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Tips for remembering birthdays

Being good at remembering birthdays is one of those things that some people are great at and others suck, but most of us are somewhere in between. I’m generally quite good but have had a couple of really serious gaffes where I’ve forgotten a friend’s important milestone birthday and these still haunt me! This post is to help both of us out – I never want to forget again, and I’m sure you’d love some tips on remembering birthdays too.

Make sure you KNOW the important birthdays

This is the obvious first step – if you don’t even know when someone’s birthday is, you’ve got absolutely no chance of remembering 😁

Make sure you have a record somewhere of all your friends and family and their birthdays and fill in the gaps. I went through a stage where I got used to Facebook reminding me about birthdays, so I stopped adding to my own list. This is how one of those gaffes I mentioned happened! I stopped using Facebook as much and missed a good friend’s 50th birthday as a result.

These days it’s probably easiest just to keep a record on your phone – because we pretty much have our phones with us all the time… As soon as someone mentions their birthday just take a few seconds to check whether it’s on your list and if not add it right there and then.

This will help you avoid another ‘learning the hard way’ experience I had (I’m telling you these things so you know I’m not judging you!) I asked someone when their birthday was, it turned out to be in a couple of week’s time, but I didn’t make a note. So although I knew their birthday was coming up but couldn’t remember the exact date and felt too embarrassed to ask again…Luckily we had another mutual friend who could fill me in but how bad would it have been if I’d not sent a card when I’d specifically asked for the date?!

Set reminders for remembering birthdays

It’s all very well having a list of birthdays, but you still need a reminder. Unless you fancy memorising them all, in which case here’s how to do it. For most of us though, reminders are definitely the way to go.

If you use a calendar then the easiest thing is to just add all the birthdays to this together with a notification. You can usually also make them recurring, so that you don’t have to add them in again every year.

This little reminder just popped up while I was writing this post!

For friends and family that I would send a card to or buy a gift for I always add a notification at least a week beforehand as well as on the day. For those I just want to remember to wish happy birthday to a reminder on the day or just before is fine.

If you don’t use a calendar then something like Remember the Milk is great for this. You just make a list of everyone’s birthday and say when/how you’d like to be notified about it. It will then send you an email or notify you on your desktop or the app. You can make these recurring too. It’s also useful for remembering other stuff like dentist appointments, booking MOTs, etc. There are also dedicated birthday reminder services and apps around so hunt around until you find one that suits you.

Non-digital reminders

Would you prefer a more paper based system? Perhaps you’re trying to move away from all the digital clutter that sucks you in. Perhaps you’re not as attached to your phone as most people. Or maybe you just get so many digital notifications and reminders that end up missing some of them….

In this case an actual paper calendar, planner or diary is just as useful. As long as you remember to check it regularly! Write all the birthdays in before the beginning of each year. Perhaps use a highlighter or stickers to make them stand out too.

You could also write all the birthdays on separate mini post-it notes. If you include the name and date then you can just move them across each year.

A lovely perpetual wall calendar from Not on the High Street that would be perfect for birthday reminders (this is an affiliate link)

Otherwise a perpetual calendar like the one above works well, and saves you the hassle of updating each year. You can also get desktop or printable versions, so choose the one that’s most likely to work for you. It only works if you actually see it, use it and pay attention to it regularly!

I read somewhere that in the Netherlands you’ll often see a list of birthdays opposite the toilet. It might seem a bit strange, but at least you know you’ll definitely see the list several times every single day 😆

Become the best at remembering birthdays

It’s worth the small amount of effort it takes to find and set up a system that works for you. Decide whether a digital or paper based system will suit you best and sort it out. Believe me, it’s so much nicer when you’re no longer living in fear of forgetting a birthday. We all like to feel special on our birthday and when someone remembers mine it always gives me the warm fuzzies 🥰

Giving or sending a card to show you’ve remembered someone’s birthday (and cared enough to do something about it) is one of the simplest ways to make someone feel special. So set those reminders now, shop for the perfect birthday card and spread the joy!