Gift Idea: 70 Cards for 70 years

This week my dad celebrated his 70th birthday! We wanted to do something very special for his birthday but we had some obstacles. There are many ideas for birthday parties for young children, but it is a little tougher to find creative ideas for adults. If you are looking for a gift idea for someone special, then have I got something fun for you! Here are some tips for organizing a card drive for the special person in your life!

Gift Idea: 70 Cards for 70 years

Because we knew that the weather would possibly keep people from traveling to a party, we decided that a gift of blessings, cards and encouragements was the best option. We decided we wanted to have at least 70 cards to represent his 70 years!

How to Organize a Card Drive

Gather your List of Names
I know from past experiences that in order to get at least 70 people to respond we would need to contact at least double that number. So with a little help from Mom, the two of us snuck into Dad’s email account to get his contacts. I put all the contacts in a spreadsheet and then started going through the list. Between the two of us, we were able to narrow down the addresses to people who would be interested in participating.

Tip: Most email servers give you the option of exporting the addresses to a CSV or Excel file. This is the easiest way to get them all in a workable spreadsheet.

Decide What You are Asking
We had one goal with our card campaign. We wanted at least 70 cards from people who know and love Dad. We weren’t focused on having people attend a party. There was no food to plan; no gifts requested and no physical party to prepare for. We focused what we were asking and put it in a clear email that we could send to the people on the list.

Remember that this is something very clear to you as the organizer, but the email is going to be something new to the people you are contacting. Make your request as short as possible but give all the facts.

Contact Everyone
Now it’s time to send out your email. Remember to give the details.

  • Where should they send the cards? I used my personal address because I didn’t want anyone accidentally sending them to Dad before the surprise!
  • Give them an option.  If they don’t have time or desire to send a physical card, give them the option to email a note.  Then you can just print the message off on pretty paper or birthday stationary.
  • Tell them whether you are asking for gifts or not.  People may feel pressured to include money, gifts or gift certificates.  Although that is always fun to receive, we wanted to make sure and tell people that we were not asking for gifts.  We were more interested in receiving notes of encouragement and birthday wishes and didn’t want people to feel pressure to send gifts.

Follow Up!
We sent out the initial email about 4 weeks before the birthday party. Then we followed up with personal notes, Facebook messages and even a few phone calls a week later. One week before the party, we sent out one more email to remind people.

Many people have great intentions, but life gets very busy. It’s hard to remember to do something special like this since it’s an extra step.

Present the Box!
I honestly don’t think we could have given Dad a better gift for his 70th birthday. We received close to 130 cards, emails and notes to share with Dad. People that were in his first church in Missouri, Children that had been impacted by his early ministries, church members, college friends, high school classmates, family, grandkids, other preacher friends…. so many people took the time to stop and share memories, notes of encouragement and birthday wishes!

I have a feeling that this will be a gift Dad will never forget!

Have you ever done something like this? Got any tips to make it a successful event? I’d love to hear! And Dad – this may have been a bit of work to gather these cards, but it was worth every minute! Happy Birthday!

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