How To Make Birthdays Special From Afar

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if we are buddies on the ‘gram or facebook, then you saw how utterly spoiled i was by my husband even though he wasn’t actually here on my birthday. you will also see that my phone is currently enjoying short-circuiting in a bag of rice because phones do less well than cats in water.

instead of showing you a picture of my dead phone, let’s look at the dutch baby we ate for brunch at tasty ‘n sons this weekend and the cute little birthday candle:

IMG_3046before i get into the details of all of the thoughtful things he did for me, here are some ways that you can make someone’s birthday special, even when you aren’t physically with them.

1) give gift certificates to their favorite places around the city

2) scavenger hunt around your home to find either where you hid a gift/birthday card or had someone else in the home hide it for you

3) write them an early text message/email to wish them happy birthday

4) call ahead to a certain place where you know they’ll be and pay a little extra to have them pamper the birthday person!

5) send $2 dollar bills (the bank loves to get rid of them) in the amount the birthday person is turning-obviously an even number.

6) send their favorite flowers to enjoy (thanks dad!)

as you may remember, my mom and husband surprised me with her flying to portland to spend my birthday weekend with me while he had a speaking engagement in new orleans.

IMG_3060we all spent friday together before he left the next morning and he made us a delicious dinner, complete with a quality bottle of wine.

he had six gifts wrapped up and it turned out i got to open three and so did my mom. each one contained a sweet note and a gift card around town to all of my favorite places. these included my favorite coffee place in portland to get lattes, a gift certificate for brunch at mother’s bistro (where you will have the best biscuit of your life) AND manicures/pedicures!

IMG_3048i thought it was so incredibly sweet that he didn’t just give me the gift cards but he was thoughtful enough to let my mom open things too (i mean, i did come out of her and into this world so i guess she should be able to open some presents too).

he even spelled my name right! there may have been a misspelling when he proposed…


after saying our goodbyes to him at the airport, we set out to get our nails did done after delicious lattes. there was a little confusion at first when i walked in and showed them the gift cards but about 5 minutes later a woman came over and said “wait, are you chelsea?” i figured no one was going to serve me a court subpoena so i said yes.


within the next few minutes, there were hilariously terrible birthday songs playing, my name in crazy cat cartoons on a big screen and a pyramid of cupcakes being served to me. there was a small fire when they also put a paper umbrella on the cupcake with the candle. all i could do was be overwhelmed and laugh.

he had set up this whole thing in conjunction with the nail ladies! i was totally surprised but not in a panic attack way so that was good. the lady next to me was getting her nails painted seattle seahawk colors for the super bowl. it looked like you would imagine.

IMG_3072on my actual birthday, i received an early morning text from my husband with riddles. remember…i love nancy drew. i love sleuthing and to use deductive reasoning.

i was very proud when i solved the riddles and found an incredibly sweet birthday card hidden in one spot and then 14 $2 dollar bills to spend on whatever i damn well please- in a book! it was solid. thanks boo- nancy, george and bess would be proud!

two dollar bills

my mom and i had a marvelous girls weekend connecting about the past, appreciating the present and talking of the future. i also continue to astound her with my advancement in tastebud development now that i live in portland (but again, i think i may always hate beans).

mom and me drinksit was a fantastic 28th birthday with my husband ‘taking the cake’ for having this so well thought out and planned to make me feel special. huge thanks to my mama for coming to spend time with me this weekend and spoiling me good.

i am already feeling the pressure of how to make my husband’s 28th birthday (yes, i’m a cougar) come even close to this in a few months. ideas are welcomed or if you own a baby otter i will pay you to let us play with it on his birthday.

this past weekend made me feel extra loved and also made me realize that there are many simple things we can do to show the people we love we are thinking about them.

1) what are things you do make friends and family feel special from afar on their birthdays?
2) are you good at coming up with surprises for people? (i’m not)
3) do you have an otter we can play with?


  1. Audrey

    January 28, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    What a fun weekend! I’m dying to visit the west coast area with my husband someday(mainly Portland and Seattle- we’re not really Cali beach babes)!

