How to Make People With December Birthdays Feel Special

I’m going to be frank — my birthday hasn’t felt special in a long time. The last several birthdays have felt just like any other day. I’m sure it has a lot to do with growing up but I’m still young — there should be some magic left in turning another year older and celebrating myself!

The thing is that my birthday is on December 12 and lately it’s been swept up, swallowed up and totally overshadowed by the holidays. It wasn’t so much a problem as a kid because my parents were very good at throwing me birthday parties and making cupcakes for my classmates to celebrate with me. In high school, my friends wrote me notes and gave me gifts and even threw me a lunch-time birthday party. But then in college, my friends and I were all broke because it was the end of the semester so it was hard to go out and party or eat and everyone was studying for finals or going back home so it was always like welp. Once I became an adult, that’s when my birthday went from being a spectacular sprinkle-filled all-about-me day to an afterthought in the way of holiday shopping, parties, traveling and straight-up holiday madness.

I sound like Scrooge right now but people with birthdays in April don’t have to deal with this, you know? I will say there have been moments in the last few years when I’ve felt special on my birthday like when I’ve gotten mail from my mom, sister and grandma with a birthday note inside or like when my friends and I scream/sang System of the Down songs in my apartment one birthday or that one time Gloria bought me M&M’s on my birthday when we were freshman in college. You see, it doesn’t take much but those are the things that carry the most weight in my heart.

If you’ve got a non-December birthday, then listen up — you’ve got it made! Your birthday is not eclipsed by holiday cheer, capitalism, Santa and Jesus. So why don’t you help make our neglected birthday special? Just leave all your holiday stress at the door and give us, December babies, your undivided attention. That’s all, I swear. I’ve got some tips to make all the December birthdays in your life feel special, damn it! Here’s how you’re going to do it.


Don’t Do This

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Don’t forget their birthday. I mean, this seems pretty straight forward but in the total chaos of the holiday season, your friend’s birthday can become lost. Jot down a reminder for yourself in your calendar.

Don’t get them gifts from a holiday sale. Stay away from the body lotion sets, holiday makeup sets, any holiday gift set tbh, holiday pajamas, holiday socks, scarves and mittens. Believe me, they’ve received 100+ versions of each of these items from well-intentioned family members their entire life.

Don’t wrap their presents in holiday/winter wonderland wrapping paper or anything in red or green unless those are their favorite colors. Y’all, I know it’s super easy to grab the cute penguin/snowman wrapping paper that’s sitting right there but opt for something different. Consider making your own wrapping paper with grocery store paper bags. Or check out these super cool printed wrapping paper.

Don’t talk about how you’re stressed about holidays or finals in their presence. I know it’s what’s on your mind and it’s great to unload with your loved one but they don’t want to hear it, at least not on their birthday. Talk about their favorite things.

Do This

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DIY their gift, make them a birthday card or write them a cute note. During this peak capitalist time of the year, something homemade goes a long way. Here’s some stationery inspiration. 

Make some time for them. Call them. Text them. Snapchat them why they’re awesome. Visit them. Go to their damn dinner party. Hang out with them at their favorite bar. I think the downfall of having a December birthday is that nobody has time for you because they’ve got 100,000 parties and things to do. As Jezebel aptly puts it:

“With that much demand in that small of a window, I hate to break it to you… but if you haven’t sent out an invite, your friends have already made plans. So either choose to attend one (or more) of the parties you’ve no doubt already been invited to, or risk spending one of the best Saturdays of the year drinking your homemade eggnog alone, with no one around to compliment the Fixer Upper-branded “SHIPLAP” holiday sweater you bought online specifically for the occasion. Sorry.”

Ask what they want to do for their birthday and carry out the plan. Because it’s such a stressful time of the year, maybe your friend doesn’t have time for their own birthday. It would be super nice if someone else was in charge of carrying out their birthday plans. Help them make the reservation at the restaurant. Help clean their house for their kickback. Host the kickback at your house. Be in charge of picking up the booze, etc. Be the designated driver for the night.

Save your money and spend it on the birthday queer. Seriously, take $20 bucks (or whatever your budget allows) out of your account now and put it away in a savings account or physically stash it away. The holidays mean you’re low on cash because you’re buying presents for family and friends already, food for holiday potlucks and spending money for transportation. It’s hard to buy a drink for your friend or go to their fancy dinner or even get them a freaking birthday card. If you save it now, you’re less likely to bail on them and can celebrate guilt-free!

Make or buy them a cake. Show your person you love them a whole lot with a cake or whatever sweet thing they’re into. I swear, they’ll feel like they’re a magical unicorn. Don’t forget the candles! Here are some suggestions.

Make them dinner.  When your birthday lands on a weekday it can be a real bummer because nobody’s got time for you. But if you’re a really kickass person, then you can make the birthday queer a warm, home-cooked meal on their special day.

Buy them tacos. You can make any day a special day if you buy a person tacos.


