3 Technology Hacks to Celebrate a Birthday From Afar

3 Technology Hacks to Celebrate a Birthday From Afar

One of the hardest things about living far from someone you love, is not being able to spend their birthday with them. The most obvious way of making someone’s day extra special it would seem, is by being there to organize parties and deliver gifts and affection, but with a few creative uses of simple technology, we are here to claim that you can definitely make their birthday a day to remember even if you can’t be physically there with them. We’ve come up with three ways to use every-day technology like email, texting, and websites you use daily to make them feel extra special this year.

  1. Create a Birthday Email Address. – This one works best with at least a little bit of advanced planning. Whether you have a few weeks leading up to the birthday of your long-distance bestie, boyfriend, brother, etc., or a few months, this can be a winning option which can cause both extreme surprise and joy.  All you have to do it create a unique birthday email address, say for example happybirthdayjason@gmail.com (or, you know smushiesbday@gmail.com). Create the account and start emailing love notes, birthday wishes, photos, videos, songs, scanned old photos, forward old email exchanges, anything that you think will make them happy.  While waiting in line at the supermarket you can send an email about how you’re thinking about them and what you might buy for them if they were here. You can even give out the address to other friends and family to send wishes too. Then, on their birthday, give them the password! They will be blown away by the thought you put in and be able to sit down and go through the emails feeling how much you thought of them in honor of their birthday.
  2. Call in Reinforcements! Often people feel that just a call or email to the special person on their big day is just not enough to express everything they want to say. So imagine tens of people calling and emailing to tell them how much you are wishing them all the wonderful things in the world on their birthday. We spoke to Guy who told us he’s been doing this for the past six years on his mom’s birthday. He sends a mass email to all of his friends asking them to call or email his mom on her birthday to wish her the happiest of birthdays. He told us, “I never liked giving gifts which were bought from a store. Mainly because I usually prefer getting gifts which are custom-made to fit the relationship between myself and the person giving the gift. So with my mom, I felt I had to do the same and she is so down to earth, so appreciative of every small thing but most of all she loves people more than anything. So sending people who she did or did not know to wish her happy birthday was the perfect gift.”
  3. Make a Birthday Playlist. There is something magical about music that creates an atmosphere and a flavor for the day, it can bring back memories and change your mood. Having a soundtrack for their big day can add that extra something in between the lines for the day to feel that much more personalized. They can listen to your custom playlist while getting ready for the day, riding between stops or just chilling before going out that night. You can come up with songs that will remind them of special times you’ve had together and just general feel-good music according to their taste. Denise told us that her sister did this for her on her birthday two years ago and it’s still her go-to playlist when she’s thinking of her sister or just needs a pick-me-up.  She told us, “it was a really nice birthday but I was sorry my sister wasn’t there to spend it with me, and when she sent me the playlist in the morning I listened throughout the day and felt like she was there with me in a different way and haven’t stopped listening to it since!”  You can listen to the mix all day as well and even post it on social media for others to celebrate with them too by listening in.  A few birthday-themed songs to consider including are, The Beatles’ “Happy Birthday”, “It’s My Party (and I’ll cry if I want to)” by Lesley Gore, Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday”, for the Bob Dylan lovers there’s “Forever Young” (and for a softer interpretation try Audra Mae’s version). Of course there’s the eternal rendition of “Happy Birthday Mr. President” sung by Marilyn Monroe. And not to leave out the pop fans, you might like “Birthday” by Katy Perry or “Young Forever” by Jay Z featuring Mr. Hudson. Two easy and free ways to create a playlist are on YouTube or 8tracks.com. This too is something you can build over time leading up to their birthday as you think of songs they’ll love.

Don’t let the distance make you think that you can’t be there in virtual ways, make this a birthday to remember. With one or two or all three of these ideas, you can be the one to add that extra something to your loved one’s birthday this year. So go on, start thinking of songs for the playlist!

True Stories: I Forgot My Mom’s Birthday

True Stories: I Forgot My Mom’s Birthday

In honor of Mother’s Day in one week from today – we dedicate this post to all the well-meaning children out there (who may even be moms themselves) who would like to make sure they never forget their own mother’s birthday. Now, you might be thinking – Me?! Forget my mom’s birthday? Never! In fact, I never have in all my [fill in the blank] years of life! Well, friends, all it takes is one time to cause an unfortunate forgotten birthday situation. In fact, it is more common than you might think. In our busy lives, it’s not so simple to keep track of all those dates and with people geographically spread out over various time zones, we wouldn’t blame you if this happened to you. We talked to three women with forgotten mom birthday stories to hear how it happened and how they tried to prevent it from ever happening again.

