Birthday IOUs (I owe yous) come in handy if you're short on cash, time or plain forgot about someone's birthday. The type of IOUs you give the birthday celebrant should reflect your relationship with her, her personality and most of all be something you can deliver when she wants to redeem it.
Birthday IOUs for a child are a way to celebrate his birthday all year long by breaking up the birthday gift into once-a-month activities. Give him an IOU to open each month with a specific activity that will fit your budget and schedule during that time, or a general IOU that he can redeem for whatever he's interested in at the moment, as long as it's age-appropriate. For example, give him an IOU for January that includes a day of ice skating or fishing with you if he'd enjoy those activities. A day at his favourite amusement park, a fast-food restaurant, or a trip to the children's museum or a movie are other possible ideas.
Birthday IOUs for teens might be practical, such as being able to use the family car for a night out. Choose activities that your teen enjoys if you'd like to give her something while spending time with her, such as an afternoon of shopping or a movie night where she gets to pick the movie. If your budget allows, you could allow her to redeem her IOUs for physical gifts. For example, one might be for new earrings, another might be a new video game and another might include lessons or classes for the activity of her choice--whether it's dance lessons, guitar lessons or art lessons.
If the birthday IOU is for your parents, consider practical things you can give your parents. For example, give mom and dad a date night by offering to watch your younger siblings, breakfast in bed, offer to clean the house for mom or to wash dad's car inside and out. Offering to do chores for your parents might be a bigger help than you could imagine, particularly if they typically have to beg and plead with you to get you to clean your room.
Give your partner an IOU for a night out to his favourite restaurant, a night out with the guys with no questions asked, his favourite home-cooked meal, a back rub, a weekend with no household chores, a weekend of movie rentals that he gets to pick, or something else you know he'd enjoy.
Make the IOU coupons with a computer or by hand, depending on your talents. Hand-crafted IOUs might seem more personal if you hand-write the details and include stickers, glitter or other embellishments. Write a poem or whatever details you want to include, such as why you've chosen the particular gift you're giving. For example, a movie night with your teen might say, "Sometimes we all need a little bit of movie magic, so join me and you can choose the flick" or a chore IOU for your mom might say, "You work so hard for all of us, leave the household cleaning to me with no fuss."
Use blank index cards, cardstock or business cards for your IOUs and decorate the envelope to match. Add ribbons or silk flowers if you desire.