These days, it’s easier than ever to make sure you have time to plan for a gift, and your gift is delivered on the right day. You can add birthday alerts to your computer calendar, or your phone. The United States Postal Service offers lots of options for mailing the packages you can’t deliver in person, so unless you’re a real procrastinator, you can send your gift quite affordably from your post office.
Your basic tools are the following:
The Birthday Calendar
If you are not computer savvy or don’t use an electronic calendar, then you’ll need a birthday calendar. Your grandmother had one. It’s like a calendar that is not year specific. They can be hard to find, but you can make one. All you need is a place to list events chronologically. Keep in mind that you want to be able to plan ahead. Adding birthdays to your contacts in your computer address book won’t work unless you have software that links that information to your calendar and gives you reminders ahead of time. It won’t work at all if you are using a paper address book, unless you browse the pages regularly, looking for upcoming birthdays.
You may not know everybody’s birthdays, so make a list of who’s dates you need and set yourself the task of finding out. Facebook, MySpace, and Amazon wishlists can be useful, but you may just have to ask. If there’s a family event, simply have everybody write down their birthdates on your list and offer to share the completed list. It’s likely you are not the only one who wants the information. Then make sure you record the information right away. You don’t want to be that guy who keeps asking for everyone’s birthdays and then losing the piece of paper he wrote them on. Also, with all the identity theft going on these days, keep your list in the family, not posted online, and password protect your copy if you keep it on your computer.
Let’s pretend that for some reason, you don’t want to ask. Maybe you know your niece’s daughter was born in the Fall sometime and you’d like to send a card. You’ll probably want to casually mention, in September, “isn’t Susy’s birthday coming up soon?” You may not get the actual date, but your niece may narrow it down for you, “you’re right! Seems like the kids start school and bam, October’s here.” Of course, if it is your niece’s daughter, you can probably just ask. Family is pretty forgiving, especially if they see you are taking an interest in them.