If you have a friend or family member celebrating a sobriety anniversary, you might not know what to say to them or if you should give them a gift. Do you know where they celebrate their sober birthday in their addiction recovery program? Perhaps they are celebrating at their favorite restaurant or their home group’s birthday meeting. Are you unsure if you should bring a sober anniversary card or a sober anniversary gift? Both are great!
This article explains why Alcoholics Anonymous groups and other recovery groups celebrate anniversaries, what happens at the Alcoholics Anonymous birthday meetings, unique wishes to write on a card for your sober friend or family member celebrating a sobriety anniversary, and suggestions on gifts to buy. So if you want to learn more about being a supportive friend and family member to someone you love who is in recovery and celebrating a recovery milestone, read on.
Using the words anniversary and birthdays for recovery milestones
First, let’s clear this up. In recovery, the terms anniversaries and birthday celebrations are interchangeable. Each member of AA may use both words: anniversary and birthday. They might say, “I have an AA birthday coming up,” or “I just celebrated my AA anniversary.” In this article, we refer to an anniversary and a birthday celebration as the same thing. They both mean the same type of celebration in Alcoholics Anonymous – celebrating a recovery milestone such as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, one year, two years, three years, etc.
Why celebrate recovery milestones (Birthdays/Anniversaries)?
Celebrating birthdays is a way for a sober person to reinforce the sober person’s commitment to AA. It’s also good for other members of Alcoholics Anonymous to see the possibility of staying sober. For those who are under one year sober, the birthday meetings are incredibly helpful and provide hope.
When members pick up their sober anniversary chip, several things happen. First, they are recognized by all of the members of that group as a member. Members of the group may attend meetings at different times. The birthday celebrations are a time to meet other members that participate in the meetings on other days and times. Friends and family come to celebrate with the sober person. It’s a time the whole family can see what AA is about and meet the members that are essential people in their family member’s life. Additionally, many members carry their sobriety chips as a constant reminder of their Higher Power.
Significance of celebrating sobriety anniversaries/birthdays
Why do sober people celebrate their yearly anniversaries?
According to the Big Book Sponsorship website,
“The practice of giving sobriety chips in A.A. is attributed to a Group in Elmira, N.Y. in 1947. The celebration of birthdays came from the Oxford Group where they celebrated the anniversary of their spiritual rebirth. People in early A.A. chose the anniversary of the date of their last drink.”
The first year is the most widely celebrated at the anniversary meetings. The first year is challenging, and there are a lot of growth opportunities for the sober person. Any member of AA remembers that first year. We all celebrate with someone who has one year of sobriety because it is a significant achievement.
Generally, anniversary meetings have more celebrants for the years one to three than four through seven. There’s a phenomenon where no one celebrates years four through seven. If your friend is celebrating years four through seven, encourage them to attend their group’s birthday meeting. It’s important to the members of the group. The celebrations after year seven pick up again.
AA Birthday Meetings
AA birthday meetings are usually held once a month. Each group designates its own day and time, so check with your friend or family member to find out when the celebration will be. It’s a good idea to arrive early because these meetings can get crowded. Parking and seating can be limited. Usually, coffee is served at the start of the meeting.
The first thing to happen at the meeting usually is opening the meeting with a prayer. There will be a leader that will lead the meeting, usually from a podium up front. The 12 steps and traditions are read, and How It Works, which is an excerpt from the AA Big Book. Usually, the leader asks a group member to come up and read. Afterward, the birthdays begin.
Different groups run their meetings in different ways. At some meetings, the birthday celebrant will ask a friend or sponsor to introduce them, and then the celebrant will come up and say a few words. The leader will start at year one and continue until all of the celebrants are called.
Once everyone has received their birthday chips, the meeting commences. Cake may be available, as well as coffee. Your sobriety gift or card should be given directly to your sober friend or family member.
Sobriety Anniversary Cards and Gifts
Sober Birthday Greetings to Celebrate a Sobriety Milestone
Bringing a sobriety anniversary card to a sober celebration is a great way to say congratulations. Whether it’s someone’s first sober anniversary or 50th, a sober card is always appreciated. But what type of card do you give, and how should you word the message without sounding contradictory?
