A parent’s life is probably one of the busiest there is.  My “busy” life before becoming a parent…a total farce.  I just thought I was busy.  Puh-leeze.

And keeping up with everyone else’s special days?  You know, you’re friends’ birthdays and anniversaries?  Who’s got time for that, right?!?!

Well, you do, actually.  No excuses.  You can be thoughtful…if you try.  Don’t just play it off as a personality flaw.


You can remember to remember…and ahead of time.

I’m gonna be a little transparent here.  Belated birthday wishes are not the worst thing there is.  Completely forgetting someone’s special day completely?  THAT’S what’s not acceptable.  C’mon, we’re better’n’at!

Social media has made it super easy (and lazy) to wish someone a “Happy [Whatever].”  And, if that’s all you can truly spare, I guess your friends will understand.  Maybe.  If you have forgiving friends.  🙂

A quick note:  I have nothing against digital well-wishing.  I text birthday wishes.  I call and leave voicemails.  I send little videos of me eating cake in the birthday girl’s honor.  There’s just something about knowing that someone took the time out to write something down, put a stamp on it, and walk it to the mailbox.  I received a “just-thinking-of-you” note from a long-distance friend the other day.  I wanna be her when I grow up.  She made me feel so grand.  This year, she’s getting a card back when she least expects it.

I’ve had to develop a simple system to remember at least the birthdays and anniversaries of those special people in my life.  (In 2014, there was a third of my New Year’s Card list that got their cards in April that year, just in time for Easter…I’m blaming it on the first-trimester pregnancy fatigue, etc.  Better late than never, right?!)

It’s a system I am STILL working on implementing consistently in my own life, but it is so much easier than I thought it ever could be.

Here are the simple steps to make it look like you are the most thoughtful person in the world:


1.  Calendar  

Facebook makes it really easy to look ahead and find out the birthdays that are coming up.  You can also invite friends to join a digital birthday calendar…which, by the way, I find singularly irritating.  Sorry about that, but I do.  On an iPhone, you can put someone’s birthday into their contact information and let the calendar keep up with it for you, complete with reminders a few days before.  You can also put in a birthday manually or write it on a wall calendar or day planner.  The good news is, once you know someone’s birthday, you will always know it.  It’s never going to change.  Digitally storing it in a calendar is the easiest.  Take a moment to schedule those birthdays from memory and then accumulate the rest by simply asking.  Most people aren’t gonna mind telling you their birthday–at least the month and day. 🙂


2.  Blank Notecards

Forget those expensive greeting cards.  Just recently I started picking up blank notecards that reflected my personality.  To the tune of about $0.50 per card, I am saving at least 90% instead of purchasing MOST Hallmark cards.  I jot down a personal sentiment that lets the recipient know how special I think they are (which most people do in those overpriced cards anyway) and now I can choose to include a $5 gift card for coffee if I can afford it.  I can’t tell you how many people responded by saying how heartwarming my personal note was to them.  This warms my heart, too. 

50 free prints


3.  Custom Notecards Variation

For the past two years, I send out custom notecards with our kids’ updated picture.  It occurred to me that I could take a family photo and have it professionally printed with Shutterfly.com and still save 70% off of the generic greeting cards.  It’s a great way to keep our mis-located friends & family updated on our growing family.  I know what you’re thinking, “I already send out a family photo greeting card at Christmas.”  Choose another pose or a cute snapshot that you took with your smart phone.  Don’t overthink it.  The idea is to make your notecards truly personal.  I always order small runs of a couple of different photos so that I have a choice based on the person or event.

The customized notecards are general purpose, too.  You can use them for:

  • Thinking of you
  • Graduations
  • Get well
  • Sympathy
  • Wedding/Bridal/Baby Showers
  • Minor holidays (i.e., Mother’s/Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc.)

Here are two examples of last year’s notecards*:



* I always put a small, discreet line of text inside the card in the bottom corner that states the names and ages of my kids that are pictured on the front side.

Shutterfly.com’s custom designer is very easy to use that there’s no reason not to have your own.


4.  Schedule 

  • Using your calendar every month, choose those people that you will be sending a card via snail mail.
  • Write your thoughts on a card for each person.
  • Address them all at once.
  • In the corner where you put the postage stamp, write the ideal date that you need to send out the card for it to reach them by their special day.  Three to four days (not counting Sunday) is generally enough time to get it to someone by their birthday within the continental United States.
  • Put that month’s cards and a book of stamps by the entryway of your home or wherever you put your keys.
  • On the date you wrote on the envelope, attach a stamp and pop it in the mailbox.
  • Set a reminder on your phone, laptop, or wall calendar to do this whole process several days before the end of each month.  It takes 30 minutes, tops…and that’s usually a busy birth month.


It is super easy to be thoughtful.  You really have no excuse.  Relationships are important to life.  Those special people in yours deserve to know that you remember them on their special days.

Got any other ideas to honor someone on their special day with a note?  Any other tips for figuring out what to say for those of us who aren’t very eloquent?  Comment below.
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