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:

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!

Skip the Romantic Date, Make it a Family Playdate

Skip the Romantic Date, Make it a Family Playdate

Who ever said that Valentine’s Day is exclusively for lovers? What about where love begins – the family! This Valentine’s Day, why not make it a playdate, instead of a romantic date (or in addition to it!). Valentine’s Day gives us a national excuse to celebrate the love in our lives, so here are three ideas to use this Valentine’s Day to celebrate the love in your family:

1. Make a Day of it!

Especially since this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, do something with the family or even just one member of your family. Whether you have little ones at home, you’re empty nesters, you are a grandma, or you’re away at college – find a family member and do something fun together. Have a picnic with the kids, get a pedicure with your aunt, see a movie with your cousins, take your nephew to play laser tag, video chat with your brother. If you want to make it even more Valentine’s-oriented then why not hold a romantic date for the whole family – stage a candlelit dinner with sparkling apple cider and have everyone dress nicely too!

2. Make heart-shaped family food!

This comes to counter the idea that all Valentine’s Day food must be in the shape of cookies or candy – not so! Family style food can be Valentined too. In the photo above, there are four ideas we found and loved which can easily add some lovin’ to your otherwise regularly scheduled family meal: morning toast, vegetable soup, sushi, and cinnamon buns! An added bonus is that none of them require a heart-shaped cookie cutter or multiple heart-shaped cookie cutters in numerous shapes and sizes – just simple, fun, family-oriented, and yummy.

3. Make it memorable!

Beyond the time you spend together as a family this February 14th, how about doing something that leaves a keepsake for the home. Hold a family love-themed photoshoot – lie down together in the shape of a heart, get photos of the kids kissing each other on the cheek, snap a photo from the ground of the family hug. Or have each family member write down things they love about your family on colorful strips of paper and keep them in a jar on the mantle and add a sticker: “Our Family Love Jar”. The added bonus here is that the next time someone is having a rough day at home or having an argument with someone else in the family, you can send them over to pull a slip out of the jar and read it to remember all the things they love about the family.

So this Valentine’s Day, don’t hold back – take the opportunity to celebrate the family love!

10 Insights to Bridge the Tech Generation Gap

10 Insights to Bridge the Tech Generation Gap

Your toddler tries to turn magazine pages by swiping his finger along the bottom of the page, and yet your mom has yet to locate the power button on the new iPad you just bought her. This is seemingly the greatest generation gap in history, and here you are sandwiched in the middle trying to hold the ends together. Although it is tempting to throw up your hands before even trying to bridge this gap, I want to share some insights I learned from three people entrenched in the world of family and technology who I met at the FamilyTech Summit as part of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, who helped me to see that it’s much less about the technical know-how, and much more about our approach and mindset. What I learned is that we must first:

