What to Write in a Birthday Card

person holding a card with a birthday message written on it

Having trouble figuring out what to write in a birthday card? We’ve got you covered.

In this day and age when birthday wishes are exchanged over email or text or an Instagram DM, it’s extra special to receive a birthday card in the mail. The recipient feels so touched that you went the extra mile to pick out a card, write a thoughtful message, and mail it out. 

So if you’re looking to spread some birthday cheer this year, you can’t go wrong with a handwritten card.

While a simple birthday greeting will always do the trick, a message that’s written from the heart will resonate even more. 

If you’re struggling to find the right words, don’t fret. We have tips and suggestions on how to write a personalized birthday message. Whether it’s a milestone birthday for a family member or a card for your boss, you’ll be writing birthday messages with ease. 

General tips for writing a birthday card

Here are some tips to keep in mind when crafting a birthday message

Brainstorm. At a loss for words? Take a piece of paper and jot down ideas for your birthday message. Make a list of phrases, details, or anecdotes you might want to include. You’ll feel much more loose and relaxed after a brainstorming session. And in turn, this will help take the pressure off when it comes to actually writing the card. 

Make them feel good. The perfect birthday message doesn’t require big words or poetic phrases. A sincere birthday wish or a fun anecdote or a genuine message about how much this person means to you is more than enough. A nice sentiment can go a long way toward making someone feel loved on their birthday. 

Think outside the box. You can feel free to get creative with the content of the birthday card. Instead of writing a typical message, make a list of all the things you love about the recipient or write down three fun memories you’ve shared.


  • Happy 40th birthday! Here are my favorite things about you. 
  • Happy Sweet 16! Here are 16 reasons you’re awesome. 

Pick the right card. If you’re worried about writing the perfect message, then let the card do the work for you! Maybe it’s a card with a stunning design or a funny card that will make your recipient laugh. The perfect birthday card will help you deliver your birthday message in style. 

Milestone birthday card 

Writing a message for a milestone birthday card can feel like a big responsibility. After all, it’s a big moment in your loved one’s life! Here’s how to write a nice message without breaking a sweat. 

Message tips:

Be sensitive. Milestone birthdays can be fraught with emotion. You never know how someone will react. While some people love any excuse to celebrate another year, others may feel less excited about entering a new decade. And while it’s good to inject some humor and levity into a card, you might want to consider your relationship to the recipient first. A best friend might take an “over the hill” joke in stride, but a boss might not. Use your good judgment to make sure your message is well-received. 

Wish them well. A message filled with birthday wishes is a thoughtful touch. Think about your recipient and the year ahead. What would make their upcoming year feel extra special? What would you wish for them?


  • Happy Birthday! Hope this year is your best one yet!
  • Wishing you a year filled with travel and adventure. 
  • Hope this year brings you laughter, excitement, and success. 

Birthday cards for loved ones

Your loved ones have been with you through thick and thin, but when it comes to writing the perfect birthday message, you have no idea what to say. Here are tips and ideas on what to write in a birthday card for a loved one.

Message tips:

Express your gratitude. How often do we tell our parents how much they mean to us? When’s the last time we told our best friend that they make our day? Birthdays give us a chance to express our gratitude. Tell the recipient how much you appreciate them. Describe what you love most about them. And don’t be shy about letting them know how thankful you are for their friendship. Letting your loved one know how much they mean to you will make them feel so touched.

Share a fun or meaningful anecdote. Maybe it’s a memory from a past birthday or a memorable moment from a family vacation. Recalling a fun experience that you’ve shared can make the birthday message that much more impactful.

Birthday cards for coworkers

Writing a birthday message for a coworker or boss can be tricky. On the one hand you want to keep it professional and respectful, on the other hand you don’t want to sound overly stiff or formal.

If you’re writing a birthday card for a coworker, gauge your relationship. Do you regularly go out for lunch or drinks together? Is this a coworker that often gives you advice and listens to you vent about your day? Then your tone can be more personal and friendly. 

As for writing a birthday message for a boss or manager type, you’ll want to consider your dynamic as well as the office environment. If your company culture is formal and hierarchical, then you probably want to err on the side of being formal and polite in your message. 


  • Happy Birthday! May this year bring you health, happiness, and success. 

Remember: a birthday card doesn’t have to be a literary achievement. A short and sweet message will make your recipient feel great on their birthday. You got this!

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