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Yvonne S. Marquez is a senior editor at Autostraddle and a Latina lesbian living in Dallas, Texas. She’s originally from a weird/wonderful place called the Rio Grande Valley, a region along the Texas-Mexico border. She studied magazine journalism in Austin and worked for a local gay & lesbian magazine for a hot second. She’s a true INFJ, Sagittarius and Ravenclaw, so basically she’s quiet and thinks a lot. In her spare time, she tries to read as many books by women of color as she can, hangs out with a bunch of socialists and social justice organizers, and likes drinking local beer. Connect with her on Tumblr or on Twitter.

Yvonne has written 178 articles for us.

34 Comments

  1. 0

    <3 to you Yvonne! My birthday is just a couple of days before Christmas, and somehow I just love this time of year that much more. I like getting presents wrapped in Christmas paper! (I'm super weird.) But the day itself did really stress me out for a long time in my twenties, until I came up with a really specific b-day tradition – everyone in my fam & close friends who is free and willing on my bday (and no pressure to be free) takes an affordable day trip into the mountains to throw snowballs at each other and drink hot toddies or cocoa, and it feels special no matter how many people are able to come. I do always feel a bit guilty for taking up a whole day when friends and family could be prepping for Christmas, butttt that's what they get, because I'm special, right? 😀

  2. 0

    Our oldest will be 8 on Christmas day. When I was in labor with her for all of Christmas Eve I hoped she would join us before the 25th. No luck. So this year we are having Christmas at home with presents on Christmas Eve and her birthday all day on the 25th. We always give her a half birthday too so she has a day that’s all hers.

  3. 0

    My ex’s brother was born on Christmas freaking Day. So, basically, he does not have a birthday to speak of and I always feel so bad. I don’t really know him well enough to celebrate it with him, but this is definitely something I will pass along!

  4. 0

    My mom’s birthday is December 11. So not only is it exactly two weeks from Christmas, she had to share it with her older sister–being she was born on her sister’s 9th birthday.
    I learned early to NEVER wrap a birthday gift in Christmas paper. And that a birthday pie is very acceptable–as you have a pie and your sister has a cake.

  5. 0

    my bday is on the 29th so it always gets super overshadowed between christmas and NYE plans. i’m usually too stressed and overwhelmed to put effort into planning things for myself, especially when i know everyone already has plans anyway. even just the acknowledgment that it’s a shitty situation feels nice!

  6. 0

    Yes! My birthday is in November but always right around Thanksgiving, sometimes on Thanksgiving day, and I relate to this! As a kid all my birthday parties were so small cause only about three or four friends would be available. And still as an adult friends are still so busy and it’s hard to make my birthday feel special. This year it was so boring and felt pointless.

  7. 0

    My sisters birthday is on Thanksgiving and my sister-in-laws is on Christmas Day. I always try to do something special for both of them, I’ve never thought to ask them before what they would like. I don’t know why, it’s something that I’m going to try to make a priority every year for both of them. I love this article, it’s so perfect. Thank you!

  8. 0

    🙋🏻 My bday is on Dec 21st!
    I love that it falls on winter solstice/longest night of year and that it’s on the cusp of Saggitarius/Capricorn even though I’m a total Sagg. I hate that it’s over shadowed by xmas, which I don’t even celebrate anymore..
    I love celebrating my bday though so every year I try and do smthng extra special; although I spent the last one crying alone 🙁 this year isn’t gonna be great either as I just started doing a long distance thing so I am away from my partner and everyone I know; I really don’t wanna spend my bday crying again so I’m thinking of taking myself out on a couple nights trip and make the most of it even though I’ll be by myself.

  9. 0

    My birthday is exactly one month after christmas, totally fine with me. But my boyfriend’s birthday is December 27th (with christmas on 24th here in Germany). His parents never celebrated it but for some reason everybody did celebrate his grandma’s birthday the same day. He celebrated his name day instead (and we’re not even catholics…). Then again, it wasn’t even his real name day, his mom apparently picked a wrong day. Anyways, he hates his birthday and doesn’t care for his name day at all. It makes me so sad to see that and I try to make his birthday extra special this year. I loved birthdays as a kid, I hope someday he’ll like them too.

  10. 0

    The person people would refer to as my boyfriend has December the 24 as a birthday. Never had a person over for a birthday or spend time with on it before, ever and only got sweaters as presents from the fam. And silly X-mas ornaments from friends.

    My tradition is to make strawberry birthday pie, but this year I’m very likely not going to be able to afford them fresh and might just using strawberry jam/jelly/preserves for pastelitos.
    He will still bounce like little puppy presented with their food bowl.

    December b-day people are neglected AF my summer b-day peeps.

    Think about the December b-day person in ya life, what do they like? What are their interests?

    Old weird comics?
    Go to a convention and browse the 1 dolla comics

    A specific food or desert?
    Make it or buy.

