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

Birthday etiquette in the office

office birthday

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

Miss Manners was recently asked a question about office birthdays, and I have some things to say about the answer.

The prompt read: “Dear Miss Manners: What is your stance on people who bring treats to work on their birthdays? Is it an attention-getting mechanism or a nice gesture?”

Miss Manners answered, “This feels like a riddle. How would they have known that it was your birthday had you not brought in food? And because sometimes your colleagues bring in food when it’s not their birthdays, does that mean people wouldn’t assume it was your birthday since you brought in food?

Miss Manners has lost track of the problem. Is it, perhaps, that you want people to remember your birthday without being prompted? Or that you do not want to appear as if you are prompting them?

She suspects the latter. But as long as your treats are not accompanied by a self-congratulatory parade with a bullhorn, she permits you to continue enjoying your birthday however you wish — and accepting the well wishes of your colleagues at face value.”

My first question regarding this office etiquette issue is why on earth the person has to bring in their own birthday treats. What kind of trolls does he/she work with? No one does anything nice for this person — taking them out to lunch? Offering coffee? Bringing in donuts? Making or buying a cake? Of course, I have discussed previously employee birthday benefits.

I also wonder about the response. What’s wrong with a self-congratulatory parade really? I too would question the bullhorn, but there are few times in our adult lives we actually stand up and say, “Yeah Me!” the birthday is one of these. Why must we quash that spirit?

Of course, I the person who once threw a “department” party — with streamers and candy at my cubicle — to highlight the non-existence of a department once it was downloaded to just me. So, clearly I am not someone to shy away from making a public spectacle of myself.

Still, that’s what I love about birthdays — the Yeah Me component — and why I love helping others to feel that joy. Happy Birthday one and all!