A friend's mother forgot her birthday.
It might not have been a big deal, except she was turning 50.
Birthdays are a funny thing...
Though we (technically) know a year in advance when someone’s birthday is, we’re often scrambling at the last minute to get a card in the mail or find that perfect gift.
Even when that person is someone very close to you.
Even when they are celebrating a major milestone like a 50th birthday.
Here are things you can do to make sure you’re never late with another birthday.
Mark their birthday a month earlier on your calendar
Most of us recall the birthdates of those closest to us.
When we do remember someone’s birthday is coming up, we often don’t have enough time to take the action we’d like to take...or maybe it's one of those frustrating moments when you realize that in order for your gift to arrive in time, you will have to pay expedited shipping charges, which cost nearly as much as the gift.
There’s an easy fix to remember birthdays in a timely fashion:
-Add the birthday on your calendar
-Add a second item to your calendar one month PRIOR to their birthday, “Get ready for ____’s birthday” one
By having that reminder 30 days ahead of time, you have many more options on what to do to commemorate their special day, whether it's a 40th birthday, or any other birthday,
If you find you’d still benefit from being reminded, you can add more countdowns on your calendar or include some “reminders” to your smartphone.
Put time on your calendar to get that gift or plan that party
One of the greatest sources of stress is not having the time to do the things we want to do.
By contrast, when we set aside time for an activity, it’s far less likely to cause us angst.
Case in point: someone who arrives late at work because of a dead car battery is far more uptight than the person who has a car maintenance appointment scheduled.
Make the same structure work for you when it comes to birthdays:
Schedule time on your calendar for “Birthday Prep for _________’s Birthday”.
This may be obvious, but it’s not enough to just write the activity down. You must also block off the time, so that nothing else can be scheduled then.
If you’re willing to reserve time in your week to see your dentist, shouldn’t you set aside time to get/make a gift or card for a loved one? After all, something like a 60th birthday is worth celebrating!
Extend an invitation for a birthday get-together several weeks AHEAD of their birthday
As much fun as gifts can be, nothing beats a celebration. In fact, a recent study showed that a whopping 89% of Americans liked it when their loved ones put efforts into celebrating their birthday. (Given the political climate we're living in, it's especially notable to find something nearly all of us can agree on!)
Make your loved one feel extra special by sharing the plan to celebrate several weeks prior to their birthday.
By communicating in advance, you are more likely to find they are free at the time you’re suggesting. Additionally, by letting them know ahead of time, they can enjoy the sweetness that comes with anticipation.
Schedule orders for flowers, balloons, fruit baskets, etc. far in advance
I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to remembering things.
One of the most helpful services I’ve found is “set it and forget it” reminders that companies like Proflowers offer.
You simply enter the occasion and the date, and then the company sends you a email saying something to the effect of, “Your mom’s birthday is coming up on June 17th. Would you like to send flowers?”
This prompt makes it easier to take action AND makes you look good.
Set aside one day a month to write out birthday cards for all the special people born in that month.
As convenient as it is to post birthday wishes on someone’s Facebook page, an actual, honest-to-goodness-you-can-hold-it-in-your-hands birthday card is a wonderful thing.
If you have trouble getting the card there in time, this tip from a neighbor of mine can help.
When our paths recently crossed, she told me that she had just welcomed grandchild #16 into her family. She went on to say that she now had 3 grandchildren born in the month of May.
I asked what her secret was for keeping the many birthdays straight for her ever-expanding brood.
She told it me it was easy because she had a “system”: the first of every month, she writes out all the birthday cards she needs to send during that month. She signs ‘em, seals ‘em and in the upper right hand corner of the envelope where the stamp would go, she indicates the day she has to drop it in the mail.
She proudly said she hasn’t been late on a single birthday card in the past 25 years. As my track record pales by comparison, I'm adopting her system.
Apply “economies of scale” to birthday cards, gift wrapping and gifts.
In microeconomics, there’s a term called “economies of scale.” It means that the more a business produces, the less each unit costs to make.
Putting it in slightly more delicious terms, let's assume you want to bake a batch (in this case, 36 cookies) of homemade chocolate chip cookies for a friend’s birthday.
If you didn’t have the ingredients on hand, you would need to purchase butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, flour, baking soda, baking powder and chocolate chips.
After you bake the batch of cookies, you would likely find that some items had been used up completely, such as the bag of chocolate chips.
You’d probably also discover that you still have plenty remaining of the other items, such as the baking soda and baking powder. This is because, in most stores, it’s not an option to buy a single teaspoon or two, you have to purchase the entire box.
Now assume your cousin is unexpectedly coming to town. You recall that he loves your chocolate chip cookies.
Instead of making just the one batch of cookies for your friend’s birthday, you decide to make two batches of cookies so your cousin can enjoy some as well.
As you consider whether you need to make a second trip to the store, you realize you already own most of the items on hand. Except for purchasing a second bag of chocolate chips at a cost of $3, there’s no additional money you need to spend.
Looking at the receipt from the grocery store, you find that you spent $15 on ingredients for the first batch of cookies. Since the recipe made 36 cookies, it works out to $0.42 per cookie.
The second batch?
They were seemingly a bargain at $3 because the only incremental cost was an additional bag of chocolate chips.
To calculate the true cost of both batches of cookies, you need to add the cost of the first batch ($15) to the cost of the second batch ($3) for a total of $18 or $0.25/cookie.
As you can see, economies of scale apply here since making 36 cookies cost $0.42/cookie, while making 72 cookies resulted in a cost of $0.25/cookie. The more you baked, the less each cookie cost to make.
Economies of scale would also apply to your time. If it took you 90 minutes to make the first batch of cookies, it would NOT take you another 90 minutes to make the second batch.
Even if we assume it takes the same amount of time to scoop out the dough and bake the cookies for each batch, you would still save time.
The ingredients are already out on your counter, you’d probably measure out the increased amounts all at one time, you’d probably mix the two batches at the same time….
Since we almost always have sufficient visibility into when birthdays of our friends and family will occur, we can make the economies of scale principle work to our advantage.
You might set aside time to take care of several upcoming birthdays by:
- Purchasing/making multiple birthday cards at one time
- Write out/address multiple cards in one sitting
- Select or make gifts in one outing
- Wrap or package several gifts in one afternoon
Pick a “theme” for birthday gifts to make selecting gifts easier.
Most people approach gift giving as unique, independent experiences.
Specifically, the gift selected for one person is completely unrelated to the gift selected for the second person, which is completely separate from the gift for the third person…
A more efficient way is to select a “theme” for all the birthday gifts you give in a particular time period, and then customize the theme for each person’s birthday.
This approach is similar to selecting a design theme, which according to MBASkool, can be defined as the "recurrent, underlying objective that ensures consistency in the design of wide range of products that belong to a single family."
If you are decorating your outdoor patio in "coastal chic", you can bypass the Chippendale tables and head for the weathered furniture in Sunbrella fabrics.
Putting this into practice, let’s assume you decide that the birthday gifts you give this year will be around a theme of “music appreciation.”
You might give your husband concert tickets to see his favorite band; your nephew might receive an iTunes gift card because he’s always listening to music; and, for your sister who never gave up her album collection, you might gift several extended play vinyl records and a retro concert t-shirt.
Selecting an overarching theme allows you to quickly narrow down the entire universe of possible gifts and find something for everyone on your list in less time.
BIRTHDAY HACKS REDUCE STRESS AND SAVE TIME AND MONEY
Birthdays are a wonderful excuse to celebrate the people we love. Adopting some of these birthday tips can make it easier on you and possibly more enjoyable for them.