Sharing Birthdays at the Office

Birthdays are for celebrating with fun, flair, love and laughter. If I didn’t believe this, I probably wouldn’t have a blog devoted to birthdays.

Happily, I have some examples of people taking advantage of this special day to give their co-workers an extra helping of attention and affection. Loyal readers already know I am a big fan of feting people at work, if the individual decides to ignore my personal rule to not work on your birthday.

Office Birthday Fun

One recent blog post I saw featured a site devoted to discovering “a fresh approach to style through fun ideas for the wardrobe and home,” taking its own advice for an employee birthday.

Under the boasting headline, “We just took office birthdays to a whole new level,” the blogger talked about taking the weekly office meeting out of doors for a picnic at a table with fresh cut flowers and a breakfast taco spread. The coffee choices were also immensely important as the blog clearly has a product placement angle for an espresso machine…Nevertheless, the images are lovely, and the birthday celebrant probably enjoyed being made to feel extra special on her birthday.

office birthdays

Birthday Co-Worker Collusion

Those watching Good Morning Britain recently could actually see Kate Garraway having a good time on her birthday as her coworkers surprised her on the program’s set. The Sun reported her kids and her parents joined the host live on air for her 50th. Her co-workers also treated her to a plate of doughnuts, a present, and a highlight reel of her past career on television. This included some memories even the host groaned and grimaced over!

office birthday
Plus they offered the national show’s audience at home a glimpse of Garraway during her school days. This reminded me of the practice in several cultures of shaming the birthday person on their big day.

Related reading:

Employee Birthday Benefits

30 Today? Have a Pepper Person

Brace for a Birthday Flour Storm

How Your Birth Month Affects Your Personality

birthday month

There’s a Mother Goose poem that suggests the date of your birth impacts your personality:

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Astrology too suggests that your personality is dictated by the position of the planets at the exact moment you cry your first cry.

Yet now there’s science, too, that suggests the month of your birth can affect your personality.

How Your Birth Month Affects You

A Time magazine article recently summarized the “small but increasingly persuasive body of evidence that there may indeed be some cause and effect at work.”

There are countless factors in your development as a baby in the womb that can be impacted by season:

Nutrition — Even where food is plentiful the availability of certain vitamins and proteins can be influenced by season

Viruses — A baby gestating during wintertime may be affected by a mother’s bout of the flu or seasonal affective disorder. Low serotonin levels in the maternal brain, for instance, could potentially cause serotonin shortfalls in the baby too.

The season in which we’re born can affect us after birth, too. A 2010 study of mice found that mouse pups (did you know that was their name?) “born and weaned in simulated winter light adjusted less well to a change to summer light, exhibiting poorer feeding habits and activity levels.” Meanwhile, “mice born and weaned in summer light had no such problems adjusting to winter conditions.”

Seasonal Patterns for Humans

Scientists have worked to see if these kinds of findings are true for humans too. The preliminary results suggest yes. Here are some of the Time examples:

Spring: March, April and May babies score higher for general optimism. Yet, at the same time, spring babies have proven more susceptible to clinical depression. According to a study of 58,000 subjects in the U.K. in 2012, May babies are most at risk while November babies have the lowest depression rates.

Summer:  June, July and August babies are more likely to cycle rapidly between high and low moods. Yet this doesn’t reach to bipolar diagnoses — those are lowest among babies born in August.

Fall: Fall babies tend to enjoy the equilibrium suggested by the zodiac sign Libra’s scales. Studies show “people born in fall not only enjoy low levels of depression, but are similarly less likely to develop bipolar disorder.” Nevertheless, the autumn-born “do have a tendency to irritability.”

Winter: Babies with these birthdates face several challenges: “higher levels of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, SAD and depression.” At least they’re likely to be less irritable. Plus, one study of 300 celebrities did find that January and February are good months “to be born if you want to be famous since those months correlate with creativity and imaginative problem-solving.”

Keep in mind, this is a fledgling area of scientific research. Still, if you’re looking for something else to blame for your blues or tendency to bicker, you could potentially point to your birth month.

Related reading:

Bad at Sports? Blame Your Birthday

It’s my special day — mine and some 20M others.

 

Birthday Games Around the World

In my research of birthdays around the world, I was recently reading Barbara Rinkoff’s (1967) book on this topic. Although there is some gender stereotyping in here that makes me cringe — one activity is labeled as being for “boys and tomboys” — I appreciate her thorough overview of how one might celebrate birthdays with a global perspective.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the country-specific games she suggests for kids’ birthday parties. Maybe you can get some ideas from these to entertain young ones on a birthday or any other day.

