays, including another friend whose birthday is a few days after mine. when we’d get together, there would always be a cake to celebrate, at our holiday celebration. I kind of wished sometimes my birthday wasn’t so close to Christmas, as I’d love to celebrate separately with the same friends, like we do for everyone else, but i never voiced that out loud.
as we’ve moved on in life, we don’t do this anymore, and this year, as my birthday fell on a sat, I had some relatives come for the weekend, and we had a great time! shopping, museuem, and a nice dinner out, and spending time with them. so much fun, I think I’m doing it again next year! or at least making plans on my own to celebrate!
My husband’s birthday is Dec 31. While I do the shopping for his Christmas gifts and birthday gifts at the same time, I purposely wrap the birthday presents in birthday paper. Its not that hard. Our cake does not say Happy New Year but Happy Birthday. I do think growing up he got short changed like many December babies.
My daughter has a Valentine’s Day birthday. Same deal – she gets birthday presents in birthday paper, not Valentine’s paper and she gets 2 cards; a birthday and a Valentine’s day. She actually loves having a Feb 14 birthday. When she was in elementary school, she used to claim that she was the only kid in her class that got a school birthday party (back in the days when you could actually have a class celebration).
“The Birthday Girl’s idea isn’t terrible, but demanding presents (and dictating the present) is awful.”
Thank you, Elf. For everyone saying they don’t see what’s wrong with this, here we are. You don’t tell your guests what to bring you before they’ve asked. It’s rude. This girl’s ‘ha ha ha, I’m so frank’ attitude gets on my wick as well. “So, while I loathe the “2 for 1? in gift giving…” What is she, 12?
My birthday is in June, so in high school and college it was always during the summer finals. That, and the fact that I grew up in a studio apartment, and my parents didn’t like having people over in those conditions, meant that I only had a few birthday parties growing up. Maybe because of that, I somehow never cared enough to celebrate my birthday in any way. If I get to do something nice with my close family members or SO on that day, that to me is a perfect way to spend my birthday and I do not need any other.
There is something I’ve been wanting to share on this site for a while. I come from a culture where you were *expected* to throw a party on your birthday, normally a big sit-down dinner, especially if it’s a big number like 30, 40, 50 etc. People were offended if you turned 30 or 40 and did not throw a birthday party. I have a group of friends here in America that are all originally from my native country. When our 40th birthdays rolled around, a few of us (including myself) tried to carry on the old tradition and throw a party. I’d never hosted my own birthday party before; my parents did it for me when I turned 10, 14 and 16, and then my coworkers at my first job put together a joint party for my 25th and my manager’s 40th. After that, my babies were born and I never had a chance to celebrate my birthday until my 40th. Well what can I say. I invited my friends to my birthday party because I felt I had to, and they were expecting it. My intentions were good, but the party felt forced and embarrassing. At the end, I felt like I’d forced my guests into coming over, bringing gifts, and saying nice things about me. If I could do it all over again, I would not host the party. Don’t know how our parents and grandparents did it for their own birthdays in the old country; hosting your own birthday party is just insanely awkward from my experience. I have to add that, in my group of friends, people stopped throwing their own 40th parties pretty quickly, after a few of us did it. I guess it felt just as weird to everyone else as it did to me.
The request for an ornament that is “so me” is so bizarre. Way to put pressure on your guests. I suggest they each go to cafepress and order a personalized ornament with her picture on it. That should make for an interesting-looking tree, heh heh. I love Admin’s idea of an ornament exchange party, by the way!
Well I am one of the eHell members who thinks its perfectly alright to throw yourself a birthday party… but I don’t think there are very many who think its ok to ask for a gift! I think they are two totally different ends of the spectrum – on one end a person is using their birthday as the opportunity to host their friends, and to provide and give. Asking for a gift is the way other end of the spectrum and totally unrelated.
