October 24, 2023
Title image reads "11 Creative & Thoughtful Ways to Celebrate Employee Birthdays" over a photo of a group of employees celebrating a coworker's birthday at the office

Are you looking for unique ways to celebrate employee birthdays? Or maybe you’ve been doing the same old thing for everyone for years and want to spice it up? 

Either way, you’re on the right track! Even though it may seem small, it’s worth celebrating birthdays at work as a form of recognition and boosting morale. So you certainly don’t want these gestures or festivities to feel forced and impersonal.

Remembering birthdays and finding creative, thoughtful ways to celebrate is simple and affordable with a small team. But what if your business is growing? You’ll want to keep it manageable and cost-effective while showing your team members you’re thinking of them on their special day. Fortunately, there are many ways to stick to your budget while offering meaningful tokens of appreciation!

Check out our tips plus 11 of our favorite employee birthday ideas below.

3 Tips for Employee Birthday Festivities

While your heart may be in the right place, there is a right and wrong way to do employee birthdays. Establish a system and ensure attention to detail by following these three tips for all festivities and gifts.

Be Respectful

Not everyone celebrates their birthdays for religious reasons. For others, it may be a preference. Many don’t like to share their age, so avoid sharing their age, birth years, or age-related jokes/references. Keep this in mind and confirm birthday preferences with all team members during new hire orientation.

Be Consistent

Ensure everyone’s birthdays are recognized (an internal calendar or HRIS platform is helpful for this!). This should include all onsite and remote workers, if applicable. Set up a system that notifies managers and coworkers of approaching birthdays. Consider employee reward platforms for convenient and streamlined management of employee birthday celebrations and gifts.

Personalize It

Consider the employee’s preferences and interests when planning birthday festivities or gifts. This can be as simple as recognizing their excellent work, sharing funny stories, or writing personal notes. If you decorate their workspace, tailor it to their style and likes. If you take them to lunch or give them a gift card, consider what food or places they enjoy.

Pro Tip: As part of your new hire onboarding, include a questionnaire where employees can share a bit about their hobbies, interests, preferences, and dislikes/restrictions to help guide birthday and other recognitions!

11 Employee Birthday Ideas

Think of birthday celebrations as an opportunity to leverage unique employee perks, another chance to make them feel valued. Instead of bringing in the same cake every month, try these ideas to deliver a personalized experience for each team member.

Deck Out Their Workspace

A fun and memorable way to celebrate employee birthdays is to decorate their workspace either the night before or early on the morning of their birthday. Again, think of their interests and even their sense of humor. 

Decorate their office or desk with everything from balloons and accents in their favorite colors to photos of their favorite people and things. This could include funny memes, adorable photos of animals in party hats, a theme from their favorite show, movie, book, or hobbies, or other references they’d appreciate.

Plan a Team Lunch or Happy Hour

This one works for both in-person and virtual teams! It’s a great way to celebrate an employee’s birthday and make them feel appreciated. And team bonding is just a bonus!

So take them to or order takeout from their favorite lunch spot. If your team is remote, send them a gift card to a local place they like (be sure to find out what they like first!). You could even do a virtual lunch hang-out or happy hour at the end of the day.

Organize a Team Outing

If you want to get more creative than food and drinks, book a team outing for a fun activity. This could be an escape room, mini golf, arcade, axe throwing, or fitness class. Choose something up the guest of honor’s alley for a memorable time—and it doesn’t have to be the whole day! It could just be a couple of hours or a half day.

Bring or Send a Treat

Again, this one can apply to both onsite and remote employees. Just confirm your employee has no allergies or dietary restrictions before delivering food. And find out what they like!

Bring in goodies from a local bakery that the team can enjoy together. Or if breakfast is their favorite meal of the day, set up a breakfast or snack bar with their favorite pastries, fruit, snacks, and drinks and encourage colleagues to join in.

For remote workers, use a service to surprise them at home. Companies like Crumbl or Milk Bar deliver gourmet sweet treats fresh to your recipient.

Give Gift Cards

Let employees choose where they’d like a gift card for their birthdays. Ask them to select a few of their favorite spots from a list of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, streaming services, or other entertainment options the week before their birthday. Even if it’s a small dollar amount, employees will appreciate a little something they’ll actually use.

Have a Virtual Party

By now, you understand that you have to get a bit creative if you have a hybrid or fully remote team. But planning a virtual party to celebrate an employee’s birthday can be easy and fun! 

Whether you keep it a simple hangout or incorporate an activity they’ll enjoy, hanging out and NOT talking about work is always a breath of fresh air for the employee of the hour and overall team culture. Consider playing games like trivia (you could make this about the birthday person, too!). Or make it interesting by organizing a virtual tasting (food, wine, beer, etc.) or cooking class.

Give a Day or Half Day Off

Let the employee enjoy their special day by taking a day or a half day off. You could make this even more flexible by making it a floating holiday and allowing them to redeem it in the future. This may be preferable depending on when their birthday falls and if they have any plans. 

And as we all know, one of the things people want most (besides money) is more time! Giving them time to do something they love on their day is always appreciated.

Give Back in Their Name

If an employee is passionate about charity work and has a cause close to their heart, consider organizing a team volunteer day. As with several activities mentioned above, volunteering together is always a powerful team-building activity!

If it’s too complicated to organize a volunteer day, however, donating to a nonprofit in their name can also serve as a rewarding birthday gift.

Create a Video Message

This one can be incredibly impactful for remote teams! As a manager, you could create a short video highlighting your employee’s strengths, personality, and contribution to the business. Plus, you can make it a team effort! Coordinate with team members by having them each record personalized messages—these only need to be a few seconds each.

It may take some technical skills, but with all the apps available, you and your team can make it happen!

Give a Little Something

There are many corporate gifting platforms available that allow you to easily recognize employees and show them your appreciation. Most even include a feature for automated birthday awards. 

For example, Thnks lets you select and send thoughtful gifts like coffee or Uber rides. Or, if you want to give employees gift options, try something like Snappy, which lets you choose a collection and ensures you stay on budget.

And don’t forget to include a personalized note with every gift!

Share a Shout Out

Sometimes, a bit of recognition and appreciation is all it takes! Celebrating employee birthdays with shoutouts is easy and free yet meaningful—plus, it helps spread the birthday love by inviting others to send their wishes, too!

So, share a bit about the team member on your business pages like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, along with the company intranet or internal newsletter. Note their role, length of employment, accomplishments, and what sets them apart. Don’t forget to thank them for their contributions!

Final Thoughts on Employee Birthdays

As you plan employee birthday celebrations, always remain inclusive and sensitive to employees’ preferences, beliefs, and sensitivities. Some may prefer a lowkey celebration or none at all, so always respect their wishes and privacy.

When birthdays at work are executed thoughtfully, it can go a long way to brighten your employee’s day and foster a positive culture. So make the birthday experience consistent and personal for every team member, and they’ll feel valued and appreciated!

Do you need more guidance on boosting employee morale? Contact BlueLion today to find out how our HR professionals can help at 603-818-4131 or info@bluelionllc.com

The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.