You can’t get much of anything at a reasonable price in Manhattan, let alone for free.
There is one exception: If it’s your birthday, you can rake in the freebies.
I had heard that a slew of restaurants (and a few other retail spots) offer generous gifts on your big day, and so I put this claim to the test a few weeks ago on my 23rd birthday.
It turns out you can pretty much eat for free throughout your entire birthday week — if you plan ahead.
A shocking number of places offer birthday freebies, but I learned that you have to register well in advance to take full advantage.
Most places require you to sign up for their email club or rewards program at least a week before your birthday, and some require up to a month’s notice.
I semi-planned ahead by registering three days in advance. This earned me more than enough freebies, but it also cost me in some situations, such as Jamba Juice and CVS, where I ended up dishing out some of my own money.
If you do plan far enough in advance, don’t limit the number of places you register (unless you mind an inbox flooded with promotional emails), because you don’t have to show up on your exact birthday to receive the free offering. Most restaurants will send you a coupon that expires a week or two after your birthday, or lasts through the duration of your birthday month.
What’s more, if this is your first time registering for the email club or rewards program, many of these places offer gifts for new members, so I found myself with double coupons for certain restaurants.
I ended up with eight purely free items and four discounted purchases — which included a substantial entreé from Moe’s Southwest Grill, enough baked ziti to feed a family of five from Buca di Beppo, and my body weight in ice cream — and I barely scratched the surface.
If you’re looking for one (or multiple) inexpensive birthday treats, start planning today.