How To Write A Birthday Letter: Yearly Letter To Child Tips

If you're wondering what the best birthday tradition is for kids, a yearly letter to your child is definitely where it's at! Writing a birthday letter to your baby is one of the sweetest traditions to start; they may not even know is happening but is one they will cherish the most for the rest of their life. Discover how to write a birthday letter and read one's to our kids below!

Birthday letters to your child {best birthday tradition}

Ideally, this is a birthday tradition to start at 1 but it’s never too late to start; you can even make it a yearly letter instead of a birthday one!

birthday letter tradition

Maybe it was my dad writing me letters as a kid – he always complained how we never got any “fun” mail and now that he's passed, I cherish those… or maybe it's living through entirely too much family drama that no one wants to explain, but I can feel in my body. Regardless the reason, I always knew I wanted to write a yearly letter to my children.

One that looked back on their milestones, committed the good memories and stories to paper, and also clued them into some of the dynamics our family went through at that time to hopefully save them on future therapy bills from things they don't remember but their inner psyche does!

Making memories is the best, but how do you remember them? What about all those memories that happen when you’re too young to actually remember them?

That’s where the letter-writing comes in!

How To Write A Birthday Letter

Writing a birthday letter to your child is a fairly open ended formula that may vary year to year.

Trust that whatever comes through, is exactly what is meant to come through. But if you need help getting started here's a simple little framework:


Describe how you've seen them evolve this year at a high level and other good things that feel resonant.


In the mid-section you can really choose to go as mushy, high level, or detailed as you want.

Some ideas:
  • Chronological documentation of the year (with photos if you can!) complete with unforgettable memories from the past year
  • Emotional recap: Explain to them you and the families emotional state throughout the year. Letting them in on the energy they lived in at this age (especially before the age of 6 where their subconscious mind is developing) can be a HUGE help in de-conditioning any future mental health issues or problems that may come up. It can also be incredibly healing for you as the parent to go back and reflect on this time; and then giving your child your “process” can help with healing ancestral or generational.
  • Details the nuances of how you've seen them evolve this year. Note any particular stories that stand out as “proud” moments and special memories
  • Commit your most joy filled memories to the page so you never forget; and if they never remember they can feel like the memory is theirs too!

Closing it out

Close off with a recap and/or your hopes and best wishes for the year to come/their life.

Yearly letters to your child

Remember you can add onto their happy birthday letter or just write yearly letters to your child. This is really YOUR time capsule. A little legacy for your kids.

Personally, what I ended up doing is writing letters to my children on their birthdays.

And then I have “family” letters for all the kids to read together. I had been writing these after my first, but then realized I kept adding onto her letters more often, since that “dialogue/journal” had already been started.

I made a note one day, saying as the oldest, I wanted her to share these “general family dynamic” letters with her siblings.

I write these yearly letters now whenever the urge hits to clear the air about some sort of family dynamic that was playing out. It was the best thing for our family. I look at these letters as a roadmap to ensuring we don't make the mistakes of past generations.

Best ways to store the letters for your child

Memory Box

I chose to use a memory box for my girls letters. I purchased these gorgeous wooden boxes with their names on the front to store all the letters in. We purchased the large size so there would be plenty of room for lots of letters.

Our boxes may look empty now, but that’s because my oldest is only 3 at the time of writing! They will fill up in no time.

birthday letters in a box

If you need something faster and easier you can always use a file box, at least temporarily.

I love that using a box creates an actual physical gift. It also allows you to add a few photos or small items in there as well. It also means you can physically write the letters with your own handwriting on them if you’d like, something you can’t do if you store them digitally.

Create one book of letters & memories

Want to keep everything in one place? This cute book comes with question and other prompts and also leaves space to write a letter each year.

This is nice because they will all be together in one place. This one is called “Letters to You” which pretty much explains it all.

Store them digitally

The other option is to store them digitally. I’ve heard of people creating an email address for their child and emailing the letters there.

My concerns with storing them that way are that the email provider you choose could shut down, there could be a max amount of time the emails are stored, or technology could change completely and email could be replaced by something else entirely.

Other digital options are to save them on your computer or in a place like Google Drive or Dropbox, again you may end up having to move the files at some point if these services shut down.

With that said, I do both. I have Google docs, with photos pasted in, which I plan to email as my kids get older and physical copies in a memory box.

Delivering your birthday gift

Store up all these letters and save them until you feel it's a wonderful day to do it! Then, you present them with this box full of memories to make it a special occasion!

You may want to deliver your happy birthday letters:

Each year by reading the letter to your child. You can save any more “advanced” bits for the actual letter which you store away for a later date. Or you can simply surprise them at one of these times:

  • When they graduate high school
  • When they turn 18 years old
  • Starting college
  • Graduating college
  • Getting married
  • Having their own baby
  • Turning 25 years old
  • Other milestone birthdays (16 for their car, 21 for drinking, 50 for “over the hill”
  • Whenever feels right!

I would use your own judgment as to when it feels like the perfect time. Kids, of course, do mature at different ages and some may appreciate it at different times than others.

High school graduation is the first big right of passage so it’s a great time but you can also save them until college graduation, marriage, whenever you decide.

I also read my kids their letters I posted on my blog as part of their birthday celebrations. It was one of my favorite things watching their faces light up.

writing letter to child

Make other family members a part of it

Don’t keep this tradition to yourself invite a family member or everyone in on it too!

Some families invite the child's grandparents, close friends, their favorite person or other important people in their life to write the kids yearly letters too.

Give very little guidance so each personal message will cover different things with a personal touch and be written differently.

This is also the beauty of this tradition. By the time your child reaches graduation, it’s a sad but true fact of life that some of these people may no longer be around.

While I’d love to still have my kids great-grandmother around she’d be over 100 years old by then.

The letters create a beautiful reminder and memory of those that were so important to their childhood. I’d love to have letters written by my grandparents in their own words now that most of them are no longer here.

It doesn’t have to be just family, you can ask close family friends to write to them as well. Just don’t go overboard or you won’t have enough room to store all those letters!

Sample Birthday Letter

If you feel nervous, don't be! You don't need an amazing sense of humor or the ability to write the most tender + emotional letter of all time. Just focus on writing a warm birthday letter that showcases your unwavering support and love of the person. Here are some sample birthday letters for you to read through:

Happy 1st Birthday To My Son, From Mom: Letter On Your First Birthday

A Letter To My Daughter On Her First Birthday

A Letter To My 2 Year Old Daughter On Her 2nd Birthday

An Open Letter To My Younger Self: 15 Pieces Of Advice I’d Say To Teenage Me

Final thoughts

Remember learning how to write a happy birthday letter is a fairly intuitive process – whatever you write is exactly what needs to be delivered! You can also write an informal letter as a birthday surprise to anyone in your life!

A husband, wife, love of your life, girlfriend, boyfriend, big sister or brother, a special person, or your favorite people who represent true friendship and unconditional love! There's so much joy and unconditional love to be spread in this beautiful life, a great birthday letter is one way to celebrate it!

With that, I hope you make it a very happy birthday each year and enjoy the special day as time flies so light some birthday candles, eat some birthday cake, and make more beautiful memories this coming year! I pray all of your warm wishes come true and lots of love and good health bless you and yours!