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It's my birthday*! It's a rather important birthday.

There are a lot of people who might want to know such a thing, because of social customs or friendliness or something. One of those things.

Mostly, these people are coworkers. However, there are a few newer friends of mine whom I haven't yet told. I don't hold social gatherings for events like this - and to me, it's not even all that significant. But it's one of the Major Milestone Birthdays in US culture.

It's a little strange to just go up to people and tell them, "hey, it's my birthday in a few days."

Is there a social obligation for me to tell people? Is it going to be as awkward as it seems if I don't tell people? I have difficulty gauging the sorts of things people are likely to care about.

(*Not actually today.)

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    <comment removed> Please stop posting answers in comments. If you have an answer, please post it below. Comments do not have the features needed to properly vet whatever is said here, and only invites others to respond in kind. This should not become a free-form discussion forum which defeats the purpose of hosting this subject as a Stack Exchange site. – Robert Cartaino Aug 7 '17 at 17:34

10 Answers 10

63

For work, I bring in donuts for everyone and let them know I brought them in to celebrate my birthday. This is a pretty common gesture at many workplaces in the Midwest US. Alternatives are cupcakes, bagels, cake, a fruit or veggie tray, or any other snack type thing that can be shared.

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    This will work as long as you don't do this regularly already... I bake all the time and bring stuff in... people have stopped asking me if there's an occasion any more. :D – Catija Aug 1 '17 at 19:07
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    This works well because it shows you're not telling using your birthday to get something - you're using it to give something to other people. – HDE 226868 Aug 2 '17 at 1:30
  • Great answer. Also cakes can work if you have like scheduled coffee breaks where you sit down together. Almost always someone asks what we are celebrating. – mathreadler Aug 2 '17 at 8:10
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    I love how specific this answer is - "donuts are the default but you can bring in cupcakes if you want to be different"! In the UK the default is the generic "cake", of any sort. – AndyT Aug 3 '17 at 9:45
  • You also bring something in Switzerland, for example cake or croissants. Seems like almost every western country has this custom – Mafii Sep 14 '17 at 13:04
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While I personally think there is no social obligation to tell people, I find that most people love the opportunity to celebrate something like a birthday if given a chance.

If it were me I'd say,

My 30th birthday is coming up next week and I was wondering if you all would like to go to lunch, or happy hour to celebrate with me.

I think this is a straightforward way to tell someone it is your birthday without being awkward.

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    It doesn't sound like the OP is interested in arranging a party of any sort, they're just looking to let people know that it's their birthday. Can you add to your answer a response that doesn't involve an invitation to an event? – Catija Aug 1 '17 at 19:02
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    Where I work, saying "hey let's go get lunch to celebrate" would not be understood as an invitation to sth but more of a "let's plan to do this thing together that we sometimes do together anyways", so this answer would work very well for a work environment like mine. – Laura Aug 2 '17 at 14:00
  • @Catija, Good point. I couldn't update my comment without saying exactly what the current answer already says: bring something to share for the occasion. – cwisch Aug 2 '17 at 14:11
  • I like this answer. OP doesn't have to tell anyone if he doesn't want to. – Quelklef Aug 5 '17 at 17:19
7

There are lots of ways to let people know that your birthday is coming up or is occurring. I'm a big fan of birthdays, regardless of their importance. My son's first birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and I'm already telling people about it.

If it's upcoming, talk about your plans or what you're excited about/dreading. Everyone loves talking about milestone birthdays and celebrating new achievements or commiserating about growing old.

  • I'm turning 16 on Friday - I can't wait to get my license.
  • Don't expect me at work on Friday. Thursday is my 21st birthday and I can't wait to go to this bar I've been hearing about for years.
  • Oh god, I'm turning 50 on Sunday. My kids are planning to send me to a farm upstate next year.
  • I'm going to Disney World for my 30th birthday over the weekend. My parents are treating me!

Alternately, ask people when their birthday is... usually they'll ask you when yours is and you can tell them. If they don't really care, they likely won't ask... so you're not forcing the information on them.

If it's today, do things that encourage people to ask why you're doing something different.

  • Dress up.
    • Wear a party hat or tiara or a birthday button. Have fun with it.
    • Wear nicer clothing than you usually do. Often people will ask "why are you so dressy today?"
  • Spread the cheer.
    • Decorate your space. Nothing says "Birthday" like balloons and streamers... or tombstones.
    • Bring treats and use "Happy Birthday" plates.
    • Bring extra hats/tiaras for everyone.
    • Send yourself birthday flowers (or see if a loved one will send you some at work).

If you really want to share the information with other people, there are a myriad of ways. Heck, I bet even asking this question made some people wonder when your birthday is... So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say

Happy Birthday, Emrakul... whenever it is. I hope you have an amazing day!