  1. Banish ageism. It is real, but it can be overcome. Because:
  2. Just because it’s not native doesn’t mean it can’t be learned. These two insights came from Brenda Rusnak, producer of Cyber Seniors, a documentary about a few teenagers who sought out to teach some local seniors to use the internet. It is both hilarious and heartwarming, and watching the teens try to explain things like email and Facebook to the octogenarians also shows how important it is to:
  3. Start at the beginning, don’t take what you know for granted. Brenda said some of the teens used the metaphor of the internet as a library and webpages as books. Before you show Nana how to write on someone’s Timeline, explain how Facebook is a virtual rolodex for connecting with family and friends. Finally, from the movie comes the strong message that:
  4. This is our social responsibility. Showing someone who wasn’t born into the digital age how to use a smartphone or the internet isn’t just cute, it’s necessary. Retired and elderly life is often physically and socially isolating as it is – not being able to connect will only isolate them further. I’m not saying quit your day job and start touring retirement homes performing tutorials, but the next time your parent or older friend asks what it is you’re tapping at, offer to show them (slowly!) how it works. And if you don’t think your parent will be interested when you ask them to learn how to operate a gadget or use a website, then take Dan Tynan’s advice, the Modern Family columnist for Yahoo Tech:
  5. Get your kids to teach your parents. Indeed if you ask them, who knows if they’ll do it. But if their grandbaby says they can’t wait to start sending them pictures every day, then they’ll be tapping and swiping before you know it. Dan added that this will also make it possible for your parents to:
  6. Connect with their kids and grandkids unintrusively. Grandparents often feel they are going at a slower pace than the younger generations, and don’t want to bother them during their busy schedules. But if they are in a WhatsApp group or a Facebook friend, then they can receive updates regularly and feel in-the-loop without bothering anyone. An added benefit that Dan shared was that:
  7. Familiarity now could lead to living independently longer later. A seemingly bold claim, but there are already many devices and apps making it possible to live independently longer. The more an aging parent gets used to keeping in contact and interacting with technology now, the longer independent living will be possible in the future – especially in combination with sensors and tracking technology. Now before you get too overwhelmed, take Robin Raskin’s advice, the founder of Living in Digital Times:
  8. Start with a single relevant task to do online. Think about the person who is getting online for the first time and what they love to do. Is it books? Listen to an audio book. Teach them to do something they already do regularly-online, let them master that and only then move on. Keep in mind that Robin recalls when it was a $5,000 buy-in to engage with technology, but that’s no longer the case:
  9. A small investment can go a long way. Even starting to text hi and I love you with grandkids can be downright life changing. And even better than that:
  10. Technology can help overcome certain challenges that come with age. Robin shared the story of a little boy who told her that he loved talking to his grandpa online because he didn’t have to yell (he could type!).

Just as Cyber Seniors Director, Saffron Cassaday, so eloquently puts it in the film – once we close this gap we can again have three generations in the same house, except that this time it will be a virtual house.

Welcome to the Future: Family Location Sharing and Much More

Welcome to the Future: Family Location Sharing and Much More

Remember back in the Stone Ages, when your kid would go off to the mall and you would shove a calling card in their hand and make them promise to call you when they arrived and then again when they were leaving? Kids of the future, and even young kids today it seems, will have no such experience – they won’t even have to call or text their parents to say where they are and when they’ll get home. You will know about your kids’ whereabouts thanks to a myriad of technological advances, the question is what we will all sacrifice to make that possible and if we’ll decide it’s worth it.

We had the chance to sit down with the Chief Business Officer of Life360 – a mobile app for family location sharing in real time, at all times. Far from a glimpse into the faraway future, Life360 is already connecting over 50 million families, including 60,000 who pay $5 a month for extra features like getting a tow when stuck with your car (even if you don’t know where you are, they do!) or automatically sending your kid’s health info to whoever needs it in case of an emergency.

You can listen to my full conversation with Itamar here, or read on for the most interesting parts!

The Family Hub of the Future?

Itamar Novick of Life360, told us that the vision of Life360 is to be the family hub, the family network in which families share locations, messages, and a host of other family-related info. How does it work? Each person in your family has the app on their smartphone and is a part of your closed family circle. When they choose, each family member can share their location with the rest of their family (all the time, for example). Novick explained that in an effort to make family life more frictionless, they wanted to eliminate the most frequent text or call within the family which is: where are you? or, when will you be home? With Life360 that text is irrelevant, each family member already knows where you are and when you’ll be home right in the app on a private map. 

But what about privacy?

We asked if some of their users were hesitant to embrace something that essentially sacrifices their privacy? He noted the fact that anyone can turn on and off their location sharing at any time. But what they were surprised to find was that people were turning off their location sharing less often than they thought they would, apparently comforted by the knowledge that they could shut it off if they wanted to, but in reality they don’t use the off switch very much.  What about the teens who are in that stage of finding their individual selves and might be resistant to what could feel like being tracked? Novick said that just like when Mark Zuckerberg said in 2008 that privacy on the internet is dead, for young kids today geo-privacy is dying. And that while he says Life360 is not for every family, some teens find that it actually gets their parents off their back, and that the benefits of sharing their location with their parents outweigh their privacy concerns. 

