10 Clever Ideas for Employee Birthdays

Krista Gray
July 17, 2018

Sharing milestones and personal moments are great ways to facilitate connections and build community at the office. Group lunches, happy hours, and retreats all bring people together, and shining the spotlight on an individual teammate for their birthday offers everyone on the team a chance to get to know each other a little better.

Since birthdays (and age) can be sensitive matters, you might consider asking each employee to opt-in on personal birthday celebrations during their onboarding process. Once you know who loves a little bit of extra fun or recognition on their special day, you’ll be all set to try one of these fun twists on an otherwise ordinary celebration:

1. Bring on the birthday treats. While you could just come in with a traditional frosted birthday cake, think about offering up something with a fun twist that suits the person you’re celebrating — how about ice cream sandwiches, breakfast burritos, maybe even a vegetable cake? Not sure where to find inspiration? We promise that Pinterest is a rabbit hole that’ll provide you with a treasure trove of amazing ideas.

2. Decorate their desk. Streamers and sparkles have become standard, so think about how you can take desk decorating to the next level. For example, if the person you’re celebrating loves their French bulldog, print out and tape pictures of it all over their desk.

3. Write a silly poem. Group cards are great, but a silly poem quickly crafted by the team might be even better. Put your heads together to create a haiku or go for some bold rhymes. You’ll have a blast doing it, and the recipient is sure to love it while also sharing a good laugh.

4. Treat them to an experience. Gift cards are great because you can’t go wrong, but you can transform this tried-and-true present to a more thoughtful experience that’ll force a hard-working colleague to enjoy some R&R. Small budget? No problem –– a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or local watering hole will bring major appreciation.

5. Chip in for a subscription. Subscription services can save a person time, make life a little bit easier, or bring them joy; they’re also a gift that keeps on giving! Celebrate a hardworking teammate by chipping in to buy them something they’ll love (and use) over and over again, be it a monthly magazine, ClassPass credits, or year of Postmates Unlimited.

6. Pay for their favorite workout. Does your birthday employee focus on their fitness? Offer to let them rally some troops and treat them to a group workout of their choice. We’ve heard of teams bringing a yoga teacher for a post-work candlelit session, going for group runs, and booking up an entire SoulCycle studio to celebrate someone. Depending on your budget, you could cover the price of their personal sweat session or the cost for a set number of people. Get creative with fun water bottles, glow sticks, or anything else that’ll make it feel more festive.

7. Make a donation in their name. Does your teammate have a favorite charity or cause? Chip in to make a thoughtful donation in their name; not only will you warm their heart, but you’ll collectively make a difference.

8. Give them a special power. Little things like the snack selection and playlist power can make a surprisingly big difference at the office. Are you able to let a birthday teammate pick a special snack for the next delivery, choose the menu for an upcoming catered lunch, or control the music as the day winds down? Gifting a small amount of power is a fun birthday twist that’ll make someone feel special while also enjoying their fave things at work.

9. Host a dance party. We’ve all sung birthday songs, so why not do a birthday dance? If it suits the person you’re celebrating, and they’re into the idea, block off time and a room for interested teammates to join in on a timed dance party. Let the person you’re celebrating pick the songs and have a blast dancing around to celebrate their special day.

10. Offer a day off. Last, but certainly not least, honor your employee’s day of birth by offering them a day off anytime during their birth month. The gift of a day sans Slack messages, email, and meetings may just be the icing on the cake!

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