1. Start with simplicity: “Happy birthday [name of friend, family member, or person you feel compelled to message since they wished you a happy birthday recently].” It is not necessary to include the age of the recipient.

2. Upon adding an exclamation mark (or several), you may consider this simple message to be sufficient. Though be warned: such a brief message may appear to lack sincerity. However, if this is the intention, then proceed to send.

3. Depending on the time of day you're compiling the message, decorate it further with something akin to: “Hope you have (or ‘have had') a great day” or “Hope you get (or ‘have been’) spoiled by [recipient’s significant other, if known].” Hoping things for the recipient is important. Also note: There is a direct relationship between the timing of the message and its perceived value, so avoid delay when possible.

4. If you have an affinity for the recipient, take this opportunity to praise some of their most flattering attributes. For example, “Thanks for always being such a caring and loyal friend.”

5. If you have compiled two sentences by this stage, you will likely realize that this is an awkward length for a birthday message. There are two options at this point: A) delete the second sentence (see limitations of this alternative in step 2), or B) spend the next several minutes conjuring up something else to add.

6. To tie things up, proceed with an intention to reconnect with the recipient in the near future. This can include a proposition to engage in a commonly shared activity. For example, “Would love to catch up soon for [shared activity].’

7. Sign off per your personality, or otherwise. Emojis or kiss markers (e.g. “xxx”) may be left for the end of the message, or scattered throughout. To remain genuine, ensure your use of emojis is consistent with previous communications with the recipient. Excessive use of emojis may appear sarcastic or theatrical.

Your finished product may resemble something like this:

Happy Birthday Mitchell! Hope you have a great day 🙂 Thanks for always having my back. Looking forward to catching up soon for a few beers xxx

If your message does not resemble the above example, refer back to the instructions, or otherwise continue about your day and avoid the recipient long enough for them to have forgotten that you didn’t send them a birthday message.