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Sending Out Birthday Cards: Who Makes the Cut?

In an age where many people only receive Facebook posts or Instagram comments on their special day, a real birthday card can feel like an extra-special treat.

Rather than mindlessly browsing social media, the birthday boy or girl gets to discover a surprise in their real-life mailbox, tear it open with their hands, and carefully take in the heartfelt message.

We might be a little biased…but it sure makes us smile to think about!

Of course, you probably don’t have the time or energy to send thoughtful birthday cards to everyone on your contact list, so we’re offering up a few suggestions below. Before jumping in, grab your phone or a notepad to jot down the names of people you’d like to surprise with a real birthday card this year. (We’ll wait.)

Okay—ready? Then let’s jump in!


If there’s anyone you should take the time to send physical birthday cards to, it’s your parents. Let’s face it; moms, dads, and caregivers of all kinds have dealt with us at our very worst: tantrums, awkward phases, teenage rebellions, and more. The least we can do is send them a birthday card once a year.

What you write in birthday cards to your mom or dad will depend heavily on their personalities. Maybe you want the card to feel heartfelt. Maybe your parents are going through a rough time and would benefit from some serious encouragement. Or if you’re fortunate to have parents with a sense of humor, you could include a lighthearted joke. Take a look at some of these ideas:

Happy birthday and lots of love! You deserve it all.

You may have a lot of candles on your cake, but they still don’t shine as bright as you do. Happy birthday, Mom/Dad!

You’re the best mom/dad! Happy birthday!

Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me. Happy birthday to the best mom/dad in the world.

You’re HOW OLD?! It’s hard to count that high. Happy birthday!

Even if you do not have a very close relationship with your parents, it’s a kind and meaningful gesture to let them know that you’re thinking of them on their special day.


No matter their age, your kids will always be your kids! Even grown-up children appreciate the thought behind a birthday card from dad or mom. Whether you’re able to deliver the cards personally or you have to mail them, birthday cards will remind your kids how much you care and will surely brighten their day.

Here are a few examples of something to write in birthday cards for kids:

I hope your birthday is as wonderful as you are. Happy birthday!

You’re turning (age)! I can’t believe how big you’re getting. Happy birthday!

Cake or not, I’ll always be there for you! But cake makes it better, right? Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to the world’s best son/daughter!

If you’re celebrating a younger kid, keep your message short and sweet. Don’t be afraid to work in their age to your birthday message, too—especially if they’re celebrating a big life transition, such as heading to elementary school or beginning their teenage years.

Significant Others

In the busyness of day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget how much our significant others mean to us. Just because you see your partner every day doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve a little extra love on their birthday! Take the time to give your partner a birthday card with a thoughtful message inside. For example, you could say:

Thank you for being my one and only. Happy birthday.

We’ve accomplished a lot this year, and I look forward to another year of growing closer. Happy birthday!

Another year, another birthday. I hope this year is as wonderful as you are!

Happy birthday to the love of my life. Thank you for everything you do.

Happy birthday, my love. I can’t wait to celebrate even more birthdays with you.

Close Friends

Whether you’re giving your friend a gift or are simply acknowledging their special day, a real-life birthday card is a great way to go. For very close friends, choose a card that relates to your one-of-a-kind friendship vibe—sarcastic, heartfelt, lighthearted, goofy, or supportive. Be sure to top off the card with a personal message. After all, you know your best friends best!

Some fun, humorous birthday messages you could use include:

Some get richer with age, others get wiser. At the very least, you always get older. Good luck with those other two things. Happy birthday!

Happy birthday! Oh, and I call dibs on any presents you don’t want.

Enjoy being the center of attention for your birthday! Tomorrow, it’s all back on me.

Having a friend like you makes life worth living. Happy birthday to my dearest friend.

Not-as-Close Friends

You don’t necessarily have to stick to very close friends, either! Sending a birthday card to a casual acquaintance can be a touching gesture that draws your relationship closer. If you’re looking to build new friendships, small touches like these can make a big difference.

In the general category of “friends,” think of people you see on a regular basis who might appreciate knowing that you care:

  • Parents of your children’s friends
  • Friends of close friends
  • Club members
  • Church members
  • Classmates at your gym or yoga center
  • Owners of your favorite restaurant or bar
  • Front desk staff at any spot you frequent
  • Your barber or hair stylist

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