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Things To Write In A Birthday Card

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A girl leans over a birthday cake and blows out a 1 and 5 candle.

For many people, a birthday is a cause for celebration. It’s a time of expressing gratitude for a special person in your life. A time to acknowledge all that you appreciate about them, and why you are happy that they are around.

Traditions around birthdays differ from culture to culture. However, few things are as meaningful as a heartfelt, personal message. Not only are you actually expressing how you feel about someone, but you are also taking time out of your own day to make them feel special.

A birthday card is a connection. A moment that can be experienced every time the recipient opens their card. It’s so much more than a pretty piece of cardstock.

We know what you are thinking: that is a lot of pressure. How do you decide what to write inside a birthday card?

Finding the Right Words Can Be Difficult | Birthday Card Message Types

It can be hard to know what to say to someone on their birthday. There are a lot of factors to consider. How old is the recipient? Are you very close? Have you spent much time together recently? What is their sense of humor like?

Whether you are sending a birthday card to a close friend, a distant relative, or even a superior at work, your friends at HelloFrom are here to help. We have put together a list of our favorite birthday card writing ideas — including tips for crafting the perfect message, and birthday card example text.

Do you have advice for deciding what words to write in a birthday card? Let us know! 

Short & Sweet | Brief Messages are Still Meaningful

Sometimes the best messages are the shortest. This is especially true when signing a card with several people — for example, a birthday card for your boss, signed by you and your colleagues. A short, casual message can also be useful if the card is attached to a present that will be given in-person.

If you have selected the birthday card with the specific person in-mind, it might speak well enough for itself. When in-doubt, keep it brief.

Compliments are King | Sincere Appreciation Can Go a Long Way

Like we said earlier, birthdays are a great time to show your gratitude and appreciation for another person. You might share a happy memory, or offer a genuine compliment. Think about your relationship with this person and what they mean to you. Compliments are especially powerful when used for relatives and close friends. The key is to be sincere; whatever you say, say it like you mean it.

Fun & Games | Don’t Be Afraid to Make Them Laugh

A funny message — or even a funny card — can be a great way to put a smile on someone’s face. Consider private jokes you share with the recipient, or a funny memory about that person. You can also go the way of making a joke about getting older, or reference a funny movie or show that you have enjoyed together. When it comes to humor, the possibilities are endless.

If humor does not come naturally to you, there is no need to force yourself to be funny. Some people — perhaps an older relative, a boss, or a colleague — might even prefer a more serious message. The most important thing about sending a “funny” card is that it needs to be appropriate to both the person receiving it, AND the person sending it.

It Pays to Be Profound | Inspirational Quotes Add Extra Meaning

If you are really struggling to find the right words to write in a birthday card — that’s ok! Sometimes the words we want to say just do not come easily. An inspirational quote is your ace-in-the-hole. Not only are inspirational quotes easy to find — a quick search online will yield endless results — they are also easy to make personal.

You might consider finding a quote by the recipient’s favorite author, or a celebrity that they admire. You can even combine this tip with our previous advice on incorporating humor for double the impact. A quote is appropriate for most situations, as long as the recipient is old enough to appreciate the meaning.

Happy Birthday Card Wording Examples

Now that we have discussed several things to say to someone on their birthday, let’s get into some examples. Our team at HelloFresh put our heads together and made a list of our favorite things to say in a happy birthday card. We even organized it by recipient for your convenience — there is usually a big difference between what to write in a birthday card to a friend, and what to write in a birthday card to your boss. 

For Dad

The message you write to your Dad should reflect both the relationship you share with him, and his personality. If he is a serious guy, a funny message might fall flat. If you are not particularly close to him, a heartfelt message or a compliment could be tricky. Here are just a few of our ideas for dear old Dad:

Brief Messages

  • Wherever the year ahead takes you, I hope it’s happy.
  • Special birthday wishes to the man who has all the answers.
  • I hope your day is full of all the things that make you happy.

Complimentary Messages

  • You are my hero, my role model, the man who I look up to and dream to become. Happy Birthday, Dad.
  • Another year older, and you just keep getting stronger, wiser, funnier and more amazing!
  • I don’t say it enough, but it’s always true: I love you, and I feel so lucky to call you my Dad.

Funny Messages

  • Forget about the past, you can’t change it. Forget about the future, you can’t predict it. Forget about the present, I didn’t get you one.
  • You may be an old man, but man do I love you. Happy birthday, Dad!
  • Happy Birthday from your favorite child - I won’t tell the others.
  • For the man who taught me everything I know. From the kid who paid attention to roughly half of all you tried to teach.