So in that sense I think this person was wise to be proactive about hosting herself a party – as mentioned people with birthday’s near the holidays often do get shafted, so if someone wants a party, its seems to me a good idea to take on the stress and hassle oneself.
The rudeness in this story is solely about the gifts. Requesting them in the first place and then suggesting it as a great idea to someone else.
“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. ”
I think this is really two different ideas that are being conflated. In a lot of circles, people do host their own birthday parties, but it’s with the unspoken understanding that gifts are not expected–it’s more “come by because I want to see you on my birthday.” There are a lot of people who may be OK with that type of party but not OK with demanding a specific type of gift as admission, which is just tacky as heck.
You still cannot grasp the concept that hosting your own party in which you are also the guest of honor being honored, even without gifts being given, is spectacularly entitled, self absorbed and ego centric. It’s saying, “I deserve to be honored and the day of my entrance on this planet recognized but I cannot think of a single friend of mine that I would consider hosting a birthday celebration in their honor.”
” when he was little it wasn’t unusual for non-family members to get him a single gift which they wrapped in Christmas paper and declared to be ‘your birthday and Christmas present all in one!’. The problem being, Jack’s brother would have had his birthday a few months previously and would receive a present then, plus another one (often of roughly equal value to Jack’s ‘double gift’) at Christmas, which never seemed very fair to us as kids. ”
Yup… I have a sister born close to Christmas and when she was a child, she duly noted that we siblings got both birthday and Christmas gifts, while she was always gifted with one “Birthmas” present because no one wanted to bother. While she’s now older and politer, I do still send a seperate birthday present because its not a very nice way to feel… that people don’t want to bother.
I will say tho, birthday wrap versus Christmas wrap – this happens because its cold and I am wrapping other gifts and if i don’t have birthday wrap, you get Christmas wrap because I’m not driving in snow for 2 dollars worth of birthday wrap when there’s perfectly fine candy cane themed wrap right here. Complainers get their gifts wrapped in newspaper.
My son was born on Christmas Day. He has never once complained about celebrating both events at once. He’s the only one for whose special day all the extended family is present, and we always do whatever-themed cake he wants. And sometimes, he has asked for a Chrismas theme. Furthermore, as he’s gotten older, his “twofer” gifts are just that. We can combine the budgets for his birthday gifts and Christmas gifts to purchase one or two expensive gifts, and he likes that.
Using the word “loathe” in a party invitation is—well—loathsome.
I’m a Christmas baby – Dec 24th to be exact – and, as a child, I hated having a Christmas birthday. I always got “Birthday/Christmas” presents and never got to have a birthday party. I was jealous of my two sisters, born in the summer, who had birthday parties and got presents twice a year. That’s kids for you, though; birthdays are big deals when you’re a child and you do expect to receive gifts. As an adult, Iyou should know better: A gift is just that – a gift. It is not an entitlement, and blatantly asking for one is just rude.
The “moi” is the bow on top of the whole gimme package for me; now I can’t get the voice of Miss Piggy out of my head.
Just call me J – I’m with you on people remembering my birthday.
I celebrated my birthday on Sunday and was not surprised the Monday after when the only cards I received were from my Babci (grandma) and my out of state Aunt. I did get a phone call and texts from a few people, and the facebook messages, but I’m not expecting any gifts, nor did I ask for them. I have my stationary all set to send out my thank you notes as well. (Thank you Miss Jeanne for reminding me of what etiquette is really about! Best birthday gift ever!!)
The way I see it, this isn’t much different from enclosing registry information in a wedding invitation. Yuck.
By adulthood, people need to realize that everyone has a birthday and it’s not that big of a deal. I’ve had quite a few myself, so I should know.
