Years ago Pizza Hut had a television commercial strategically planted during popular children's shows reminding kids that every Tuesday they can eat FREE PIZZA! Seeing as 10 year olds everywhere love pizza, naturally, my sister begged my mother to go; “but it's FREE! Why not?” Determined to get that free pizza she hopped on her bike and made the 5 km journey to the neighbourhood Pizza Hut (which happened to be WAY out of the approved “play outside boundaries”. Upon arrival, my lone little sister confidently approached the hostess and explained that she was there for kids-eat-free-Tuesday. To her disappointment the hostess gently explained that kids eat free when accompanied by an adult that purchases a meal. The shock. The sorrow. How could Pizza Hut have deceived her so? She returned home in tears.
Always read the fine print when it comes to freebies.
With that said, you can still get free stuff if you make a sport of it. I just recently celebrated a birthday and made it my mission to get as many things free of charge as possible. First stop, What a Bagel. A co-worker mentioned that you can get a dozen bagels free on your birthday. Just flash your government ID and presto bagels galore! I must admit that I was a tad suspicious thinking back to my sister's lesson learned that nothing is completely for free. Did I have to buy something else first? Be a frequent customer with a points card? Bring someone else hungry for bagels? I walk in, fill a brown bag with a few pumpernickel here, a few whole wheat there, and a cinnamon raisin for a treat. I head to the cash with ID in hand half expecting a look of confusion or mockery from the cashier. Instead, however, she takes my health card, hands it back and wishes me a Happy Birthday. That's it. Heading out the door I felt like I'd gotten away with shoplifting! That was just too easy.
Next stop was Starbucks. A few months back I'd gotten a gift card and followed the instructions on the back of the card to sign up online for a free birthday drink. Happily, Starbucks did deliver its drink as promised. I received a card in the mail a week prior to my big day which could be exchanged in store for ANY beverage! Wow, I was expecting some limit on the size and fanciness of drink but no, I walked out the cafe with a Venti Green Tea Frappuccino with whipped cream on top and slurped it down. Heaven!
As for dinner with friends, many restaurants (Tucker's Market for example) offer a free meal for the birthday boy or girl HOWEVER don't make my sister's mistake; they always expect you to come in with paying friends or family. The same for a Dairy Queen Blizzard. I had signed up for their e-newsletters and every year I receive a buy-one-get-one free Blizzard. Normally it's not too hard to find someone to go out for ice-cream with!
I figure your birthday only comes once a year so you may as well make the most of it! I don't feel too bad about scavenging round for free things since in the end I do these companies a favour by passing on the word about how nice the staff was and how good the product was. Free stuff always puts me in a good mood so it's free advertising for them and bagels and high end coffee for me!