Different Ways to Celebrate Co-Workers' Birthdays

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr ; Updated September 28, 2017

Office birthday policies govern the celebration of co-workers' birthdays.

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If you work in an office with other people, you will have occasion to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday. Companies have different policies about this kind of celebration, so check with the human resources department about the policy when you start a new job. The type of celebration depends on company policy, as well as how close you feel to the co-worker and whether you decide to do something beyond the general office routine.

Individual Celebrations

Some offices, especially small offices, celebrate each employee’s birthday separately with a card and cake or cookies. Co-workers sing “Happy Birthday” and sign the card when it comes around the office before the party. Employees with a close relationship to the honoree may send an e-card or an email with a special birthday greeting. If the office combines efforts for a birthday gift, co-workers may contribute a small amount to cover the cost. Parties held at the end of the day allow co-workers to relax a bit before heading home and provide less disruption in the office routine.

Combined Celebrations

Large businesses often celebrate by department or combine all the birthday celebrations per month. Each employee gets his own card with signatures from co-workers. Someone in the office generally takes responsibility for keeping track of employee birthdays and purchasing the card. Instead of sweets, the office can have a potluck lunch to celebrate birthdays in a healthier fashion. Alternatively, the company can order sandwiches or pizza and encourage co-workers to regale the birthday honoree with the best of wishes.

Personal Celebrations

Close co-workers or those in small offices with fewer than five employees may go Dutch for a meal, with the coworkers covering the tab for the honored employee. The meal can take place after office hours and allow the co-workers to make the event personal. The birthday honoree may receive a small gift from each co-worker, or the meal may serve as the gift. Another option involves sending flowers or a fruit bouquet the office can share.

No Party

Some companies forgo any kind of office birthday party and opt for giving the employee a paid day off on her birthday. This policy allows her to decide how she wants to spend her birthday and avoids disrupting the office schedule. Co-workers may send a birthday email if they desire or stop by her desk to express birthday wishes, but most birthday acknowledgements remain personal and private.

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About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.