Ally told us that it happened about two years ago. “I was super crazy and busy and barely knew what day of the week it was,” not to mention what the date was. “I was waiting at the bus stop to get to work, and took out my planner, and realized that it was November 15th, and that I had totally forgotten to call my mom two days earlier on her birthday.” Flabbergasted at the fact that she had forgotten even though it was right there, clearly written in her planner, she realized she simply hadn’t looked at it in a few days. She couldn’t call her mom right at that moment because she knew she was at work with her phone off. She called and emailed later and apologized profusely. Her mom was understanding and she admits, “I think I felt worse than she did.” Ever since then she hasn’t figured out just how to remember, but just tries to be more aware of the date on a regular basis.

For Shauna, the episode happened over twenty years ago, but she remembers it like it was yesterday. She was only ten at the time, and yet somehow everyone in the family forgot her mom’s birthday that year. “My dad called the house to tell me my mom’s on her way home and she’s upset and crying.” Everyone scrambled to have a little birthday toast ready for her when she arrived home as they made their group apology.  Of course she says that “needless to say that since then that date has been etched in our memories.” Although, just to be safe they also made every password in the house related to mom’s birthday just to make sure that all family members would know it by heart from then on.

Our final story, comes from Joan, who simultaneously had her own birthday and anniversary forgotten by her husband. In this case Joan’s husband’s good intentions were met with a little technical mishap. He knew he wasn’t so great at remembering dates and so he made sure to plug them into his electronic calendar on his iPad. Truth be told, it was actually a case of a little human error which was then magnified by his trusty iPad calendar. Here’s how it happened: Joan’s birthday is on January 25th. Her’s and her husband’s wedding anniversary is on May 28th. Her husband saved their anniversary in his iPad calendar as January 28th – taking the month of her birthday and the day of their anniversary. So on January 28th, while she was bundled up in a blanket during a snowstorm, her husband burst into the living room exclaiming “I’m so sorry! I forgot our anniversary!” “What are you talking about?” Joan asked. “It’s our anniversary today…!” he said, to which she replied “Honey, we were married in May.” “But my iPad says it’s our anniversary today…” he said confused. “Turns out,” she told us, “technology can only help you remember dates if you enter them into the device correctly the first place.”

Although it turns out that forgetting your mom’s birthday once can do wonders for making sure you don’t forget it ever again, Ally, Shauna and Joan all recommend slightly more elegant solutions for the future.

Has this happened to you? We’d love to hear more stories in the comments! Happy Mother’s Day y’all!

Meet the Makers: The Story Behind Family Birthday Boards

Meet the Makers: The Story Behind Family Birthday Boards

UPDATE: As a follow up to the success of this blog post, we have launched a promotion for 15% off a birthday board ordered from some of the shops interviewed here! Details here: everminder.com/birthdayboard.

At first glance, you might not be quite sure what you’re looking at. A board with strings of charms hanging down… But within about sixty seconds you’ll go from not having known it existed to absolutely needing one of your own. What is this mysterious item? It would be the Family Birthday Calendar, or Family Birthday Board – the crafty trend gracing your screens more and more often these days on platforms like Etsy and Pinterest.  Since at EverMinder, we are passionate about both families and birthdays, we decided we simply had to investigate the increasingly popular trend which is slowly making quite a name for itself on the world wide web and in homes across the world.

The Family Birthday Board is a functional piece of art which visually displays all family birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates within a family, in a single place, organized by month. You’ve probably been there – you’ve forgotten a family birthday, or had yours forgotten, and it stung. What’s worse is that it was preventable, but finding the right solution isn’t simple in our busy lives. Especially as families grow, it’s harder to keep track of special days in the family, and so the board becomes a constant visual reminder of those important dates. Plus, it’s a beautiful piece of art you can customize to match your own style and decor – the sheer number of different designs available is incredible.

We were so fascinated by this charming and practical item that we just had to find out more. We contacted some of the top sellers of these boards on Etsy and surveyed them on their experiences with this special piece of art. The answers we got blew us away – there is so much magic in what could otherwise seem like a mundane object, just one of many items for sale in various online shops. Read on for what we found out!

How It All Began

For almost all of the sellers we spoke with, they started by making their own Family Birthday Board or by making one as a gift or being asked by someone to make one, only to realize how useful and unique it was and so it became part of their business, almost by accident. For some of the sellers we spoke to, Family Birthday Boards are now upwards of 75% of their total business and some of them have made hundreds of these over the past couple of years alone.