    My hubby is turning 28 in March and I’m trying so hard to think of something fun to do, but we’re going to Niagara Falls in April so it has to be low budget 😀 If you find someone with an otter ask if they have a baby fox or bobcat- I think my husband would enjoy that! Haha!
    Audrey recently posted…Mutual Respect > Chivalry

    • chelsea

      January 28, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      yes come play in the pacific northwest, audrey! it’s a magical land. i will be on the look out for a baby fox and bobcat (actually they usually have wild cat of some sort in southern oregon at a wild life reserve in bandon, oregon)!

      • Audrey

        January 29, 2015 at 10:26 am

        All the more reason to visit. Also, have you seen this otter live cam? 🙂

        • chelsea

          January 30, 2015 at 10:01 am

          what?! this is amazing!!!!

  2. Jess May

    January 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Andrew has been away for so many of our special moments, whether its birthdays, anniversaries or (as you know) Christmas. I like to slip things in his bag before he leaves so that when he opens it, there is a little something to make him feel less alone.
    It doesn’t have to be huge, sometimes its a card or a new t-shirt. Even new socks and jocks make him happy! For Valentines Day this year (because, go figure, he’s away!) I found a Stargate Atlantis book at the bookshop for $1 so its being snuck into his bag this week.
    You don’t have to be there to make it special, but damn its nice when they are.
    Jess May recently posted…Tuesday TEDTalk – The Power of Vulnerability

    • chelsea

      January 28, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      oh that would be so so hard jess! it sounds like you make the best of it though and it’s so true that those little things tucked away in a suitcase mean a lot! i totally stuck a little card in ravery’s suitcase for his trip too 🙂

      sounds like a solid find for valentine’s day-you’re good!

  3. Amanda Wood

    January 29, 2015 at 5:17 am

    How awesome is this birthday weekend and how thoughtful he way to include your mom! I seriously need to show this to my hubs to give him hints for my 29th birthday this summer.

    I’m decent at thinking up surprises, but I’m even better at figuring them out. For Mother’s Day last year I wrote my mom some “Open When” cards. She loved them, even if I did have to remind her to open them.
    Amanda Wood recently posted…I Was “Cool” Before Being “Hipster” Was a Thing

    • chelsea

      January 30, 2015 at 10:03 am

      they are such schemers! it was super awesome and thoughtful. want me to send your husband an email with some hints because i will, amanda! 🙂 i am not so good at coming up with things like this so i’m always in awe of other’s creativity.

      that’s such a creative idea for your mother’s day gift-i may have to borrow that for this year!

  4. Courtney! @ Redefining Athlete

    January 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Happy belated Birthday!
    I love coming up with surprises! We spent a couple Christmases apart, and I made a scavenger hunt during both of those. And for our 10 year (dating) anniversary, I made a pack to have 1 surprise date each month for the year, but I still plan them even though that was almost 2 years ago 🙂
    Courtney! @ Redefining Athlete recently posted…Star Wars 10k Race Recap

    • chelsea

      January 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

      thanks courtney!!! hope you had fun here 🙂 i ove the idea of a scavenger hunt-how fun!!!

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  7. Kayla

    February 10, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    I’m new here and absolutely love your blog so I have been clicking around all over the place but I am so confused as to where you currently live. Is it Portland, OR or Houston, TX? One post I read mentioned TX. I’m near Portland too that’s why I am so curious! I thought it was cool to find another blogger pretty close 🙂
    Kayla recently posted…Day Zero Project. Again.

    • chelsea

      February 10, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      ha! sorry for the confusion kayla! i had a short stint in TX but now happily back in portland! where do you live?? i’m excited to check out your blog and glad we connected!

      • Kayla

        February 10, 2015 at 6:04 pm

        No worries, thank you for clarifying. I am in Vancouver, WA… so just across the river 🙂 I am so glad I found your blog, I can’t even tell you how helpful your posts on anxiety alone have been!
        Kayla recently posted…Day Zero Project. Again.

        • chelsea

          February 12, 2015 at 7:29 am

          hoooray! love that you’re in the ‘couve! (am i allowed to call it that?) 🙂 i’m really happy to hear you’ve found my posts on anxiety helpful, i have more coming out soon so i appreciate you giving me the boost of encouragement to share more! thanks kayla!

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