5 Ways to Say Happy Birthday at Work (Without Breaking Your Budget)

Birthdays at WorkIf you’ve ever felt that one day blends into another at work, then you know that any excuse to shake things up and break from the norm is a great way to lift spirits and help your team bond. While each workplace differs on the reasons why and how they celebrate, a popular trend is
celebrating employee birthdays. Though some people dislike the attention and others choose not to celebrate for religious reasons, most people in the workplace enjoy a small birthday party.

But in times like these, budgets are tight for businesses and employees alike. So, here are five ways to celebrate birthdays at work without going broke.

1. Sign a group birthday card. Depending on the size of your workplace or team, a card signed by your group can be a simple way to help everyone save a few bucks. Another idea is to create an electronic group greeting card that everyone can customize. GroupCard.com makes it easy to make sure everyone has a chance to sign an electronic card and will schedule the delivery date for you.

2. Bake, don’t order cake. Having a monthly cake to celebrate employee birthdays is a time-honored tradition in many workplaces, but the costs can add up fast. Employers may be looking to cut budgets on items like these, but that doesn’t mean birthdays can’t be sweet anymore. One idea is to have team members bake cupcakes, cookies, or other sweets to bring to celebrate co-worker birthdays.

3. Have a potluck picnic. Instead of catering in or going out for a restaurant meal to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, a budget-friendly alternative is to have a potluck picnic or lunch. Having everyone bring a themed dish is a great way to build camaraderie within your team and celebrate while keeping budgets in check.

4. Throw a re-gift party. If your team has a tradition of buying gifts for each other but can’t afford to this year, try a unique spin on the popular “Dirty Santa” holiday gift exchange. Have a re-gift party in honor of your team member’s birthday and ask all team members to bring a white elephant gift to exchange (just make sure they don’t bring a gift they received from a co-worker!). Other variations of this idea include having a themed gift swap. Simply select a theme, like funny things under $1, your favorite candy, or a secret recipe. Then, use the gift exchange game rules to provide an inexpensive but fun party game that gets everyone involved and preserves the gift-giving spirit.

5. Host a tournament or game lunch. Another way to celebrate birthdays at work is to schedule a game hour or tournament. Playing cards, board games, or word games can be a fun way for your team to celebrate while not spending a lot of money.

To keep team morale high, especially in times like these, it’s important to make sure we don’t cut celebrating from the workplace when budgets get cut. So, try using some of these ideas to celebrate birthdays in your workplace, or suggest these ideas to your team the next time you’re looking for a much-needed morale boost on the job.


  1. Rathna

    Good idea!!Yes I agree most people in the workplace enjoy atleast small birthday party.Last week we celebrated a B’day party in my office with a coke, very simple coz of budget.With that Celebration we learnt how we celebrate does’nt matter but celebration does matters.Though it was very simple it was with great fun and we had a big gala time together.

  2. Ginny Culhane

    I was around for the first “Earth Day” and really hate seeing people throw away their aluminum pop cans. At the same time, as HR Admin, I wanted to bake a cake for each office person’s birthday, but knew the company would not pay for it. So I set up recycling boxes in the restrooms, and put up a sign saying “Cans for Cakes – Please recycle…” The money I get for recycling the cans pays for the cake ingredients. We also have a traveling “Happy Birthday” banner string of letters that gets pinned up at the honored person’s cubicle.

  3. Happy Birthday Wish

    Great tips! If there are enough of you, you can throw some pennies in a kittie to buy a small gift (work related), maybe something funny. Would only cost the group a $1 each maybe.

  4. Anonymous

    I was captivated with your 4th suggestible, Throw a re-gift party, use the gift exchange game rules to provide an inexpensive but fun party game that gets everyone involved and preserves the gift-giving spirit. That was just an awesome idea, now I’m having plans for my niece’s birthday party that is pretty much approaching.

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