Happy Birthday Message Ideas To Celebrate (and make ’em smile)

Happy birthday wishes. Why bother?

Because a birthday is the most special day in the life of the most special people in your life. You want them to know that you know just how special they are. Simply saying “happy birthday” won’t do it.

The Poet: Your birthday messages expert

That’s where our birthday guru, the Poet, could be your lifesaver. Let’s look at how his happy birthday message ideas help Linda (someone like you) solve a year’s worth of birthday message challenges. Then the Poet will come up with some exciting suggestions for making birthdays even more special.

In Linda’s life, it seems like someone she cares about is always having a birthday. Linda is a busy lady. But Linda likes to do things right. So she enlisted the Poet’s expertise. Here’s how the Poet came through with happy birthday messaging ideas.

Happy birthday wishes

For the son with a sense of humor

With her teenage son’s January birthday closing in, Linda panicked. She knew if the card didn’t make her son laugh — or at least smile — it would be a failure. She needed some funny happy birthday message ideas. The Poet to the rescue.

First, he gave Linda a couple of sample messages off the top of his head:

  1. One million people have birthdays today.
    999,999 of them don’t mean a thing to me.
    I guess you’re one in a million.
  2. EeeeeeeeeeeeNnnnnnnnnnnJjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjOooooooooooooYyyyyyyyyyyYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyOoooooooooooooUuuuuuuuuuuuuRrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    DddddddddddddddddddAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    I’m going to great lengths to make sure you enjoy your birthday!

funny birthday messages

Birthday message ideas

Then he suggested Linda visit these web pages for more message ideas:

Birthday Wishes For Son
Quotes for Son’s Birthday
Funny Birthday Memes

There Linda found all sorts of messages, many of them humorous. Inspired, she started to come up with some ideas of her own:

  • Today your birthday brings me so much joy.
    (As opposed to your birth day, which was hard labor!)
  • Your birthday is a good time to remind you; you don’t have to achieve greatness.
    You were born great!
  • Celebrate your birthday as if it were your last.
    (Because I happen to know the last one was a blast!)
  • Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Birthdays are fun
    And I stink at rhymes.
  • For your birthday, I was going to get you an Alaskan cruise.
    But I think you’re cool enough as it is.
You're one in a million meme - happy birthday message ideas

HBD Son

  • Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Birthdays are — uh, just a second, aren’t violets actually violet? They’re really closer to purple than blue.
    Oh, what the heck, just have a Happy Birthday!
  • Wishing someone a happy birthday is sort of, well, wishy-washy.
    I demand that you have a happy birthday.
  • Have a big blowout for your birthday!
    (I mean, blow out all the candles when you make your wish.)

Then she came up with the idea she knew would meet her son’s standards. The envelope she handed him contained this message:

Remember, it’s not just about the boxes with the presents inside.
It’s about the envelopes with the money inside. 

That made him laugh. (And the $20 accompanying the message made him smile.)

Your sister’s birthday

Linda’s sister’s birthday is in February, and Valentine’s Day always seems to monopolize Linda’s attention. So Linda welcomed the Poet’s idea-starters:

  • Birthdays are for losers.
    And you’ve lost a lot of weight. Let’s celebrate!
  • You’ve lent me your blouses, your sweaters, your gloves.
    Today, I simply ask that you lend me your ears: Happy birthday!
  • Sisters like me like sisters like you. Happy birthday!
  • Happy birthday to someone who’s more than just my sis.
    You’re my sis-boom-bah!
  • When I hesitated to do the right thing, you were my Insister.
    When I was tempted to do the wrong thing, you were my Resister.
    And, when I needed someone to see me through rough times, you were my Persister.
    Thanks for being my Insister, Resister, Persister, Sister! Happy birthday!

“Those happy birthday message ideas are all terrific,” Linda said, “but my sister is turning 40, and I want to send her something more customized to her, something age-related.”

Happy birthday message ideas

Wishes for a 40 Year Old

“Say no more,” the Poet responded. He directed Linda to Birthday Messages for 40-Year-Olds.

Once she was in a “turning 40” mindset, Linda had no trouble thinking up some appropriate messages:

  • It could be worse, Sis.
    You could be a dog turning 280!
  • Happy Birthday, 30-year-old!
    (30 is the new 40, right?)
  • Please cut the moaning about turning 40.
    Just cut the cake.
  • Remember, 40 is just a number.
    (And I am just a sister, trying to get you to believe that!) 
  • Why are birthdays so hard?
    I can think of 40 reasons.
  • You’re entering a new decade.
    Let’s do something decadent for your birthday.
  • You’d better start carrying your birth certificate around with you.
    Nobody’s going to believe you’re turning 40!