  •  “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” —Abraham Lincoln
  • “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” — John Lennon
  • “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”  — Fred Astaire
  • “You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.” — Bob Hope
  • “Live long and prosper.” — Mr. Spock

For Mom

Our advice for Mom is similar to our advice for Dad; match the text and the tone to the relationship you have with her. Even if your Mom (or Dad) knows how much you love them, a sweet, saveable reminder on their birthday is always a good idea. Take a look at these birthday notes ideas for Mom:

Brief Messages

  • Enjoy your special day.
  • Thinking of you on your birthday and wishing you everything happy.
  • Thanks for being here, for being you. Happiest of birthdays.
  • Hoping you feel pampered and celebrated on your special day.

Complimentary Messages

  • If there’s anyone who should have a really perfect day — it’s you.
  • I am what I am today, only because you were there for me all these years. I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if you had not showered me with your wise advice and love. I love you, mom. Happy Birthday!
  • The more time goes by, the more grateful I am to have you for my mother.

Funny Messages

  • You’re bound to have a Happy Birthday — it’s in the cards! (Especially this one.) Have a great day!
  • Turning a year older pairs well with wine! (wink, wink; clink! clink!)
  • Happy birthday to one of the few people whose birthday I can remember without a Facebook reminder.


  • “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” — Lucille Ball
  • “We are always the same age inside.” — Gertrude Stein
  • “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”  — Madeleine L’Engle

For Your Partner

Sincerity, sincerity, sincerity. Whether you and your partner have been together for thirty years or thirty days, the words you write in their birthday card should come from a genuine place. You do not need to be perfect; you just need to be earnest. Try using some of these ideas for inspiration:

Brief Messages

  • Hope your birthday is as special as you are.
  • Love you, my sweet love. Happy Birthday.
  • Wishing a beautiful day for my beautiful love.

Complimentary Messages

  • Your birthday is the perfect time to remind you what a wonderful person you are.
  • If it were up to me, your wishes would all come true. Have the best birthday ever.
  • Hope you know what a gift you are to the world (and to me).

Funny Messages

  • You were born and the world got better – everybody wins! Have a great birthday. (And thanks!)
  • So glad you’re in the world. Thanks for that whole “being born” thing.
  • There’s something really special about your birthday…and I’m pretty sure it’s you.


  • “Whatever with the past has gone, the best is always yet to come.” — Lucy Larcom
  • “You don’t get older, you get better.” — Shirley Bassey
  • “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” — Robert Browning

For Nieces & Nephews

When it comes to kids, the card itself is often the most important part — not the message you write. This is especially true of smaller children who are still learning how to read. The card you choose might feature a cartoon character that the child likes, or a hobby that they enjoy. If the child is having a birthday party, you can even match the card to the theme of the party! The actual message you write inside should be simple and brief; most kids are too excited about their presents to sit and read a long card. Here are a few ideas:

Brief Messages

  • I hope you have the best birthday ever!
  • Hope all your birthday wishes come true!
  • So grateful that you were born. Happy birthday.
  • I wish that every candle on your birthday cake brings you a reason to smile.

Complimentary Messages

  • The world is so lucky to have you in it — here’s to a wonderful year ahead!
  • Yay! You’re [age] today! Love you, big [age]-year-old!
  • [Name], I’ve got a feeling you’re going to make a pretty amazing [age]-year-old. Happy Birthday!”

Funny Messages

  • Today, the flowers are bloomier, the sun is sunnier, and life is awesomer – all because it’s your birthday!
  • This used to be just an ordinary day…until you came along and made it awesome!
  • Happy Birthday to one of my favorite people in the history of ever!


  • “Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.”

– Edward Morykwas

  • “The older you get the better you get, unless you are a banana.”

– Betty White

  • “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

— Dr. Seuss

For Grandparents

Grandparents are part of our lives for such a small time, yet we carry them with us forever. A relationship with a grandparent can be very special and unique — and it can also be hard to write about. Heartfelt messages are always nice things to say for a birthday, especially if you can include a happy memory or a complement. Take a look at some of our favorite ideas for what to write in a birthday card for a grandparent:

Brief Messages

  • Wishing you the biggest slice of happy today.
  • You’re one of my most favorite people to celebrate. Happy, happy day to you!
  • I hope all the goodness you give away comes right back to you in the year ahead.
  • Every year, I’m even more grateful to have a grandparent like you.

Complimentary Messages

  • Today’s the perfect day to tell you how much you’re appreciated for all you do, and how much you’re loved for the amazing person you are.
  • I’m so thankful for the great memories and moments we’ve shared, and I look forward to so many more. Have a wonderful birthday.
  • I wish we could see each more, but I hope you know how much you mean to me. Sending you big hugs for your birthday!
  • People often say that grandparents are the best teachers in the world. Over the years, I have come to know that it couldn’t be truer. Thanks for being the best [grandmother/grandfather] and teacher in the whole world.

Funny Messages

  • How do you keep getting older but looking younger? Just one of the many amazing things about you!
  • Most things don’t get better with age. Except you.
  • Superheroes are one in a million. Grandparents like you are one in a lifetime. Happy Birthday!


