What to Write in a Milestone Birthday Card

birthday party decorations in a kitchen

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Every birthday is important and should be celebrated, but milestone birthdays are extra special. When you have a good friend or family member coming up on one of these special birthdays, you need to put a little extra thought into your message.

What Is a Milestone Birthday?

Birthdays roll around every year, but each milestone birthday only comes once in a lifetime. Although children enjoy having birthday parties every single year, adults typically only have a birthday bash for certain birthdays, oftentimes these are years that end in a zero and some birthdays that end in a five.

Even if a child has a party every year, there are still certain milestones most kids like to celebrate with some extra pizazz. Turning five is special, and so is the tenth birthday. Then there’s the year the child becomes a teenager, which is pretty special.

“Sweet Sixteen” has become an important year because historically, this was when a girl came “of age.” The Sweet Sixteen celebration started during the Victorian era when girls became young women and were presented to the public with the hope of finding her a husband. Now the year signifies the time when most teenagers can get their driver’s license, which gives them more freedom.

Adults have their own milestones, starting at the age of 18 when they can vote and join the military. When adults turn 21, they’re considered “legal” for most adult activities, like consuming alcohol. After that, every decade and half-decade is cause for celebration. The ultimate milestone birthday to shoot for is 100, when you’ll get a birthday greeting from the president.

What to Write

For most birthday greetings, you can jot a few notes about having a happy birthday and that you hope there will be many more. For a milestone birthday, you should put a little more effort into it. If the birthday celebration includes a bar mitzvah for a boy or bat mitzvah for a girl, it's special because it signifies the child's passage into adulthood in the Jewish faith.

What to write in a child’s milestone birthday card:

  • Happy birthday to one of the sweetest 5-year-old girls I know! 
  • Hey, pal! Now that you're 5, give me 5!
  • Happy birthday! Now that you’re 10, you’re in the double digits!
  • Now that you’ve used up all your fingers to count your birthdays, you’ll have to start on your toes. Happy birthday!
  • Happy Sweet 16! You make birthdays look so good! 
  • Happy birthday to one of the sweetest 16-year-olds I know! 
  • Now that you’re 16, you can drive and get a job! Enjoy your freedom and have a very happy birthday!

What to write in a young adult’s milestone birthday card:

  • Can you believe that you’re an adult now? I’m blown away by how much you’ve matured over the years. I hope you have a very happy 18th birthday with many more to come!
  • Now that you’re 18, you get to start your journey through adulthood. Enjoy every step along the way! Happy birthday!
  • Happy 18th birthday! I’ve known you long enough to know that you’re going to start making all your dreams come true!
  • By the age of 21, you’ve been driving for several years and maybe even held a job. You’ve had a taste of adulthood, and now you get to enjoy it full on. Enjoy your special birthday!
  • Happy 21st birthday! Congratulations on hitting the next milestone!
  • How does it feel to be a full-fledged adult? Happy 21st birthday!
  • Now that you can do everything your parents can do, cut them a little slack. They meant well. Happy 21st birthday!

Birthday Cards for Adults

After around the age of 25, some people struggle with their advancing age. If you’re close to the person and know he can take a joke, go ahead and dish it out. However, if you’re unsure, use humor cautiously.

Here are some messages for a 30th birthday:

  • Happy 30th! With the energy of a 16-year-old, the looks of a 21-year-old, and the maturity of someone much older, no one will know your age unless you tell them. 
  • You look amazing—not a day over 29. Happy birthday!
  • Happy birthday to the coolest 30-year-old I know!
  • When someone turns 40, consider these messages:
  • With all those candles on your cake, we need to make sure we have a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Happy birthday to my favorite 40-year-old!
  • Happy 40th birthday! Or are you starting to count backward now? Whatever you’re doing, enjoy your special day!

Here are some messages for 50th and 60th birthdays:

  • Happy birthday! You’re finally old enough for the early bird senior specials at (name of restaurant)!
  • Happy birthday! You make 50/60 look so good!
  • Happy birthday! The good news is you made it this far. The bad news is it’s downhill from here.

Birthday Cards for Super Seniors

When someone reaches their 70s, 80, or 90s, they’ve reached the age that commands respect. Humor is okay, but if you’re quite a bit younger, make sure you lace your jokes with kindness.

Sentiments to write in a card for an older senior:

  • I hope you have a wonderful birthday filled with love, joy, and great memories!
  • I want to be like you when I grow up! Happy birthday to someone I've always looked up to!
  • Like a fine wine, you’ve gotten better with age. Have a wonderful birthday!
  • You’ve learned a lot throughout your life. Now to remember all that! Happy birthday!

When someone turns 100, your message should be filled with respect. Since they’re probably past the point of wanting expensive gifts, your words matter more than ever. Share a memory in your message and thank them for something they said or did that had an impact on you. And of course, wish them a very happy birthday.

Celebrate the Milestones

It’s always good to have something to look forward to, so embrace the milestone birthdays of your friends and family. Do something special for them. Throw a party in their honor, take them out to dinner at a nice restaurant, or let them pick whatever they want to do on their special day.