What is the correct etiquette to acknowledge an important birthday you’ve forgotten while you are away and travelling?
Interestingly, today I’m in Amsterdam on business and it happens to be my dear friend Wendy’s birthday. In a perfect world this problem is really easy to deal with, as you send a card and/or a present ahead of time to the person, perhaps with a warning on the outside of the envelope not to be opened before the birthday date.
Now lets leave the perfect world and go back to reality. I may be the perfect butler and remind my employer every detail they need to know, however personally I’ve been more than once travelling and halfway around the world and realized it’s Wendy’s, Aunt Mary’s or my best friend John’s birthday today and I forgot. So what to do?
1. First, ideally call the person right away to acknowledge and apologise for your error. Acknowledging your error is more important than anything at that moment in time.
2. If you are unable to call, then send an email again, acknowledging your error and sending your best wishes.
3. Consider bringing something back from where you are in the world. This will hopefully create a special memory.
4. Remember, if you make a promise (to take them out for dinner upon your return) this needs to be a priority as soon as you’re home!
I lost a very dear friend once after forgetting her husband’s birthday and not making it a priority to follow through with my promise of taking them out for dinner, and I’ve regretted this foolish error ever since.
5. Lastly, just be honest. We all live very busy lives and being able to acknowledge your error and following through is the right and best thing to do!
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