It happened…again. I had bought the perfect card months ago (actually, I bought several, because I hoard greeting cards like squirrels hoard nuts), but somehow the calendar flipped mysteriously fast, and there I was, realizing the next day it needed to be in the hands of its rightful owner. No way was that going to happen. Fortunately, I also hoard belated birthday cards. (No surprise there!) So if you need help with a happy belated birthday wish or what to say in a belated birthday greeting, I’m your gal.
Yes, I work for a greeting card company and I send late birthday cards. Not always. But okay, most times. (Don’t tell the head card elf.) Therefore, I have become quite used to sending late birthday cards, extending belated birthday wishes, or sending belated birthday ecards to friends and family.
There’s no shame in this game, my friends. Life moves so fast these days that many of us have trouble keeping up with what day it is, and if no one ever missed birthdays, then we wouldn’t be cranking out belated birthday greetings all the time. And when you get down to it, do you know what REALLY matters? That you sent one at all — so don’t even worry that it’s late. They’ll just be so happy you took the time to think of them.
A simple, general wish acknowledging that you’ve missed their day is just fine:
- Better late than never! And besides, the wishes are good on any date.
- Even though this is late, it’s never too late to wish you the best of everything always.
- I’m so sorry this is getting to you late, but please know I was thinking of you and wishing you everything wonderful.
- I can’t believe I missed your birthday, because you’re too special to ever forget.
- I’m actually kind of glad this is late because now it’s a happy surprise!
- I didn’t really forget your special day…I just wanted the happiness to last a little longer.
Adding a bit of humor is always a good way to go:
- You know what they say about birthday wishes — better late than never!
- I’m so sorry I forgot to remember your birthday.
- I know I’m late with your birthday card, but at least I’m on time with an apology.
- There’s a very good reason why this birthday wish is late. I forgot. I’m sorry! Hope you day was terrific.
- I’m sorry this birthday card isn’t on time, but it’s actually the earliest I’ve ever been late!
- My thoughts of you were on time — it’s only the CARD that’s late! Hope you had a great birthday.
- It wasn’t your birthday I forgot — it was the date. Hope your day was happy.
- Happy Birthday! (Leave it to me to say the right thing at the wrong time.)
- This birthday wish isn’t late — I’m just making sure I’m early so I don’t miss it next year.
For the perpetual late-comer (I might fall into this category):
- I didn’t want to throw you off and actually send your card on time. This way, you know it’s from me! Hope you had a good one.
- I know this is late — why break tradition? Hope your day was fun.
- Good friends know that even if your birthday wish is late, it doesn’t mean you’re loved any less. Thanks for being such a good friend. Hope it was happy!
- Happy Birthday to a warm, understanding, kind, fun, and special friend. (See? Wasn’t that worth waiting for?)
- You’re such a good friend with lots of wonderful gifts – lucky for me, one of them is forgiveness! Sorry I missed your big day.
- Yep — I forgot your birthday; but I could never forget a friend as great as you.
Let’s look on the bright side about having missed that birthday — your card will come as a nice surprise, all on its own, getting the recipient’s full attention! But the nicer gift they’ll receive is realizing how much you wanted to connect with them and wish them happiness. There’s no time limit, ever, put upon that.
Liza McNamara is an American Greetings writer and editor with over 13 years of experience in the greeting card industry. She has two Old English Sheepdogs who are the loves of her life and who enjoy getting greeting cards, too, as long as they’re edible. (Yes, there is such a thing! And her pups think they’re delicious.)