Linda liked the more upbeat approach and finally decided on:

Does anyone know you’re turning 40?
Apparently, nobody’s told your face and figure.

That made her sister’s day.

Happy 40th - happy birthday message ideas

For the music-minded cousin’s birthday

Next thing Linda knew, it was March, and her cousin’s birthday was fast approaching. Together, the Poet and Linda came up with a slew of ideas:

  • As a member of your extended family, let me extend my wishes for a very happy birthday!
  • It’s always a pleasure to attend family gatherings — provided that we’re gathered together to celebrate your birthday! Have a good one!
  • We’re so alike I’d swear we were separated at birth.
    And fortunately, we’re rarely separated in life! Happy birthday, Cousin.
  • Birthday kisses are not only legal but absolutely required for Kissin’ Cousins. Have a great day!
  • Happy birthday to my first  #1 cousin.
The day super-coolness was invented

Linda liked that last one but wished there was some musical reference to it because her cousin was a music lover. The Poet sent her to Happy Birthday wishes.  

Scrolling down, Linda found a bunch of birthday song suggestions, including Birthday by Selena Gomez, her brother’s favorite. Linda located the song on YouTube and emailed her cousin the link, along with the slightly revised message:

Happy Birthday to my first  #1 cousin.

The sentimental dad

April meant Linda’s dad’s birthday was imminent. The Poet said, “How about …”

Dad, I’m sorry I’ve missed so many of your birthdays.
But that’s only because I wasn’t born yet! 

When Linda told the Poet her dad was more the serious, sentimental type, The Poet had her check out the possibilities at Best Birthday Wishes. Scrolling down, Linda found some ideas that triggered some of her own:

  1. Doesn’t matter how old I get.
    I’ll always be your little girl.
    Happy birthday, Dad!
  2. There’s the rock of ages and the rock of Gibraltar.
    But then there’s the rock that’s the very foundation of my being.
    Thanks, Dad. Happy birthday!
  3. Dad… we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye.
    But there’s one thing we’ve always valued equally.
    Each other.
    Happy birthday, Dad!
  4. In grade school, the other girls all envied me. I don’t think it was because of my looks or my talent, or my personality. I think they all just wished they had a dad like you!
    Happy birthday, Dad!
  5. Dad, on or off the field, you’ve always been a good sport.
    HBD!

A keeper for Pops

But then she came up with “the one”:

Dad, you’re like the sun.
Even when I can’t see you, I know you’re always there for me!
Happy birthday!

“That one’s sure to put a lump in his throat,” she thought, “and bring a tear to his eye.”

Romantic spouse

With her father successfully attended to, Linda turned her attention to her husband, whose birthday is in May. He appreciates romantic-type messages, so she visited Romantic Birthday Wishes.

  • After perusing the content there, Linda was feeling pretty romantic herself — pretty obvious from the messages she came up with:
  • I’m not going to wish you a happy birthday.
    I’m going to guarantee it!
  • It’s your birthday, honey. Let’s take a dip in our birthday suits!
  • As we get real close to your birthday, I’m thinking we should get real close on your birthday.
  • You know I love watching TV.
    But today, something is going to come between me and TV.
    U!
  • Happy birthday, honey.
    You’ve earned my love.
    Today, it’s going to pay you dividends.
  • For your birthday, I’m planning a party for a big group.
    You, me, and a thousand amazing memories.
  • I’m getting you a birthday cake because I want to say “I love you” by candlelight.

And the winner:

For your birthday, I’m giving you something you’ve always wanted.
Me!

Romantic birthday meme

candlelight - happy birthday message ideas

For the pun-loving mom

Linda’s mom has her birthday in June. Because she is a punster, the Poet had Linda check out greetingcardpoet.com/birthday-puns

Sure enough, the pun suggestions there helped Linda come up with a few of her own:

  • Mom, I’m cooking a turkey for you because I want you to have a Happy Bird-day.
  • Mom, I’m getting us tickets for the Shakespeare Festival because I want you to have a Happy Bard-Day.
  • Who’s the most important lady in my life?
    Mum’s the world. Happy Birthday, Mum!

That last was the one she went with, although, along the way, she also thought up a number of non-pun greetings.