My daughter’s birthday is today, the 18th. She is only nine years old, so any present she gets is appreciated by her, and me. My parent’s and my husband and I came up with an idea last year that seems to work well for us, so far. We give my daughter the option of lots of “little” gifts to open on her birthday and Christmas, or one big present that counts for both days. Last year she wanted a hand held gaming system that was pretty expensive. My parent’s and my hubby and I pooled our money and she got the system and some games and opened them on Christmas day. For her birthday party, she got new clothes and inexpensive toys like play doh, coloring books and markers etc….knowing Santa was bringing her “big” gift with him. She didn’t feel slighted on her birthday in the least. We will see how this whole theory works when she hits her teen age years!
I’m not trying to argue, but I do have a question. Ettiquette-wise, what’s the difference between asking everyone to bring an ornament to a birthday party and asking everyone to bring an ornament to an ornament exchange party? Aren’t you instructing your guests what to bring in both cases?
Asking everyone to bring an ornament just for YOU is entirely different than everyone bringing an ornament that will get swapped with someone else. In the former, only one person benefits from the ornaments whereas in the latter, everyone walks away with a new ornament.
I’m a December baby. My parents made sure my birthday was celebrated as a birthday, but as I got older they asked me if I’d like a lot of things, you know, seperate gifts for my BD and then for Christmas, or if I’d rather combine the two occasions and get one or two nice things.
I wasn’t stupid. One or two nice things it was. One year I got a guitar. I’m still playing.
Long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a child, my best friend was Johnny, the boy across the street whose birthday was December 25th.
When he first told me he was born on Christmas Day, I didn’t believe him; it didn’t seem possible or right for someone to have a birthday on Christmas Day! (I was about 5 years old at the time.) So Johnny showed my his mother’s scrap-book, which had an article from our very-small-town newspaper with a picture of him and his mother in the hospital on the day he was born, the only child born on Christmas Day in our town that year.
Because little kids set a lot of store by birthday parties, and Johnny’s parents knew that having birthday parties with his friends would be a problem because of the date, they decided to have his “public” birthday, with a party where his friends were all invited, on June 25th. Since it was summer, the party was usually a “pool party” or something similar, and was a lot of fun. It was treated as just another birthday, and all of Johnny’s friends enjoyed it as such. (There is precedent for this sort of birthday offsetting: the reigning monarch in England has an “official” birthday during the good weather, a very public affair, and a private birthday that’s the real birthday.)
The family held a more private, family-oriented party for Johnny on Christmas Eve. As an adult, I always thought that was a pretty darn good solution to the problem of dealing with a birthday that falls on Christmas Day. The birthday person doesn’t get shortchanged in celebration, and mom and dad have an easier time putting together a birthday party for the friends of the birthday child to attend. Everybody wins.
Regarding the solicitation of Christmas ornaments as gifts in today’s story, I agree that the Birthday Girl is being kind of gauche about the thing, particulary the wording of the invitation. But I’m not ready to declare her a “gimme-pig” just on the evidence of this one submission. I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she’s genuinely trying to relieve her invitees of the supposition that they might have that they should get her two gifts, one for her birthday and one for Christmas, and she just wants to make things easier for the guests.
My reason for believing this? The Christmas ornaments she’s soliciting are not usually highly expensive items. With some thought and care, you can find– or even make– a nice ornament for $10 or less. That doesn’t seem to me to be “gimme-pig-ish” behavior, especially given that most guests are going to want to bring her a gift anyway, and many would be inclined to either spend more than they would for an ornament. And there would certainly be some people who would give her two gifts: a birthday present and a Christmas present. While the wording of the invitation is clearly soliciting one gift, it is also clearly relieving the guests of the apprehension that they should bring two. That doesn’t sound to me like something a “gimme-pig” would do.
(I should mention that among the more treasured Christmas ornaments I have are ornaments made with pictures of my cats and horse that my best friend has presented me with. These probably cost her less than $5 to make, and every year when I put them up on my tree, they make me smile. )
So I’m going to swim against the tide on this one. Knowing that people whose birthdays coincide with Christmas have a tough time separating the holiday from their birthday, and also knowing that what the perceived transgressor in today’s submission is asking for is not a gift bonanza, I will not declare her a “gimme-pig;” she escapes with a “ham-handed invitation” technical misdemeanor.
