Personal Story

Why I’m Considering Throwing a Half-Birthday Party for My Kids

written by ZARA HANAWALT
kids half birthday celebration"
kids half birthday celebration
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

If you’re a parent, you know exactly what the month of December is all about. It’s about attempting to cram a full month of work into a few weeks because your kids will be home from school for at least half the month. It’s about the pressure to create ~holiday magic~ and go to all the parties and attend every holiday performance, and get it all done while never, ever letting your kids see how stressful and overwhelming it all is. December is also prime virus season, with illnesses more omnipresent than Mariah Carey’s rendition of All I Want for Christmas is You. Which is to say throwing a kid’s birthday party during the month is not ideal.

When my twins’ December birthday rolled around in 2022, I was so excited to throw a party to celebrate them. We were just beginning to emerge from our COVID cocoon, and I looked forward to the chance to host old friends while also welcoming the new friends my kids had made during their first few months of preschool.

But a few days before the party, one of my children spiked a fever. I held my breath, wondering if we’d have to cancel the party my kids were so excited about. Luckily, both of my children were well for 24 hours before the party, so we went ahead with our pediatrician’s blessing. But on the day of the party, I received text after text from several parents whose own kids were sick and unable to attend.

Reasons to Celebrate Your Child’s Half-Birthday

The following year, I spent weeks deliberating how to approach their celebration. I quickly realized that there’s another barrier to planning a December party: Venue availability.

Seasonal Availability

When I asked the owner of a local kids’ bookstore if she could accommodate one more party, she told me she was fully committed for the month. She also added that December is the hardest month for availability thanks to all the holiday events, staff absences, and holiday closures.

When I joked that I was about ready to pretend my kids were actually born at another time of year and celebrate their birthday then, she said something that surprised me. “Why not? I’m a December baby, too, and my mom always celebrated my half-birthday instead”.

Timing and Schedules

After that conversation, I began to seriously consider implementing a half-birthday party tradition for my kids. Initially, I thought about throwing them a party in January, after the holiday rush—but truthfully, after the holiday season, hosting a party was the last thing I wanted to do. And, of course, a January celebration would keep us firmly in cold and flu season.

I get that a half-birthday celebration in June is also not the best time to plan a party, as people are traveling a lot over the summer. But compared to the logistical, virus-invested, terrible weather-ridden hellscape that is December? Navigating travel schedules sounds like a piece of cake.

Additionally, kids with summer birthdays are getting classroom celebrations on their half-birthdays (or at other points throughout the year). Overall, we’re doing a better job of acknowledging that every kid deserves a joyful birthday celebration.

Half-Birthday Parties Don’t Necessarily Mean “Over-Celebrating”

However, social media—especially TikTok —is full of parents sharing their elaborate half-birthday setups for their kids. This isn’t particularly surprising: After all, the standard for celebrations is sky-high for parents right now. See: The expectation that parents make fancy Christmas Eve boxes, Easter baskets, and Halloween and Valentine’s Day treat bags for each of their child’s classmates. And yeah, there’s a point where this becomes over-celebrating, which creates an even more unrealistic set of expectations for busy parents. Under the pressure of over-celebrating, parents feel they have no choice but to do more (and spend more) to keep up with other families.

So, I get it: You may hear that someone is throwing their kid a half-birthday party and roll your eyes. You may think it sounds so overly indulgent—the cherry on top of a highly extravagant birthday party culture where parents throw Pinterest-worthy parties for every occasion. And yeah, if kids see fancy half-birthday parties on social media or among their friends, they may ask their parents for similarly extravagant parties—and that raises the standards and expectations for those parents even higher, which is the last thing families need. Throwing a party for your kids is a lot of work (and a lot of money)—and for most families, hosting a birthday party and a half-birthday for each of your kids is just not in the cards. 

Because of that, the half-birthday trend we’re seeing is definitely not all good. But at the same time, there are reasons that may make it worthwhile for families. Because at the end of the day, you just don’t know why someone might opt for a half-birthday celebration.

Source: Canva

Why I’m Still Weighing the Reasons to Celebrate My Kids’ Half-Birthday

In my case, I have two kids who share a birthday, which means I only get to have one celebration a year. And the fact that the celebration comes at such a hectic, stressful, virulent time? It certainly puts a damper on things. 

My kids are little, and to them, birthdays are still magical. I want them to have the birthday party memories surrounded and celebrated by friends and family. I want those occasions to be as joyful as possible. And when I envision a celebration held when sickness isn’t swirling everywhere you look, when the sun is shining, and there’s no chance of a literal blizzard raining (or snowing?) on our parade… that feels joyful. 

I don’t know if I truly will implement the half-birthday celebration—because while throwing a party in our backyard and doing it without the December damper looming over everything sounds amazing, my kids’ birthday is their birthday. We can’t quite replace the excitement of celebrating their birthday on (or around) the “real” day. But there’s definitely a chance I’ll implement a half-birthday party for their friends and stick to a family-only celebration on the day of their actual birthday. 

“While throwing a party in our backyard and doing it without the December damper looming over everything sounds amazing, my kids’ birthday is their birthday.”

Final Thoughts on Half-Birthdays Celebrations

The half-birthday trend may be getting flack right now (and some of it is warranted), but for some families, it’s the right move, whether in place of or in addition to a celebration on their actual birthday.

Time will tell if the half-birthday celebration becomes a thing in my family. But if you’re considering implementing it in yours, remember: If this trend works for you, if it feels right for your family, I think it could be a great idea. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s right for my family—but if I come to that decision, I’ll do it. It won’t be because of the trendiness of it all, and I won’t be dissuaded by criticism surrounding the trend.