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20-40-60 Etiquette---How about December birthdays?


By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: If someone's birthday is in December, is it appropriate to give them one gift and say it's for both their birthday and Christmas? 

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Absolutely! It is so nice and thoughtful to get a present for birthday/Christmas.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: You could ask your friend how she or he feels about that. I'm sure it's not the first time this has come up after a lifetime of December birthdays, so you could get a feel for her opinion on this posed as a general discussion. Whatever you do, if you are close enough friends to exchange both Christmas and birthday presents, acknowledge your friend's birthday apart from the holiday, even if it's just by going to lunch on that day or getting a birthday card in addition to the Christmas card and present. 

HELEN'S ANSWER: Actually, December is a great month to be born because it is so festive out there. Acknowledge the person with the holiday birthday. Two gifts seems to be more appropriate.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, journalist and local community volunteer: December birthday babies get robbed. Let's be honest. The attention just often isn't there. The BIG day gets lost between the mistletoe and merrymaking.

As the wife of someone who has a birthday smack in the middle of the month, it's a challenge not to want to pull that twofer gift stunt. After all, convenience is the easy way out given this extremely busy time.

My husband recalls gloomily of birthdays past as a youth when clueless adults employed expediency tactics — birthday gifts disguised in Christmas wrapping paper, one simple gift for the two occasions or the most creative, forgetting about both.

In the question, you don't mention whether the present is for a child or an adult. It would probably be a good idea to communicate upfront your intent to avoid any hurt feelings and minimize any expectations about the possibility of not having another gift. The essential thing is to make sure the person feels super special on their birthday and that they don't feel left out when there's nothing under the tree.

Ultimately, you want to convey that this person matters and you took time to select a meaningful gift.  The end result is birthday points, a better reason for the season and no visit from Scrooge.

Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›