HBD Mom wish

Birthday wishes for a week

In fact, she was able to send her mother a different message every day in the week leading up to her birthday:

  1. You may not be a world-famous model.
    But you’ve been the perfect model for me all these years.
    Happy birthday, Mom.
  2. More treasured than mother-of-pearl, more rockstar than the Mothers of Invention.
    Happy birthday to the greatest “mother of” all: YOU!
  3. Mom… no matter how many candles are on your cake, they won’t light it like you’ve lit up my world for me! Happy birthday, Mom!
  4. Mommy … mom … mama … ma … mumsy … mum … No matter how you say it, it’s spelled L-O-V-E. Happy birthday, Mom!
  5. What do you give the woman who has everything?
    That’s a tough one.
    What do you give the woman who’s given you everything?
    That’s a tougher one!
    Happy B-Day!

Blessed grandmother

Linda believes that strong faith and religious training are largely responsible for her grandmother’s health and long life (91 in July). Linda wanted a message that would reflect her appreciation for her grandmother’s spiritual strength. So the Poet steered Linda to greetingcardpoet.com/birthday-blessings-and-religious-wishes/

Once again, Linda found inspiration, and the messages seemed to pour out of her pen:

  • I pray that today brings peace and serenity to your soul. Happy birthday, Grandma!
  • Bless this day, for it honors a lady who brings so many blessings our way. Happy birthday, Grandma!
  • May your birthday be filled with grace, goodwill, and love that never fades.
  • You’ve always put your faith in God — and had enough left over to put your faith in me! Happy birthday, Grandma!
  • Birthdays are God’s way of reminding us of the miracle of our birth. Have a memorable birthday, Grandma!

The message she finally decided on:

Happy birthday to a lady who has always walked with love, walked with God — and since I was a tiny tot — walked with me!

Picasso quote on age image

It takes a long time to grow young

The history-loving brother

When Linda told the Poet that her brother is a history nut, the Poet immediately knew the perfect place for Linda to look was a website that lists the names of famous people born on any specific date.

Her brother’s birthday is August 4th, and Linda couldn’t believe how many famous names shared that birthday.

“Well, I’ll bet my brother is already aware that Louis Armstrong, Barack Obama, Roger Clemens, and Meghan Markle are his birthday buddies. But I doubt he’ll know about Louis Vuitton, Queen Mother Elizabeth, and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley!”

Linda also thought up some lines with “historical” value:

  • Your birthday will go down in history.
    (It’s the day super-coolness was invented!)
  • Happy Birthday to the brother who reminds me of Lincoln, Shakespeare, and Darwin. (It must be the beard.)
  • Because you like history so much, I hope you make a little on your birthday.

And the greeting she wound up sending:

For your birthday, I was going to get you a history book.
But I couldn’t find anything that compared to our fabulous history together!

Happy birthday brother meme

Have a wild one

Birthday wishes for the partial-to-poetry niece

In September, Linda was faced with finding a creative message for her niece, quite a cultured young lady. She was pretty proud of the first thing she came up with:

  • Someday I’d like to take you to Nice, Italy, for your birthday. 
    Because it’s pronounced “niece” and it’s spelled n-i-c-e — and you’re both of those things to me.

But she thought, my niece loves poetry. She would be totally impressed with a poem. The Poet found a site designed to get Linda’s poetic juices flowing: poemsource.com/birthday-poems.html

The next thing she knew, Linda had penned several birthday poems for her niece.

  • I love the morning sunlight.
    Nature’s wonders never cease.
    Especially the one light
    That shines brightly in my niece.
    Happy birthday!
  • Some days I think old thoughts.
    And some days I think new.
    Some days I think bold thoughts.
    Today I think of you.
    I hope you’re having a happy birthday!

HBD to you – happy birthday message ideas

The last one was a keeper:

When it comes to relatives
There’s quite a range they span
They possess all sorts of qualities.
From daftness to élan
But sorting through my relatives.
Each child, woman, man
There’s one thing that I’m sure of
I’m glad you’re in the clan.
Happy birthday! 

For the quotable neighbor

Linda knew her next-door neighbor’s birthday was in October. That neighbor was always tossing off quotations from famous people. “I’d like to give her a taste of her own medicine,” Linda decided.

“Then I know just the place for you,” the Poet announced. Linda clicked on Birthday Quotes.

There she found a treasure trove of quotes. Some of her favorites:

  1. From our birthday, until we die, is but the winking of an eye.
    William Butler Yeats
  2. It takes a long time to grow young.
    Pablo Picasso
  3. We are always the same age inside.
    Gertrude Stein
  4. At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.
    Benjamin Franklin
  5. What I wouldn’t give to be seventy again!
    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  6. Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.
    Reverend Larry Lorenzoni

In the end, Linda simply brought over to her neighbor’s a bottle of Chardonnay with the attached message:

Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.
Plautus

Words of Wisdom – happy birthday message ideas

As they were enjoying the wine together, Linda’s neighbor lamented her advancing age. Linda was prepared with the right response: “You know those old words of wisdom,” she said. “Birthdays are cause for celebration in our teens, inebriation in our 20s, and mortification from our 30s on.”

