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Dining Tips

How To Handle Birthdays In Restaurants

If you want a restaurant to recognize someone’s birthday at your table, there is a proper way to ask. When you call to make a reservation, tell the receptionist that you’re celebrating in advance, or if you book online, make a note on your reservation. Birthdays are a nightly occurrence in every restaurant, so don’t expect any special treatment or a troupe of waiters to serenade you. Some restaurants have special routines for birthday guests, but most will simply offer add a candle in whatever dessert you order.

Most restaurants will not send a free birthday dessert, and you should never expect one. If possible, tell the maitre’d or host whose birthday it is when you check in or discreetly point them out to your server to avoid any confusion. Avoid waiting until the last minute, awkwardly beckoning the waiter to speak privately in plain view of the birthday boy or girl, and whispering instructions to orchestrate the “big surprise.”

Also, don’t feel the need to constantly remind the waiter that you’re celebrating a birthday every time they visit the table. If you want the celebration to go smoothly, communicate your instructions as clearly as possible, and they’ll take care of it. It’s best not to bring your own cake to a restaurant, but check with the restaurant in advance to see if they’ll allow it. Most fine dining establishments will likely levy a plating fee (as many do with wine corkage) if you insist on bringing your own cake. Restaurants need to sell food for a profit to survive, be respectful of that.


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Joanie
Joanie
1 year ago

What about this situation? My husband took me to a nice restaurant for lunch to celebrate my birthday. The restaurant was aware that it was my birthday. After lunch he ordered a dessert, I did not. A few minutes later, the waiter brought me a dessert with a lit candle.
Assuoit was complementary, I waited for my husbands dessert, but it never came. When we finally asked, we were told that the dessert that was given to me was actually his. Thoughts?

Travis
Travis
3 days ago
Reply to  Joanie

They brought you the dessert you ordered with a candle in it, why would you assume that was complimentary when you literally ordered it?

Teresa Lopez
Teresa Lopez
1 year ago

I have a question. If there is a small group (5 to 8) celebrating a birthday at a restaurant, and one person excuses him/herself to go to the bathroom, should the rest of the party wait for that person to return to sing (they aren’t the birthday person) or is it ok to just start singing happy birthday including videoing and taking photos without that person? Is that acceptable?

Katherine
Katherine
1 year ago

This article was unhelpful and borderline ridiculous.