Mastering the Art of Belated Birthday Greetings: 20 Ways to Say a Belated Happy Birthday

Forgot a birthday? Don’t fret. Knowing how to send a belated birthday message is just as important as remembering the date. This article dives straight into showing you how to apologize for the oversight and communicate your heartfelt wishes after the fact. Whether you opt for ‘Happy Belated Birthday’ or ‘Belated Happy Birthday,’ we’ll help you convey that they’re still on your mind, alongside tips to prevent this mishap in the future.

Key takeaways

  • Belated birthday wishes acknowledge a delay in celebration, but still show the person they’re valued, with ‘Belated Happy Birthday’ being the correct phrase even though ‘Happy Belated Birthday’ is widely accepted.
  • An ideal belated birthday message should be sincere, include an admission of lateness, an authentic apology without excuses, and a personal touch with special anecdotes or qualities of the recipient.
  • Creative gestures to compensate for a missed birthday can include personalized gifts, custom messages, or even leveraging technology like reminder apps to never forget a birthday again.



Understanding belated birthday wishes

Life’s hustle and bustle sometimes causes us to forget a loved one’s birthday. In such cases, sending a belated birthday greeting becomes necessary. The term ‘belated’ in the context of birthday wishes indicates that the congratulatory message is delayed or comes after the actual date of someone’s birthday. This can be as simple as wishing someone a happy birthday after their actual birthday has passed, known as ‘Happy Belated Birthday’. The word belated adds a sense of acknowledgment for the delay in sending the birthday wishes.

Recognizing someone’s special day, albeit late, signals that you hold them in high regard and value them. Saying ‘happy late birthday’ is a way of acknowledging the delay yet still extending heartfelt birthday wishes. It’s a gesture that sends a clear message: “I may be late, but you still matter to me”.

The debate: happy belated birthday vs. belated happy birthday

You might be pondering whether to say ‘Happy Belated Birthday’ or ‘Belated Happy Birthday’. Interestingly enough, there’s a bit of a debate about this. The correct formulation to use when offering belated birthday wishes is ‘Belated Happy Birthday’. This phrase accurately conveys that the birthday wishes are late, not the birthday itself.

However, in the United States, the more commonly used phrase is ‘Happy Belated Birthday’. Despite the reversed order of words, the sentiment remains clear and is widely understood. Ultimately, what matters most is the sincerity and thoughtfulness behind your belated birthday wishes.

The importance of celebrating birthdays, even if belated

Illustration of celebrating birthdays, even if belated

A belated birthday celebration acknowledges the personal milestone of another year completed and the beginning of a new one, bringing birthday cheer even if it’s late. Despite the delay in sending them, sending belated wishes with thoughtful messages can deepen the bond with the recipient, especially when it comes to late birthday wishes for a great birthday.

Family traditions and cultural differences sometimes lead to celebrating significant occasions on days other than the actual event, with the focus being on the act of celebration rather than the specific date. By emphasizing the idea of celebrating the individual all year round, the impact of a belated birthday wish is compensated through ongoing recognition and festivity.

Crafting the perfect belated birthday message


Crafting the ideal belated birthday message calls for a mix of sincerity, humility, and originality. This can be achieved by admitting your lateness, offering a genuine apology, and adding a personal touch.

Let’s delve into these key components.

Admitting your lateness

Writing a belated birthday message necessitates admitting that you forgot your birthday, which means you overlooked the special occasion. This straightforward admission is considered acceptable and even expected when sending a late birthday wish.

Showing sincerity in your words is key when formulating a belated birthday message. So, when you’re acknowledging the delay in your message, a simple admission that you missed their birthday is not only adequate but also appreciated.

Offering a genuine apology

An earnest apology should communicate regret and appreciation for the recipient’s understanding. The apology should convey genuine regret for not wishing on time, emphasizing that the recipient was in the sender’s thoughts.

It’s advisable to refrain from making excuses when apologizing for a late birthday wish. Instead, focus on expressing affection and appreciation for the person. A thoughtful way to do this is by expressing sincere well-wishes and interest in the recipient’s life.

Extending an offering to spend quality time, such as catching up, can show that sincere thoughts and well-wishes remain, regardless of the delay.

Adding a personal touch

Incorporating a personal touch can enhance the impact and memorability of your belated birthday message. This can be achieved by including personal anecdotes or inside jokes, which can create a personal connection and bring back happy shared memories.

Mentioning the special qualities of the recipient in a belated birthday greeting highlights their importance and can make the message feel more personalized and sincere. Pairing these personalized messages with late birthday wishes images adds a visual touch that emphasizes the unique bond between the sender and recipient.

20 belated birthday greetings for different relationships


You can customize belated birthday messages to fit different relationships. For family members, the message should convey sincere regret for the delay along with personalized heartfelt wishes that reflect special qualities or roles.

When crafting belated birthday messages for friends or colleagues, incorporating humor can lighten the tone of the apology while ensuring the message remains tailored and sincere. Belated birthday wishes to a sibling can include playful teasing about the oversight, provided it’s paired with genuine sentiments that affirm the sibling bond.

