The Awkward Office Birthday Party – International Style

by Joe on May 15, 2008

If you didn’t know, I am in Bangalore, India on a trip for work. 

Bangalore, India

Highlights of Day 1 in India:

  1. Stray dogs – They are everywhere.
  2. Cow – Saw one on the street near the office, could have sworn it looked dead on like my Great Aunt Velma (RIP).
  3. Partook in an Indian birthday office celebration

So an Indian Office Birthday Party.  This day one highlight deserves more details. Is it like in Office Space? How does it compare to the level of awkwardness I feel at my own office birthday parties? These are just a few of the questions that I tackle hoping to help you cope with your own office birthday parties.  Perhaps there are some “process improvement” wisdom you can glean from my analysis.

Compare/Contrast of Indian office birthday celebrations:


  1. They clap at an awkward off-beat pace while singing only the first verse of the english happy birthday song.
  2. As they sang, the birthday boy cut a piece and then some other guy fed it to him a la American weddings. Ifelt awkward with this occurance.
  3. They took a vote and voted to give the birthday boy a face smear of icing. And by face smear, this is like the end all be all of face smears, the guy looked like some woman who just woke up from a nap with a mud mask and cucumbers on her eyes. It was everywhere.
  4. Everyone just digs in and grabs their piece with their hands after the whole experience is over.


  1. Birthdays in an office, in the US or India are awkward. You can’t get around it.
  2. They sing the same birthday song – kind of.
  3. A random group of folks show up who may or may not even know the birthday boy, they are just there for the cake.

So there you have it. Birthday parties in an office are awkward no matter where you are. Its impossible to fight: unless you are 37signals and have amazing thoughts about how to be authentic and get real while running a business. 

Good luck with your next office birthday party.  Do you have any good office party stories? 


now that’s hilarious 🙂

by Amybeth on May 16, 2008 at 10:16 am. Reply #

Great picture. Nice observation on office birthdays. I always feel awkward in the states when I hardly know the person but am standing in line for a piece of cake. In the end though, its worth it. I mean its cake at work.

by Matt on May 24, 2008 at 10:32 am. Reply #

I think birthday parties at the office is not that awkward. I used to celebrate my birthday at home and at the same time, at the office. I love doing this because it made me happy.

by birthday cake ideas on December 22, 2008 at 3:52 am. Reply #

[…] write this post with a hesitation.  Anyone who reads it must promise to not turn this into an awkward office birthday party.  😉  So without further […]

by Happy Birthday! Turns 1 Today! | Joe Budde Jr. on January 18, 2009 at 6:57 am. Reply #

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