Quite a few of my friends are having their birthdays in the coming weeks. I feel a little awkward posting plain words like "Happy Birthday" on their Facebook pages.

I've decided I should come up with a different or special expression. Is there any other good way of saying or implying "Happy Birthday"?

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    There's nothing wrong with "Happy Birthday" other than being, like you say, maybe a bit impersonal. However EL&U can't help you be more personal -- you're in the best position for that. – tenfour Nov 2 '11 at 1:46
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    Perhaps find birthday greetings in 10 different languages, and include them all. – GEdgar Nov 2 '11 at 13:22
  • "Have a good one"? – Peter Taylor Nov 18 '11 at 17:36
  • I just wished my brother "Happy publication-of-the-Gutenberg-bible and invention-of-the-Tootsie-roll day!". Wikipedia is helpful. – Katriel Feb 23 '12 at 11:35
  • I got 1 more idea.... May the fathoms of success kiss your feet and tons of happiness fall on you.... Have a great blast – Shachi May 24 '14 at 19:09

10 Answers 10


"Many happy returns!" (In the sense of returning to the same day, in many subsequent years.)

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Congratulations for completing another trip around the sun!

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  • I've actually used this piece five times, and people just love it! Thanks. – Terry Li Nov 7 '11 at 20:22

When wishing my loved ones, if their birthday is on Nov 1st, I wish them twice, first at 12:00am Nov 1st, saying

I wish to be the first person to wish you a Happy Birthday and ...

and then again at 11:59pm Nov 01st, saying

... and I wish to be the last person to wish you a Happy Birthday!

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    This is so sweet! – Terry Li Nov 2 '11 at 13:18
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    Not good for people who tend to loose track of time :-) – Omar Kohl Nov 2 '11 at 15:27
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    This gets interesting if the two of you are in different time zones. :) – mskfisher Nov 2 '11 at 17:05
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    You are still saying happy birthday. – kiamlaluno Nov 18 '11 at 16:51
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    I know you mean well, but "I wish to be the last person to wish you a happy birthday" doesn't seem like a very happy wish, because it could be taken as wanting to stop any further well wishes from others (including belated greetings). Also it's probably not the honouree's final birthday... – nnnnnn Jul 28 '19 at 14:47

You could vary it in several ways. Here are some suggestions:

Happy birthday!

Have a great birthday!

It's time to celebrate!

I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

What you actually say, though, should be based off your relationship with each person. If you are not very close, "Happy birthday" may be the most appropriate. If you are very close, you can perhaps play off some inside joke or personal tie to express the sentiment. "Happy birthday" is the standard well-wish, but you can vary it in a great many ways to say the same thing.

Remember, the reason you are saying this is to wish your friend well on their day of celebration, so it should be something well suited to them.

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    +1 for the suggestion to tailor the expression to the relationship you have to the person in question. – user Nov 2 '11 at 10:03

Salubrious solar-orbital anniversary!

As you and 1/365ths of the rest of the 7 billion people in the world celebrate your solar orbital anniversary, i am moved to wish you all well, but especially YOU!

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  • I'm gonna use that. – user362 Nov 18 '11 at 21:33
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    The distribution of birthdays isn't uniform. How dare you! – kba Jan 20 '12 at 14:08

"Congratulations on surviving another year!"

Be careful with this. Save it for your friends who like dark humour. It fails if:

  • the person has had a bout with a lethal disease
  • the person thinks you're threatening them
  • the person is sensitive about getting older
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    +1 smells like a serious psychologist:) – Terry Li Nov 2 '11 at 14:51
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    It would be really terrible to say this to someone with a serious disease. Your answer made me laugh :-) – Omar Kohl Nov 2 '11 at 15:26
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    "the person thinks you're threatening them" - Really? Do you know many people who might think that? – nnnnnn Jun 9 '14 at 23:41

Wishing you the best on your day!

You can also say "special day" which avoids "birthday."

You could also say something that alludes to the birthday without mentioning it like this.

Congratulations! Like a fine wine, you get better as the years go by!

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    I would have upvoted twice if I could! Today's my best friend's birthday, I prepared a fine wine for him and congratulated him like this: "hope you get better as the years go by, just like the wine; and our friendship gets better and better, just like the wine." He was not prepared for that and really impressed by my wishes. Thanks again! – Terry Li Nov 27 '11 at 5:25

It depends on your relationship with the person. I often say "Hiffty Biffty" to my spouse and I have a friend I always just say "Grats" to; congratulating them on surviving another year.

However, there are several, more accepted, standards:

  • Happy Birthday
  • Many Happy Returns
  • Birthday Wishes

You can also avoid "birthday" completely by just wishing them a great day or a great year to come.

You have to ask yourself - What kind of message would you like to receive on your birthday? Personally, I would rather replace an empty "happy birthday" with a sincere message of any kind (an invitation to go out for a beer, or to the cinema, perhaps?) any day!

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If you know your friend is a bit nerdy or into video games, you can try:

Happy Level-Up Day!

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I love to send people the links of American Cancer Society, since the celebs sing "Happy Birthday". I tailor it to the person whose birthday it is. I personally love Maroon 5, and they have a good one on there.

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