Today is my mom's 70th birthday, which seems downright youthful when expressed in dog years (490). She didn't want a party, which was fine because we threw her a giant 60th birthday ten years ago, where we used up the best theme available for an adult party: margaritas. It was also the party where we let her tell people that I was pregnant, which explained why I sat alone in the kitchen alternatively fighting nausea, then stuffing my face.
This birthday we needed something different and created a birthday card love bomb. The impetus for the idea came from Jordan Ferney's postcard surprise idea, and while I thought that I could print a photo of my mom on the back of the postcards so that each one contained a section of the print, it didn't make sense. Trying to find the right photo to define 70 years would be next to impossible, plus, it would detract from the message side of the postcard, which is the meat of the project.
We made a list of 70 friends and family members (excluding my dad, for secrecy reasons), and in late April, mailed them each an addressed and stamped postcard with a note asking them to share a memory, funny story, or birthday wish for my mom, and to mail them between May 4-9.* Her birthday is today, May 10, and the mail range made sure that she got some birthday love each day of the week leading up to the big event.
We bought 70 size A6 note cards in Blush, 70 A6 envelopes in Strawberry, Strawberry printing paper, ink and 7, 0, and flourish frame stamps, all at Paper Source. We chose postcards because for many people, it can be daunting to look at a large empty piece of paper that needs to be filled. A postcard is short, sweet, and easily filled. After buying postcard and envelope stamps, we were ready to go.
I stamped while my youngest sister addressed the postcards to my mom. I wrote up the note explaining how to participate, then stuffed and addressed the envelopes. We didn't tell our dad about it because he's not great at keeping secrets, but it's also hard to secretly get ahold of him as he rarely answers the phone and my mom compulsively checks caller ID. He's also the type of person who keeps his cell phone off until he needs to use it. The fact that people may be trying to reach him is of no concern to my dad.
Only one person mailed her postcard early, but because it was only one, my mom didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until the second one arrived that she asked where people were finding this 70-stamped stationary.
Our project cost just under $150, but could be done for less using materials already on hand or from a less expensive craft store. We're happy with the quality and outcome from the materials we used, which, while not cheap, is far less than throwing a party for all 70 friends and family, without any of the post-party clean up.
My mom loved the love bomb. She was touched by the notes, and one cousin even included some prime Giants tickets, making it the best birthday gift ever for my mom.
*When googling the birthday surprise post, I found a similar adaptation in which the author asked for letters mailed to herself and she presented them to her dad on his birthday. It's another way to try this great idea.