The Easiest Way to Remember Birthdays

I was texting my friend Alex last week when she mentioned celebrating her birthday, which had been a couple of weeks prior. She was on a social media hiatus for Lent so there was no posting on the actual day, and despite having made a mental note to reach out on her DOB, I completely spaced when the day came around. As someone who takes pride in remembering and enjoys celebrating special days, I was really frustrated with myself for dropping the ball, especially since making that “mental note”–aka a non-existent note when life is even marginally busy–had failed me. Alex was obviously the sweetest about it, but it prompted me to immediately do something I’d been intending to do for months–create a better system for remembering birthdays.

Is it just people I know personally, or do many people seem to use Facebook less these days? I hardly spend much time on it at all (especially since the ~algorithm~ does a decent job putting big highlights at the top), but the downside of that is missing people’s birthdays; the little list on the right side of the home screen has always one of my favorite features in the app. Between logging on less and more people deleting their accounts by the day, that form of a reminder is pretty much no more. So I came up with my own way to remember these special days–it’s so simple, that maybe you already do it, too?

My solution is to have a designated “Birthday” calendar in my iCal, which syncs to Google Calendar. Each calendar in my iCal/Google Cal is color coded, and I just make each person’s birthday an “all day event” (so it shows up prominently, rather than as a bullet action item for the day) with a reminder alert set for 9am the day-of. The event also gets set to repeat “yearly.”

I use the desktop calendar version on my laptop (the one that’s in the dock at the bottom) and pull up the web version in a tab when I’m at work. Since the “Birthday” calendar is separate from my others–which are Apple’s generic “Holiday” one, a shared one with J, and a personal one–I just leave the little box unchecked so the events (birthdays) don’t clutter my calendar on the day-to-day. It’s easy to check off the box to bring them into view, and the 9am day-of alerts still pop up on my phone and laptop whether or not the events are actively being viewed. Ironically, I’m using Facebook to add everyone’s birthdays to the calendar…it’s a work in progress, but it’s well worth the time–especially since it’s also done for future years.

That’s it–so simple, right? It’s already made a big difference, and I know it’ll help be more consistent about getting cards in the mail, too. And of course, I’d love to know if you have a way to remember people’s birthdays…hopefully we can all take away some tips from each other to make sure “Happy Belated!” texts are no more :)

Image via A Happy Food Dance

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  1. Sarah wrote:

    So timely- I just texted a bunch of friends yesterday to get everyone’s addresses for birthday cards (I feel like even though I’m a pretty organized person, I’m constantly having to re-ask people for addresses…maybe there’s a better system for that?!). One of my friends has deleted her Facebook and decided to use Google cal for remembering everything, but your system sounds even more efficient!


    Posted 4.4.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      The address saving game is so hard in the post-physical address book era! I’d honestly keep a handwritten one but people our age move so often, so I’ve found myself doing a combination of starred emails in Gmail (where I email people asking for their address) and a spreadsheet. The goal is to move everything over to the spreadsheet one of these days because let’s be honest, a lot of them are still buried in text conversations!

      Posted 4.5.18 Reply
  2. this is a great idea and I actually use the same method for my dad’s birthday after forgetting it a few years ago — I know, I’m awful. So now I have a recurring reminder from now until the end of time! I usually just rely on my memory or am reminded when someone posts about it on Instagram, which I feel like almost definitely happens. I also feel like for close friends, I usually have a birthday celebration so that sort of takes care of that. Totally agreed about Facebook, too. I recently deleted the app off my phone and my quality of life is much improved!

    Posted 4.4.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Haha it takes something like that to spring into action! So true re: the celebrations, except when people aren’t local! I feel like that’s really what’s been the tough part for me…no physical plan to celebrate with them, and social media shyness :)

      Posted 4.5.18 Reply
  3. Ashlee wrote:

    Love this idea! I always have to write birthdays in my planner, but some years I can’t remember what the actual day is … and then, like you said, some people these days don’t list their birthdays on Facebook anymore! Definitely need to set this up on my phone!


    Posted 4.4.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      I’m glad it’s helpful…I used to do the planner thing too but then you’re recopying from year to year (AND I recently gave up on the print planner…RIP).

      Posted 4.5.18 Reply
  4. Alex wrote:

    You’re the best at keeping in touch b-day or not. Some people only reach out on your b-day and I’ll forever take the former. Love that it prompted this idea though! ??

    Posted 4.9.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Love our randomly rambling text conversations :)

      Posted 4.10.18 Reply