Q: I work in an eight-member office made up of five support staffers and three managers. In the past we have had semi-elaborate birthday parties for each employee, and we all contribute to food, dessert, and a gift. It sometimes amounts to &15.00 per person or more per party. Since some of the employees consider this excessive, could you offer some guidelines for acknowledging birthdays and special occasions?
A: You can take a few different approaches. One is to have a group party every three or four months, celebrating the birthdays of those who have had one in that time frame. This still enables a celebration but keeps the costs down for everyone. Another would be to have only cake and coffee in the afternoon, or coffee cake or bagels and coffee in the morning, rather than such an elaborate meal, for each birthday. Still another approach would be to skip the parties entirely and simply circulate a card for everyone to sign in honor of each person’s birthday. What is important is that you are consistent – that you don’t acknowledge some with a party and others with a card, for example.