Looking for just the right words to make your birthday card recipient sigh and say, “Awwww!”?
We all want our birthday cards to make a memorable impression, but it’s not always easy to spill our innermost feelings onto the page.
Use our quick tips below to find out what goes into a thoughtful birthday card for friends, family members, and more. Be sure to stick around to the second half for some specific, snag-worthy examples to inspire your own sweeter-than-cake birthday message.
Whether you’re looking for a message that’s sappy and saccharine or sweet and sour, the tips below will help you create a birthday card message that stands out.
And don’t put too much pressure on yourself, either! You don’t need to write a New York Times bestseller or a publishable work of poetry—you just need to find the right words to tell your loved one how much they mean to you. Here’s how to do it.
Do you admire your loved one’s courage or positive attitude in the face of hardship? Are their humor and lively personality bright spots in your life? Has their passion to help others inspired you to take on a charitable cause for yourself?
Whatever it may be, pointing out a specific character trait that you appreciate in your loved one shows that you celebrate the amazing person they are every day of the year. Birthday or not, we all love a compliment!
Relating a special memory of the birthday girl or boy can highlight just how impactful they’ve been in your life. In fact, sharing treasured memories can turn into a delightful birthday tradition! Maybe you share one new memory from the previous year in every birthday card’s message, or perhaps you unearth decades-old photos that are oh-so-embarrassing but cherished, nonetheless. You could even make a thing out of starting your cards with, “Remember that time…?”
Who says that comedy and tenderness have to be worlds apart? Including a bit of humor in your sweet birthday wishes can warm your loved one’s heart and bring a smile to their face at the same time.
Be sure to adapt your humor to your birthday card recipient, keeping things lighthearted and joyful for a casual friend or perhaps going a bit darker for a lover of sarcasm (who you know well enough to be sure you won’t offend).
Birthdays are all about celebrating another passing year, but you don’t have to get stuck in the past. Add a note that looks forward to everything that the coming year has to offer for the birthday card recipient. Maybe it’s a new job, a new baby, a big move, or an annual weekend getaway with you and the rest of the crew.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to write your birthday message on the fly directly inside your card. Many scratch-outs, white-outs, and possibly ruined cards later…and you’ll realize the big-time benefit of starting with a rough draft.
Play around with a few different messages on scratch paper until you’re happy that you’ve gotten the wording down.
Below are some great examples to help you write your own sweet birthday wishes. Of course, feel free to take as much or as little creative liberty as you like!
Even if you say “I love you” frequently, expressing your feelings in writing can have an especially powerful effect.
“Kind, fun-loving, compassionate, and loyal are just a few of the words I could use to describe you. Celebrating your birthday gives me the chance to reflect on you and realize once again why I fell in love with you.”
“With every passing year, I only marvel more that you chose me to be your partner. Among all the presents you’ll receive today, know that you’ll always have the best gift I have to offer: my whole heart.”
Even if they don’t always show it on the outside, your children likely take your words and actions deeply to heart. At any age, a loving message written in their birthday card can have a lasting impact.
Younger children. Simple messages are easier for children to understand and appreciate, so try to keep your words short and sweet.
“I love your bright smile and all the times you make me laugh every day. You’re the real gift on your birthday!”
“You bring me so much happiness on your birthday and every day!”
Teenagers and adult children. Regardless of their age, your kids look to you for guidance, support, and affirmation.
“From the day of your birth, I’ve watched your determination to understand the world around you increase with each passing year. As you celebrate another birthday, I’m so proud of the intelligent, compassionate person you’ve grown into, and I’m excited to see how you continue to grow this next year!”
“Being your parent has always been one of the greatest privileges of my life. No matter what birthday present I choose, I could never give you a gift as precious as the one you’ve been to me.”
Your parents were there through the hardships of growing up and the challenges of adulthood. Let’s be honest—a short birthday message can’t compare to years of trial and triumph, but you can at least try!
“Your hard work, grateful spirit, and generosity have been an inspiration my whole life. This world is a richer place because you were born into it. Happy birthday!”
“You’ve selflessly given of your time and energy for the good of so many other people, and your birthday is the time when we get to celebrate you! Enjoy your special day!”
As much as you may relish giving each other a hard time, a sweet birthday message will help you convey the deep love that exists between you and your sibling. (And we know—sometimes the love is waaaay deep down there!)
“When we were kids, I remember how you always helped me _______. Now that we’ve grown up, I know can still count on you to listen, understand, and give wise advice. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays!”
“An example to look up to, a partner in youthful hijinks, a friend for life, a holder of my embarrassing secrets: You’re all this and more. Happy birthday to the sibling that means so much to me.”
Whether you and your friend routinely talk about deep feelings or not, a thoughtful birthday message can express how much you appreciate your friendship.
“Whether it’s to share laughs over a cup of coffee or tears over a broken heart, you’ve always been there for me. I hope you feel as loved on your birthday as you’ve made me feel over the years!”
“Have a wonderfully happy birthday filled with joy and laughter! You deserve it!”
After the cake and ice cream are gone and the birthday balloons have deflated, heartfelt words live on. By crafting a sweet message in your loved one’s birthday card, you’ll give the gifts of love and appreciation—and these are often the best gifts of all!
For more funny, fun-loving, and memorable birthday messages, check out our article on what to write in a birthday card.