  • I think it's best I leave it up to actual US people to answer this. I've deleted my possibly useless Indian answer. +1 :) – NVZ Aug 1 '17 at 19:50
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    @NVZ - Now I'm curious! How would you handle it in India? – BruceWayne Aug 1 '17 at 22:20
  • I'd like to upvote just for the last line, but ... honestly, most of your example quotes sound kind of forced, and since the OP said they don't even see it as all that significant, they're unlikely to want to dress up or decorate their space for it. – Rand al'Thor Aug 27 '17 at 23:28
  • @Randal'Thor Answers are designed to benefit anyone with a similar issue, not merely the person who asked. It's something worth remembering. – Catija Aug 27 '17 at 23:47
5

There is no social Obligation for you to tell others it is your birthday.

I personally avoid telling people when it is my birthday as I don't like the extra attention.

You can always casually mention it that it is your birthday or that your birthday is coming up in conversations.

At work, you can have someone send an email around saying it's your birthday. (For example "Happy Birthday X", sent to everyone in your team/department)

My previous place of work had a calendar of all birthdays for the current month.

I see you mentioned it's a Major Milestone Birthday. Telling people it is your birthday, in this case, is fine. Having someone do it for you is better.

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I often use complaints about my driver's license (USA) as an information conduit because it is so relatable. No one seems to care for any of the activities surrounding licensing or the card itself.

For example, if I forgot someone's name/birthday, I find a way to insert the topic of photos into the conversation. Then, move onto my terrible driver's license photo, which I show, often to their "it's great" reply. This usually brings people to show me theirs, like a commiseration of sorts. I use the opportunity to remind myself of their name or birthday.

For your case, you could go the other direction and find a reason to show them yours. I might use a coworker lunch or something as a jumping point:

Sorry guys, I can't go to lunch. I have to get a new driver's license since it expires soon; worst birthday present ever.

3

The least pushy method is simply to bring it up in conversation as small talk

"Got any plans for the weekend?"
"Cycling trip, what about you?"
"Going out for my birthday"

I cut this conversation down massively just for the example, but the gist is that you don't have to make a big deal of it, bringing balloons or doughnuts, or bringing it up out of nowhere, just start some small talk and make it your answer to the topic. The aim is to sound natural as if you just thought of mentioning it, otherwise, you can seem eager or childish.

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Mostly, these people are coworkers. However, there are a few newer friends of mine whom I haven't yet told

Don't you have these people on a social network like Facebook or Google+? The default privacy setting is spam all of your contacts when it's your birthday.

In case you don't have them on social networks and for notifying to the coworkers. There is an informal group chat for coworkers? If a friend wishes you a happy birthday in that group, everybody will do the same only for being polite.

And, the easiest way is bringing a lot of food (unless you do it regularly, in that case, you should bring something special).

1

You can ask others to donate some old stuff like clothes or books and organise a charity on your birthday. People may ask why you are organising it and you can tell that you want to do some good on your birthday.

That way you can tell about your birthday as well as do some charity and get blessings.

BTW, it's not important to tell everyone about your birthday unless they are someone important and special, and you want them with you that day. In this case, you can say it without any special effects that it's your birthday on ...

1

In old days where people still used email as the primary means of digital communication, some people implied their birthday at their email address (e.g. donaldo_clinton_12_19@XYZ which someone may get December 19th is his/her birthday). Nowadays messaging apps are more prevalent, so people won't bother to care about others' email as they were, but nothing would prevent you from hinting it at your email.

Another good tactic is to ask someone about his/her age near your birthday. Then if the person isn't unwilling to keep the conversation with you, he/she asks you about your age as well. Then you tell your age, and also tell that you become X years old in Y days.

Yet another way is to search for any famous person that has the same birthday as you, and talk about the celebrity. During the conversation, you tell that you have the same birthday as the celebrity. Your new friend likely forgets about the exact date, but can easily connect your birthday to the celebrity. If the media celebrates the person's birthday, your friend might recall your birthday as well.

1

Relate it to something else, and drop this in conversation. The weather is always a good option; for instance, if it is the day of your birthday and the weather is particularly nice, then when you meet your co-worker try to look cheerful and say in an off-hand manner:

The weather is particularly nice today! A brilliant day to be turning 30!

at which point you can expect a response along the lines of

It's your birthday!? I had no idea! Happy birthday!

Or else if the weather is particularly awful, you can say

Ugh, the weather is horrible today. Great day to be turning 30... (inject some sarcasm into it!).

On the other hand, if it is a few days before your birthday, you can still use the same trick. Just pick a particularly nice/horrible day and drop into the conversation

The weather is so nice. Hope this keeps up till Thursday. Would be nice to turn 30 on a sunny day (or)
I hope the weather improves. Would be a rather depressing 30th if it continues like this on Thursday.

... You get the idea!

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