“What a great saying!” exclaimed the neighbor. “That sounds like Ben Franklin. Do you know who came up with that?”

Linda nodded, smiled smugly, and replied: “I did.”

A creative best friend 

Because Linda’s best friend is also her cleverest friend, Linda suggested a double-barreled search:

1.) Birthday Greetings For A Friend
2.) Funny Birthday Messages

Armed with ideas, Linda went to work and developed more than a half-dozen messages she felt passed muster for her pal’s upcoming November birthday:

  • Friends don’t let friends celebrate alone.
    What say we go out and have some birthday fun?
  • I was going to rent a boat for your birthday.
    But we already have this incredible friendship.
  • We’ve been friends longer than TV’s Friends
    And we’re being renewed for next season!
    Happy birthday, best friend!
  • How strong is our connection?
    Let’s just say I’ll know what you’re wishing when you’re blowing out the candles!
  • On your birthday, I know you won’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
    (Because I’ll be right there with you!)
  • After the age of 35, “Happy Birthday” becomes an oxymoron.
    Please have a bearable birthday.
  • I was going to get you a dog for your birthday.
    But I don’t want to risk anyone else becoming your best friend.

Long birthday message for a friend

As 20-year-olds, remember how bad we felt when we got carded, and they told us we were too young to get in?
And, as 30-year-olds, remember how good we felt when we did get carded because they thought we looked too young to get in?
As about-to-be-40-year-olds, I guess we should just be thankful we can still remember anything!

In the end, she settled on the simplicity of:

You’re the best. And I should know because I’m your Bestie.
Happy birthday!

For the daughter who likes things short and sweet.

The Poet told Linda to scroll down at 100 Best Happy Birthday Captions where she’d find some birthday messages for her daughter’s December birthday.

Upon getting into the mother-to-daughter perspective, Linda composed a variety of interesting messages:

  • For your birthday, I’m going to tell you what my mom told me when I was your age. She said: “For your birthday, I’m going to tell you what my mom told me when I was your age.”
  • On your birthday, I want to tell you what my mother told me when I was your age. If only I could remember!
  • How do you buy a birthday gift worthy of someone who has always been the greatest gift to us?
  • We can measure how you’ve grown each year with marks on the wall.
    But the way our love for you has grown … that’s immeasurable.

Looking them over, Linda wasn’t quite satisfied. As she explained to the Poet, “My daughter always seems to respond best when things are said in as few words as possible.

“Then Birthday Messages might be worth a visit,” the Poet replied. “If you scroll down, you’ll find a section filled with short messages.”

Happy birthday beautiful

Linda found the messages and soon came up with her own:

  • Today’s the day.
  • Have a beautiful birthday, beautiful.
  • Smile. It’s your birthday.
  • Have a happy day.

But she finally went for a slightly longer line, which turned out to be the happy medium she was looking for:

Daughters like you don’t grow on trees.
They grow in our hearts.

Birthday Greetings Tips

Here are some important points to keep in mind when expressing birthday wishes.

The media is the message

It’s not just the message you send — it’s how you send the message. One of the most valuable things the Poet explained to Linda is that the media can be just as important as the message.

You’ve got to think about whether it’s best to send your sentiments through email, text, or Facebook. And are you sending just the words, or are the words a caption for a picture or meme?

Of course, your choice of the channel depends partly on the preferences of your recipient. Linda’s daughter prefers Facebook, her son text, and her husband email.

And her 91-year-old grandmother wouldn’t get the message by any of these “newfangled” methods. Linda had to send it by snail mail — in fact, she hand-crafted her grandmother a greeting card.

The message is the media

The other factor determining media choice is the nature of the message itself. If your message requires a preface or other elaboration, you probably don’t want to send it as a text — texts should generally be short for the sake of the person keying in the message as well as the reader. The wording of a caption may change if a visual accompanies it.

You can find see a boatload of birthday texts examples here. Go here for birthday memes and captions.

Remember everyone’s birthday at the same time with one big bash

After a year of constantly coming up with birthday messages, Linda thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could take care of everyone with one wingding of a party? It would become the official Birthday Day for the Family and Friends of Linda.”

The Poet suggested a variety of possible themes for the party:

Costumes 

Everyone dresses up as their favorite person or idol. And everyone has to guess who’s who. You can even go to the website Cameo and find a celebrity to be your birthday spokesperson. The celebrity will wish everyone a happy birthday in a personalized video.

