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How to Wish Someone a Happy Belated Birthday

How to Wish Someone a Happy Belated Birthday

It happens to all of us. Despite our best intentions, we sometimes forget to wish people close to us a happy birthday. Maybe we bought their card weeks ago but then lost track of time, or perhaps the day caught us completely unaware. What matters isn’t that we forgot, but how we handle things once we’ve noticed our mistake. 

 If you’ve missed someone’s birthday, sending them belated birthday wishes as quickly as possible should be your priority. We all have busy lives, so most people are happy to forgive a late birthday message, but the longer you take to make up for your oversight, the less effective your happy belated birthday message will be. Imagine if someone wished you a happy birthday two weeks after you celebrated. Would the birthday wish ring true, or would it feel insincere? 

SEE ALSO:  National Send a Card to a Friend Day

 Of course, you can’t do anything about being late. All you can do is craft a heartfelt message, put it in a card, and get it in the mail. Be sure to send a text message or an email, too. Sending a card is the right thing to do, but it means your belated happy birthday will be delayed even more. An accompanying text message gets to your recipient quickly and lets them know that a card is coming. 

 But what should you say? Below you’ll find an assortment of happy belated birthday messages that you can use as-is or change to your liking.

SEE ALSO:  How to Send Birthday Cards in Bulk

A birthday cake in a darkened room with lit candles shaped like letters that spell "happy birthday."


The following messages are universal. You can use them with anyone, regardless of your relationship.

  • “I’m so sorry I missed your birthday! You know how special you are to me, and it pains me that I missed your day. I hope you had a wonderful time full of birthday fun. Happy belated birthday!” 
  •  “In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never once forgotten your birthday...until now. I’m sorry there’s a first for everything! I hope you had a smashing good birthday. Happy belated!” 
  •  “I know this card is reaching you late. Hopefully, it’s also reaching someone that had a great birthday. Sorry for the belated birthday message!” 
  •  “Happy belated birthday to a person that deserves to have their birthday wishes arrive on time. I promise to do better next year. Hope you had a great one!” 
  •  “I hope your birthday was everything you wanted it to be, and more. Next year I’ll be sure to be a part of it.” 
  •  “I can’t believe I forgot your birthday! I hope you enjoyed every minute of it because you deserve it!” 
  •  “Here’s to keeping your party going one day longer with an extra birthday wish. I hope it was filled with laughter and fun.” 
  •  “I’m sorry this birthday card is reaching you late. I’m sure you know that you were in my thoughts and my heart on your special day. Here’s wishing you a happy belated birthday!” 
  •  “I may have forgotten your birthday this year, but I can never forget how special you are to me and what you’ve meant to me over the years. This belated birthday wish comes packed with more love and affection than you could ever hope to receive. Hope it was wonderful!”
Coworkers holding a sign that reads "happy birthday". They're suprising their coworker.


Humor is a great way to diffuse a tense situation. If you’re worried that the person you overlooked might be miffed, try a funny message to lighten the mood. Make them laugh, and they’ll forget your message was late.

  • “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. I’m sorry that this message is late. I sure feel like poo! I’m so sorry I missed your birthday. I hope this silly song makes up for it. Happy belated birthday!” 
  •  “When it comes to birthday wishes, my motto is ‘better late than never.’ So at least I didn’t go with never! I hope you had a great one.” 
  •  “I was thinking of you on your birthday, so I wasn’t late. Too bad the mail is much slower than my brain! Next year I’ll try to get my written wishes to you sooner! Happy birthday!” 
  •  “I was going to apologize for the belated birthday card, but then I realized that the longer you wait for your birthday wishes to come in, the longer you get to celebrate. So actually, I’m doing you a favor! You’re welcome, and happy belated birthday!” 
  •  “It’s not my fault that this birthday card is late. I wrote it on the calendar, but the calendar never bothered to remind me! I hope your birthday was everything you wished it would be.” 
  •  “It might seem like this birthday card is late, but it’s actually almost a year early. Happy birthday (next year)! I hope you get everything you want...51 weeks from now.” 
  •  “This birthday card isn’t late. It’s a time traveler! It came from two days BEFORE your birthday to make sure you had a great one. Isn’t science amazing?!” 
  •  “I had two options — be responsible and get your card to you on time, or be a lazy. good-fer-nothin’ slacker that can’t remember to do a simple thing like put a card in the mail. Unfortunately, we both know which option I went with. Happy belated birthday anyway!” 
  •  “You turned 40 this year. That means I had four decades to get this card to you on time, and I STILL couldn’t manage it! Sorry for my procrastinating ways. I really do hope you had a wonderful birthday!” 
  •  “You might think that I forgot your birthday, but the truth is that I was abducted by aliens on the way to the post office. I put it in the mail the moment they sent me back. So this card comes to you straight from my heart, with stopovers at the moon, Jupiter, and Zeptron 5. Happy belated birthday!”
A birthday card with a picture of a sausage at the top. Below the card reads, "I'm the wurst. Sorry I forgot your birthday."


Did you know that you can schedule recurring, handwritten birthday cards to be sent to your friends and family automatically? Simply Noted offers the most realistic automated handwritten cards. With our easy-to-use website interface, you can order birthday cards to be delivered whenever they’re needed. Our ballpoint pen-wielding handwriting robots will write them at the appointed time and wing them off to your recipients. So you’ll never miss another birthday again!

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