Birthday games

Photo credit: januartha via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Birthday Games in Brazil

This one from Brazil is one of my favorites from the book: Hit the Penny. Put a coin atop a broomstick or bamboo pole stuck in the ground (or, inside, into a tree stand). Draw a circle about 3 feet in diameter around the pole. Kids then stand 4 to 6 feet from the stick and try to knock the coin from the pole using pennies. Knocking the coin off the pole and outside the circle = one point while inside the circle = no points. Me, I’d tweak that last rule and make inside the circle one point and outside three to make the game more competitive for all.

Another from Brazil, the one for boys and tomboys actually, is Luta de Galo (Chicken Fight). Two players stick a hankie into their waistband or belt and fold their right arms across their chests. They then try to get the opponent’s hankie while hopping on a right foot only and using only the left hand.

Fire and Finding Stuff Games

Bird’s Alive is a unique one from Denmark, where apparently they are more open to children and flames. Children sit in a circle and pass a lighted paper or stick to one another saying “Bird’s Alive” as they do. They may blow on the paper or stick to keep the flame alive but the player who is holding the stick when the flame goes out must pay a forfeit. These typically involve being silly — dancing with a broom, neighing like a horse, or crying like a baby.

The English game Hunt the Thimble is easy to set up and could be challenging. Everyone playing leaves the room while a thimble is hidden. The children are signaled to return. The one who finds the thimble first is the winner.

Games Requiring Concentration

Germany’s Kommando Bimberle has everyone sitting around a table. One child commands “do this with your hands” or “don’t do this with your hands.” If listeners do the wrong thing, they must put something of their on the table. When a previously specified number of things is on the table for one person, they must again pay the forfeit (a la Demark). (Am I the only one who sees this one as training for strip poker?)

An Israeli game of skill involves placing a bottle on the floor. Children take turns kneeling on a chair and, with one hand behind their backs, trying to drop peanuts into the bottle. This game is aptly named Peanuts in the Bottle.

Energetic Birthday Games

Japanese children play Hanakago (The Flower Basket). Each child is given a name of a flower. They must remember this throughout the game as they sit on a chair or pillow in a circle in the room. The child who is IT does not have a chair. IT calls out two flowers and those two children must switch seats quickly while IT tries to claim one of the two available chairs. IT may also call Hanakago which forces all players to find a new seat.

In the Philippines they play Pusa at Aso (Cat and Dog). All the players sit in a circle as cats. One child sits in the middle and is Dog. He or she guards a pile of shoes, sticks or stone standing in for bones. The cats try to sneak one of the dog’s bones from the pile. Dog tries to protect them by tagging cats, but Dog cannot move around the circle and can only use his hands and feet to touch the cats. If a Cat is tagged, that Cat becomes Dog.

Birthday Games

Photo credit: David Maddison via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

South Africans form a wide circle of girls with a circle of boys inside facing out towards their girl partners. An extra boy, IT, is in the center of the circle. He winks at a girl and she tries to get to IT before her partner tags her. If she reaches IT without being tagged by her partner, her partner becomes IT. This Knikkertjie (Winking Game) could easily be played without the gender divisions and just partnered up children.

Ultimately, the lesson learned from this variety of games is that the world is full of creative ideas. And, even more importantly, that we know how to have a good time at birthday parties!

 

 

 

What to write in a birthday card

card fir blog.png

Looking on the Hallmark site recently in the hopes of finding some of its archived treasures available for view online, I came across a blog on what to write in a birthday card.

I’m a writer. That’s what I do for a living. Yet, even I’ll admit to struggling sometimes to come up with the personal statement to add in the birthday cards I still love to send (in the mail — as opposed to relying on social media posts).

In putting together their guide, Hallmark’s writers acknowledge a few aspects of writing in a card that make the added personal message more difficult: “the card has already said it all” or you are trying “to keep things short and sweet.”

They go on to offer some interesting tips:

  • Pick the card carefully so that it suits the birthday person in particular, then you can let the printed message and design do the talking for you.
  • Kids love to see their age; so even if the card doesn’t have the exact number write the years old in your personal message.
  • Writing your private nickname for the card recipient instantly personalizes it.

Suggested Personalizations

Nevertheless, some of the examples they offered for what to write did seem laughably obvious:

  • “Happy, happy birthday, [name]!” — because ah, yes, that added “happy” makes all the difference. 
  • “Hope you make your [25th] a birthday to remember!”
  • “[Year] never looked so great!”
  • “Happy Birthday…a little late!”
  • “Happy Birthday, [Mom]. We love you so much!”
  • “Let the b-day fun begin!”
  • “Here’s to you!”
  • “Here’s to a great birthday!”

