5 Ways to Celebrate an Office Birthday for Under $5

Birthday SetupIt’s morning. You give yourself a pep talk in the mirror to just make it through the workday with as little stress as possible. Tomorrow? Same story. The cycle repeats as hours mix into days until you almost lose track of weeks.

“Another day, another dollar…” at least, that’s what almost escapes your lips until you arrive at your desk and realize that you’re suddenly staring down the barrel-shape of a small, colorful wax candle, lit and secure in a large, moist cupcake where your mouse should be as a card with your name on it sits lodged in between the rows of your keyboard. You’re so taken aback by the show of recognition that you don’t hear your co-workers sneaking up behind you to shout “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Office birthdays - a popular workplace trend that shouldn’t fall off your desk calendar. It’s quite unfortunate that today’s turbulent budgetary climate forces many offices to literally calculate the monetary benefits of celebrating a birthday with the loss of time and productivity and the latter decision winning on a regular basis. While this decision may keep a few dollars in the coffers, what the bean counters of the world don’t recognize is that the benefits of birthday celebrations can’t be directly measured in numbers.

Not only does celebrating birthdays shake up your daily routine with a refreshing break, the group recognition also boosts office morale and promotes camaraderie among employees. If those aren’t good enough reasons for you budget-cautious individuals, consider this: office birthday celebrations don’t have to cost the company anything but time.

Here are 5 easy ideas to celebrate office birthdays on a small budget:

Happy Birthday Gift Card Holder1. Just card it. A birthday card always brings a smile. And with the entire teams’ signatures and birthday wishes written inside, it makes a low-cost way for everyone to be included. For something more, go digital by creating customizable eCard. Swamped with work and worried you might forget to hit “send” on the big day? Don’t fret. Schedule the delivery date for you so you can cross it off your to-do list that same day.

2. Feeling (pot)lucky? No matter the size of the team, catering in food or going out for a birthday lunch requires more than a fistful of dollars. Instead of paying a tip, heed this tip: plan a potluck. Let team members bring in and share their favorite recipes. Perhaps you’ll get to know a side of them you never knew! The company doesn’t spend any cash and you get a new recipe to try at home. A potluck is always a win-win. Bonus tip: try giving the birthday lunch a theme such as Americana, Italian or Mexican. This is a great way to ensure you don’t end up with 12 vats of potato salads for lunch.

Inflatable Birthday Cake3. Let them bake cake. Picking up birthday goodies for the entire office from a store is a prime way to dry out your stash of dough. If you have some bakers in your bunch, let them bake their cake and eat it, too!

But why just rely on cake? Do something different and get your team (and their ovens) fired up to show off their pastry-making prowess with all sorts of delicious desserts like cookies, cupcakes, pies and dessert bars. For a fun twist, make it into a contest with the birthday guest of honor as the judge.

4. Wrap. Rinse. Re-gift. Most of the time, treats and food are the only “gifts” given during office birthday events, but birthdays are a time to shake-up the workday. Let everyone get in on a slice of the fun, not just the cake, by taking time for a re-gift party. Just like white elephant gift exchanges during Christmas, this activity is for the pure joy of it and is a great way to share a laugh between team members. Add a twist by giving your gift swap a theme such as “gag gifts under $1”, “outdoor fun” or “crazy kitchen utensils”.

Group Playing Card Game5. Care for a game? Usually, birthday celebrations don’t last but a few minutes. Get in, sing, grab a slice of cake and get back to work. Just like the cake, though, everyone should take time to savor the time away from paperwork and enjoy time with co-workers. Have everyone bring in cards, board games or word games to celebrate with team spirit while saving your budget.

Don’t think you have the time to sacrifice? If you’re the host of the shindig, let your team know your intentions ahead of time so they can appropriately plan their day. Or schedule birthday celebrations over the lunch hour. That should allow plenty of time to get in a couple fun games over cake. As they say, “All work and no play…”

There you have it. Birthday fun on a bare-bones budget. Cost – less than $5. Benefits – happier employees, increased teamwork and higher productivity. Although, keep in mind that recognition shouldn’t only be reserved for one day a year during an employee’s birthday. Look for Easy Ways to Reward and Motivate employees daily to make your workplace more rewarding for everyone.