Tips for Wishing Someone a Happy Belated Birthday

Happy Belated Birthday

Wishing someone a happy belated birthday can be awkward. Even if you have a lot of good reasons for why your wishes or gift is arriving late, it doesn’t feel good to either one of you knowing you’ve overlooked an important occasion. The good news is most people will respond to a late birthday wish with the same level of enthusiasm and gratitude. However, it’s worth knowing how to approach the issue correctly. 

Before you write your “happy belated birthday card” or send your gift in the post a week after the date, it’s a good idea to think about how you will approach the occasion. 

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re worried about wishing someone a happy late birthday.

What is a Belated Birthday?

The term “belated” means something that happens later than intended. So if you give someone a gift box two weeks after their birthday, the present is belated to someone's birthday.

If you’ve missed someone’s birthday, you might feel bad—but you’re not alone. Apparently enough people regularly forget a birthday that there’s a whole category of belated birthday gifts and cards. So if don’t have your gifting act together this year, you can find cards, e-cards, and gifts to poke a little fun at yourself while wishing someone a belated happy birthday.

How late is too late to send belated birthday wishes?

Determining the precise timeframe that qualifies as "too late" to send belated birthday wishes can be subjective. While there are no strict guidelines, it is generally understood that if your wishes are delayed by over a month, the lateness becomes more noticeable. In such cases, it would be considerate to briefly explain the reason behind the delay in your message, acknowledging that your birthday wishes are tardy. However, the main focus should then shift towards catching up with the person, ensuring your message is warm and genuine.

How Do You Wish Someone a Happy Belated Birthday?

One option is to send someone a birthday message as you would normally, then apologize that it's arriving late. You can also refer to the birthday in the past tense, saying something like:

  • So sorry I didn’t mention something before – I hope you had a wonderful birthday
  • Sorry for this late birthday wish. Did you have a special day?
  • Just sending some late birthday wishes! 

What to Say in a Belated Birthday Card

You’re a pretty exceptional human being if you never have the need to write a belated birthday card. For the rest of us, most people will forgive the tardiness. However, it's worth apologizing and offering your heartfelt wishes. After all, a birthday is a big day in anyone's life. 

As you consider how to write belated birthday wishes, remember the best messages come from the heart. 

Here are some tips to try:

  • Make it funny: A good way to make someone feel better about receiving belated wishes is to make them laugh. Add a joke to your message: “I’m so sorry this birthday wish is coming to you late. At least now you can treat today as your second birthday this year!”
  • Be remorseful: Apologies are always good when writing a belated greeting card. Tell them how sorry you are; if relevant, explain your lateness. “Belated happy birthday wishes! Sorry this birthday box is late, I’ve had a lot on my plate, but I’ll make sure I don’t forget next year!”
  • Say something meaningful: Remind your loved one of how much they mean to you with your birthday greeting. For instance: “These birthday wishes might be late, but they still come from the bottom of my heart. I hope all the good things you want come to you this year (hopefully faster than this message).”
  • Celebrate a second time: If the person receiving your late birthday wish is particularly important to you, it might be worth launching a second celebration. You could make someone a late birthday cake, buy them an additional present, or take them out for dinner. 
  • Don’t make too many excuses: When writing your birthday wish in a belated birthday e-card or card, try not to make too many excuses. While you can explain why the card was late in a little detail, it’s important not to make the card all about you. As long as you’re able to send a birthday message and send birthday wishes their way, that’s all that matters. 

How to Say Sorry for Belated Birthday Wishes

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with a belated birthday. We all have hectic lives these days, and it's easy to get overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks that cause us to forget important things. Don’t beat yourself up—and make a genuine effort to do better next year!

For instance, send an extra special birthday gift in the post to remind the other person of how much they mean to you. It is also worth planning for the coming year. 

Mark your calendar so you remember to send your birthday card and gift ahead of schedule in the future. You could wish someone a happy birthday a week in advance, then send another card on their special day. Include a message like, "Don't worry, I remember your birthday is on the [Date], but since I was late last year, I wanted to send some early happiness your way this year!"

Send Belated Birthday (and on time) Greetings with Spoonful of Comfort!

Want a unique way to make your belated birthday wishes more special? A birthday box of cookies or a surprise meal of soup, rolls, and cookies will make anyone’s birthday amazing—belated or not! Check out our customizable birthday gifts and care packages at Spoonful of Comfort.