Too often birthdays are just one more item to squeeze into our already overflowing bag of to-dos and things to remember. I have several friends who make a vow each year to get better at celebrating others, but unless we have a plan our intentions will fall by the wayside as the year goes on. So here are a few simple tactics to help you communicate love and importance to the members of your small group—at least once a year.
First, it's crucial that you find out the dates of your members' birthdays. That may be obvious, but how often do we forget? The simplest way to do this is to send around a birthday sheet for everyone to fill out. If your group members are older, be sensitive to the fact that they might not want to include the year. If someone is uncomfortable with their birthday altogether, just pick a random day on which to surprise and celebrate them.
Then, get those dates on your calendar. The best method I've found is to use a computer calendar and set a reminder for one week in advance. That way, when I check my e-mail, a reminder pops up that I can send out to the rest of the group. You can also photocopy a paper calendar for everyone, or have the members bring in their datebooks and enter them all in. The key, though, is to write in a reminder at least one week in advance so you're not caught off guard and unprepared on the actual day.
One fabulous way to stay prepared is to take care of all your group's birthdays at once. Hallmark's website lets you send an e-card with a pre-programmed date. You can choose an e-card for each person, write a short note, and set them to be sent out on the correct birthdays. Using this method, you can have the whole thing done in less than an hour! Or you can buy birthday cards in bulk and do the same thing physically. Get them written and addressed all at once, and just pop them in the mail when your reminder comes up.
Celebration within your small-group meeting doesn't have to be expensive to be special. Most dollar stores sell balloons, and one or two of these tied onto a chair clearly send the message, "You are special." A delicious Ghirardelli brownie mix can be bought in bulk from Costco, and for less than two dollars a pan you've got a fudgy, sweet birthday treat.
No matter what your celebration looks like, the best way to show you care is simply to take some time to clap the person on the back and wish them "Happy Birthday." Then pray for their life and the year ahead and thank God for enriching your group members' lives by bringing that person into the world.