8 ideas to celebrate employee birthdays in the office

The traditional office birthday parties usually consist of singing, eating some cake and giving small gifts. And this is only in smaller companies.

As companies grow or switch to working remotely, the ability to celebrate employee birthdays becomes more difficult. The problem is, ignoring special occasions won’t help employees feel like they are part of the team. 

celebrate employee birthdaysFortunately, there are many simple, inventive, and exciting ways to honor coworkers on their special day and motivate them to put their best foot forward. 

We’ve put together a list of 8 creative ideas to change up the standard office birthday celebration routine. Read on to find new ways to celebrate employee birthdays.

1. Show gratitude with a thoughtful note

A birthday is a perfect time to show how much the person means to the team, and what better way to do it than with carefully thought-out coworker birthday wishes? As the team from SnackNation says, “Birthday message rings deeper when it contains extra layers of gratitude, hope, and well wishes for the special recipient.” 

So, instead of simply buying a generic birthday card, have each colleague write a few words about the employee’s contributions and what they like most about working with that person. Research has found that peer recognition is very important when it comes to fostering a positive workplace culture, even more important than recognition from a supervisor! 

2. Impress them with a unique gift

Instead of gifting a classic (and boring) knick-knack, try to be more creative and choose something that will be both memorable and useful. From fitness trackers to tickets to their favorite sport’s game, there is no shortage of one-of-a-kind gifts that show how well you know the birthday boy or girl. 

You can also have your team handcraft a personalized gift themselves or go one step further and put together an entire basket full of personalized items! Besides knowing details about the employee, this also requires some shopping and time. The items in the basket don’t have to be expensive – you can include their favorite snacks or trinkets like a coffee mug. 

3. Make a video 

Have team members record a video with unique messages for the birthday boy or girl. It can be anything from thanking them for the hard work, sharing memories, cracking internal jokes, or simply sharing best wishes for their birthday. 

Ask everyone to record their video on their smartphone and then use a video editing app like Magisto or WeVideo to put the footage together and even add some fun special effects. Be sure to show this during a meeting with your team to allow everyone to see the final result and make the birthday girl or boy feel extra special. 

4. Gift a day off

When it comes to choosing the best gift for your employees, knowing them is crucial. For instance, some of them might not be interested in celebrating their birthday at the office and would instead prefer spending the day with their family. 

Giving employees a free day of paid vacation on their birthday will allow them to spend their special they however they want. If they don’t want to take the day off on their birthday, consider offering any day during the week of their birthday or allow them to redeem the free day at any time of the year.

5. Try an alternative to the classic cake

Everyone deserves a sweet treat on their birthday. But instead of ordering a plain sheet cake, take some time to find out what the birthday person likes—whether it’s cheesecake, chocolate cookie bars, or lavish vanilla cream cake. 

Maybe the employee is on a strict diet, in which case you’ll have to put some extra effort and find a lower-calorie alternative such as fruit cake or chocolate-covered strawberries. If the employee works remotely, consider sending them a candy bag to their home. 

6. Take them out

Celebrating a birthday outside of the office with the team can make the occasion feel even more special. Choose a place you think the birthday girl or boy would like to go to or better yet, let them choose the venue. A couple of hours away from the office provides a great opportunity for you to get to know your employees better. 

Alternatively, if you aren’t feeling up for a night out, you can host a potluck-style lunch at the office. Have each team member bring in a special treat on the employee’s birthday. Having the entire team helping with the celebration will add to the fun and allows everyone to join in.

7. Decorate their desk

Arrive at the office early or stay late the night before to decorate the employee’s desk with streamers, banners, and balloons. You can also hang up funny artwork, bring some flowers and, of course, a giant birthday sign. You can also leave some chocolates, as well as a bunch of company swag. Don’t forget to leave their gift or a note informing them of the festivities planned to celebrate their special day. 

8. Donate to charity on their behalf

A donation to the birthday person’s charity of choice is an excellent way to mark the occasion while at the same time investing in the community and fostering social responsibility. If your team is small, you could take the day to do some charitable work; for instance, volunteer together or organize a charitable event.

Final thoughts

Any of these 8 ideas are guaranteed to help celebrate employee birthdays in style. They will feel appreciated on their special day, while at the same time helping you increase productivity and reduce turnover. 

Of course, that isn’t to say that employee appreciation should be limited to birthdays. Be sure to continually recognize your staff members throughout the year. This way, you will create a happy and healthy workplace everyone enjoys coming to every single day.