    This person is you beau/bae?
    Get them funny undies

    Not ya beau/bae?
    Funny shirt or mug that isn’t X-masy

    http://6dollarshirts.com/

    They looking to dapp up their wardrobe, but you don’t understand ties/how to size?
    Gift card to place that has ties, yes target gift card counts to me

    JUST NO FREAKIN SWEATERS
    Unless it is supper relevant to their interests/sense of humor

    This person super in your life/very important?
    Be scoping all year round for something so you can get the thing before it’s winter and you’re strapped for cash, but remember where you put the thing.

    • 0

      Oi and some January babies feel neglectish too, so same stuff applies.

      One of the January babies in my life is dead and he was pleased as punch to dine out with us.
      It’s one of my last memories of my grandfather before the cancer and alzheimer came knocking is that dining experience.

      Just think what that person would like, what you can do with time and money you have.

  11. 0

    Reading this thinking to self ‘ must check facebook to see who I know with a December Birthday’ Wife of 10 years walks in resplendent from summer afternoon nap. Ah. that would be ‘Love of Life, December 16th’ . Thanks Yvonne for the timely reminder!

  12. 0

    CHRISTMAS EVE baby here. I can tell you it was wonderful when I saw a child. Now, it just plain sucks. BUT, at least, this year, we got tickets to see Cate Blanchett on Broadway ON Christmas Eve, so all is well in my world..:)

  13. 0

    I’m a New Years Eve baby. December 31. Whenever someone finds out or looks at my ID, they go “Hey! New Years Eve! You must party every year!” Yeah NO. Everyone always has other plans on New Years Eve, always. And no matter what we decide to do, the New Years Eve festivities completely overshadow my birthday. Think about it. If your birthday is ANY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR, you can go out on your birthday and celebrate till the bars close and people will still buy you drinks and it will still be your birthday and it will still be about you. On my birthday, the world literally counts down the seconds till it’s over and then everyone is super stoked about it being a new day. Last year? Forgotten. December? Forgotten. My birthday? FORGOTTEN. Moving on to bigger and better things. Fuck that.

    My wife understands. Her birthday is Valentine’s Day. So basically… it’s impossible for either of us to get dinner or hotel reservations for our birthdays unless we book them about six months in advance.

    • 0

      I feel you. I was born also on December 31st and my name day is on the 1st of January. I literally go without notice with all the hustle by everyone. Except a few old friends who always remeber to call me and wish for the best, everyone has plans that don.t include me.

  14. 0

    Also, you forgot to mention one very important DON’T. DO NOT do combo gifts. If I got you a separate birthday present and a Christmas present, then it is not really cool to give me one present and say it’s for both. And agreed about the wrapping paper thing. I hate birthday gifts wrapped in Christmas paper!

  15. 0

    My entire family (minus one) is born between the solstice and the new year (*waves tiny Capricorn flag*), so I can vouch for all of these. Top of the list for sure is DO SOMETHING because we hear ‘oh sorry I’ll be out of town/too busy/broke as fuck’ every year from everyone. The friend who breaks that and makes time for their Holiday Birthday Mates? we are never letting go of you <3

    (For the love of everything do not call Christmas presents 'double duty!' if you really love us. That's a one-way ticket to YOUR birthday getting forgotten next year x__x)

  16. 0

    7th of January is mine and it’s equally as bad because no one cares once holiday season is over. It’s like everyone is relieved to finish the holidays and they are broke from Christmas and New Years then it’s like oh… your birthday I forgot
    I mean I love my birthday its great but it’s nice if someone remembers 🙂

  17. 0

    One quick addition- definitely do not get one thing for both Christmas and their birthday! There is no faster way to make me feel unimportant than when people get me one gift and/or one card (ESPECIALLY when it’s just one card, like, even if you can’t do two gifts, you could at least write two things!) and one alone- I feel like the Budget Relative (TM), and it sucks. Like, they haven’t forgotten, they just straight up didn’t feel like putting in the effort to deal with both things.

    …definitely not still mad about certain childhood Christmases. Not at ALL.

  18. 0

    Two of my best friends have birthdays on Dec. 17 and 18 and I always felt so bad for them when we were in high school together – they always had midterms on their birthdays! This is a great list for me to keep in mind.
    Also, my birthday is in April and it sometimes falls on Easter, so I totally get the December/Christmas birthday struggles. It sucks. My 21st birthday was on Easter (and during Passover) and all of my friends were visiting their families for the holidays, so no one was around that weekend.

  19. 0

    This guide is really good. My mom’s birthday is on December 24th and in Germany, we exchange gifts for christmas on that same exact day. I think it was really hard for her as a kid, but now her birthdays are really nice.
    We have always had a couple of rules, but the most important are these:
    – As long as it’s mom’s birthday, it’s not christmas. Most of the time, she does brunches, and we only start saying stuff like “merry christmas” after the brunch is over and the guests have left.
    – she gets two gifts, duh, and the more personal one is the birthday gift (like, wenn I get her a necklace and something more practical, the necklace would be the birthday gift)

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