Unique birthday cards

20 unique birthday card ideas

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

A unique birthday card is an easy way to commemorate and celebrate a friend or loved one’s birthday. When their birthday is coming up, sending them a personalized card shows that you’re thinking of them. While it’s easy to pick up any birthday card off the shelf, a unique birthday card design means you send something more personal. For original birthday card ideas, find inspiration in the unique birthday cards showcased in this article.

How you interpret “unique” is up to you—it can be heartfelt in a way that only you two will understand, appeal to your friend’s sense of humor or not look like a birthday card at all. Read on for 20 examples of unique birthday card ideas to help inspire you to design a card the birthday person will love.

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Unique birthday cards

Compared to other types of greeting cards and those that celebrate milestone events like weddings and retirements, birthday cards are often a bit more casual. They’re also usually more personalized than holiday cards.

The bare minimum of birthday card content includes the recipient’s name and a brief message. A card may also include the date and, in some cases, a spot where the giver can include a gift card or paper money—particularly popular for children’s birthdays. Birthday cards typically also include imagery on the front cover, which the giver’s personalized message may relate to.

Birthday card messages can range from sentimental and sweet to ironic and hilarious. To help make birthday card content unique:

  • Include a silly photo of them on the cover
  • Match the text on the card’s front cover with the message inside
  • Address the receiver on the cover by including their name or nickname
  • Share your favorite memory of a time you spent together
  • Set up a joke on the cover and deliver the punchline inside (even better, make it a joke only they will get!)

Tip

Including a shared memory or inside joke is a great way to personalize a birthday card and make it truly unique.

Funny birthday card ideas

Humor—in the form of puns, funny pictures and jokes about getting older or eating cake—has always been a birthday card design staple. Unlike other celebrations, like a wedding or graduation, birthdays are all about having fun, which is why humor is such a popular part of birthday cards! These birthday card designs are sure to make their recipients crack a smile:

1. Celebrate a half-birthday

Did you miss your friend’s birthday? No worries, just wait six months and send a half-birthday card! Or why not throw them a half-birthday party to really make up for it?

2. Shots, shots, shots!

Sometimes, funny birthday card ideas are more cheeky than outright hilarious, like this card that’s perfect for a drinking buddy.

birthday card featuring three shots and a lime

Source: birthday card idea via VistaPrint

3. Encourage their wild ways

Puns are fun! Check out this card and how it plays with the idea of a “party animal.”

birthday card featuring a zebra illustration

Source: birthday card design via VistaPrint

4. Joke about their age

Hey, we’re not getting any younger! Celebrate your loved one’s birthday with a joke about their age.

a birthday card design with witty text

Source: birthday card by mersina via 99designs by Vista

As you search through funny birthday card ideas, think about the type of humor the recipient would appreciate. Perhaps they might like something punny, prefer satire or be one for random, off-beat humor. Maybe a card that references a popular meme or piece of pop culture is more their bag. Or the best card might be one that allows you to record your own funny message! No matter which flavor of funny they are, make them laugh with your chosen card.

Heartfelt birthday card ideas

Although birthdays are fun, joy-filled celebrations, they can also be sentimental. This is especially true for parents as their children get older and for younger generations as their loved ones reach their golden years. Often, the best way to recognize these special occasions is with a touching, heartfelt message. Check out these sweet birthday cards:

5. Tell them you miss them

An “I miss you!” card can be a heartfelt way to wish somebody a happy birthday, especially if you haven’t seen them in a long time!

a colorful birthday card design

Source: unique birthday card design via VistaPrint

6. Tell them how fabulous they are

Gas your loved one up on their birthday with a card that states it outright: they’re fabulous!

a bold fabulous unique birthday card design

Source: birthday card design by La Chicana via 99designs by Vista

7. List their best traits

Make their day with a compliment inside a card. Give a birthday card that tells them how handsome, amazing and charming they are.

unique birthday card design

Source: birthday card by SaraLit via 99designs by Vista

8. Let them know you’re there for them

A birthday card can be a special way to tell someone how important they are to you. 

unique birthday card design for a beloved daughter

Source: birthday card by Destrie.nu via 99designs by Vista

9. Remind them what they were born to do

On their birthday, remind them exactly what they were born to do.

white and gold birthday card design

Source: unique birthday card design via VistaPrint

Tip

Consider recording your own heartfelt message. Many commercially available birthday cards have this capability.

Heartfelt birthday cards are ideal for romantic partners, parents and relatives celebrating milestone birthdays, like your grandmother turning 90 or your brother turning 18. Of course, you can send a heartfelt birthday card to anybody for any occasion, but generally, cards that evoke more sentimental feelings are a popular choice for the birthdays of close loved ones.

