The Half Birthday Solution

My son’s summer birthday has never worked out all that well. It’s at the end of July, when so many of our friends have fled Brooklyn for The Hamptons, upstate NY and Cape Cod that one year, we had to cancel his party altogether because not one person could come. Try explaining THAT to a kid.

After that horrible experience we made his party smaller – quality over quantity. He got to pick a few friends (who we verified would be in town) and go to a baseball game or something like that. That seemed like a good plan.

Then, this year, our kids wanted to go to sleepaway camp. And with Jake’s birthday right smack dab in the middle of summer, there was just no avoiding it: he would be gone for his birthday.


Jake getting his special camp birthday shirt

He said that he was OK with this. The camp made a big deal out of birthdays, we would arrange to call him (which turned out to be a bad idea), we sent him presents, and we’d make it up to him before and after. We took the kids to Olive Garden the night before they left for camp (his usual birthday request), and today I’m making him some Devil’s Food cupcakes with a peanut butter center (OMG yum). And we’ll do the whole candle and singing thing.

But it’s just not the same. It’s not the same as getting to treat him special all day, of planning a party and a big dinner and watching him unwrap presents, giving him big birthday bear hugs, and watching him pause for a moment before blowing out his candles because kids take those birthday wishes very seriously!

We’d toyed around with celebrating his half-birthday before, but camp is finally making us officially pull the trigger: I just put January 30th on the calendar as his big day, and I’m excited. He’ll finally be able to give invites to his class, and bring in cupcakes just for his birthday (instead of the “Summer Birthday Cupcakes” I’d been bringing in the last few Junes – it had been his idea to share the honor with the other kids in the same situation).

And he’s really excited that he can do something “wintery” for his party now – ice skating maybe. But mostly, I think he’s relieved that he won’t be choosing camp over a special day with his family every year. Every kid deserves to be fussed over on his birthday.

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  1. says

    We had the opposite problem with my granddaughter, 4 year old Imogen as her birthday is the 24th December (great Christmas present for us :)), we now have a low key celebration on her birthday so as not to spoil Christmas for her and have a half birthday celebration in June.

    • says

      @Elaine: I love it! I know a couple of people who have late December birthdays, and they always felt like their birthday was lost in the shuffle – and they usually got only one gift where they should have gotten two! I love your solution.

  2. Ashleigh says

    I find this interesting. Growing up my sister’s birthday was January 7th. Most weren’t in town for a birthday party and many times family just tried to celebrate it along with Christmas. The solution was to have a half birthday in July which worked out beautifully for her.
    Perhaps it would have been easier to just push her party to the end of January or early February. I can’t remember if we ever tried that. Maybe this decision comes from where you are located. We are in California so not many friends run off for vacation in the summer, but they are usually gone in January.
    My other sister has a July birthday and has always had parties on her birthday and almost all those invited are able to attend.
    I hope this is the right solution for Jake’s birthday party in January. It’s tough being a kid who attends others parties but no one can attend yours. Hopefully he finally gets the party with attending guests he deserves!

    • says

      @Ashleigh: Thanks so much for your comment Ashleigh – it never occurred to me that the situation would be so different in CA, but that makes total sense! Here in Brooklyn in January I think we’re just hunkered down and digging in. But in summer, it’s a ghost town. A friend visited me yesterday, and was thrilled to get a parking spot right in front of my house. :-)

  3. says

    People don’t do sleep away camp here like they do in NY (I still don’t understand it at all), so summer birthdays are kind of cool. You can do so much more fun stuff… pool parties, bouncy houses, the zoo, etc. I guess my kids are younger, though. =}

    We have no food allowed for school birthdays (food allergies). Kids can bring in other stuff, but no cupcakes. It has created a weird phenomenon of kids bringing in gifts to give their friends to celebrate their birthdays. In Kindergarten it was almost always pencils, but the first First Grade bday just came and the kid gave out large wind-up toys. Way to set the bar, overachieving mom…

    Anyway, I love that you did this. Birthdays should be special and I like the idea of being flexible and creative enough to keep them that way.

    • says

      @Christy: I would be so upset if I couldn’t bring in cupcakes, or something homemade. If there were a kid with an allergy I could work around it! Although I could understand the other parent not wanting to take the chance.

      But as for the camp thing, I actually don’t have many friends who send their kids away to sleepaway camp, at least not for as long as we did. It’s the entire family that tends to be gone! Everybody flees NYC in the summer.

  4. says

    This is so interesting to me because I never thought of the flip side of having a summer birthday. I was born in February and HATED my limited indoor birthday party options. In fact, one year my mom let me do the half-birthday celebration so I could finally have a pool party! When my son was also born in February I was bummed that he would be stuck with the same issue. Guess there’s an upside and downfall no matter when you’re born :)

    • says

      @Meridith: That’s so funny. My kids have been begging for an ice skating party for years! But I don’t even know where we would have a pool party – all the pools we go to belong to the city! The grass is always greener… :-)

  5. says

    We celebrate half-birthdays with my niece and nephew, who live across the country from us, and they do with my son. This way, their presents and well-wishes are really special and not just part of the “pile” that happens at birthday time. It’s so much fun for them to get a box of presents from their special aunt/uncle/cousin(s) mid-year, plus a special birthday call. This year, the first for my son, we lit a candle on a cupcake and his cousins sang to him via Facetime. Half-birthdays rock!

  6. says

    What a great idea! My son’s birthday is on 23rd Dec and we always have to wait till the first week of January to celebrate! Maybe I can introduce this concept so that he can have a birthday in June!

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