Smart Birthday Card Marketing

Birthday cards

Photo credit: Texican Chick via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

There are still some of us in the world that buy and send birthday cards. Judging by the size of the greeting card section in various retail outlets, this habit isn’t yet dead. In the past I’ve written about a great idea of having birthday cards give back.

Another option is to give a birthday card that is more than a message. For instance, you can shell out a few more dollars for a card that sings “Staying Alive” to the recipient on their over the hill birthday.

Recently one of this blog’s readers sent an image of a different kind of birthday card creativity:

Birthday cards

Yes, those are “delicious greeting cards” for a reason…they come with jellybeans. The marketing for this lays it out for you: “Your message” and “Their treat.” Clever packaging and making the birthday presentation all the easier? Score one for this birthday card marketer!

Birthday Cards as Marketing Tool

At the same time, birthday cards can be used by a company to spread goodwill. A reader also sent me birthday cards coming to her child from a summer camp. Her daughter’s birthday is in April, yet the counselors had written personalized birthday cards to their campers during each of her weeks of summer camp. Then, come April, she received four different, individualized birthday cards from the counselors of each of her weeks of camp!

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This is a fantastic reminder of camp fun and can keep the kids engaged with the experience year-round. What a simple way to make kids happy and foster camper loyalty! If I ever ran a kids camp (which will NEVER, EVER happen) I would steal this idea for sure.

 

 

 

 

100th Birthday Wish is to Work

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 12.12.34 PM.pngHere’s something we can all aspire to — loving our job enough that we want to go back for our 100th birthday!

That’s what Bill Hansen of New Jersey did. The centenarian came out of retirement on his 100th birthday to return to Hutchinson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Cherry Hill in return for $1.

The company CEO Fred Hutchinson signed a work agreement welcoming the permit coordinator back for a birthday cake, a standing ovation, media coverage, and a complete set of assignments.

Hansen had already retired in his 60s, but got bored and at 66 returned to work at Hutchinson’s company where he worked for another 32 years before retiring again at 97!

I’ve written in the past about all of my reasons not to work on your birthday, but Hansen says he hates retirement. So, for him the better gift is going back to his “second family” and seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.

This is certainly an employee (or retired employee) birthday benefit I didn’t consider in my previous blog suggesting good ways to recognize worker birthdays.

It’s a wish we might all make over our birthday cake (if our office allows it…and we don’t mind spitting on our friends’ dessert) — to enjoy our work and the people we work with enough that we want to return after retirement.

 

Top 5 Ways to Spend $300K birthday present

Birthday lottery winning

Photo credit: Infomastern via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

It’s been a family tradition for years for family members to send Ervin Smolinksi scratch-off lottery tickets and chocolate for his birthday. This year it paid off.

The 94-year-old man made the news when he won $300,000 in the Michigan Lottery. His daughter-in-law bought the winning ticket as a gift for the World War II veteran.

“I’ve seen a whole lot in my life, and I don’t get worked up easily. I think my son-in-law was more worked up that I was,” Smolinksi said. In the CNN coverage the former sailor said, ”

I’m pretty frugal, I always shop sales and take care of my money and that won’t change.”
“The only thing that will change is I won’t have as much stress in my life worrying about money,” the former sailor said, “I’m pretty frugal, I always shop sales and take care of my money and that won’t change….The only thing that will change is I won’t have as much stress in my life worrying about money.”

