So I came up with this:
I contacted 50 of her closest friends, relatives, and even some of her best customers at her gift shop and asked them all to write Judy a note. Some of them were heartfelt tear-jerkers and others were just simple happy birthday wishes.
Once I got them all, I made a book of various envelopes and put one message in each. There were 50 messages and she opened one envelope a day for 50 days prior to her birthday. It was awesome. Quite possibly it was more fun for me than for her but I know she loved reading those messages. I also know that it helped her cross that 50th birthday milestone in a pleasant way instead of a dreadful way.
I'm sharing this now because I will be adapting this idea to make a countdown to Christmas for my family. Each envelope will contain an activity, a scripture, a story, or my testimony of the Savior and my kids can open an envelope each day. I'm excited to do this and hope it makes our holiday season more meaningful.