November 15, 2023
March 1, 2024

How to Celebrate Employee Birthdays at Work

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Every single human on earth has a birthday, and that means every single employee at your company has an opportunity to be celebrated. Along with work anniversaries, birthdays are yearly opportunities for employers to express their appreciation for employees and confirm that they’re valued.

When done right, birthday celebrations at work have benefits for both employers and employees. So the question isn’t should you celebrate these yearly events—the question is how do you celebrate them most effectively.

Why Celebrating Birthdays in the Office Matters

Reaching another birthday is a milestone in people’s lives. It’s a big moment that can mean a lot to your employees—so ignoring it or tossing out an impersonal and generic “happy birthday” can be hurtful. 

That leads to the first reason why celebrating employee birthdays matters: it makes them happy. Do you really need more reason than that? Simply remembering birthdays can be a big boost to each person’s morale.

Another great benefit is that celebrating employees can lead to them being more productive and more motivated. When you recognize employees by celebrating their personal milestones, they perform better, simple as that.

Finally, celebrating birthdays can lower turnover. The number one reason employees quit is not feeling valued. And guess what birthday celebrations do? That’s right—make people feel valued!

Good work birthday parties are a relatively easy and inexpensive way to enjoy these amazing benefits. Not only will your employees be happier at work and more engaged in the culture, they’ll also be more productive, motivated, and likely to stay. All from one celebration!

8 Ideas for Celebrating Birthdays at Work

These are some creative and effective ways to celebrate employee birthdays:

  • Company party
  • Individual treats
  • Decorated desk
  • A day off
  • Personalized messages
  • Meaningful gifts
  • Team activities
  • Custom gift baskets

The most important thing to keep in mind for work birthdays is that everyone is different. While some employees may enjoy being given a cake or birthday card in front of the whole company, others would much rather have their manager wish them a happy birthday during a one-on-one.

Celebrate each birthday how the employees want to celebrate it—only then will it be an effective way of showing how much you value them as individuals. 

Now let’s dive into each idea a little more:

1. Monthly Company Party

This is traditionally a common idea, but hey, it can be effective! Each month, hold a company party with food and cake that celebrates each birthday that happened during the past month. This way, you can be sure that no one gets left out.

(Ensure that managers or the HR team reach out to everyone on their actual birthday, though. Don’t miss a birthday on the 5th only to mention it at a party on the 30th.)

2. Individualized Treats

Treats for the whole company or for the birthday person’s team are a great way to celebrate—especially if you personalize the treats for each birthday. For instance, someone may love gooey chocolate chip cookies, someone may love ice cream, and someone may love cake; make sure they get the birthday treat they want on their special day.

3. Decorated Desk

Decorations are a great way to brighten someone’s morning. When the employee walks in and sees their desk bedazzled in balloons and confetti, they’re going to feel a lot happier than they do on a regular morning.

(Just remember, some employees may not appreciate such public recognition. Ensure they’re okay with something so noticeable before decorating.)

4. A Day Off

While you can make birthdays really special at the office, most employees probably just want to be home. And who can blame them, right? Empower employees to celebrate and relax on their own with an extra day of PTO on their birthday.

5. Personalized Messages

A genuine birthday card can mean a lot, whether it comes from the employee’s manager, their coworkers, or the executive team. You don’t have to have a physical card, though—birthday recognitions in a company social feed can be a great idea!

6. Meaningful Gifts

Birthday presents are always a good idea—they can be more meaningful and longer lasting than a snack or cake, and they can convey appreciation very effectively. However, once again, you have to know what employees want. Only give gifts that will really mean something for each recipient.

(An employee recognition software like Awardco makes it easy to offer birthday gifts. With our points, you give the best gift of all: employee choice!)

7. Team Activity

Plan a team outing that lets the birthday person’s team get out, have fun, and get to know each other more. Whether it’s a lunch break, an escape room, or a movie, it’s a great idea to let teams get out of the office for a bit. You could even let the birthday person choose from a list of activities.

8. Custom Gift Baskets

A custom gift basket is a phenomenal way to show that you know what an employee likes and that you value them enough to give them a personalized gift. Even just a small one with a couple gift cards to their favorite store and a favorite snack would make their day. Plus, gift baskets can be sent to remote employees, so no one feels left out.

Ideas for Remote Employee Birthdays

It may sound difficult to carry on a culture of celebration with a remote workforce. However, you have a wide variety of options for celebrating remote employees’ birthdays:

  • Deliver a celebration with either a gift basket, food delivery, flower delivery, or any other home delivery service. These can be perfect for surprise celebrations.
  • Create a video of their coworkers talking about them or answering funny questions and send it to them.
  • Hold a virtual party complete with online games, delivered snacks, and maybe a streaming movie.

Remote birthdays don’t have to be any harder than in-person ones, and these employees arguably need personal recognition more than anyone because of their isolation—so don’t forget about them!

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

We all have a birthday, and we all crave the knowledge that we’re cared about and noticed. Celebrating employee birthdays at work is the perfect way to recognize each employee in a personalized, meaningful way. 

With all of these ideas in mind, remember that the most important thing is to figure out what each employee would enjoy the most. When you let the employee guide their celebrations and gifts, you create an employee-first culture that rewards and excites everyone.