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dad turns seventy

My dad recently turned seventy (!) and my mom and I wanted to do something special for him. Dad didn't want a big party, and he and my mom were going to be out of town on his actual birthday, so we decided to give him a gift that would continue all month long.

I printed 70 postcards on thick cardstock (110 lb.), each with a different number between 1 and 70. My mom helped gather addresses for seventy of the important people in my dad's life: family members, old classmates, dear friends and all his grandchildren. Included in the envelope was a card explaining that it was dad's birthday, and that they needed to send the postcard back sharing their funniest memory of Skip. To make things easy, I pre-addressed and pre-stamped the postcards so all they had to do was write a quick note on the back and toss the card in the mail.

When my dad got home a few days after his birthday, there were a handful of cards in his mailbox. He was surprised and delighted. And then the next day there were a few more cards, and the day after that, a few more. This continued on for the rest of the month until he had quite a stack. I hadn't asked people to stagger when they mailed their cards, that just happened naturally. Some of the notes were heartfelt and quite moving, others were funny, bringing up memories my dad hadn't thought about in years. I especially loved reading what his grandchildren wrote. All in all, a pretty inexpensive gift (postage was our main expense) and one I think my dad will remember for quite some time.

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Reader Comments (75)

That might just be the most wonderful present ever.

11.24.2011 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Brooke, brilliant. My dad's birthday was this last week. After reading about your great idea I forwarded your post to my siblings & mom, and we got to work. Hopefully my father's cards have started coming in. Thanks for such a meaningful gift idea! So much better than a thing!

11.24.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

A wonderfully sweet way to show your love for your father. I'm sure the time and thought that went into this was loved by him as well. Lovely.

Thanks for the wonderful idea. One of my best friends turned 50 in October and has only a short time to live; she has been battling brain cancer for almost 20 years. I saw your blog referenced by Gretchen Rubin and decided to check it out. I saw this idea and immediately decided to do it for my friend... the postcards along with a letter have been sent (close to 100) and I am so excited to see the response.

11.30.2011 | Unregistered CommenterShawna

I love this idea. Would you mind if I used it for my Dad's 50th in January?!...thank you soo much! :)

11.30.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiana H


My partner turns 50 next year and I'm gathering ideas to celebrate the wonderful person that he is and this looks like a brilliant start - thank you.

Oh and belated happy birthday to your Dad too.

12.3.2011 | Unregistered CommenterFelicity

Oh my goodness! I love this idea! My dad turns 70 at the end of May--plenty of time to work this project out. So cool!

12.15.2011 | Unregistered CommenterEB Black

Hi I would love to do this. Did you just make up the postcard or did you use a template?

12.15.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

Love this, and am working on my own variation now. What size postcard did you make? I'm not sure what I should do!

12.30.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I love this. As my dad is only 2 of 14 children alive and most of his friends have passed on the getting other people to help thing won't work for my Dad's 80th in November but I'm going to improvise and do it all from me - 80 memories from his youngest child (me). I'll stagger them ahead of time so he gets his 80th card on his 80th birthday. I'm crying as I type this, you're an angel sent from heaven to post this idea!!!
Much Love,
Ann Marie
In Utah

This is the best idea I've seen in a LONG time. Thank you so much for sharing!

01.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarahinSC

I definitely have to do this for my bf 30th!! Love it a lot. Awesome idea!

01.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarb

Thank you for this idea. I hope you don't mind, I shared it on Pinterest. I plan to do this for my Grandmother's 90th birthday. Thank you again for generously sharing the idea!

02.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

I just found this accidentally -- that might be the best idea I've ever heard!

02.11.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

check out inchmark on the gold hat.

Aja Lake

Hi! I'm going to do this for my husband's 30th birthday--it's such a great idea. There isn't any way that you could provide the template, is there?

06.18.2012 | Unregistered Commenteransley busch

This is such a beautiful idea. I came across it via a pin on another friends website. i would love to do this for my father, as he's been in poor health and i think a great way to lift his spirits Thank you for inspiring the idea!!

07.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenteremlenox

i "pinned" this idea 6 mos ago and we are doing for my mother in law 80th birthday!
so excited! thanks so much!

07.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterliz

COuld you tell me how you went about printing these? Did you format your file to the correct size and then print the numbers, then send them back through the printer to print the other side? Any help you could give me would be great! Thanks.

07.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

This is brilliant! Both of my Grandparents and both of my GodParents have passed away within the last 2 years leaving my Mother devastated and feeling detached from the family-what a wonderful gift this will be to show her we are all always here in heart! Thank you for the great idea-i'll be sure to share with you how it turned out!!!!!

Thank you for sharing!


08.2.2012 | Unregistered Commentersarabeth burke

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