Birthday Money

His win got me thinking though, as I probably too often do, what I would do if I won the lottery. Considering I don’t often play the lottery, it’s really a ridiculous game to play in my head. Yet, I enjoy the mental game. So, because this blog is often about giving, let me give you my top 5 ways to spend lottery winnings:

  1. Travel the world. Truly. Buy a tour package that has a travel agent set it up for you to get to every continent and live it up in luxurious hotels along the way.
  2. Pay off (or if you’re renting now buy with cash) house. Think of the joy of having a home that’s all equity. Come time to sell it, or pass it on, you’re sitting on value.
  3. Build up the college fund. With just one kid it’ll be easier for me to top up the account with some of these extra dollars, but putting it in his account in advance gives my family the benefit of accrued interest.
  4. Throw a massive — and I mean massive — par-tay for everyone I know and love in a destination location and with me footing the bill for hotels and travel and all that. Sort of like a wedding party, but I pay for it and we don’t have to say “I do” again.
  5. Donate. Find a few causes that you truly care about. Do the research about their credibility and give, give, give.

Those who are good at math might realize something here…I’ve probably overspent the $300K. Especially after the government takes the taxes out. Still, it’s fun to imagine isn’t it? Do you have a different top five? I’d love to hear other suggestions.

The No. 1 Tip for Birthday Social Media

Don’t text your Mom.

Or, more specifically, don’t only text your Mom. You can text her, sure. But this should not be the only means of communication with the woman who gave birth to you on her special day.

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Image: Foter.com

C’mon folks. I don’t care what age you are. It is simply not cool to only text YOUR MOTHER. Yeah, I know, all caps in a blog. That’s how serious I am about this!

And it’s not just because I am now a Mom, and I would probably lose my mind if I only got a text from my son (when he was old enough to have a phone that is). If he is not physically in my presence on the day of my birth he better be calling me on the phone to sing to me. If he knows what’s good for him that is. (Yes, husband, you can save this blog to remind him of this later).

Be Nice to Mom on Her Birthday

This blog came about after I saw a woman write a newspaper advice columnist for input on “What should I do about my adult children’s birthdays?” She points out that her own birthday was acknowledged only by a text this year. “I was very hurt,” she writes.

She mentions that her birthday is Jan. 1 and that “their father’s birthday is later in the year, and they will buy him a gift plus a card.” To me it seems she is trying to give them a little leeway since her birthday is near the holidays. But the columnist, Annie, is correct in saying to “Birthday Blues,” “Shame on your children. The least they could have done was send a card.”

The columnist goes on to note the children are taking Mom for granted.

Do you want your Mom to feel as if you are taking her for granted? On her birthday? Do you?!

Send a card. Send flowers. Buy a gift. Go visit. Take her to lunch. Use your phone to voice call her. Skype. FaceTime.

Remember, your Mama raised you better than to only text your Mother on her birthday. If you love the woman (and here I acknowledge some families have difficult relationships that might, perhaps, justify a mere text), show it by saying “Happy Birthday” in the voice your Mama gave you!

Top 5 Ways to Spend a $300K birthday present.

birthday winning

Photo credit: BradPerkins via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

It’s been a family tradition for years for family members to send Ervin Smolinksi scratch-off lottery tickets and chocolate for his birthday. This year it paid off.

The 94-year-old man made the news when he won $300,000 in the Michigan Lottery. His daughter-in-law bought the winning ticket as a gift for the World War II veteran.

“I’ve seen a whole lot in my life, and I don’t get worked up easily. I think my son-in-law was more worked up that I was,” Smolinksi told the news.

The win got me thinking though, as I probably too often do, what I would do if I won the lottery. Considering I don’t often play the lottery, it’s really a ridiculous game to play in my head. Yet, I enjoy the mental game. So, because this blog is often about giving, let me give you my top 5 ways to spend lottery winnings:

  1. Travel the world. Truly. Buy a tour package that has a travel agent set it up for you to get to every continent and live it up in luxurious hotels along the way.
  2. Pay off (or if you’re renting now buy with cash) house. Think of the joy of having a home that’s all equity. Come time to sell it, or pass it on, you’re sitting on value.
  3. Build up the college fund. With just one kid it’ll be easier for me to top up the account with some of these extra dollars, but putting it in his account in advance gives my family the benefit of accrued interest.
  4. Throw a massive — and I mean massive — par-tay for everyone I know and love in a destination location and with me footing the bill for hotels and travel and all that. Sort of like a wedding party, but I pay for it and we don’t have to say “I do” again.
  5. Donate. Find a few causes that you truly care about. Do the research about their credibility and give, give, give.

