A recent spate of birthdays at RFT headquarters brought to light the awkward amount of time it takes some of us to think of something appropriate to write in an office birthday card. Is "You're cool. I'll warn you before I burn the building down" acceptable? Is "I don't blame you for anything that happened here" too threatening? If so, "'gratz on your impending hot birthday sex (buttstuff?)" is definitely over the line.
And yet that line is very hard to see sometimes. As professional writers, we thought maybe we could help ease the burden on the public at large by coming up with some standard go-tos to break up those dreaded office-birthday-card logjams. Here are our 25 best ideas for proper birthday commemoration. Pass the cake.
- "Who are you again?"
- "One day you will look back on this and weep uncontrollably for your wasted youth, but in the meantime, CAKE!"
- "I'm so, so sorry for what is about to happen." (Leave name off to instill maximum fear.)
- "Your mother and I are very proud of you."
- "I believe you're illiterate. Prove me wrong."
- Copy someone else's message word for word right above where they've written it, and then simply add the word "too" to theirs in your best approximation of their handwriting. Accuse them of plagiarism.
- Keep a supply of birthday cards in your desk. Don't sign the group card, but do make a big deal of giving out your special card before the group card gets to the birthday celebrant. (Works best if your cards are the elaborately verbose cards with three or four panels and an inspirational message.)
- Estimate their age, then add ten years minimum to that guess. "Happy 38th birthday, college intern!"
- Just write out the lyrics to the happy birthday song, in full, over and over again, so that there is no room for anyone else to write anything.
- Cross out the name of the birthday boy/girl and write in your own name instead. See if you get any presents in the ensuing confusion.
- "Borrow" another co-worker's credit card and write all of the info down. Pass freely around the office.
- "[Insert writer's name] is out of the office until further notice. Please accept this automated birthday greeting in the meantime. [Insert writer's name] will return upon the time they decide they give two shits about you."
- Take the card with you into the bathroom. Stay there for a good two hours, long enough for everyone to notice that both you and the card have disappeared.
- Light the card on fire. Give the birthday boy/girl a handful of candles with your name signed on them. If you act confused enough you might get to go home on psychiatric leave.
- Spell their name wrong, aggressively. Write it like four different ways. Just to show that you don't actually give a fuck about them or their stupid shitty birthday.
- "Hope you like surprises." (Don't sign. Plan no surprises.)
Screenshot from NBC's The Office
- Sign your name in your own blood. When it comes time for the birthday boy/girl to open and read their card, maintain unblinking eye contact. (Bonus points if you show up outside their house later that night, just standing there. Watching.)
- Give the card to your dementia-riddled grandmother and tell her she's writing a steamy love letter to Johnny on the Western Front. Chaperone your co-worker and grandmother on dates to Olive Garden. Cry at the wedding.
- Try to get near a corner. Write anything you like, then tear that corner off and write your name above the tear. Drop that torn-off corner someplace obvious, like next to the copier, at your earliest convenience.
- If the co-worker is your subordinate, make them write the heartfelt message for you. If if doesn't bring a tear to their birthday boy's eye when he reads it later, the writer is fired.
- Turn that card into a fashion statement. Grab whatever is handy, but old shoe Velcro, electrician's tape and clothespins are your friends here. Glue your masterpiece to your hair and make a big
deal about it at the next staff meeting.
- Slap on lipstick, kiss the card and write "Can't wait for tonight." Wait patiently for a call from the HR department.
- Using the edge of your hand, make a pair of baby footprints. Write "Congratulations!"
- Methodically line-edit your co-workers' birthday messages. In thick red pen, scrawl across the front of the card, "I know you can do better. SEE ME."
- "Happy birthday. Next year, take the day off so I don't have to sign this stupid card. It'll be a win for both of us."