When my husband turned forty, I went all out to create the most amazing, unique birthday gift of all time. I did do the predictable surprise party (is that an oxymoron? He didn’t expect it, but in retrospect that was pretty predictable). The unique part was the birthday gift that I created for him. Actually his loving friends and family across from the country, masterminded by me, created that unique birthday gift together. It was a collage book—each person created a page with photos, clippings, words and anything they wished to decorate a page that showcased their love and friendship. The collage book blew my husband away when he received it at the surprise party.

When you are thinking about a unique birthday gift for her, you too can do the same. She will never have to know that you got the idea from the Internet. She will think that it’s all coming from your genius originality!

It takes some planning, but it’s just time and coordination. Nothing is particularly complicated. Follow these easy steps and you will have an amazingly unique gift for her.

1. Decide the “who”

Who are the people she really values? Do you know them? Do you have their contact information? Naturally you would know her closest friends and family, but perhaps there are other childhood friends she really values but is not in constant communication with. These days it’s not difficult to find out. You can:

  • Ask her best friends
  • Ask her parents and/or siblings
  • Check to see who she is friend with on Facebook
  • Check her phone or computer (it’s all for a good cause! Just snoop a little.)

Be sure to ask her friends and family to keep it a secret!

When you find out who should be included, you then have to find out their emails and addresses. Yes, that’s right, it’s the old-fashion brick and mortar address, in additions to the email addresses, so that later on you can snail mail them. Complete this step at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to her birthday!

 2. Scrapbook and pages

Buy a blank scrapbook and pages to expand (if needed)

Get a scrapbook like this. You will have to limit the size of the scrapbook since later you will have to mail the pages to people. If you get something like 12” x 12”, you will not be able to get standard envelopes to accommodate them. Therefore, you need to get something like 8.5” x 11” or smaller.Pioneer - Fabric Frame Scrapbook--Unique Birthday Gift for Her

Typically these scrapbooks only come with ten transparent pockets and ten blank pages. You will need to get more pockets and pages, depending on the number of people are you inviting to create this gift. Plan on one page/pocket per person. Alternatively, you can also get two pages and one pocket per person, so they each person get to decorate two pages.

3. Get large envelopes

Get some large and sturdy envelopes that will accommodate a scrapbook page. You will need two envelopes per person.

 4. Communicate to the recipients

Before you mail the stuff to people, it’s better to email or message them first so that they can anticipate the packages. Remember, some of these people do not know you well, so it’s better to introduce yourself and over-communicate! Get them to agree to be part of the gift creation before mailing the page to them.

 5. Mail it!

Now you are ready to mail the package to each recipient. Each package should include:

  • One page of the scrapbook (or two page, it’s up to you).
  • One return envelope with your address and sufficient postage already on it—people will use this self-addressed envelope to mail you back their creation. If possible use your office address or some address that your girl will not have access to.
  • A letter explaining what’s going one—even though you already email each person, it’s better to again explain what he or she is supposed to do with the sheets. Over communicate! Here’s some example of what you can say in the letter:


SSSShhhhh.... It's Sandy's BIG BIRTHDAY!

Hello Joan,


As I shared with you via email, Sandy’s BIG birthday is coming up (let’s pretend we are not sure about the exact number!). To celebrate this momentous event, I’d like to create a scrapbook that can bring her memories of good friends and good time. Since you are one of the people who is important in Sandy’s life, I would love to invite you to create something one of a kind for her.


Enclosed is a page of the scrapbook. Please feel free to decorate any ways you want—pictures, writing, drawing, collage…anything you want. Inside jokes, old photographs, magazine clippings, songs you used to sing together…anything you want! Don’t forget to write your name on the page so that she knows who made it.


I will then put everyone’s creations together into one book.


Please use the enclosed envelop to return your artwork no later than November 2nd, 2013. As indicated on the return envelope, the address (my office) is 123 Main Street, New York, NY 12345.


Most importantly, please keep it a SECRETE. It’s going to be a great surprise for her!


You will receive a separate invitation for the SURPRISE birthday party. If you have any question, please email or call me at me@me.com or 123-456-7890.


Thank you!



6. Create a page yourself

You are of course one of the most important people in her life. You need to create a page too. In fact, it should be put on the first page.Scrapbook--Unique Gift For Her

 7. Combine it!

Let’s face it; you are not going to receive all the pages back. Some people just will not come through, so it’s better to get more people than you need to fill the book. Some other people are going to pour their heart out and create some spectacular artworks. They do not need to be pretty; it’s really the thoughts that count. Your girl is going to feel every bit of love, joy and friendship coming out of the pages.

 8. Wrap it!

Don’t forget to wrap it nicely. You already spent some much effort on it; wrap it up nicely and put a bow of it.

 9. Present it during her big party

See the tears of joy when she opens the amazing, unique birthday gift of all times. She will love it forever!

Comments? Any suggestions? Tell us your experience? Do share!