In the past, I always seemed to be running around at the last minute trying to get birthday cards out. This year, my husband and I developed a system that made everything much easier. We buy, address, and stamp all of the birthday cards for the year at once. When the birthday is coming up we just take the card out, write a little note to the recipient, and put it in the mail.
Here’s how we did it. First, we created an Excel spreadsheet with two sheets. The first sheet is for addresses and it has four columns. The first column is simply the last name, which we use to alphabetize the list. The second column includes the names of everyone in the family. The third column is the address, written exactly as it should appear on an envelope. And the fourth column is for notes, such as the name of a boyfriend or girlfriend. This sheet is our master list of addresses, which we also use for Christmas cards.
The second sheet is for birthdays and has three columns. The first column shows the month and date of the birthday, which are listed in chronological order. The second column shows the birth year, and the third column is the name. We highlighted the names of all of the people we wanted to send cards to.
We also keep a perpetual birthday calendar hanging in the kitchen. It has a line for each day of the month, and we filled in the birthdays for family and friends so we can see at a glance when birthdays are coming up.
My husband and I took a printed copy of our birthday list to a card store to buy birthday cards for the upcoming year. We did this the week after Christmas when we both had time off of work, but it really could be done any time. We had about 15 cards to buy and together it took us about an hour to pick them all out. When we got home, we stamped and addressed all of the envelopes, and sorted them chronologically. Since my husband is German, some of our cards go to Europe, so we keep stamps on hand for both Europe and the US. You can buy forever stamps online from the USPS for both Europe and the US, and I highly recommend keeping an inventory of the stamps you use regularly at home.
I can’t tell you how wonderful this system has been. Now, when I see that someone’s birthday is coming up, I just go to the drawer where I have all of the birthday cards and find the card for that person, write a little note, seal the card, and put it in the mail. No rushing to the store to find a card, no searching for an address, no stopping by the post office for stamps. And, if I get unexpected cards for my birthday, I can make sure to reciprocate by adding that person to my birthday list.