Sunday, February 21, 2016


So by now you've probably all seen Shannon West's awesome campaign to take back birthdays from Facebook.

She said that the ubiquitous Facebook "happy birthday" message has depersonalized birthday greetings, and that our birthdays deserve the PROPER celebration of a handmade card in the mail.

She's right.

She's so right that they interviewed her on television about it, and she has more than 1200 names and counting in her database - and she's sending handmade cards to all of them!

Lots of people have hopped on board, and I just think it's fantastic. Long live snail mail!

However, in general, mailing birthday cards is something I really stink at, because - wait for it - I am not a planner person.

I will pause while you all cry dramatically and tear at your clothing and try to convince me that I should be.

You done?

I'm sorry - it just doesn't work for me. Because of the nature of my work, which is almost exclusively online, I do not have a schedule that fits into a calendar format. It's more project and yes, crisis, driven, and so truly a simple list works much better for me. That's all I ever have on my desk.

In order to send cards to people, I need something in a list format. I talked about how I keep track of cards that I need to send for thank yous, sympathy etc. in this post, but those are different because they are not predictable.

For birthdays I need the list in front of me throughout the month.

So I pondered exactly what I needed, based on a few things that I considered necessary:

  • Small footprint - I have a very small desk
  • Blue - duh
  • Flippable, so it's easy to move from month to month
  • Easy to change out so that as I add birthdays I don't have to re-do the entire calendar
  • A timeless, perpetual format that isn't dependent on a year
  • Sort of minimalist - you really don't need much info to be able to send out a birthday card - just a date and a name - I keep everyone's addresses in Google Contacts, so I don't need that info on my calendar. I have a "birthdays" group in Google Contacts and I just print address labels at the beginning of the year for everyone in that group, and then I can keep them with my calendar. 
Flippable was the challenge. I searched long and hard for the keywords to use to get what I found, and I was so excited when I finally found EXACTLY what I was looking for.

A blue, flippable pocket-based system that was originally designed to showcase Instax photos. I love it! Here's a link to the frame.  How cute is that??? Here's the side view of the calendar.

Now I set this up so that I had to do a minimal amount of work to bring it all together, because I'm all about sending the cards, not engineering a calendar.

I created the template so that it would fit Avery 5390 perforated name badge inserts, because I measured the pockets and those worked perfectly, and I figured that was a quick way to get them done. You can also use cardstock or DSP.  

Then I sized the circles on the templates so they would fit these clear SRM date stickers - I liked these because you get 12 of each number per package. Just some random trivia - the most common date in my group of birthday peeps is the 15th - I used 7 of these in this calendar. Apparently I don't know anyone who was born on the 16th, the 20th or the 23rd though. (Although I'm quite certain I will after this blog post.)

This is one of the great things about this calendar though - the efficiency of not having to have any dates that there are no birthdays on. That's is another drawback of a traditional calendar for me - wasted space. This thing does one thing and it does it really well - birthdays.

Finally, I used these labels to print my names out  - they're long enough for longer names, and for shorter names I just wrapped the extra around the back of the card. They also come in clear, in case you want to print the template on DSP or something you've watercolored, etc.

I just wanted clean white, so this is what mine looks like.

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This is SO much easier for me to see quickly what cards to send and when.

Now I'm 100% on board with #imbringingbirthdaysback - I'm committed!

I do have this template available for purchase if you want to print your own. I have the file set up so that it prints 3 cards for each month, along with some extras of the statistically most common birthday months at the end.

If you want to print on another medium and not the badge inserts, I've also included cutting instructions for you at the end. You can purchase the template here.

Here are the supplies I used for the calendar.

So my very first card went out today with the hashtag on the envelope.

I ordered a custom one from Bossy Joscie, and I'm not alone - she says she's had a lot of custom requests for them so now she's selling them as well. I ordered some of the ones she does with the social media icons on them too - I love these! Great way to easily show people how to find you.

So how about an actual birthday card after all that preparation for the year of birthdays?

This card was just an accident, but then I ended up liking it. I was testing a little tool I built to flatten out warped watercolor paper, so I just put random very wet paint down. One ended up looking JUST like a bird - according to my Facebook friends - a painted bunting, and this one ended up looking like an abstract landscape so I decided to keep it and turn it into a birthday card.

I love that teeny sentiment from Sunburst Sayings - It's so clean and small. And it doesn't have to be birthday either.

I'm listening to this book right now, and it's really good. I am thinking about trying this recipe, which I saw on Facebook. And I took this photo of this amaryllis my friend Chriss gave me for Christmas - it's crazy because it has this cluster of four huge blooms on it. Looks pretty with my chile peppers hanging nearby.

Hope you got a little you time this weekend!




  2. Your brilliance astonishes...again.

  3. Um. I just noticed that you don't have me on the 29th....just sayin'. ;-)

  4. THANK YOU for supporting "bringingbirthdaysback". I'm all about this personal touch that many seem to have lost. Most people squeal with happiness when they receive a handmade card and save them as treasures. Never heard anyone squeal with happiness over a birthday wish on social media that is forgotten as soon as you read the next post :-) My birthday reminder system works, but I sure like the looks of the system you devised. Might have to convert!

  5. OMG, I'm so glad I'm not the only planner obsessed person in the universe. Since retiring, I'm so anti-planning that and can't understand the need. You've explained it so well, project driven, etc. Me, I think I just have a mind like a squirrel, totally into bright shiny objects with limited concentration skills.

  6. ha, ha, Ardyth.......mine's Jan. 10th, lol....oh, oh, I think we have started something uncontrollable, lol.....Thanks for sharing your system!


  7. FYI, my birthday is January 20th! You did say you needed a 20th birthday right? hehehe I'd love a card from you.
    Oh, and I love the watercoloured card, what a happy accident.

  8. I was just talking to a friend a couple of days ago and decided I need to be better about sending birthday cards! I'm joining your movement!!
    Love your abstract painting

  9. OMGosh! Even I might be able to keep track of this with your genius touch!!! I officially owe you another (((hug))!


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