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122 Happy Birthday Wishes to Make Them Feel Special

A birthday message is a small gesture that goes a long way.

Even though birthdays roll around once a year, the pressure to celebrate never seems to fade—no matter how familiar we are with the tradition. While gift-giving is certainly one way to mark the occasion, delivering heartfelt happy birthday wishes is an equally important gesture. Of course, it can be hard to come up with the right words year after year. So, we've created our very own list of birthday messages you can deliver to the guest of honor, whether they're a friend, family member, or someone else altogether. Read on below to find the perfect birthday wish to send, whomever's day it happens to be. But before we dive in, let's take a look at how the "happy birthday" tradition got started in the first place.

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Why Did We Start Saying "Happy Birthday" in the First Place?

vintage photo of woman giving her son a birthday cake
Everett Collection/Shutterstock

At this point in history, wishing someone a happy birthday is more of a reflex than a courtesy, but it wasn't always that way. It actually wasn't until the mid-19th century that birthday traditions became recognized nationwide.

In earlier days, these celebrations were reserved for leaders or powerful members of the upper class. For instance, there was a point where all U.S. Americans celebrated George Washington's birthday—but their own? Well, that would have been a little lavish for the common American.

But as time went on, traditions changed. Some scholars credit the evolution of birthdays to people having fewer children. Others say it was a way for families to finally demonstrate the emotional value their children provided (as a reminder, children were once viewed as economic assets first, little bundles of joy second).

A few other developments soon followed. The now iconic "Happy Birthday Song" grew in popularity out of a kindergarten classroom, around the same time birthdays were really taking off. By the time we hit the 1930s, the song was already making cameos on Broadway. And as these celebrations became more important, so too did the very concept of time.

Once scarce and often inaccurate, household clocks and pocket watches were suddenly high in demand. Not only did these timepieces make it easier for people to track how time passed in their own lives, but it made it easier to keep up with their rapidly industrializing surroundings.

Funny Birthday Wishes

cute dog celebrating birthday with hat and party blower
Ruth Black/Shutterstock
  1. You may be a year older, but a year wiser? We'll have to wait and see about that one…
  2. Happy birthday, and here's to many more. May you live to be so old, the very sight of you terrifies all who cross your path!
  3. A birthday means that you are a year older, but a birthday party means you get to act 10 years younger. Enjoy the festivities!
  4. Cake? Check! Presents? Check! Candles? Check! Drinks? Definitely. Let the birthday festivities begin!
  5. Happy birthday to a very special friend. Here's to another year of laughing at our own jokes and keeping each other young!
  6. Now that everyone else's birthday wishes have worn off, here's one from me!
  7. Happy birthday to my partner in crime. Let's make some mischief today!
  8. Happy birthday to the only person I'd break a nail for!
  9. Happy birthday to a dear friend. May today always serve as the anniversary of when you escaped your mother's womb!
  10. We all know you love cake. Today, we decided to dress things up with a few candles. Happy birthday!
  11. Wishing you a wonderful birthday. I hope it's as much fun as you are, but that's setting the standard pretty high!
  12. Fun fact: A good birthday is about 90 percent mental and 10 percent alcohol. Now, let's get into the booze and start celebrating!
  13. Happy birthday, buddy! Let's see how much of it you actually remember!
  14. It's your birthday and all you got was this lousy birthday card. Hope things turn around for you soon!
  15. Phew! That Facebook reminder really saved the day. I came this close to missing it altogether. Happy birthday, friend!
  16. We should think about turning your birthday into a national holiday. I could really use another day off!
  17. When life gives you another birthday, you must eat cake!
  18. A good friend remembers your birthday but forgets your age!

RELATED: 136 "Thank You" Messages for Every Occasion

Simple Birthday Wishes to Send From Afar

a woman sending her boyfriend happy birthday wishes over zoom
Studio Romantic/Shutterstock
  1. Happy birthday to a very special person. I may not be there to celebrate in person but know that I'm with you in spirit!
  2. Wishing you a very happy birthday. Can't wait to celebrate when I'm back in town!
  3. Happy birthday, my friend. Have an extra piece of cake for me!
  4. Wishing you a very special birthday and a wonderful year ahead!
  5. I hope you have a wonderful birthday. May all your wishes come true!
  6. Wishing you nothing but the best birthday. You are a wonderful person and the world is lucky to have you!
  7. Birthday greetings from afar! I hope you had an amazing day and I'm looking forward to celebrating in person.
  8. It's your special day so get out there and celebrate. I'll be there in a jiffy!
  9. Sending you a birthday wish, wrapped in lots of hugs and kisses. I can't wait to see you soon!
  10. Happy birthday, love! I know the distance feels overwhelming, but know my love for you is always greater!
  11. Happy birthday to a dear friend. Sending you my warmest wishes from afar!
  12. Happy birthday to a wonderful friend! Looking forward to spending future celebrations together!
  13. I hope you have an absolutely fantastic birthday. I wish I could be there to celebrate in the flesh!
  14. Hope you're enjoying your special day. Keep an eye out for a birthday gift in the mail!
  15. Wishing you a great birthday. I can't wait to celebrate with you soon!
  16. Happy birthday. Hoping you have nothing short of a wonderful day!
  17. Happy birthday. I'm sorry I couldn't be there to celebrate this year but we've got many more trips around the sun to look forward to!
  18. Happy birthday to an amazing person. I hope you have a fun-filled birthday, with lots of laughs in between!

