View Full Version : Do you celebrate coworkers birthdays at work?

10-17-2007, 10:39 PM
This has been driving me nuts all day. I get to work today and find out that a couple people have started a money collection for the office manager's birthday. :rolleyes: She isn't even really our boss, just the manager of this particular location. This kind of thing really irritate me. I have no desire to contribute to a birthday fund for her for several reasons. 1) She makes much more money than any of the rest of us. 2) She is new and none of us even know her that well. 3) What I do know about her is that she is a completely incompetent idiot. 4) I have better things to do with my money. 5) I don't feel like one person's birthday should be celebrated over anyone else's. 6) I feel like the organizers of this are just sucking up to her. 7) I don't like feeling like an outcast for not contributing to this.

I would be fine with a cake or something like that, but it just seems inappropriate to start up some big collection for her. As if the money collection wasn't enough, they are also cooking some huge and elaborate lunch for her. I know I don't HAVE to contribute, and I didn't. However, it really bugs me now that she'll probably hold it against me. She is that type. I've been thinking about maybe suggesting a change in the birthday office policy, but I'm not sure what to suggest, especially now that I'm the big party pooper. What do the rest of you do for birthdays? At most places I've worked before I've never even known when anyone's birthday was, let alone feel pressure to give them money. :rolleyes:

10-17-2007, 11:38 PM
We don't celebrate; I work for state gov't and frankly, no one has a lot of extra cash lying around.

When I was in a corporate environment in a department of 30-some people, the department paid for one birthday cake every month. All the people born in that month would get togethr and select the flavor.

10-18-2007, 06:45 AM
We have treats, usually bagels or donuts. Occasionally an ice cream cake.

I would not contribute to a money fund. Don't feel pressured to.

10-18-2007, 06:48 AM
I agree that you shouldn't have to contribute and I wouldn't either in your circumstances.

FWIW, our project has about 80 people on it, and on Friday we all got an email from the new AA saying "Tuesday is Bosses Day, and we want to do something nice for Tom, Dick and Harry. After all, they sign your paychecks! So come make a donation at Susie's cube." (All names have been changed to protect the innocent.) Well, neither Tom, Dick nor Harry sign the paychecks of half the people on the project (it's a DoD project with 5 different defense contractors participating.) And I just found the whole thing in very bad taste and extremely coercive. If I had been an employee of Tom, Dick or Harry, I would have immediately forwarded it to HR and complained. But I just ignored it. Oh, and it's Tom, Dick and Harry's incompetence that is about to cause the project to fail and is forcing a LOT of people to work 60-80 hour weeks to prevent it from failing. Yeah, not going to contribute.

10-18-2007, 07:25 AM
Where I work, employees are not to solicit money from other employees for any reason.
Having said that we have given money for someone who might be sick to get them some flowers or something like that. Also, we do buy Girl Scout cookies from a couple people at work. The cookie thing is always handled discreetly so as not to draw too much attention. But, never any money solicitation for birthdays or things of that nature. And especially not for managers or supervisors. I'd be tempted to contact HR about that issue and how you are feeling pressured to contribute.
Sometimes someone will bring in a cake to celebrate someone's birthday. But that is up to the individual who brought the cake.

10-18-2007, 07:35 AM
Management brings in a cake or pie once a month and the birthdays are announced.

For bosses day we pooled $ for a gift. We have an awesome boss so it was no big deal for me.

10-18-2007, 07:44 AM
You do know that this is a Seinfeld episode? :D

We used to do the birthday thing but everyone just got tired of it and it pretty much fizzled out on it's own. We do have a very small office (>20) and are a pretty tight-knit group.

10-18-2007, 07:52 AM
We have a fairly small office (10 at this point). The last person to have a birthday brings the next person's cake/bagels/cookies/etc. Nothing huge. I am the manager there and I participate just like everyone else and I would be mortified if the staff felt they had to do some kind of collection, meal, etc. That's crazy! They did, however, surprise me with a great Boss's Day moment. The flowers, candy and candle were nice but the comments they each wrote in the card meant a lot more. Sue

10-18-2007, 07:55 AM
I gotta ask: this money collection for the office manager -- does this mean that in addition to the lunch, they're giving her some CASH, too? :eek: Totally inappropriate, and tacky, to boot.

One of the things I really like about my current office so that we generally don't do birthdays. Every so often, if it's a "milestone" birthday, (and the person involved isn't sensitive about having it acknowledged), one of the supervisors will arrange for a cake, but individual employees are not asked to chip in.

In the office that I worked in previously, the birthday situation was a nightmare. First off, at the beginning of the year, the boss's secretary would go around and ask everyone to contribute to a "birthday fund." (And it was not a small amount of money that was requested, at a place that did not treat its employees particularly well, in more important ways). Then, at the beginning of every month, we'd have a cake for all the birthdays that month.

