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Free stuff for your birthday

Ice cream, burgers, pancakes and more, just for being born.

By Donna_Freedman Dec 3, 2010 10:08AM

Over the next 10 days I'll be eating at Red Robin, IHOP, Qdoba and Cold Stone Creamery. The good news is that all the food will be free because Dec. 5 is my birthday.

The bad news? I have to speak the phrase "Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n' Fruity," the name of the gratis grub being offered at IHOP.

Americans love free stuff, and national chains know it. They're willing to hand out burgers, sandwiches, ice cream, gift cards and discounts to loyal customers.

Heck, you don't even have to be a loyal customer -- you just have to sign up. There's no reason you have to go back after using the freebie. (Bet you will, though.)

If it's free, it's for me

As I wrote in "20 freebies for your birthday," some deals are better than others. T.G.I. Friday's wants to give me free dessert, which presumes I'll be buying a meal first. That Qdoba coupon is a buy-one-get-one, versus the Red Robin voucher that's good for a burger and fries even if I dine alone.

Sometimes a deal is site-specific, i.e., you're asked to pick the location where you'll be using it. It might be negotiable, though. Right now I happen to be in Anchorage visiting relatives and friends. Since the Cold Stone birthday e-mail sent me to the company website, I was able to change the location before printing the coupon.

On the other hand, the IHOP coupon was contained in the e-mail. I went to IHOP's Facebook page and asked if I could change my location. Within 20 minutes I had an e-mail from a customer service rep offering to help.

I still have to say "Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n' Fruity," though. It's probably not polite just to point at the menu, especially when I'm getting something free.

To sing or not to sing?

My advice is to sign up for any such bonus you can find. Sign your kids up, too, for free meals at places like California Pizza Kitchen and Denny's or a small gift card at Toys R Us. The "20 freebies" column includes links to the different places offering free stuff.

Look elsewhere, too. For example, the Entertainment Book had a coupon good for a free movie on my birthday at Regal Cinemas. If you have a favorite store or restaurant, check its website or Facebook page to see if any natal-day deals exist.

A site called BirthdayFreebies.com exists only to spoil you, and Freebies 4 Mom has a "birthday" section. The Bing link above has other online sources for freebies, but keep in mind that some sites offer information that's not entirely accurate. For example, some franchisees opt out of national promotions so be sure to call before you go.

A few more tips:
  • Bring a printout of the offer and also your ID.
  • Tell the server you'll be using a birthday deal, and say so right away rather than after the check arrives.
  • If you don't want "Happy Birthday to You" sung, let the server know that, too.
  • Base the gratuity on what you would have paid if you didn't have the coupon.
4Comments
Dec 6, 2010 11:40AM
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Donna,

 

Happy Birthday!  My birthday was last Thursday and, yes, I've learned the art of milking it for all it was worth.  In fact, I celebrate all month long with all of the freebies I get.  It's almost become a challenge to see how much free loot I can acquire before the end of the month.  By the way, I can't imagine going to Cold Stone Creamery in ANCHORAGE IN DECEMBER!  For some reason, that struck me as funny.

Oct 12, 2012 10:52AM
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A site called http://www.fatbirthday.com has a listing of all the places in the USA that give out free stuff for your birthday...
Oct 12, 2012 10:52AM
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A site called fatbirthday.com has a listing of all the places in the USA that give out free stuff for your birthday...
Dec 13, 2010 12:14AM
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Thanks, 2lgit. And I've been told that Alaska has the highest per capital consumption of ice cream of all 50 states.
I've also known people who drink hot tea in the summer to stay warm. Maybe it's the same thing.
Thanks for reading Smart Spending.

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