Birthdays are the perfect occasions to show someone that you care about them. What you do can be tailored specifically to that one special person. Although giving gifts is a standard practice among many cultures, and is a lovely way to show you care, there are also many other ways you can make someone’s birthday extra special.

How you do this, is of course dependent on your circumstances – including, but not limited to, proximity, money, whether the birthday is a milestone or not and so on. So take a peek at my list below of 10 ways to make someone’s birthday special. I hope it gives you some inspiration to brighten their day!

Discover birthday quotes and messages here for friends or here for a partner to get you feeling inspired.

Making their birthday special without money or on a low budget

Time is more precious than money, so spend some time with the birthday boy or girl. You can do something free or that costs very little and still have a wonderful time together. Here are some ideas!

#1 Go for a picnic in a local beauty spot.

A couple sit on a rug having a picnic

This can be made up from grocery items you already have in your house and be as simple or sophisticated as you like. Make sandwiches and bring chips and bottled water, or bake a quiché, whip up a salad and bring wine (or their favorite drink!). For extra birthday vibes (and brownie points) get hold of a cake or cupcake and candle for them to make their birthday wish.

#2 Host a movie night

A group of 3 sit on a rug in front of a projection in front of a car

You can spend a couple of bucks on some microwave popcorn, and print out cute paper movie tickets to put in a card for the birthday boy / girl. Turn out the lights, stick on a classic DVD or stream something new that you know they’ll like.

#3 Write a poem

You don’t need to be William Wordsworth to write a poem to make someone feel special. It doesn’t have to be an epic, 60-line masterpiece. It doesn’t even need to rhyme! Just write down a few lines about them, maybe about things they have done or things you admire about their personality. The effort you go to will be evident to them and make them feel extra special on their day.

Want to share your love for this person on social media? Check out 21 awesome caption ideas here.

Celebrating a long distance birthday online?

Friends, family and loved ones living apart from each other is becoming more and more common in our modern world. So it is not unusual to find yourself in a situation where you want to make someone feel special who lives hundreds or thousands of miles away from you. Thankfully there are many ways to do this… Here are a few ideas:

#1 Video call surprise party

Two women video call a couple on the laptop, showing how to make someones birthday special

If you live far away from the person whose birthday it is, a nice way to surprise them is to arrange a video call. One way to do this, but still have it organized, is to go under the pretense that it will just be you and the birthday celebrant, and to then secretly invite other friends / family members to join as well. To maximize the surprise, you could all enter the call before the birthday boy/girl so that when they finally join, you can all burst into song at the same time to welcome them. Bonus points if you can get everyone to dress up and wear party hats or have balloons/streamers in the background too.

#2 Gaming celebrations

I actually experienced this myself during the lockdowns in 2021, and it is definitely a birthday celebration I will remember forever. I was living alone on my birthday that year and due to the restrictions I was not allowed to go visit anyone at that time. A few of my friends arranged for us all to play online games together online the night before, and as the clock struck 12, they all (virtually) gathered around me to play instruments and sing. The sight of three pirates playing hurdy gurdys and banjos on a beach while singing happy birthday is not a sight to forget in a hurry!

#3 Sending something unexpected

A woman receives a cake with a lit sparkler

You can get totally creative with this, but try to make it something very personal to the birthday boy/girl. Depending on how far away they live, you could bake them their favorite cookies and send them. You could have a framed photo printed of you and them the last time you were together. You could even arrange for a singing telegram!

#4 Make a birthday wishes video

This can be done alone or also include other people who know the birthday celebrant. Film in different locations in your local area that are special to your relationship. Get each person to record a short birthday message and make a kind of compilation to be sent on the birthday. You’ll need to be organized to get it done on time, but it will be worth it for the recipient.

Tip: With MyPostcard app, you can actually send a video inside a printed card personalized with your own photo. When it arrives, the recipient can scan the QR code to view it!

#5 Turn up

A man and woman greet eachother when someone turns up to make the other's birthday special

The best and most surprising way to make your long distance friend’s day, is to show up on their birthday. Of course this totally depends on your situations, may require some extensive planning on your part (and possibly the help of some co-conspirators), but if it is an option for you, it would definitely give them a birthday to remember!

Making milestone birthdays special

Any of the previous ideas could also work for milestone birthdays, but below are a couple of extra special things you could consider for a milestone birthday.

By the way, if you still need to write your birthday card, check out this article on what to write in a 18th…21st…30th+ (etc.) milestone birthday card.

Make a birthday box gift

The birthday girl opens a package sent to make her birthday special

This idea is similar to a memory box, put in things that remind you of the person at different ages in their life. These can be candies they liked as a child, DVDs of movies they used to watch, framed photos of them from their awkward teenage years, a bottle of wine from a vineyard you visited, anything that reminds you of them through the ages.

This way for a cute DIY photo explosion box to go with your theme.

Get a celebrity birthday message

These can be a little expensive, which is why they’re in this section, but if your friend has a celebrity idol, this could be a great gift for them. There are several websites that allow you to book video messages or sometimes even calls with a multitude of celebrities from across the globe, the more famous the more expensive in general, but take a look. Getting a personal video birthday message from your teen TV crush is sure to be one for the books!

Need more tips for making your friend’s birthday special?

Check out the following articles for more ways to make their birthday ultra special!


Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?

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