Board game birthday bonanza   

Everyone participates in all the games, comprising an elimination tournament and culminating with the crowning of a champion.

Potluck party

Everyone cooks up their favorite recipe, and a buffet is set up. So everyone gets a taste of everything. Guests would also bring copies of their recipes for all attendees, so everyone leaves the party with a virtual cookbook.

Connections 

Everyone brings in a story about why they feel especially connected to another party guest. There is a prize for the narrator of the story that wins the most votes.

Linda’s choice

Linda really became enthused about the last idea when the Poet mentioned she could create extra excitement by flying in a secret, special, out-of-town guest — a long-lost family member or friend.

“Of course, a big blowout party could get pretty expensive. But there is a cheaper way to go that could be very successful,” advised the Poet. “A virtual party.”

“Tell me more,” said Linda.

Zoom birthday party game ideas

“The pandemic brought Zoom into many of our lives in a big way,” the Poet explained. Even when the virus becomes a distant memory, family and friends are still going to enjoy getting together online courtesy of Zoom.”

Consider the possibilities for virtual games and activities.

  1. Ghost Party — Everyone wears a sheet over their head and disguises their voice when they speak. The last person correctly identified — and the person identifying them — each win a prize
  2. Who am I? — Everyone starts talking by focusing on the interests — and using the style/personality tics — of one of the other party guests. The winners are the one who gets correctly guessed first and the person who guesses them. (This game works best for Zoom gatherings where the guests all know each other well.)
  3. Funny Face — This game is simple. Everybody contorts their face into the funniest expression possible, and the face generating the most laughs/votes wins.
  4. Baby Pictures — Everyone brings in their baby picture. Whoever’s a photo is correctly identified last — and the person who correctly identifies the most photos first — are the winners.
  5. Guess Who’s Coming? — A special (out-of-town/out-of-circulation/rarely seen) invitee is told to join the Zoom half an hour after the other guests have arrived. During that half-hour, everyone tries to guess who the mystery guest will be, and the winner gets a prize.

More Virtual Party Games

  1. Continue the Story — The host(ess) begins the story, and each guest, in turn, has to pick up where the previous guest left off. In the final round, participants are advised that the story must be concluded at the end of that round. The host(ess) transcribes the story as it’s being told and emails the completed story to all guests as a memento of the party.
  2. Trivial Pursuit for Zoom — The host(ess) would ask the questions and would have to own a copy of Trivial Pursuit. Each guest has to answer a question in turn and is eliminated if they don’t know the answer. However, if another guest is stumped by a later question, the eliminated guest is given the first chance to answer it — and if they answer it correctly, they’re allowed back in the game. Whoever is left at the end is the winner.
  3. Draw the Guest — Each participant has to draw the guest of their choice from those on the Zoom screen. The artist of the drawing getting the most votes gets a prize.
  4. Storytelling — Each guest tells a true story/anecdote about one of the other guests at the party. The guest telling the story with the most votes — and the guest who is the subject of that story — each win a prize.
  5. Answer Fast — The host(ess) asks a ridiculously difficult question. Using their smartphones, everyone has to search out the answer. Whoever answers correctly first wins a prize.

Fun birthday games

  1. Trading Day — Each guest brings a personal possession to trade with another guest (Activity could also be conducted in the form of an auction.)
  2. Book Club — Everyone brings in their favorite book and explains what they love about it. (Or, everyone could be asked to read the same book beforehand for discussion on the Zoom.)
  3. Initials — Host(ess) announces a set of initials and calls on the person who first raises their hand to provide the name of a famous person with that set of initials. Each person gets a point for each set of initials they correctly match.
  4. Online games — Simply select an online game like Fibbage on your computer and click “Share Screen” on Zoom’s pop-up window.

Old Standbys 

The following games and activities — with some adaptations — can work on Zoom:

  • Talent show – All acts must use only face and hands.
  • Charades – Award an Oscar for best performer.
  • Simon Says – Simon can only have guests doing things with hands and face.
  • Karaoke Everyone’s favorite.

Wrapping It Up

“Wow!” exclaimed Linda, “There are so many virtual possibilities; I could keep the games and activities going all night. Maybe I’ll end the evening with a virtual sleepover!”

If this article runs any longer, we’ll have to have our own virtual sleepover. Hopefully, the Poet and Linda have given you enough happy birthday message ideas for many Happy Birthdays to come.

— Art Novak

Art Novak is an Emmy-winning writer, novelist, and Professor Emeritus at Savannah College of Art and Design.

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