As younger generations shift away from Facebook, most Instagram users don’t seem to be missing much from the original social networking site. That is, until their friend’s birthday comes around. Though Facebook-specific features like poking and posting on one another’s timeline might feel obsolete, its daily list of birthdays has saved far too many forgetful friends from making a major birthday faux-pas. Instagram doesn’t notify users of their friends’ birthdays, but there is one feature that has provided many Instagrammers with a crucial birthday clue: The Instagram birthday story.
Stories aren’t just the perfect way to wish your BFF a virtual happy birthday before you see them for the IRL celebration. They’re also often a bat signal to any belated HBDs to get posting. Since the special birthday person can repost stories they’re tagged in (and they most likely will, especially during Leo season), Instagrammers are often alerted that it’s someone’s birthday by a series of birthday reposts on their story.
So, if you have a friend whose special day is coming up, remember that you could be crossing two things off the list at once: making them feel loved, and giving your mutuals a friendly reminder. If you’re looking for a refreshing way to stand out amongst their many birthday reposts, here is some inspiration for your Instagram birthday story.
1. A Story Series That Spells Out “Happy Birthday” (Or, HBD, Their Name, Etc.)
If you’re not afraid to annoy some of your followers (or are looking to embarrass your friend with some overkill posting), you can always opt for the classic birthday story series. On each slide, post a photo of them with a corresponding letter to spell out a special message — such as “H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y” or their name. (Of course, if you’re trying to keep it subtle, just post three slides spelling out “HBD.”
2. Tap for a Surprise...
Nothing puts someone in the birthday spirit quite like a surprise. And, if you and your friends aren’t able to all gather for a surprise party, a story surprise can be the next best thing. Post the first picture in your story series with the caption, “Tap for a birthday surprise.” Then, after a few slides, throw in a surprise. Maybe it’s an embarrassing photo of your friend from freshman year of college, or maybe it’s a surprise gift — like a screenshot of the dinner reservation you made for tonight.
3. Birthday Bingo
Who doesn’t love a good birthday game? No piñatas or blindfolds are needed for a round of birthday bingo. To create a birthday bingo card, compile a bingo card template filled with common quirks (or even toxic traits) of your friend. (Some examples: “Heard Sarah refer to Harry Styles on a first name basis,” “Seen Ben bulk purchase kombucha,” etc.) Post it to your story blank, and encourage friends to repost with the quirks they’ve witnessed crossed out.
4. Virtual Cake Delivery
If you aren’t able to supply an IRL cake, why not opt for a sweet virtual cake? Post a gif to your story, or you can even draw a custom cake with their name on it to share. For extra points: Caption it “Tap to blow out candles” and include a flameless cake on the next slide.
5. Video Serenade
If you and your friend group are separated this year, it’s time to summon your inner Gal Gadot and organize a group singalong video. Have your friends each send a clip of them singing a line of “Happy Birthday,” and post each clip to your story. By the end, your friend will be successfully serenaded via Instagram stories.
6. Virtual Birthday Card
In a way, every Instagram birthday story sort of functions like a birthday card. But, if you’re look to get a bit sentimental, why not lean into an analog style “birthday card” on your story? Opt for a homemade style by drawing a card for your friend using the draw feature on stories. Or, you can even photoshop a Hallmark-esque birthday card for your friend to open by tapping through story slides.
7. Order Them a Cameo
Cameo, a site that allows users to order a personalized video message from celebrities, is becoming a go-to for anyone seeking out a hilarious virtual gift. Find your friend’s favorite niche celebrity, order a happy birthday message, and post the results to your story for a hilarious surprise upon opening.