In their words:

  • Since I absolutely love birthdays and I love my family, I thought it would be the perfect Christmas present for my 94 year old grandfather. His calendar has a total of 45 hearts for all of his offspring (that’s including the son/daughter-in-laws and himself). He loved it and so did the rest of the family! (Andrea Schröer, byAndreaTaylor)
  • My family has a lot of members (over 60) and we had a hard time remembering all the special dates (anniversaries, birthdays, etc). I made my first board for my mom. So many people liked it and wanted it, I expanded my options and styles, then started to sell them on Etsy. (Chelsea Hoffman, EaselyInspired)
  • I started making the birthday boards to give as Christmas gifts. The functionality and simplicity of it was the real selling point. Being able to go outside the box and customize it to fit people’s homes is what I truely enjoy. It’s a very creative and easy way to have access to everyone’s birthday all at once. Plus it’s something you can easily add to and never goes out of style. (Charlotte Bess, FromHeartToHomeDecor)
  • I was adopted when I was only days old. We connected with my biological family when I turned 18. So I had 2 whole families to keep up with. And then I got married! Another family to keep up with. So it really was to keep my own sanity. I started making one for myself and my girlfriend offered to pay me for one. A few months later when I was asked to be a bridesmaid in a wedding in Hawaii, I decided to sell some boards to help cover the cost. (Suzannah Hastings, SuzzanahsPretties)
  • After getting married, I found my calendar was bursting with new birthdays, anniversaries, and other important events. I found the Birthday Board idea and started my own…its importance has grown into a treasured family tradition. (Jessica Reid, IfOurWallsCouldTalk)

It’s All About Family

What was abundantly clear in what the sellers had to say about this piece, is that its magic comes from the centrality of the family in this item. Many of them gushed about how much they enjoyed customizing a board according to each family’s style and personality. In fact, all of the sellers but one indeed have their own Family Birthday Board hanging at home (and the one who doesn’t is planning to!). All confirm that it certainly helps and Sophie Underwood of TheEnglishRoseShop says she no longer has any problem remembering family birthdays now that she has the board. Lora from LalasDecorByTheShore said she looks at hers at the beginning of each month and prepares cards to mail out that month. Mystena Crow of WonderfullyMadeDecor who has already made over 200 boards said about her own board, “I love having my out of state family on the board, they love it when you remember their birthday.” Amanda of VinylConcepts said that she loves her board because “it is especially fun for the kids to see they are part something great…an extended family.

They said…:

  • I get enjoyment from thinking about families (like ours) looking at something I created every day, and reminding them of a special occasion. I love making each piece unique to my customer’s taste, so they love their product and it is a full representation of them. (Courtney Reed, PersonallyPoshDesigns)
  • We hope that families enjoy their boards for generations. (Paula Lyons, RCOriginalsGallery)
  • A lot of my customers have a huge family and this helps organize the dates for them all in one place, and new family members can easily be added! (Tiffany Hardy, SignChik)
  • It’s all about family and our family gets to hang on our wall for everyone to see. (Andrew Wright, Wright4Design)
  • I think it helps bring out the importance of the family. When you display it, it lets other people recognize the fact that your family is important to you. (Caroll Wilkins, VinylExpress)
  • My business was founded on making decor that is both beautiful and functional. I also love items that celebrate family. My Birthday Boards are the perfect example of what I stand for as a business owner. (Jessica Reid, IfOurWallsCouldTalk)
  • It’s so handy to have your loved ones displayed. Not only does it show a growing family, but it shows that a family cares because they want to know the special days of all its members. (Chelsea Hoffman, EaselyInspired)
  • In my opinion it gives the chance to always have you and your family to think of a family member or family friend, even if they are not close by. (Prettina Roberts, ThisLittleLight00)
  • For me, I feel that it is wonderful to be able to see all your family names in one place. We are a military family, and the members of our family are all over the country. It is just nice to be able to remember everyone even if we don’t get to see them very often (remembering birthdays is a bonus :)) (Suzannah Hastings, SuzzanahsPretties)
  • Our chalkboard style lets you change the name or saying on the board or include two last names, which is great for blended families. (Jonathan Prostko, Signs of Life)

The Perfect Gift

In addition to being both beautiful and practical, the third factor for a trend to really take off is if it makes for a good gift, and this is one of the best family gift ideas we’ve seen – especially as a gift to the “birthday person” in your family. Karla Gwinn of Pink Tree Creations even advertises this item as the perfect conversation piece for the family. When we asked the sellers about the most common occasions to give Family Birthday Boards, the main answers were the natural ones like birthdays and Christmas – one seller named Sam of PaperjackUK, made over 50 boards in December 2014 alone. And Nicole Arn of LizzyFishSigns, said her husband had to take off work for a few weeks just to help her complete her orders this past Christmas!

