How do I celebrate a friend’s birthday at my party?

Dear Gwyn,

I recently had a graduation party that fell on the same day as an invited guest’s birthday.  What is the appropriate way to celebrate both, even if the party was designated as one thing?


Someone Else’s Celebrations in Seattle


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a party on every day of the year instead of running into those moments of intense popularity?!

Often, for reasons outside of our control, we find ourselves overlapping our celebrations with other people’s celebrations.  Sometimes when the stars align, celebrations such as birthdays and graduations fall on the same day and there isn’t a thing we can do to prevent it.  When this happens, selecting a way to acknowledge both celebrations is precisely the thing to do!

How you choose to acknowledge the event takes a bit of but is very manageable:

  • Remember that the guests are first and foremost attending your celebration. They chose to come to your event to celebrate your accomplishments. And many of your guests may have no connection to your friend.  There is no reason to surprise your guests with a second celebration of equal grandeur which may leave your guests feeling unprepared and a bit blindsided.
  • When introducing your friend to others, let the other guests know about your friend’s celebration.  Your friend will appreciate you sharing with everyone that it is her birthday (a date she can’t change!) and your guests won’t be embarrassed when the night comes to a close and they unintentionally didn’t wish a your friend a happy birthday.
  • Choose a fun way to put the spotlight on your friend’s birthday such as a birthday cake with candles or a toast. Avoid scene stealing exuberance about your friend’s birthday which will come off as “trying to hard” and may make your guests feel uneasy. Your guests will appreciate the guidance on how to celebrate your friends birthday by joining in a rousing round of “Happy Birthday” or cheering the toast.

Don’t forget that your friend is choosing to celebrate with you on her birthday.  She will appreciate the efforts you make to include her in your celebration, but isn’t expecting to take the evening over as her own.

Happy graduation-birthday palooza!