Those who are good at math might realize something here…I’ve probably overspent the $300K. Especially after the government takes the taxes out. Still, it’s fun to imagine isn’t it? Do you have a different top five? I’d love to hear other suggestions.

The 7 Ages of Birthday Gifts

Birthday gift ideas

Photo credit: jessicafm via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Social scientists have long been interested in the exchange of goods as a moral rather than economic exchange. Yet no academic has been able to argue that there is an age at which we stop gleaning joy from giving or receiving gifts. As with Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man, we might also divide our reaction to gifts into seven stages:

 

…Our response to gifts having seven stages. At first the infant,

Drawn only to the shine or crackling sounds of wrapping paper;

And then the curious toddler, with a stack of gifts behind him,

More interested by far in the cardboard boxes they came in.

And then the enthusiastic schoolboy, ripping through the present

pile only needing to see what’s inside before moving on to the next.

Then a teen, full of strange ideas and ripe in smell, looking up from

Texting only long enough to acknowledge the cash or gift card,

Seeking an excuse to escape to the anonymous freedom of the mall.

Then the independent young man, full of book learning but burdened

By student debt, playing the part of gracious recipient while downplaying joy.

The sixth age shifts into the responsible adult, with claims of disinterest

In gifts and consistent embrace of his age as the youthful, well-saved 29.

Last scene of all, the milestones-only man more focused on making

Great plans for strange eventful trips when his age ends in 0, before oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

 

This bastardization is offered without the limitations of iambic pentameter, but with copious apologies to the Bard.

The Gift of Experiences

birthday gift ideas

Photo credit: torbakhopper via Foter.com / CC BY

The blogosphere is riddled with parenting pieces. One that caught my eye recently was entitled: “Why I Won’t Be Giving Your Kid a Birthday Present.” The title sounds more antagonistic than Victoria Fedden’s actual piece actually is. Her article tackles materialism and suggests that experiences matter more.

As the mother of “an extroverted 5-year-old,” she writes, about going often to “pretty over the top” events that net the birthday child “an avalanche of abundance.” She states: “Children today have too much stuff (my own included)…I’m not ungrateful, but I strongly believe that all of this excess breeds a terrible sense of indifference.”

On the heels of my own son’s 9th birthday, I heartily agree. In his younger years I was able to bring him onside with the idea of a food pantry or animal shelter drive instead of presents. But as he got older, and saw the loot his friends were bringing in, he resisted. Yet this year some of his presents remain unopened weeks later! He enjoyed the unwrapping part, but hasn’t actually taken the items out of their boxes!

Meaningful Experiences Matter More

Fedden’s point is that children remember the playing with their friends more than the presents. So her vow now is to gift kids “with something a lot more important: meaningful experiences.”

She suggests she will take a child to a picnic with her daughter, or the zoo, or a movie — creating a memorable experience for both the birthday celebrant and her own child. She writes: “Above all, the greatest gift we can ever give our kids is to teach them to build lasting relationships with others — relationships based on laughter and good memories and delightful experiences.”

I tried this idea of favoring experiences over goods on my son’s birthday this year by giving him a coupon book of experiences such as:

  • Going to a store for his favorite dessert
  • Inviting a friend over to watch a movie
  • Time at a trampoline park
  • Playing Frisbee golf with a parent

The one he was dying to use was playing one sport of his choosing in our cul de sac with both parents. We all went out and kicked the soccer ball around — and I think it’s safe to say we all had fun.

Favoring experiences over items is something I want to keep trying to value.

My confidence in the choice was only helped when I overheard my son showing his friends (over for a birthday sleepover) the gifts he’d already received and raving first about his cool coupon book of experiences.