Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Birthday Filled With Memories

My dad's birthday is in November and he is so hard to shop for!  Seriously, it's near impossible to find the perfect gift for him.  I always feel bad because I end up getting him some kind of gift certificate to a restaurant or the movies.  Sure, he likes the gift certificate and he enjoys using it.  It just never seems special or personal.  This year I decided to check around on Pinterest (my favorite place) to see if I would be able to find something unique.  And boy did I ever!  Thanks to "Nothing But Bonfires" blog, I was able to give my dad a gift that I think he truly loved and was excited about.  

Check out the post I used for my inspiration...

And here it is!  My dad's gift!  It doesn't look like much, but it really is special.  This stack of envelopes contains letters and birthday wishes from every person my dad knows and has known over the years.  It has letters from acquaintances he only slightly knows to friends he's had for over 50 years...some of which he's lost contact with.  I sent a simple email (most of which was borrowed directly from Nothing But Bonfires) that stated my dad was having a birthday and I wanted everyone to write him a birthday wish or a special memory they have of him.   Here is the letter I emailed and posted to friends on Facebook.

Hello everyone!
If you're receiving this email, you must know my dad, Don, will be celebrating his 68th birthday in just a couple of weeks!  To celebrate, I'd like to put together a little surprise to let him know that his nearest and dearest are thinking of him. I'm going to try and create "68 Years of Memories" by filling 68 envelopes with a memory his friends and family have of him.
And this is where you come in! 
If you have a spare moment in the next few days, I would be so grateful if you'd jot down a favorite memory you have of my dad or a simple birthday wish and put it in the post (or even email it to me). It doesn't have to be anything fancy -- you can just write it down on a piece of paper and sign your name. You can mention anything you like -- although the more nostalgic the better! Please absolutely feel free to send more than one memory (in fact, I welcome it -- I've got 68 envelopes to fill!), but please write them on different pieces of paper (and sign your name to each) so I can split them up.  In fact, a separate note from each family member would really help get me to 68!  Include the kids too!  My dad loves looking at pictures drawn by the little ones!  Also, if you know of anyone else who may know my dad, please forward this email to them as well.  There are so many people my dad has met over the years but I really only have his address book to go from.  Please include anyone who would like to wish my dad a happy birthday!
Thank you so, so, so much for participating -- I know everyone is busy with their own lives, and I do appreciate you taking a few minutes to do this.  It will be so worth it when he reads all the memories people have of him! (Please don't forget to keep it a surprise until then, though!) 
Thank you so much again. 

I included my address and email at the bottom of the letter I sent and the birthday wishes started pouring in.  The kids drew pictures and the adults wished him a happy birthday while others shared funny stories from his past.  

Some people included an old photo. Some letters were sweet and sincere, while others were funny and reminded my dad of some of the more "interesting" things he's done over the years.  

I placed each letter in a separate envelope.  I picked up this set of cards and envelopes at Target for $10.  I cut the emails out and glued them to the blank cards before putting them in the envelopes just to make them look a little nicer.

Then I wrapped a pretty bow around the stack and his gift was ready to give to him.

My kids gave my dad the stack of envelopes and I don't think he was really sure what to think about it.  Even after explaining what I'd done, I'm not sure he was overly excited.

But as soon as he opened the very first letter; a very special letter from his 10 year old grandson, I could see that HE GOT IT.  He knew this was special and he knew this was something made with love.

My dad sat there and read through so many of his letters and he enjoyed every single one.  He loved  elaborating on the stories people wrote about.  I know these letters touched his heart and made him feel loved.  Some of them were so funny too.  You see my dad is a total trouble maker!  And let me tell you...people did not let him forget this.  His letters were full of funny stories and people poking friendly fun at him too.  He loved it. He had the perfect mix of silly, funny, and sincere birthday wishes and I actually think I was able to finally give him a gift that he REALLY liked.  I am so appreciative to "Nothing But Bonfires" blog.  This is exactly what I wanted for my dad!  



  1. Heather, this is awesome! My dad, Don, by the way, is also turning 68 on his next birthday. What a cool gift this would be! I'm totally stealing it! Thanx! (also, apparently, we have A LOT in common)