I can see how the Christmas/birthday twofer might affect a little kid, but if you’re old enough to host your own party, you’re old enough to stop complaining about the amount of presents you receive. I’m glad OP is mature enough to recognize this.
@Lo- I think you hit the nail on the head. Sometimes parents are so enthusiastic in the celebration of their child’s milestones that they leave themselves no room to grow, so to speak. I don’t think that parents cannot have extravagant celebrations. It’s just that however families celebrate, it helps if the message communicated is one of love AND gratitude. That way, if you have to travel for a birthday or your presents didn’t add up to your cousin’s or your friends ditched you on your birthday because they are now married with children or whatever, you can cope with grace. And you probably won’t be guilty of throwing yourself a birthday party or baby shower or other party where you solicit gifts or contributions in the form of cash and goods as the price of admission to your Big Event. And then you’ll probably be popular and live happily ever after because you are so easy to hang out with! Then, you’ll get discovered by a Talent Scout searching for Polite People for a new and innovative reality show where people actually get along and are kind to one another….maybe….Or, you’ll get promoted to some great spot because of your impeccable manners and overall lack of melodrama….
Sorry for being a bit silly!
Like the OP, my birthday is Dec 15 (as is Julie Taymor, Michael Shanks, Don Johnson, Garret Wang, the list goes on) and while yes, it can be a drag that you get lost in the shuffle of holiday shopping (OMG! Only 10 days left to get little Jimmy that must-have do-dad!) it’s not the end of the world. I make it a point to remember the birthdays of all my friends with a card or a little craft I’ve made because growin up so near Christmas, I learned that giving is so much more rewarding than getting.
My birthday is new years day, so I empathize with the invitation sender’s not liking the Chrismabirthday gifts that tend to happen. I think this really comes from being a small child and going to many friends’ birthday parties and watching my sister’s birthday being celebrated with parties, but never having more than one friend if any show up for my own. On top of that family would send these combo presents that meant I didn’t have more gifts to open on my birthday like my sister did on hers. My sister’s birthday is just a few weeks later, so the comparison was hard to miss. Really the hurt came from not being remembered and feeling generally unimportant.
Not saying that the sender was right to send that invitation, since that’s still absurd. But I do understand the hurt of feeling like you’re missing out on something others take for granted – like your birthday being celebrated on its own instead of being brushed aside by other holidays.
My brother was born on December 30 and I always make it a point to get him a Christmas present for Christmas and a birthday present of at least equal value that has nothing to do with his Christmas present. And I buy birthday wrapping paper. He never demands this of me, though, and he doesn’t complain when he gets a combined Christmas/birthday gift. Our parents would have put him in his place years ago if he tried to pull something like that.
I’m one who sees nothing wrong with “hosting” your own birthday parties and I think the LW is very rude. Especially with her phrasing. She “loathes” the 2-in-1 gifting which seems to say that although she’s giving people an idea for the one birthday/Christmas gift she wants, she really hates the fact that it will count for both gifts and that it’s a burden on her to only have one present. It’s just…ungrateful.
Several of the other posters are really smacking of ingratitude today as well. Who cares what your gift is wrapped in? I’ve gotten gifts handed to me that weren’t even wrapped, gifts handed to me in Christmas paper (and my birthday is in the Spring), in Easter paper (my birthday falls on Easter occasionally), and in newspaper. It DOES NOT matter. And if you really put that much stock in the paper that the gift is wrapped in, I’m going to venture and say that you don’t deserve the gift that comes in it because your priorities are kind of screwy.
My Mum’s pet peeve is getting a birthday present in Christmas paper. Her birthday is on the 22nd.
As for WildIrishRose, I have a twin, I never had a birthday for myself until my sister went off to university in a different city. You guys may have had parties together, but you never had to share the exact date. As it is, I miss my sister on my birthday, because when we were together we split the attention, and that was easier to handle.