Yup, my birthday is today. And, boy, I hate it when my birthday falls during the week, because the people at the office make a deal out of it, make me eat cake and kill a tree by buying me a card and signing it.
Sound like a curmudgeon? Well, maybe I am, but a 40-something birthday isn’t anywhere near as exciting as a 20-something birthday is.
Still, it reminded me that there are appropriate ways to celebrate a birthday in the office. If you have to make a deal out of someone’s birthday, here are some good things to think about and remember:
Consider celebrating everyone’s birthday in a monthly thing – In one of my favorite jobs before I got married and moved away, we did a monthly birthday thing. We all got to pick the kind of pie we wanted, and the whole office got to share a piece of your pie with you. That was fun. I thought it was particularly fun because, being shy, I enjoyed not being the ONLY person who was the center of attention.
Manage the money aspect carefully – In my job now, the boss seems to always go out and buy a cake for a department birthday celebration, but other departments may want to do something on their own and no one wants to get stuck with the bill. Talk about birthday celebrations at a meeting and figure out what kind of “contribution” everyone is comfortable making. That could be donating money toward a cake, or even baking one. But everyone should do their best to make sure that they don’t get stuck with the bill.
Try to join in the celebrations if for only a few minutes – Everyone gets busy. And not everyone likes to celebrate birthdays (that would be me!). Still, if you don’t go in and have a small piece of cake and wish the birthday person well, you look like a spoil sport. You don’t want people to think that you don’t want to see them or don’t wish them well, so set aside your work for a minute or two and join the gang.
Don’t make a big deal out of a birthday – Birthdays are nice, but there’s no need for loud singing, singing telegrams, or broadcasting someone’s age on large balloons. If the celebrator is someone like yours truly, and they’d rather not celebrate at all, then this is particularly annoying and not making the birthday celebrations very nice.
I hope your birthday, and the birthdays of all of your colleagues, are nice ones. Remember that some individuals are less enthusiastic about the occasion than others, and try to make it nice for everyone. It’s actually very nice that co-workers are willing to do this for a celebrator, and that never goes unnoticed or unappreciated!
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