Inspirational Birthday Wishes for Friend

young woman blowing candles on birthday cake.
  1. Happy birthday, friend. An adventure-filled year awaits!
  2. Happy birthday to a truly amazing person. You are such a great friend and I'm lucky to have you in my life!
  3. Wishing you all the best on your special day. I hope your birthday is filled with happiness, joy, and laughter!
  4. Happy birthday to the best friend I've ever known. I can't imagine doing this life without you!
  5. Happy birthday to a wonderful friend. Wishing you the very best life has to offer on your special day!
  6. Happy birthday to someone I simply couldn't picture my life without. Looking forward to seeing all you accomplish in the coming year!
  7. Cheers to even more fun, even more memories, and even more cake in the year ahead. Happy birthday!
  8. May today bring you all the love your heart can hold, all the happiness a day can bring, and all the beauty life can uncover. Happy birthday!
  9. Happy birthday, babe. Here's to aging like fine wine, inside and out!
  10. Happy birthday to one of my best friends in the whole world. I'm so thankful to spend these big moments together!
  11. Another birthday marks another trip around the sun and another year of success. Best wishes, my friend!
  12. Wishing you the most wonderful birthday. I hope this year sees all your dreams come true!
  13. Happy birthday to my best friend. I hope you pocket all the laughter from today and carry it around with you for the rest of the year!
  14. Happy birthday to a truly special friend. You've carved out a beautiful life for yourself, be sure to enjoy it!
  15. Wishing my best friend a fabulous birthday. You deserve nothing but the best!
  16. Sending all the birthday blessings your way on this special day. Know that you are loved and appreciated!
  17. Wishing you a year full of wonderful memories, good friends, and of course, lots of cake to celebrate with!
  18. Happy birthday to someone who has truly made a positive impact on my life. I am forever grateful for our friendship!
  19. I've loved watching you grow into the person you've become, and I love watching you celebrate it even more. Happy birthday to an amazing friend!

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Belated Birthday Messages

man looking regretful while wearing a party hat covered in confetti
Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock
  1. Happy belated! I hope you had an amazing birthday and can't wait to celebrate with you next year!
  2. I know I'm late but I wanted to send over a very heartfelt happy birthday! Wishing you another year of amazing accomplishments, incredible adventures, and endless possibilities!
  3. I'm fashionably late to the party, but my well wishes ring just as true. Happy belated birthday! May the year ahead be filled with joy and success.
  4. Oops, I missed your birthday! I sure won't let that happen again! Please accept my warmest belated birthday wishes. I hope your day was as amazing as you are!
  5. I may have lost track of time but I'll never drop my admiration for you. Happy belated birthday, friend! I hope it was every bit as amazing as you.
  6. I may be late to the party, but my love for you is always on time. Happy belated! May this next year be full of happiness and joy.
  7. Sorry for the delay! Wishing you a very happy birthday, and hoping the celebration was nothing short of fantastic.
  8. Time may have gotten the best of me, but it's got nothing on you! Happy birthday to an ageless queen.
  9. Extending the birthday celebrations with a belated wish! May this year be full of love, laughs, and prosperity!
  10. Better late than never, right? Happy belated! I hope the day was every bit as amazing as you had hoped.

Birthday Wishes for Mom

young girl delivering her mother presents, flowers, and happy birthday wishes – Yuri A/Shutterstock
  1. Happy birthday, to an amazing mom! Wishing you a day filled with cake, laughter, and tons of love.
  2. Happy birthday and good wishes to the woman who has always gotten exactly what she's wanted—including me!
  3. Happy birthday, Mom! I hope you're showered with just as much love and warmth today as your pour out into the world. Love you always!
  4. Wishing the most amazing mom a birthday filled with love, laughter, and lots of surprises. You deserve nothing but the best!
  5. Happy birthday to my beautiful mother. May today be as extraordinary as you are.
  6. I want to let you know just how grateful for you I am—not just today, but every day. Happy birthday, Mom!
  7. To the woman who taught me to dream, to love, and to be kind, happy birthday!
  8. Wishing you a day filled with everything you love, from your favorite flowers to your favorite treats. Happy birthday, Mom! You deserve it all.
  9. Raising a glass to the rock of the family. We wouldn't be here without you, so let's celebrate hard and love on you like crazy.
  10. Today, we are so excited to celebrate such an incredible person. We're blessed to have you in our lives, and hope the day is every bit of what you deserve!
  11. Happy birthday, Mom. To another year full of eating well, traveling often, and loving hard.