Life360 is just the beginning

Where it starts to feel a little like the Jetsons and that we’ve been propelled into a future we’re not sure how we feel about yet, is in the fact that Life360 is on the forefront of smart homes, wearable devices and all types of automation and connected life. Can you imagine a world where as soon as everyone leaves home for the day, the lights will go off, thermostat will turn down and security system be armed? You will even be able to give Grandma temporary access to your home when she comes for the weekend since she’s already in your family circle. 

Where do you stand?

At this point maybe you’re wondering if all this technology is too much? You’re probably weighing the pros and cons of having access to this kind of family info and connection instantly at all times. Well, with Life360 and numerous other kinds of hard and software already on the market and in development, now is a good time to think with yourself and talk with your own family about your thoughts on this level and type of connection. When you sit down for dinner with your kids or spouse ask them what they think, what the benefits and concerns would be and be ready for what technology is bringing to your family sometime very soon.

The Girl Scout Cookies Have Gone Digital

The Girl Scout Cookies Have Gone Digital

It’s that time of year. The time when you reach into the freezer only to find that you have run out of Thin Mints (gasp!). Well have no fear, the Digital Girl Scout cookie is here! As I walked the show floor at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in a hunt for the most exciting advances in technology for the family, I came across the youngest and cutest exhibitors the show has ever seen. They were at the Girl Scouts booth, and once I got talking with the Girl Scouts I learned that they weren’t just cute, they were articulate, enthusiastic, and on the cutting edge of tech initiatives for kids, or in this case, for girls.

What were the Girl Scouts doing at the CES show you ask? They were launching the “Digital Cookie” – a brand new way for Girl Scouts to sell cookies, you guessed it – online! Several things struck me about this new program both technically and in terms of the Girl Scout mission. For the Digital Cookie campaign, the Girl Scouts have been equipped with their own websites which they run and customize (with parent approval) and with mobile apps to streamline the cookie buying experience when they sell in person.  The website allows Girl Scouts to send a link to friends and family who don’t live in their immediate geographic location to invite them to buy cookies online.  And, since they will still be doing their trademark selling door-to-door and at your local supermarket, they can use the app to walk you through the experience on their iPad or mobile device which will allow you to pay by credit card and then receive the cookies in the mail within a week!

What this all means is that you indeed do still have to know a Girl Scout (or know someone who knows one). But they’ve thrown you a bone with the Android and iOS apps to find the closest council or cookie sale location or even use this handy cookie locator link. What’s interesting about this initiative is that they didn’t just put the cookies online for you to buy online just like anything else, which would have risked nearly taking the Girl Scouts out of the equation which would lose the magic of the nearly 100-year Girl Scout cookie history. To the contrary – they have given the girls the modern tools to maximize the skills they can learn and impact they can have in their cookie sales of which all proceeds go back into their local council and to the causes that the girls themselves choose.

Here lies the beauty of this campaign. The Digital Cookie campaign has both gone high-tech and maintained its personal touch and girl-empowering mission. Often when things turn digital the personal touch and charm of the whole experience can dissolve. What’s unique here is the fact that tech is being plugged in to make both the learning experience for the girls and buying experience for the consumers quicker and easier, but the interaction between Girl Scouts and cookie lovers everywhere remains in tact.

In fact, this initiative is allowing Girl Scouts to learn more skills than ever. When I spoke with Kelly Parisi of the Girl Scouts, she told me that the Girl Scouts runs the largest financial literacy program for girls in the world. And with that ideal of empowering girls with life skills in mind, they used this initiative to incorporate even more skill building. Girl Scouts can now add to their tool kit experience in money management, business ethics, decision making and more. Indeed when I talked to the charming Girl Scout Malaysia, she told me she felt she was learning both money management and people skills. She said this was definitely helping her to feel comfortable talking with people and reaching out to new people and I can vouch that she did a great job at that! Listen to my conversation with Malaysia here:

Kelly elaborated and said that the older Girl Scouts (Brownies and above) are even learning more advanced skills such as e-marketing, online customer relations, and even use of a dashboard where they track their goals against their orders. These are undoubtedly important life skills the girls are getting hands-on experience with. Listen to my conversation with Kelly here:

I think it’s safe to say that this is certifiably the most exciting thing to ever happen to the Thin Mint.  So with that, I wish you all a Happy Girl Scout Cookie Season!