5 belated birthday messages for friends

1. “Hey [Recipient Name], I can’t believe your special day slipped by me! Seriously, if there was a ‘Best Friend of the Year Award,’ I’d just lost it. But, hey, here’s to you, the amazing person you are, every day feels like we’re celebrating you. Can’t wait to make up for it, so how about we plan something fun? Belated but big birthday wishes coming your way! Love, [Your Name]”

2.  “Oops! I missed the calendar but never had the chance to tell you how awesome you are, [Recipient Name]. Even though this wish comes later than planned, my feelings for our friendship are timeless. Belated happy birthday, my friend! Here’s to another year of unforgettable adventures together. Cheers, [Your Name]”

3.  “Dear [Recipient Name], turns out I’m more of a tortoise than a hare when it comes to birthday wishes this year. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Hoping your birthday was as spectacular as you are and that this year brings you all the joy and success you deserve. Belated happy birthday! Best, [Your Name]”

4. “Hi [Recipient Name], in my head, I was the first to wish you this year… but reality tells a different story. I hope your birthday was everything you wished for and more. Belated happy birthday to someone who is incredibly special, not just on their birthday but every day. Can’t wait to celebrate you properly soon! Hugs, [Your Name]”

5. “Oh no, [Recipient Name]! It looks like my birthday wish got stuck in the mail—snail mail, that is. Though it’s arriving late, my hope for your happiness, health, and heaps of success in the coming year is as strong as ever. Belated birthday greetings to one of the best people I know. Fondly, [Your Name]”

10 belated birthday messages for family members

6. Dear [Family Member’s Name], it seems my calendar led me astray this year. Missing your special day doesn’t mean my thoughts and wishes for you are any less heartfelt. May this year bring you as much joy and happiness as you’ve brought into my life. Belated happy birthday! With all my love, [Your Name]

7.  “To my dear [Relationship, e.g., Aunt, Uncle, Cousin], though my wishes are a tad late, my love and respect for you are always on time. I hope your birthday was as wonderful and unique as you are to our family. Belated happy birthday! Love, [Your Name]”

8. “Happy Belated Birthday, [Family Member’s Name]! Even though I’m late, I hope your day was filled with laughter, love, and everything that you wished for. Your strength and kindness are an inspiration to us all. Cheers to another fantastic year ahead! Warmly, [Your Name]”

9. “Hey [Relationship], I might have missed marking the calendar, but I could never forget what an incredible person you are. Belated happy birthday wishes to someone who deserves the world. Can’t wait to celebrate with you in person soon! Best, [Your Name]”

10. “[Family Member’s Name], in typical fashion, I’m running a bit behind schedule. But my wishes for your health, happiness, and prosperity are right on time! Hoping your birthday was as amazing as you are. Belated birthday cheers! With love, [Your Name]”

11. “Oh no, [Relationship]! It seems time slipped away from me, but my affection and admiration for you certainly have not. Wishing you a belated but incredibly heartfelt happy birthday. May this year bring you every happiness. Fondly, [Your Name]”

12. “Oops! Looks like I’ve added a bit of suspense to this year’s birthday wishes for you, [Family Member’s Name]. Belated happy birthday to the person who makes our family complete. Here’s to celebrating you all year round! Hugs, [Your Name]”

13. “Dear [Family Member’s Name], my timing may not be perfect, but my wishes for you are. Belated happy birthday to an incredibly important member of our family. Your love and warmth mean everything. Can’t wait to give you a belated celebration hug. Much love, [Your Name]”

14. “Belated Happy Birthday, [Family Member’s Name]! It turns out I’m more of a sentimental tortoise than a punctual hare when celebrating you. Wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold, and then some. Cheers to a wonderful year ahead! Affectionately, [Your Name]”

15. “To the most understanding [Relationship] out there, even though this wish comes after the candles have been blown out, my hope for your joy and success burns as brightly as ever. Belated happy birthday! Counting down the days until we can celebrate together. Always, [Your Name]”

5 belated birthday messages for coworkers

16. “Hello [Coworker’s Name], please accept my apologies for missing your birthday. Amid deadlines, it seems I lost track of something very important—celebrating you! Though belated, I hope my wishes add a bit of joy to your day. Here’s to a year filled with success and happiness, both professionally and personally. Happy Belated Birthday! Best, [Your Name]”

17. “Dear [Coworker’s Name], I’m sending you belated birthday wishes filled with hope for a year as remarkable as your contributions to our team. Your hard work and dedication inspire us all. Looking forward to celebrating with you at the office soon. Happy belated birthday! Warmly, [Your Name]”

18. “Hey [Coworker’s Name], I just realized I missed the chance to wish you on your special day! I blame the endless meetings and not my aging memory. Here’s to hoping your birthday was as productive and joyous as our best workdays. Can’t wait to celebrate together, though belatedly. Cheers to another fabulous year ahead! Regards, [Your Name]”