OK, not too horrible. BUT, then during the month, as individual birthdays came up, friends of specific birthday-people would often come around, and ask for contributions for individual cakes/presents/balloon-a-grams, etc. for their friends -- and some of these things would get fairly elaborate, and, it also turned into a grown-up version of a high-school popularity contest -- there was a certain social group that would just go to town whenever one of their friends had a birthday, and, then, there was this kind-hearted soul who would "feel bad" for people who were less popular, so she'd start running around trying to organize things for their birthdays, and then some people would end up being ignored completely, and the whole thing turned into this big mess that just bred bad feelings all around. Not to mention the amount of money people were being asked to shell out. I even once suggested to upper management that all these individual celebrations be banned in the office (after all, people can always take their friends out to lunch), but they weren't interested in getting involved.


10-18-2007, 07:56 AM
I would be pretty peeved if someone was taking up collections, too. We have a small office, varying from 7 to 10 people, which includes DH and I who are the owners. When it is someone's birthday, we take everyone out to lunch at the restaurant of the birthday person's choice, and buy a cake (or pie, or ice cream, whichever they want) for the afternoon.

Beth H
10-18-2007, 09:18 AM
My office (a relatively new one for me) has something called a "Sunshine Fund." Employees can donate $5/month or $50/year (voluntary, not mandatory, and who does and does not donate is totally anonymous). Each month we have a birthday celebration for all the employees who have birthdays that month. The fund also sends flowers to those with deaths in the families; hospital stays; new babies, etc. It also covers bosses' days, lunches for departing employees, etc.

It seems like a decent solution to avoid constant donations for co-workers' life events, but I suppose some might feel uncomfortable with paying it, too.

Just read Helene's post more closely - our monthly birthday celebrations are very simple, with no extra "stuff" involved for better-liked/more popular employees.

10-18-2007, 10:40 AM
I would be pretty peeved if someone was taking up collections, too. We have a small office, varying from 7 to 10 people, which includes DH and I who are the owners. When it is someone's birthday, we take everyone out to lunch at the restaurant of the birthday person's choice, and buy a cake (or pie, or ice cream, whichever they want) for the afternoon.

This is what we do, too. Small office and the boss usually takes us out for lunch. There's a cake (or pie) that may be homemade or store bought...depends on what the birthday celebrator asks for.

10-18-2007, 10:55 AM
We have a monthly birthday celebration. The firm buys a cake once a month to celebrate all of the office birthdays for that month. In addition, sometimes someone will bring in treats to share on a specific birthday. For example, on my birthday, my secretary will often bring in something to share with others (like a pan of brownies). Also, our practice group celebrates individual birthdays separately from the rest of the office, since we're so close. But it's always one of the attorneys in the group paying for the cake (for a group of 10 people), and no one is ever asked to contribute.

This week, our office staff set up a brunch spread for the office in celebration of "Bosses Day." All of the staff contributed homemade and store-bought items, and it was a lovely spread. I'm sure the office probably also contributed to some of the cost.

The only time I have ever been solicited for contributions was for a paralegal's wedding (I did not contribute - I had barely started working here and did not know her at all) and for an attorney's baby shower (I did contribute to a group gift). But it's always made clear that contributions are totally voluntary.

10-18-2007, 11:21 AM
I work in a small office (4 people) within the school system administration. We go out for lunch together on birthdays, which is also good for the team-we rarely eat together. I don't mind sharing the cost of the birthday person's lunch.

The only time we took a collection for a gift was when the supervisor in the office got his PhD.

10-18-2007, 02:18 PM
I work at a college library and there are about 11 of us.

They have a unique policy regarding birthdays - in this office it's the birthday person who brings in the treats. Maybe the one who made that rule was an elementary school teacher at some point. ;)

Anyway, I guess they used to bring in treats for birthdays, but I guess there were hard feelings when someone's treats were more elaborate then someone else's, etc. So, to level the playing field and wipe out any possibility of complaint, it's all up to the birthday person - they can bring treats if they wish or not if they don't.

Other than that, the only other thing they do is get one card for each birthday person that everyone signs.

My birthday falls during the summer when I won't be there, so I think I'll celebrate mine in February or March - when the winter doldrums have everyone down in the dumps. :)

10-19-2007, 09:46 AM
We take the birthday person out for lunch and we take the boss out for lunch on Bosses day. The place we eat is always their choice. We always split the persons lunch, tax, and tip evenly and include it with our own meal. We always pay our portion whether we go to the lunch or not.

Christmas lunch and Professionals day is lunch paid by the boss. Christmas is a no limit lunch, so we really look forward to this lunch. :D

We used to get cards for the birthdays but people weren't keeping up with the job and we decided that we didn't need the cards.

10-19-2007, 10:05 AM
When the company was slightly smaller, we would have a little get together in the center part of the office and everyone would crowd around a cake and watch the birthday person blow out some candles. It was fun, and I wish they would still do it, but the company got too large. Now, we just take them out to happy hour! haha

Kay Henderson
10-19-2007, 10:39 AM
In the school's where I taught, teachers signed up for one or two weeks of "teacher's room duty." It was the responisibility of the person whose week it was to keep the place clean and bring a treat at least once a week. If there was a birthday during the week, they generally brought a cake and a card, which people signed. There were not presents for birthdays.

For showers, retirements, "boss's day," and other occasions, we had a Sunshine Fund. People would contribute at the beginning of the school year, and presents, purchased by the Sunshine Fund chair, came out of this fund.