Birthday Freebies in NYC: Where Kids Eat Free and Get Gifts
Rent-out-the-whole-museum and hire-a-marching-band kid birthday parties have their fans, but when it comes to that special day, we think it's nice to find a freebie.
Of course, there are plenty of at-home, DIY ways to celebrate your child's birthday for FREE, from mirror notes to playing hooky. But it's also the one time of year you can take advantage of all those corporate birthday clubs that promise to make your kid's big day even more special with fun freebies like complimentary gifts, food, and other deals.
We've rounded up a mix of local spots, with a lot of national chain restaurants and play spots thrown in, which all offer birthday goodies. Some are specific to kids, though some you can snag, too, and most will require some sort of email-list sign up.
Find more fun for their big day (maybe even a marching band) in our Birthday Party Guide and Directory for NYC families.
American Girl Store
If your daughter has hit the American Girl craze phase, be sure to sign up for the store's AG Rewards Program. In addition to earning points on every purchase, your daughter receives a free gift on her birthday, plus "Birthday Girl" stickers for her and her doll if you're dining in the on-site Cafe.
The restaurant offers a freebie for the birthday kid. Because the chain operates as a franchise, the freebie varies from location to location. Expect to nab a free appetizer, entree, or (most likely) dessert.
Barnes & Noble Kids' Club
Register for the B&N Kids' Club to enjoy a free cupcake at the bookstore's cafe.
RELATED: NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free
Big Daddy's Diner
This local chain offers e-mail subscribers a one-time 15 percent-off coupon for registering and a free birthday meal.
California Pizza Kitchen's CPK Rewards Program
NYC locations of this West Coast chain are admittedly limited, but sign up for its CPK Rewards loyalty program and you'll get a free dessert coupon during your child's (or your!) birthday month.
Sign up for (free) Camp membership, and take advantage of a super cool birthday celebration that includes a private tour of Camp with a counselor, and a little something special at the end of the tour!
Sign your child up for Nick Jr.'s free birthday club and their favorite character will celebrate them with a pre-recorded call. Choose from a variety of popular characters from the Paw Patrol gang, to Shimmer and Shine, Dora, SpongeBob, and more.
For some reason, this is the one restaurant my kids can seemingly always agree on, so we're big fans of the rewards program that lets you earn more freebies the more you spend, plus free birthday surprises.
This famed East Coast shaved-ice-and-custard chain doles out freebies to members of its Birthday Club. Parents can add each of their children to their account for this sweet treat. If your nearest location is seasonally operated, you'll receive a half-birthday treat instead.
If cupcakes are your favorite, this eatery offers escalating rewards: The more you visit, the bigger your perk. Don't worry, even the lowest level of perks earns you a free birthday cupcake!
The Children's Place Birthday Club
If you're not a fan of free food, how about new clothes? Children's Place lets parents add up to four kids to their My Place Rewards Account to receive coupons during their birth month for use in-store or online.
A version of this article was first published in 2012; it is updated annually.
Photos courtesy of the venues