Meet the Makers: The Story Behind Family Birthday Boards - on the #everminder blog

In order to finish her Christmas orders last year, Nicole’s husband (Lizzy Fish Signs) took several weeks off of work to help! (And this is only a hobby away from her day job!)

But in addition to Christmas, many sellers found that customers were purchasing Family Birthday Boards as Mother’s Day gifts, and especially for milestone anniversaries. What better way to visualize the incredible legacy of the family that one couple has built than to see it visually spread over the year in names and dates of their loved ones? Some of the sellers even write on the board the phrase: all because two people fell in love. One seller, Suzannah Hastings, told us that she was commissioned to make a board for a Greek family for a 40th wedding anniversary and the entire board had to be in Greek. About making it she told us, “It was the largest order to date. It ended up looking beautiful and I got an email a few months later saying that their parents absolutely loved it. Making that board was a real challenge, and hearing that it is used and loved made everything worthwhile.”

Almost all of the sellers we spoke to also found that with this particular item they had many repeat customers. They would often have a board ordered as a gift and then have the customer come back to get another one for themselves and for others in their family.  Courtney Reed said she even has a repeat customer who is a realtor in Florida who orders these from her as closing gifts to her clients who purchase homes! Most touching of all is the idea that Jessica Reid shared, that what she feels is unique about this gift is that it’s a gift that keeps on giving, “There will be plenty of smiles when a Birthday Board is unwrapped. Like a stone dropped in water, the love continues to ripple as brothers and sisters get calls on their special day. Nephews and nieces open cards, and friends are invited to lunch…a Birthday Board gift will bring happiness for years.”

Custom, Custom, Custom

One of the unique characteristics about Etsy is its focus on handmade items and custom orders, and with this item the customization is endless and flourishing. The sellers we talked to customized in so many different ways, even beyond the standard variation in color, pattern and font. One example is from Ashley Pederson of CustomVinylBoards (for whom the birthday boards are one of her most popular items although she had only made a few before starting her Etsy shop). She can make you a board herself, or she can send you a kit for your to do it yourself! She has sold over 700 boards in the past year and a half, and almost 700 DIY kits.

What they shared with us:

  • I really love the custom jobs. They will send me pictures of the room where they want it, or a picture of the painting their child did that will be next to it, and want me to match the colors of the Birthday Board. It is a challenge and I love it. They end up being my best work. (Suzannah Hastings, SuzzanahsPretties)
  • Recently, we made several “sport teams” boards as well as larger custom boards for customers. One particular board was made for a nursing home – I thought it was a great idea for them. We are also looking at a new version of the birthday board that would be a virtual calendar with holidays and other special occasions included. (Tim and Tonya Nichols, CraftyConceptsStore)
  • I ask the customer about matching to their decor. I take requests. I include special dates, not just birthdays and anniversaries, but days people join the military, baptism days, pets birthdays, and even make a family members’ discs extra special if they’ve passed away. (Chelsea Hoffman, EaselyInspired)
  • If your family has a favorite saying as an inside joke, that can be included in the design. That’s the part I love about making these, and that’s what customers appreciate about them, too. (Nicole Arn, LizzyFishSigns)

It truly is just as Tim and Tonya Nichols put it: “your imagination is our limit.”

The Final (but most important!) Touch

The real custom part of the board however, is the names and dates of your own family members, this is what makes each board a true one-of-a-kind. The discs or nickels for each of the names come in all different shapes, sizes, materials and colors. Many of the sellers make birthdays circular and anniversaries heart-shaped. About half of the sellers we spoke to plug in the family information for the customer, and sometimes they even put the year of birth on the back of the disc. For some designs it’s part of the design for the seller to plug in the information, for example Paula Lyons who carves the names and dates into discs of maple, walnut, cherry, maple or paduak, or Andrea Schröer who burns each name and date into the wooden discs. Others let the customer decide if they want to send the family info and receive the board done and ready to hang, or allow the customer to fill in the details on their own.  And still others, provide the board only with the appropriate amount and type of discs but the customer fills in the details on their own once they receive it in the mail. In the case of Courtney Reed, who has created over 500 boards, she used to do the dates and names herself until it got a bit too complicated. So now she simply sends a Sharpie with each board so that the customer can start filling in the info right away!

Meet the Makers: The Story Behind Family Birthday Boards - on the #everminder blog

Courtney of Personally Posh Designs has made over 500 boards. She sends a Sharpie with each order for customers to fill it in themselves!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the world of Family Birthday Boards, and stay tuned for more posts on the subject – we so enjoyed this exploration that we’re planning more! And tell us your Family Birthday Board stories in the comments below, we’d love to hear them!

