Cutting The Cake: Who goes first?

by epi on March 12, 2012

Q: My work provided me with a birthday cake. I cut the first piece and passed off the cutting to someone else. Apparently I was being rude. Am I supposed to cut everyone a piece and hand it out? It was suggested that I should be a host and make sure my guests receive cake.

A: No, you weren’t being rude. In fact, it is customary for the honoree to cut the first piece and then for someone else to take over. You shouldn’t be considered the host – you didn’t provide the cake. It’s the responsibility of whomever organized providing the cake to see that everyone got a piece. However, as the honoree, you are expected to thank whomever provided the cake and to acknowledge those who took part in the celebration.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

D March 12, 2012 at 9:53 am

I thought everyone knew that the person who’s birthday it is only cuts the first piece? And more importantly, who tells someone on the their birthday that they’re being rude for not cutting up a whole cake? Who cares?


Jody March 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

The only way it would be rude would be a situation where you *are* the host and you just leave the cake out without a “help yourself” invitation. I’ve never heard of a rule where the honoree cuts only the first piece, but I’ve always thought it unfair the honoree cuts cake for everybody. You were definitely doing the right thing to pass the cutting off to somebody else; all your guests got cake and nobody was inconvenienced.


Catherine March 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm

A few years ago we had an ice cream cake for a foreign national’s birthday. He never had one, so the office assistant ordered him an ice cream cake for his birthday instead of a traditional cake. He cut the first piece as it was melting and getting messy. He didn’t know what to do, so he asked me for help and handed off the knife to me. The staff assistant was upset and later scolded me. She probably should have finished cutting the cake, but I felt it would have been demeaning to pass it off to the “staff assistant.” Until that day, I didn’t think cake cutting could be an office landmine. Underlying jealousies didn’t help.


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