A New Year’s Resolution for the Whole Family

A New Year’s Resolution for the Whole Family

Well, tomorrow is a new year and inevitably there are some sparks of resolutions darting around the back of your mind as you try to figure out which ones to really commit yourself to doing and how to make them happen.  Some resolutions are the kind that you’ve resolved to do already once or a number of times in the past, but they’re hard work and they require continued attention and dedication and you’re not sure you’ll make it this time around. Some are smaller and you’ve been working toward them already and feel confident that you’ll achieve them this year but perhaps they’re also not particularly significant to your life. The art of a good New Year’s Resolution is to resolve to do something that is both significant to your life but also truly doable if you set your mind to it and equip yourself with the right tools.

Well, we’ve got one for you that will be both significant and achievable. It’s not a trick or too good to be true, it’s just that a new and free technology we’ve developed makes it possible. If you care greatly about your family and keeping them connected, then surely you know that remembering birthdays and marking them in some way is a uniquely powerful way to connect throughout the year in a meaningful way with your loved ones. Surely you also know that feeling that accompanies the realization that you forgot your loved one’s birthday and the missed opportunity to make them feel special.

Well, what if you were to resolve that 2015 would be the year of no forgotten birthdays in your family? Not a single one. Including your extended family. Imagine a whole calendar year when each time a family member’s birthday came up on the calendar you received a friendly reminder that allowed you to send the person a message right away or even send flowers or a gift? AND, not only would you receive the reminder, but every person in the family would receive the reminder and be able to send a message or gift to the birthday person. This would keep the family better connected than ever, wouldn’t you think? Well, EverMinder makes all of that possible, and for free.

It’s as if you’re making a resolution for the whole family, and keeping it for them! Once one family member (let’s say you) signs up for EverMinder and enters the family info – bam! – everyone gets reminders about every family birthday, anniversary and any other special date you choose.

If you’re not already rushing to sign up for EverMinder before the clock strikes 12, then let me remind you that this successful resolution will last long after 2015, just a single sign up lasts forever. And did I mention that each family member can customize their own reminder preferences and gift choices for when their own special days comes along? So go ahead, make it happen! Your family will be thanking you for years to come. Happy New Year!

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 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!

The Thanksgiving Family Birthday Showdown

The Thanksgiving Family Birthday Showdown

Ever wondered who in the family knows the most family birthdays? You might be tempted to assume that it’s the matriarch of the family who magically seems to remember every date in history, but you might be surprised – those teenagers are listening, and not just to their iPods.

For those looking to start their EverMinder Group sometime soon, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get a jump start! Or, it can be used for some good old fashioned intergenerational fun. But since you’ll have lots of family members in one place – it’s a great time to collect family birthdays.

All you need is a printer and some pens. Otherwise there is zero prep. Just print up four copies of this pdf in color or B&W: Family Birthday List (if you have a really big family then just print more copies of the second page).

Now, to how the Thanksgiving Family Birthday Showdown works:

Click here for game instructions!

Nothing Says I Miss You Like a Sign Message

Nothing Says I Miss You Like a Sign Message

Today, when so many families are spread out geographically, technology has provided many tools to ease the pain of being far away. And sometimes even small creative flares can make the most of the tools at our disposal.

And so, in today’s Connecting Families post: Sign Messages.

Never underestimate the power of the cuteness of your children/family combined with a customized message for the person you’re missing.

For the Sign Message you will need only four things and about ten minutes of your time (fifteen if you get really creative!):

  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Your adorable children
  • Your phone

Feel free to use creative license, but choosing a short message and then splitting up the words in the message and having different kids or family members hold them up is both quick and cute. You can even have each family member write their own word and decorate the page. Then everyone holds them up enthusiastically and snap the photo with your phone.  You can have them do different faces and even take a few to make a collage.  That’s it – send it off in whatever form the lucky recipient uses most regularly.

click here for a few alternate versions!

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!