According to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, sending birthday wishes to bosses can be as easy as wishing them “Happy Birthday.” Other options include giving a card, passing around a group card for everyone to sign, giving a small, impersonal gift, such as a cake, or making a charitable donation to a pet cause in the boss' name.
When an office celebrates birthdays at work, particularly that of the boss, it’s important to make sure everyone feels included to prevent hard feelings. Suggestions in “Etiquette Tips & Quips” include wishing a happy birthday to office mates even if you don’t know them well. This may involve signing an office card or pitching in for a gift or a meal as long as it’s clear that the donation is entirely optional. Avoid questions about people’s ages, as some are very sensitive.
In the spirit of inclusion, Diane Gottsman suggests celebrating group birthdays once a month. A group celebration makes certain that every birthday – including the boss’ – is celebrated and keeps celebrations from interfering with work. Group celebrations also mean less social pressure on shy office mates who might not attend if they will be the center of attention. Know what the budget for the monthly party is and plan for treats accordingly. For the sake of politeness, hold personal celebrations and gift giving between friends outside of work.