  • “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” —C.S. Lewis
  • “We turn not older with years, but newer every day.” —Emily Dickinson
  • “It takes a long time to become young.” —Pablo Picasso

For Bosses & Colleagues

Celebrating the birthday of a co-worker or superior can be difficult to navigate. A workplace with a casual, fun atmosphere might go all-out for someone’s birthday; a more formal workplace — or colleague — may necessitate subtlety and professionalism. In either scenario, focus on crafting your birthday message based-on your relationship with the recipient. We recommend saying something brief and cheerful — especially if you are signing a group card. Consider the following:

Brief Messages

  • You bring out the best in us.
  • We’re so lucky to have a boss as wonderful as you.
  • Happy Birthday and all the best to you in the year to come!
  • It’s a pleasure to work with you. Happy Birthday!

Complimentary Messages

  • Your sincerity inspires us. Your hard work motivates us. You set a great example for all of us. Happy Birthday!
  • With a (leader/colleague) like you, tasks and projects are so much fun to work on. I wish you a very Happy Birthday.
  • You make work a lot less like work. Thanks for all you do!

Funny Messages

  • Cosigning your happy!
  • Happy birthday to the best boss ever… and I’m not saying that because I have to!
  • You’re the best boss to ever boss people that need to be bossed around. Happy birthday!


  • “There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.” — William Barclay
  • “A birth-date is a reminder to celebrate the life as well as to update the life.” — Amit Kalantri
  • “A birthday is not a day to fear. It is a day to celebrate and look forward to the coming year.” —Byron Pulsifer

For Friends

A friend’s birthday card is a blank canvas; you can be funny, brief, or let the compliments fly! The only wrong way to wish your friend a happy birthday is to not wish them one at all. Check out these ideas for what to write in a birthday card to friend:

Brief Messages

  • I hope your celebration gives you many happy memories!
  • The day is all yours — have fun!
  • It’s your special day — get out there and celebrate!
  • Thanks for always being there and making life fun. Wish big today!

Complimentary Messages

  • Wishing you all the happiness someone as nice as you deserves.
  • Can’t think of anyone else that is more deserving of an incredibly-happy day.
  • One of the best parts of our friendship is celebrating you. You’re the best!
  • You do so much for so many people, so just let the world come to you today. Relax and enjoy!

Funny Messages

  • You’re not getting older; you’re just getting a little closer to the end. Happy Birthday!
  • Aging is mandatory — adulting is optional. Let go and enjoy your day!
  • It’s your birthday – TREAT YO’ SELF!


  • “Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.” — Plautus
  • “As you get older, three things happen: The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.” — Norman Wisdom
  • “Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.” — Edward Morykwas
  • “Your age isn’t you. Use today to feel your best, celebrate and be your very happiest.” — M. Rivers

Milestone Birthdays

Milestone Birthdays vary from culture to culture. For many people, a majority of milestone birthdays occur before age 30: the 1st, 13th, 15th, 16th, 18th, and 21st, for example. Additionally, some people celebrate their Golden Birthday when their age matches the day they were born. Most milestone birthday cards feature the person’s age somewhere within the design of the card, but you can use the following ideas to make any birthday card milestone-appropriate:

Brief Messages

  • Happy {age} Birthday! Wishing you a wonderful day and a fabulous year being {age}.
  • {age} never looked so great!
  • Happy {age} Birthday! Here’s to the next {age}!

Complimentary Messages

  • Happy first birthday. I know you may be too young to remember this day but I want you know how much you are loved.
  • {name}, you are {age} years of fun, laughter, and love.
  • Happy{age} Birthday, {name}! Today, we’re celebrating the amazing person you are, honoring the life you’ve lived, and loving you so much!”

Funny Messages

  • I remember my 21st birthday party! Wait, no I don’t. You’ll soon find out why. Cheers to you and Happy Birthday!
  • Please stop aging so gracefully. It’s getting kind of boring and predictable. Happy {age} birthday!
  • Have a great day, you old geezer! (Takes one to know one, right?) Happy {age} birthday.


  • “Everything I know I learned after I was 30.” — Georges Clemenceau
  • “Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.” — Carl Gustav Jung
  • “From birth to age eighteen, a girl needs good parents. From eighteen to thirty-five, she needs good looks. From thirty-five to fifty-five, she needs a good personality. From fifty-five on, she needs good cash.” — Sophie Tucker
  • “To my surprise, my 70s are nicer than my 60s and my 60s than my 50s, and I wouldn’t wish my teens and 20s on my enemies.” — Lionel Blue

Too Many Birthdays, Not Enough Cards? HelloFrom Does it All

With so many important people in your life, it can be easy for someone’s special day to fall through the cracks. If you find yourself struggling to keep track of everyone’s birthdays throughout the year let alone pick-out and purchase enough birthday cards — HelloFrom is here to help. Our greeting card specialists are ready to help you find the perfect card. Celebrating has never been easier.

Need additional birthday card help? Still struggling to write the perfect sentence? Connect with us!

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