Everyone loves receiving a birthday card, but we all tend to get a bit stuck when it comes to writing a card for someone else. It makes sense: a big blank space, heavy with the expectations of birthday wishes messages and memories of the past can be overwhelming. Next time you’re stuck trying to write wishes for birthday cards, you’ve got this easy guide to help you think of the perfect message, no matter who you’re writing to or what your relationship is to them.
For samples of different kinds of birthday wishes and birthday greetings, check out our previous articles on the topic. Once you’ve followed this advice and borrowed from these samples, you might also consider including some birthday wishes quotes from history, literature or famous people to add a little something extra.
Birthday messages for a spouse or partner
Writing birthday messages for your spouse or partner, or birthday messages for your girlfriend or boyfriend can be either the easiest or the most difficult to put together. They are easy because you know your husband or wife better than anybody else in the world: you have a tonne of memories with them and you know what will make them smile. It can be difficult, though, because there may be pressure to say something profound and romantic. To cover all your bases, wish them happy birthday and positive things for the future and then reference a favourite memory with them, something you’re looking forward to with them in the future, and a couple of things you love about them.
Birthday wishes for a friend
Be they birthday wishes for friend or close acquaintance, writing for someone close to you is usually one of the easier tasks you will face. The best thing about writing birthday wishes for a friend is that you can tailor your wishes to the nature of your relationship. If you share everything and have an intimate bond, you can write a deeply personal card. If your friendship is founded on jokes and laughter, you can go for funny birthday wishes that will make them smile. Don’t feel pressured to step too far outside your normal tone or get all mushy if that’s not your thing.
Happy birthday wishes for a sibling
When it comes to sending your sibling birthday wishes, everything hinges on the nature of your relationship with them. Often your siblings are also your friends, so your card can be written in the same way as birthday wishes for friends. Other times, siblings are in a similar category to parents, aunts and uncles, or even acquaintances. Match your tone to the tone of your relationship in general, and you won’t go astray.
Best birthday wishes for a parent
Birthday wishes for Mum or Dad should be an extension of the best things about them and your relationship with them. If you have a great relationship, writing a birthday card should be quite easy. On the other hand, a lot of people have very complicated relationships with their parents. Trust your judgement on this: a birthday card isn’t the place to air grievances. Wish them a happy birthday, and thank them for all the positive things they have done for you, overlooking the negatives. Think about things from their perspective and identify things they have attempted, even if they weren’t done perfectly. Of course, if the past is a toxic place to spend time, it’s perfectly fine to focus on the present and future: wish them a happy birthday, a great day, and wonderful things for the year ahead.
Birthday card wishes for your child
Whether it’s a birthday card for your son or birthday wishes for your daughter, writing a birthday card for your kid is an opportunity to say lovely things about them and tell them how much you love them. If your child is still little, it’s totally appropriate to write to them as though they can understand it, and hold on to the card for them to read when they are older. Children treasure things like this as they grow up. Share a meaningful memory like the first time you saw them or the day you found out you were pregnant with them, and tell them the things you love most about them.
Birthday wishes for a grandparent
Birthday wishes for Grandma or Grandpa are usually similar to those for a parent, aunt or uncle, or acquaintance. Tell your grandparent that you love them, wish them a happy birthday and good things for the year ahead. If you’re close enough to have happy memories, mention those, or thank them for the things they’ve done for you. You can also thank them for raising your parent so well. And this shouldn’t need to be said, but no matter how old your grandparent is, never reference the fact that they may not have a lot of birthdays left. It might seem like a joke, but you never know how it will land on the day.
Birthday wishes for a nephew or niece
If your niece or nephew is a child, or older but you’re not especially close to them, it’s best to just focus on the day at hand. Wish them a happy birthday and a great year ahead. If you are closer with them, bring in memories and wishes for the future, and write about what they mean to you and why you love having them in your life.
Birthday messages for an aunt, uncle or cousin
More distant family members like an aunt, uncle or cousin can be tricky to write for, especially if you only see them at Christmas or family reunions. Focus on the past (special memories of them in your childhood), present (their birthday) and future (happy wishes for the years to come). Of course, your aunt, uncle or cousins may fall closer to the category of ‘friends’, or even more like a second set of parents. If that’s the case, proceed according to your relationship.
Special birthday wishes for your in-laws
If you can get your partner to write cards when it comes to your in-laws, this will definitely make things easier on you. If that’s not possible, focus on wishing them a great day and good things in the year ahead. If your spouse is close with their parents, you can also thank them for raising their kids so well and for their ongoing input into your lives.
Birthday card messages for a professional contact
It is often appropriate in a business setting to send either client birthday cards or colleague birthday cards, or cards to other professional contacts. In this kind of environment, it’s usually best to write a generic note wishing them a happy birthday and alluding to your future doing business together. Of course, a colleague may fall more easily into the ‘friend’ category, so feel free to add something a bit more personal if you’re desk buddies or you regularly hang out outside of the office.
Birthday wishes for an acquaintance
There are people who you don’t classify as a friend, but who you have to see from time to time anyway. You might send them a birthday card to be polite, to try to maintain your loose connection, or to try to initiate a more close relationship. More commonly, you might not normally send them a birthday card, but you’re seeing them on their birthday or you’re going to their party so it’s the proper thing to do. In this sort of situation, you can reference your history together (maybe you met them while backpacking through the US, or you went to primary school together), or leave that out and focus on wishing them a happy birthday and a wonderful year ahead.
Birthday wishes for a stranger
Occasionally you may find yourself in the awkward position of having to give a birthday present or card to a stranger. Perhaps your friend invites you to meet their new boyfriend and the day happens to be his birthday, or you are invited to a stranger’s birthday party. In this kind of situation, it’s often best to write a generic birthday message and either make a joke about the awkwardness of the fact that you’re a stranger, or simply end the card with your name and a frame of reference so they can place you – e.g. From Emma (Kane’s friend!).
Sometimes you know people who don’t fall comfortably into any of these categories, so feel free to mix and match. The most important thing is to write according to your relationship. Don’t force closeness that isn’t there, and don’t feel obligated to be funny or long-winded if you don’t have a lot to say. Talk like you would in person, and don’t overthink it too much. Happy writing!