Christmas Babies, We Got Your Back: 10 ways to make a Christmas birthday extra special

Christmas Babies, We Got Your Back: 10 ways to make a Christmas birthday extra special

You undoubtedly know what’s coming up in just 14 days from today. That’s right, it’s the most celebrated holiday in the world, it’s almost Christmas. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about what ELSE is happening in 14 days from today… Okay, okay, I’ll just tell you. December 25th, like every other day in the year is the birthday of approximately 19 million people in the world! That’s right, let it sink in (and thank Matt Rosenberg at about.com for the estimate), around 19 million people have their birthday each day, including, of course, on Christmas. Although not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas, a Pew Research Center study from last year shows that even 81% of non-Christians in America celebrate Christmas. This means that many millions of people each year are faced with the challenge of a birthday on Christmas.

While some people have claimed that having a birthday on Christmas is fabulous, we wouldn’t blame you if you found it to be a bummer that your day, a unique yearly opportunity to celebrate you, got a tad bit overshadowed by Christmas.

So that’s why I’m here to say, Christmas babies (and those who love them) – we got your back.  Here are ten simple ways to make the Christmas birthday person’s day extra special despite the potential distraction of jingling bells and roasting chestnuts:

  1. In addition to a Christmas Tree, include a Birthday Bush. Put birthday presents separately under the bush. You can even wrap the birthday presents with their own special paper.
  2. Instead of the 12 Days of Christmas, do 12 Days of Birthday! Wrap 12 small presents each labeled with their day and allow them only open the first one. For the next 11 days while everyone in steeped in the holiday season they’ll remember the thought you gave to their special day.
  3. Collect some gifts or cards from friends or family who you won’t be spending the holiday with ahead of time. When you deliver them the birthday person will feel extra special about the thought that people put in even in the Christmas craziness before the holiday.
  4. Designate a specific part of the day (perhaps lunch on Christmas Day) during which you’ll celebrate only the birthday and forget about Christmas just for that time slot. You might even consider having totally untraditional food like Chinese take-out or pizza, to set it apart even with the grub. If you’re the theatrical type then designate a time of day when it stops being Christmas and starts being birthday and dramatically switch over to talking about and doing only birthday-related things.
  5. For kids: give the birthday girl or boy a special part of the Christmas gifting ceremony as part of their birthday present – maybe it’s delivering each gift to its recipient or devising a system to determine who gets the next gift. Maybe include a wand or badge.
  6. Here’s a radical one – consider throwing them a half birthday party on June 25th. Give out save-the-date cards at Christmas. This way they know you’ve acknowledged that their birthday isn’t getting all the attention it deserves but you’re guaranteeing a celebration down the line just when they weren’t expecting it. Or, throw them a surprise party no where near Christmas. This will be the most surprising of all!
  7. Write a Christmas song parody in honor of the birthday person and send it to guests ahead of time so you can perform it together (“jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock, our dear Elaine, we bet you thought we forgot…” etc.)
  8. If they are a big fan of a certain celebrity try Tweeting at that celebrity and getting them to send a special Christmas birthday tweet to your loved one.
  9. Give them a coupon for a proper birthday party redeemable anytime in the next six months. For extra cuteness create small print about the number of guests and options for food and venue.
  10. Check this list of 16 famous people who were also born on Christmas and choose one or a few to inspire a game or birthday card in the spirit of you’re-not-alone-this-awesome-person-is-also-a-Christmas-baby!

The main principles are simple – set the birthday apart, show them you thought of them, and make them feel special. These principles are central to any good birthday celebration, they’re just a little more important when the birthday has the possibility of getting overshadowed by another holiday or event that is on or near the date. This can be any holiday, not only Christmas, or even a one-time event like a family wedding or reunion. Turn the coincidence into an opportunity to make the person feel extra special, it’s often the thought that you put in that makes the most difference.

Please add your own ideas and experiences in the comments!

You Know You’re the Birthday Person When…

You Know You’re the Birthday Person When…

You may or may not be aware of the term “birthday person” but you have undoubtedly met one or two of them in your life, or you may be that person yourself. Here are a few tell-tale indicators that you are that dedicated and tireless “birthday person”:

1. You have texted/emailed/called your sibling/parent/child to remind them it’s someone else in the family’s birthday

2. You do #1 on a regular basis

3. You keep either a physical or mental list of gift ideas for family members (even if their birthday is 11 months away)

4. The first thing you do at the beginning of the year is to enter all family birthdays into your wall calendar/preferred electronic calendar/both

5. You have been known to wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat for fear that you might have forgotten to call your aunt for her birthday

keep reading!