Saturday, April 1, 2017

Birthday Partying for Free...........

I confess. This is not my birthday season, being one of those folks who has a fall birthday. However, in my family, when we have birthdays, we have birthdays, let me tell you!  My husband's birthday, my birthday and our anniversary were within the same week-leading to one generic party for all three celebrations. As if that's not enough, between September and October we have five other celebrations. And then, from February to the beginning of April, we have another seven birthday type events to party over. I mean obviously it's cold in December and January , but why the massive birth announcements in March unless it's that vacation romance, I'm not sure, lol.

Now, around here, birthdays may be a little low key after childhood, but we still celebrate birthdays at any age. Usually by eating piles and piles of gourmet food (cooked by our own personal chef or at a restaurant of choice), but also by doing, since we are doers around here. Last year for her birthday, I took a friend to an Easter gingerbread making workshop.

This year, I've decided to do something different, starting with the next birthday in the queue, if you will. I'm experimenting with something different, inspired by,  Katy at the Non-Consumer Advocate and her day of birthday adventures. I decided that to extend her birthday, and to be creative, I would have a birthday of freebies. Each freebie on a different day, aiming for at least a week, if not two. I was' hoping for at least two things. First, I thought it would be fun to make the celebration last more than a day-or two. And second,  I wanted to see how "low I could go", while still creating a fun week or so. Just as I decided to give mainly "experience" gifts at Christmas, I wanted to step outside the celebratory box a bit if you will, and I am blessed with family who appreciates such things.

This was the Sephora gift for 2016

Any list of birthday freebies can be as long as both arms. But many of them are food gifts that either have no nutritive value or require a secondary purchase. Some are child centered (like ten bucks at the toy store), and some were out of the way. My goal was to pick fun things that could get used and either could be delivered easily by me for her birthday days, or that she could hit on her way to work. I wanted a mix of food, snacks, girly gifts and at least one outing or adventure. And so, this is what two weeks of birthday freebies looks like right  now:

  • A free root beer float at AandW
  • A free large bagel sandwich and drink from Einsteins
  • A free beauty insider cosmetic set from Sephora (pictured)
  • A free Venti Starbucks drink
  • $30 gift card to spend at Benihana Restaurant (this will not be free, because her husband will want to attend and he will have to pay.....)
  • A card to get a gift worth ten dollars from Victoria Secret (which in my experience is generally lotions or such)
  • A free cosmetic gift from Ulta cosmetics (similar to the Sephora above)
  • A free Hallmark card (I'll pick a general one with no writing and let her use as she wishes)
  • A free lunch at Red Robin
  • A free gift (still to be discovered) At Barnes and Noble.
  • A gift card to the local movie theater (earned through doing surveys on Swagbucks while watching college basketball)
  • A free scarf in her favorite color (on sale at Kohls and purchased with a ten dollars off ten dollars coupon in the Sunday paper)
  • An Aveda spa gift worth $23 free for signing up for their rewards program
  • Free $5 to Ace Hardware (she's a DYI type, she'll love it) free for signing up for the rewards program in her name
  • A free grand slam breakfast from Denny's
I plan on picking up all the gifts ahead of time during my regular errand runs, so no extra time was used in the space/time/money continuum. I can do this because I know my girl well. If I was not so confident in, say, her scent of choice at Victoria's Secret I would just gift the coupon. But my goal was to not have her go out of her way, and make these goodies part of her daily routine. So they'll all be picked up, wrapped individually with days of the week, and gifted all at once.

For those wondering about that time/money thing some more. took me about a half an hour to sign up at all the websites, and no time at all to scan the email subject daily until the freebies popped up. The Kohl's coupon appeared in the Sunday paper and was part of my weekly two hour errand run. The movie gift card was earned while watching sports on TV, and two pages were printed in gray scale and cut up into individual coupons/gift certificates and put in pretty envies for the others. I'm joining in on the movie with a free, earned gift card, but I will pay for my own breakfast at Denny's.  I'm not a person who does the hourly personal value thing in retirement, but if I were, I would still come out far ahead. 

Doing things on the proverbial "cheap" does not man being cheap. Nor does it mean being lazy.  Saving money does sometimes require a level of creativity and the ability to think outside of the box and in non traditional ways. Sometimes I think I am doing a great job on all those fronts, other times I shake my head at myself, especially when I try something that is a fail on all levels.

This idea has turned out to be a greater success than I thought, both in terms of the idea, implementation and reception. Inspired by one of my favorite frugal bloggers, it's one I'll probably use again.  I'll call this idea a keeper. Not only that, but for next Christmas (I know, I know), I'm thinking about a freebie or experience gift a month for each adult child. But first I'll let my brain work around that one, cause I have a month or so. At least.


  1. I'm sure your sister and you will have a great time with this.
    I'll be interested in hearing others' reactions to this. A cousin used to do that to me. I was gracious, but it always struck me funny that she would give me little tiny containers of l'Occitane cream, knowing she got those free because she herself is using the big container.
    Perhaps if she knew what gifts I really liked, as you seem to know for your sister, it would seem more acceptable. But I always thought it strange and wouldn't do it myself after being on the receiving end like that.

    1. Ann, I can only speak for myself. I don't gift "samples" or those miniature things you get in the mail that have a single wipe with perfume. I do give those, but in baskets or stockings. I would suggest that knowing the person is a requirement for any gifting.

  2. Sounds like you are both going to have a great time. I really like this idea.

    God bless.

  3. Thanks, Jackie. Well see how it goes

  4. I do give the type items Ann got, but all in one box, lots of things. Then, there was a "real" gift. Exactly how did you get the free movie tickets, other than the one from Swagbucks? I am curious.

    1. I do the same thing. I got two three movie tickets. I only get them through Swagbucks. I am boycotting cinemark (I live in Denver and am unhappy at the way they have treated shooting survivors and family). I earn Regal gift cards through Swagbuck rewards. I try for 100 points a day and sometimes do better. You can get both Regal and AMC as rewards, and you can also (assuming you are familiar with the swag here), you can purchase an AMC card through my gift cards plus and earn points. I tend to do both, as I go to the movie a great deal.

  5. If you're ever anywhere near Lancaster, Pa., on your birthday stop by Shady Maple for a free meal (ID is all that's required) ... and you'll be full for three days!

    As for me, I count on a free homemade cake from my sister, who usually visits sometime in the summer, a month or two before or after my actual birthday.

  6. We've done "experiences" for birthdays for a while-- much more fun than presents!! For my husband I usually plan a nature day or a day trip from start to finish and just wake him up,make a nice breakfast, then surprise him.I drive too so HE can see the sights for a change. Some years I pack a picnic and we go for a hike in some remote area or to a trail up in Sedona.Or I have booked a bed and breakfast and taken him to Globe, Az.. a strange old ghost town where we can browse antique stores and have some home made posole in the local restaurant. It's a fun challenge to come up with new ideas. you've got me thinking about THIS year.. our birthdays straddle late June/early July.


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