RELATED: 100 "I Miss You" Messages (And Quotes!) for Everyone in Your Life

Happy Birthday Messages for Dad

happy family celebrating father's birthday
Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock
  1. Happy birthday, Dad! I love you more than words can say. Wishing you a year full of good health and happy moments.
  2. Happy birthday, Dad! It's all thanks to your love and guidance that I am where I am today. Love you lots!
  3. Happiest of birthdays to the best dad in the world! Thank you for always being an amazing role model and inspiration.
  4. Dad, you're not just a year older, you're also a year wiser and 365 days more awesome. I hope you have an amazing birthday surrounded by the people you love.
  5. Happy birthday, Dad. Today, I want to thank you for always being there for me. I don't know where I'd be without all the support you've shown me over the years. May today be every bit as amazing as you.
  6. Happy Birthday to my number one hero; the man who taught me to dream big and work hard. You're the best dad anyone could ever ask for!
  7. Dad, you've always been my rock and my biggest supporter. Here's to celebrating you on your special day. Happy Birthday!
  8. Wishing you a day filled with your favorite things. No, I'm not talking about friends and family. I'm talking about golf, fishing, and watching TV. Happy Birthday, Dad! Enjoy every moment.
  9. To the world, you may just be one person, but to me, you are the world. Happy Birthday, Dad! Thanks for everything.
  10. Another year older, another year wiser, and another year more amazing! Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you more than words can express.
  11. Today is the perfect occasion to remind you how much you mean to me. Here's to making even more wonderful memories together. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Hilarious Birthday Message Ideas for Middle Age

Middle age woman celebrates birthday happy and surprised
  1. You thought those were grays popping out of your head? Think again! They're just strands of birthday glitter growing out!
  2. Happy birthday, old friend! Don't forget to iron the wrinkles out of that birthday suit before stepping out.
  3. Happy birthday to someone who deserves to be treasured. After all, fossils of your era are hard to find.
  4. You know you've hit middle age when your back is hairier than your head. Happy birthday, old man!
  5. Happy birthday, bestie! Remember, you're not old—you're just invisible!
  6. Happy birthday to a relic from a bygone era.
  7. I hope you aren't planning on a birthday cake this year—there aren't enough fire extinguishers around!
  8. Happy birthday! Remember, age is just a number—yours just happens to be really high!
  9. Is it just me or does it feel hot in here? Oh, it might be all those candles on your cake!
  10. Everyone gets to be young once. And today, your stint has officially come to an end!
  11. Happy birthday, old man! I'd make a joke about your age, but I don't want you to hit me with your cane.
  12. They say middle age is when you're cautioned to slow down by your doctor instead of by the police. So, enjoy it? Happy birthday!
  13. Happy birthday! Remember, you're not old, you're just chronologically gifted.
  14. Relax, buddy. You survived the '80s. You can survive another birthday.
  15. Happy birthday to an old friend. Emphasis on the word "old."
  16. Happiest of birthdays to you! There's just something I have to know—what did they use for the top of the cake before the invention of fire?

RELATED: 131 Love Messages for Her to Show How Much You Care.

Cute Birthday Quotes From Names You Know

man delivering happy birthday wishes and a birthday toast while holding a glass of wine and a microphone
Aleksey Matrenin/Shutterstock
  1. "Your birthday is the beginning of your own personal new year. Your first birthday was a beginning, and each new birthday is a chance to begin again, to start over, to take a new grip on life." — Wilferd Peterson
  2. "You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely." — Ogden Nash
  3. "In other words, live vicariously, beautifully, and excitingly, discover, love, dare and act as there is nothing to lose." — Andy Hertz
  4. "I like birthday cake. It's so symbolic. It's a tempting symbol to load with something more complicated than just 'Happy birthday!' because it's this emblem of childhood and a happy day." — Aimee Bender
  5. "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."
    Lucille Ball
  6. "Don't regret another birthday, the good news is that you are alive and can celebrate it." — Catherine Pulsifer
  7. "To my surprise, my 70s are nicer than my 60s and my 60s than my 50s, and I wouldn't wish my teens and 20s on my enemies." — Lionel Blue
  8. "Count your life by smiles, not tears, and count your age by friends, not years." — John Lennon
  9. "Life seems to fade our memory, so on this birthday I will forget yours if you forget mine!" — Kate Summers
  10. "Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year. The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again." — Menachem Mendel Schneerson
  11. "You've heard of the three ages of man—youth, age, and 'you are looking wonderful.'" — Francis Spellman
  12. "A birthday is just another day where you go to work and people give you love. Age is just a state of mind, and you are as old as you think you are. You have to count your blessings and be happy." — Abhishek Bachchan
  13. "Every year on my birthday, I start a new playlist titled after my current age so I can keep track of my favorite songs of the year as a sort of musical diary because I am a teenage girl." — Chris Hardwick
  14. "Every year on your birthday, you get a chance to start new." — Sammy Hagar
  15. "Eventually you reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it." — Will Rogers
  16. "My policy on cake is pro-having it and pro-eating it. " — Boris Johnson
  17. "Like many women my age, I am 28 years old. — Mary Schmich
  18. "As you get older, three things happen; the first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two." — Norman Wisdom
  19. "Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth." — Janet Evanovich

Wrapping Up

That's it for our list of happy birthday wishes. Be sure to check back with us soon for more messages to share with the ones you love. You can also sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out on what's coming next!

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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