19. “Oops! It appears I’ve slipped into belated territory with my birthday wishes for you, [Coworker’s Name]. But, as they say, better late than never, right? Hoping your day was filled with as much fun as our office parties and as rewarding as our project successes. Belated happy birthday! Sincerely, [Your Name]”

20. “Dear [Coworker’s Name], despite my belated wishes, I hope your birthday was nothing short of incredible, much like the work you do here every day. Your positive attitude and commitment are truly invaluable. Here’s to a great year ahead filled with all the successes and happiness you deserve. Belated happy birthday! Cheers, [Your Name]”

Creative ways to make up for a late birthday wish


When you’ve missed a birthday, not only the belated birthday message matters but also the accompanying gesture. A creative idea could be crafting an apology by sending a personalized jigsaw puzzle with a message on the back of each piece to express regret over time.

Another thoughtful idea is using ‘I’m sorry’ coupons for specific services or activities that can serve as a prolonged apology and offer ongoing value to the recipient. You could also lighten the mood by utilizing humor in your messages to show that you can still celebrate their age with grace, even if it’s late.

Designing a custom birthday card with a personalized message is another special means to acknowledge the missed occasion. Alternatively, you could give a happiness jar filled with positive memories and personal messages to apologize for a missed birthday.

Utilizing technology to never miss a birthday again

In our digital age, technology serves as a valuable ally in remembering important dates. Applications such as Thankbox simplify the management of birthday reminders. It allows users to set up reminders individually or in bulk using a CSV file, ensuring they remember every birthday.

The best part is that notifications are sent out a week in advance, providing you with ample time to prepare a group e-card or contribute to a group gift. Thus, with the help of technology, you can ensure you never miss a birthday again!

How to handle awkward situations when you forget a birthday

Overlooking a birthday may result in uncomfortable situations. Nonetheless, with the appropriate approach, you can handle these situations gracefully. A personalized apology should be crafted with consideration of the recipient’s personality and what they would find significant, acknowledging the oversight in not remembering their special day.

Making an apology in a public setting such as social media can reflect genuine humility and a willingness to acknowledge your mistake in front of friends and family, potentially mending the oversight more effectively. Offering to assist with practical tasks, like organizing computer files or doing yard work, can serve as a thoughtful way to show contrition for forgetting the birthday and to make the person’s life a little easier.

Using Handwrytten for belated birthday messages

Using Handwrytten for belated birthday messages is a game-changer when it comes to adding a heartfelt and personal touch to your apologies. Imagine the joy and surprise on your friend’s or loved one’s face when they receive a beautifully crafted, handwritten note, apologizing for the missed birthday.

Handwrytten leverages technology to recreate the lost art of letter writing, allowing you to compose your message online which is then written in pen and ink by robotic hands. This service brings together the best of both worlds – the convenience of digital communication and the personal, thoughtful touch of a handwritten note.

The process is simple yet effective. You choose a style of card that fits the personality of the recipient or the nature of your relationship. Then, you draft your message, infusing it with humor, sincerity, or a heartfelt apology. Finally, Handwrytten’s robots get to work, ensuring your words are penned with the personal touch unique to handwritten notes. The result? A physical reminder of your affection and regret, likely to be received with a smile and an understanding heart.


From understanding the concept of belated birthday wishes to crafting the perfect message, we’ve covered a lot of ground. While the timing of a birthday wish is important, it’s the thought, sincerity, and personalized touches that truly count. And when you do forget, there are creative ways to apologize and even technology to help you remember in the future. So, the next time you’re a bit late in sending birthday wishes, remember: it’s never too late to celebrate someone’s special day!

Frequently Asked Questions About Belated Birthday Messages

Is it correct to say belated birthday?

Yes, it is correct to say “belated happy birthday” as it is the proper formulation for a late birthday greeting. So go ahead and use it, and your wishes will come across as intended.

What does “belated” mean in “belated birthday wishes”?

“Belated” in “belated birthday wishes” means that the congratulatory message is delayed or comes after the actual date of someone’s birthday. It’s essentially a late birthday wish.

How can I add a personal touch to a belated birthday message?

To add a personal touch to a belated birthday message, you can include personal anecdotes, inside jokes, and mention special qualities of the recipient, and pair these with late birthday wishes images. This will make your message feel heartfelt and thoughtful.

How can I use technology to remember birthdays?

You can use applications like Thankbox to set up reminders for birthdays and receive notifications a week in advance to prepare for group e-cards or gifts. Make sure to download the app and start using it for your convenience!

Choose from our cards design or your own.

Over 100 designs to choose from or design your own. Our online card customizer makes it simple.

Check Out Our Cards!

Next Posts

25 Authentic Congratulations Messages to Coworkers on Achievements & Milestones

Top 20 Heartfelt Family Congratulations for Milestones and Celebrations

What are you searching for?

Still need help?
Send us a note.

    Thank you.

    This website uses cookies to improve your experience.
    We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish.