Thursday, April 19, 2012

a birthday book

Months ago I came across this post on Joanna's Friday wrap-up and was immediately inspired to do the same for my own dad's 70th birthday (shout out to girls named Brooke with smart gift ideas!). She had sent postcards to everyone important in her dad's life and for weeks before and after his birthday, he received fun memories from people he loved. I thought it was genius.

So about a month before my dad's big day, my mom and I did some super awkward stealth sneaking around to find email and home addresses of old co-workers, classmates and friends from my dad's life, starting all the way back to his elementary school . We sent them either an email or a letter asking them to share their favorite memory or quality about him and then we copied them all into a large book (adding pictures and mementos people had sent along) to present to him at his birthday dinner. Let me tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to do something like this for someone in your life, do it. What started out as a fun birthday surprise turned into something so much bigger.

I always have felt that after weddings and retirements, we don't do nearly enough big celebrations of the people in our life to let them know what they mean to us. This gave everyone close to my father a chance to share what he really meant to them--whether it was a memory that they still laughed about or a piece of advice that impacted the rest of their life. Not only that, but it gave me such an incredible peek into a part of my dad's life I never knew about--the 30 plus years before I was born. Within the stories about him as a 20-year-old in college or as a newly married guy starting out with the love of his life, I saw pieces of myself--bits of my personality he would pass along to me in the future. The stories made me cry at work multiple times (I would get them in my email box throughout the day), they made me guffaw with recognition at qualities and habits that developed early on which he still does to this day, and they made me proud to call him my dad. Bonus? They made up what he called "the best gift ever."

So, friends, do you have any clever ideas to share for milestone birthdays? Next up is my mom's, but I have a year to prepare, so any help would be greatly appreciated :)


  1. my brother & i did something similar for my parent's 25th wedding anniversary. had all of the people who were at their wedding send pics, letters, mementos. put them into 1 book. it was a hit.

  2. So glad this worked out and he loved it! I want to hear more Sat!!