Hallmark also reminds us that “a warm closing before you signature is like the bow on top of the birthday gift.”

How about a warm closing on a blog…what would that be considered?

With blogging affection…. me.

 

Reactions to Singing the Birthday Song

Birthday song

Photo credit: mag3737 via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

What do you do when someone sings you the “Happy Birthday” song?

The last time I heard it directed at me, I danced and sang along. But, I am seldom afraid to make a fool of myself if it earns laughs, and I love being celebrated on my birthday.

Recently, though, I was part of a group of women singing out loud to a friend. She had told us in advance that this group meeting would coincide with her birthday. She had reminded us the week of when we were planning the buffet contributions. She had welcomed the cake bought in her honor. Yet, when the singing started, she became completely embarrassed. Head in her heads, she tried to make herself small, as we sang around her. Please note: this was not in public and we weren’t that off key!

She said, blushingly after, she didn’t know what do when people sang to her. Other women suggested singing along. Sometimes you’ll see a person fixate on the cake as if she could cut it with the force of her stare. But, what do you do? What’s your reaction to the attention? Is it different if you’re home, among family and friends, or out in a public space celebrating?

The question intrigues me because I’ve recently encountered a psychological study on birthdays that talked about narcissists and their birthdays. This article made me question my own mental health a little — is my love for birthdays a sign that I have a narcissistic personality disorder? Here I am, after all, sharing my thoughts about birthdays with the world via this blog as if my ideas matter…

Oh well, in the meantime, I will continue to comfort myself with the knowledge that I love not only my birthday but those of others too. I enjoy the opportunity to share the joy of birthdays with my friends, family members and co-workers and doing what I can to make them feel special. Yes, even if that means singing while they hide behind their hands in embarrassment!

 

 

 

The Fury over a Forgotten Birthday

I shared my shameful secret a few weeks ago that I once forgot to call my brother on his birthday. Me, a birthday blogger! The disgrace! The ignominy! The humiliation!

Writing about the topic of making up for a forgotten birthday, I came across many funny memes the angry, ignored birthday celebrant might share if his or her birthday was overlooked. Here are some of the ones I liked best.

Many take the guilt trip humor option:

 

 

Others look to invoke fear:

This one is also pretty great:

Still, my personal favorite is this one:

4 Tips to Make Forgetting Birthdays Better

My big brother’s birthday is tomorrow. His gift should already have arrived. I am writing about him in this blog. I am clearly aware that the big day is January 28th. He’s my brother. How could I forget?

Only one year I did. Almost. I only remembered that I had not yet called in to wish him “Happy Birthday” as midnight encroached. I was, as you can easily imagine considering the fact that I blog about birthdays, absolutely mortified. Who knows what various work and life timing had interfered with my calling earlier in the day — surely, I meant to. Yet, I’d forgotten. And now it was too late to call…

So, my brother woke up the next day to a flurry of late night communications from me via email and on his work voice mail. When I reached him in person the next day to apologize in earnest he laughed heartily. He’d fully enjoyed my self-flagellation in my several “appalled at myself” messages — as any one would revel in the rare repentance of a sibling.

Thinking about this shameful slip-up years later, it occurred to me that I ought to offer some helpful tips to make forgetting a birthday go better. Learning from experience is part of how we grow, right?

4 Tips to Make Forgetting a Birthday Better

  1. Apologize. Pretending it didn’t happen is not going to make up for the oversight. Instead, be upfront about your mistake and your regrets that you didn’t fully fete the friend, family member, or colleague celebrating his or her special day.
  2. Employ humor. Wander down the card aisles and you’ll see many options for “belated birthday” greetings. You’ll be hard pressed, though, to find one that is sappy about the gaffe. Instead, these cards tend to be hilariously penitent while still reminding the celebrant how much you love and appreciate them.
  3. Get creative. There is actually a thorough wikiHow devoted to this topic. Among its creative suggestions are:
    • make a jigsaw puzzle apology
    • offer I’m sorry coupons
    • develop a scavenger hunt
    • go on the air to apologize (for those of use who have a radio show or the patience to dial and dial again until the radio station takes our call).
  4. Be there in person. Sharing your time with the birthday individual, even after the fact, can quickly turn the tide. After all, if you take the person for coffee (and cake) or a birthday lunch, you’re likely to spend more time together than you might have on the actual day.

In looking online to see what people are saying about this topic, I also came across a lot of hilarious memes that the person whose birthday is forgotten can use. I’ll share those with you in another blog next month….that is, unless I forget.