Birthday card ideas for kids (and kids at heart)

For a child, their birthday is one of, if not the most, important days of the year. This means that a kid’s birthday party and card have to live up to expectations! Actually, a lot of adults have this perspective, too. So, when you’re searching for unique birthday card ideas, have fun! There are lots of cool card designs for kids and kids at heart:

10. Include something crafty

Get more mileage out of a kid’s birthday card by giving them something they can make.

birthday card design featuring a dinosaur

Source: birthday card design by kirsen via 99designs by Vista

11. Add a precious photo of them

This one’s more for the parents—celebrate a child’s birthday with a sweet photo that captures them at this stage of their life.

unique birthday card design featuring a baby’s face

Source: birthday card design by Sidaddict via 99designs by Vista

12. Use colorful children’s book illustrations

Kids love color! Go bold with a bright and colorful illustrated birthday card!

first birthday invitation design

Source: kids’ birthday invitation via VistaPrint

13. Put a playful drawing on the cover

Give a kid a fun birthday card that matches the day’s celebratory energy. 

great-granddaughter birthday card design

Source: birthday card design by Jumbie Design via 99designs by Vista

14. Make a number out of lots of little illustrations

Try out a card that plays with design, like this one, that creates a large image out of a collection of smaller ones.

first birthday invitation design

Source: kids’ birthday invitation via VistaPrint

One recurring design motif you’ll see in many kids’ birthday cards (and party invitations) is the age included prominently in the design or even the whole design. These designs are most popular for birthdays before ten and milestone ages like 18, 21, 40 and 50.

For a first birthday, keep in mind that the baby’s parents might keep the card and add it to a baby book or baby box. If you’re shopping for a first birthday card, think about the kind of design and message the child might be delighted to look back at in the future.

Artistic birthday card ideas

For the creatively inclined, design and send an artistic birthday card. Go with a minimalist card for a sophisticated look or browse through artsy birthday card ideas to find the perfect way to say “Happy Birthday!” Get creative with these birthday card ideas:

15. Use watercolor designs

Detailed painted birthday cards are a perfect choice for anyone who appreciates art!

Water color birthday card design idea

Source: watercolor birthday card idea via VistaPrint

16. Get retro with motifs

Lean into retro motifs for a creative birthday card. A card like this is great for somebody who’s nostalgic about the past or prone to reminiscing about their younger years!

retro birthday card design with a cassette

Source: retro birthday card design via VistaPrint

17. Use your artwork

Why not give your loved one a birthday card featuring your own artwork? It’s a great way to add a unique personal touch and show your love on their special day.

birthday card design featuring ice pops

Source: birthday card design via VistaPrint

Featuring your own or a close friend’s art on the custom-printed card is one way to guarantee you’re giving a unique birthday card. Simply upload the original artwork, format it to fit the type of card you’ve selected, and add inside and cover text for the perfect birthday message. Or, if you’re not exactly the artsy type, why not commission a custom birthday card from an artist you’ll know the recipient will love?

Surprising birthday card ideas

Why not surprise the birthday person with a card that’s nothing like a traditional birthday card? These kinds of unique birthday cards can leave a lasting impression on their recipients. They’re great for anybody who is a bit quirky and appreciates things that are outside the box. Give a surprising birthday card to someone who’ll receive a lot of birthday cards so that yours stands out! Use these examples for design inspiration:

18. Hide the message inside

Instead of opening a traditional card, the person who receives this card has to untie, crack open or take it apart to find the hidden message inside.

19. Involve your pet

For pet owners, a card that’s focused on their much-loved furry animal is the perfect way to celebrate.

illustration of cat as a unique birthday card design idea

Source: birthday card design with a cat illustration by Bow’n’Pencil via 99designs by Vista

19. Make it comically big

Wish your friend “Happy Birthday” in a BIG way with a BIG card.

Surprises work when they subvert expectations. By that, we mean delivering something other than what the recipient expected, like an egg to crack open for a birthday message. Other ways to play with this idea and give unique birthday cards include:

  • An oversized birthday card…why not get one that’s three feet tall?
  • A teeny-tiny card, one that’s so small, the recipient feels like they need a microscope.
  • Using a non-card object as a birthday card. Perhaps you could design a pizza box with a birthday message on the lid, a personalized wish on the inside and “Happy Birthday” written out on the pizza in pepperoni or sliced olives, of course!
  • A birthday card made of an unexpected material, like a fondant-covered card-shaped cake.

With unique birthday cards, the possibilities are endless. Search the internet for inspiration, embrace your creativity and give a birthday card that the receiver will cherish (or at least remember) for years to come. 

Create custom and unique birthday cards!

Unique birthday card designs are an easy way to show your family and friends that you’re thinking of them on their special day. Design and order custom birthday cards for all the special people in your life, personalizing each card to its recipient’s interests and relationship to you.