What do you write on a greeting card for a recovery anniversary that is sincere and genuine? Overall, you want to support their progress. Sometimes life has thrown a few curve balls. We want to stay positive.
Here are a few sobriety anniversary quotes to write on your card for your friend or family member.
- Congratulations on celebrating __ years! We have seen you come a long way. You are a light shining in all of our lives.
- Happy __ years! We love you and love celebrating with you on your sobriety birthdays!
- I’m so proud of you for getting sober! I’ve seen all of the hard work you’ve put into recovery, and I’ve watched you come through some tough situations. Love you always my sober friend.
- Best wishes and happy congrats to my friend for the first year of sobriety. May this next year be filled with happiness, joy and freedom for you. Congratulations!
- It takes courage to get sober. You’ve inspired me with the amazing things you’ve tried and accomplished in sobriety. Congratulations on celebrating ____ years of sobriety!
- We are so proud of this important milestone in your recovery process. We wish you a full, healthy life ahead! We love you!
- It’s been a long time. How fun to celebrate ___ years with you! Your personal growth and family support mean the world to me. Love you so much!
- Congratulations on another year of sobriety! You are an inspiration to us all. We cannot wait to see what the next year holds for you!
- That first step is scary. But you did it! Congratulations on your first year of sobriety! We love you!
- You took a leap of faith, and it paid off. So happy to see you! You are an inspiration.
- What good news tonight! You’re celebrating ___ years of sobriety. Congrats!
- New life new you. We are so happy to see you doing so well. Keep up the work
- Watching you on your recovery journey has been a joy!
Instead of writing your own greeting, go to your local grocery store or pharmacy to find a card. Take a look at the inspirational, encouragement, and congratulations sections of the greeting cards. These sections usually have appropriate cards for a sobriety birthday. Sometimes the inspirational section will have Serenity Prayer Greeting cards that are blank inside or have a few lines of text. With a blank card, you can write your own message or one of the ones provided above. The key is to stay positive, stay in the moment when writing the card, and write supportive messages for your family member or friend.
Looking online is a good way to find sober greeting cards. You can upload your own design on hallmark.com. On this website, you’ll see the congratulations and encouragement sections. Online retailers like Amazon have a few recovery cards such as. Search terms such as One Day at a Time ODAAT birthday greeting cards are available to purchase. A happy, joyous, and free greeting card is available on a recovery website called Love & Recovery. You can check into Etsy for recovery greeting cards too. The important thing is to give a card that portrays the message you are feeling that evening when celebrating.
Sobriety Anniversary Gifts for a Sober Best Friend or Family Member
Celebrating a sobriety birthday can be tons of fun. What better way to celebrate than to bring a small gift to the party? This is not necessary because being sober is a gift in itself. But your friend or relative will appreciate thoughtful gifts.
Ideas and activities for sobriety anniversary gifts
- Coffee mug
- To go coffee mug
- Nice water bottle
- Meditation book
- Bath salts
- Gift cards to restaurants
- Gift card for massage or spa
- Sobriety ring
- Recovery journal
- Diffuser with oils
- Handmade gift
- Inspirational saying
- Offer to take them to lunch
- Write them a letter
- Send them a quick text
- Email a gift card
Flowers make a nice gift for sobriety anniversaries. They are beautiful, and people feel cared for when receiving them. You can bring flowers to the meeting with you and include a sober greeting card if you wish. Bring flowers that travel easily.
If your sober friend or relative is celebrating a big year, it’s a good idea to bring a gift to the birthday meeting. There are fewer large numbers than small numbers when celebrating sobriety, and those with many years of sobriety deserve a little something special.
When celebrating sobriety anniversaries, bringing a card and/or gift is always a nice gesture. Cards offer a way to personalize your message and gifts add a personal touch. There is no right way or wrong way to do something for someone celebrating their sobriety anniversary. They’ve worked hard to achieve that sobriety, and are happy to celebrate with you. So remember, bringing a card or gift is optional. They will just be happy to have you there on their special day to see them pick up their AA chips.