When you’re a college student, free stuff is always appreciated, especially when it’s time to celebrate!

It was my birthday a few days ago, and I decided to spend it the best way possible: seeing just how many freebies I can collect from all the “birthday deals” that chain restaurants and coffee shops offer.

I did ample research before heading out my adventure– the Internet was saying that many chain restaurants just need you to sign up for their rewards program in order for you to get a free item ranging from coffee to pastries to ice cream. The best deal seemed to have been a free brow waxing at Benefit and a free cupcake at Sprinkles. Unfortunately, both those stores were too far downtown.

I started the day off at Pret. The little shop near 116th that has gotten me so many miserable days back when school happened on campus. A little sandwich before a long day of class. The feel-good “little cup of goodness”, the various Mac and cheeses…being back in the shop gave me a wave of nostalgia. I asked the worker at the check out if they had any birthday deals. They said they didn’t. I thanked them and turned around to leave……until they called out: “Hold on! Is it your birthday today? What would you like?” And that’s how I left the store with this deliciousness:

My next stop was Dos Toros. For those of you who have been here a while, you know my relationship with them. I had high hopes, but they also didn’t have a deal. Fortunately, they were kind enough to give me chips and guac on the house on top of the meal I was ordering anyway!

Next: Haagen Dazs. I knew they offered a free scoop of ice cream on your birthday. I had registered for their app months ago, and all I had to do was re-download it and redeem my coupon. The best strawberry ice cream that exists is at Haagen Dazs, by the way. You have to trust me even if you don’t like strawberry ice cream. Here’s my birthday scoop:

The man with the glasses at Kung Fu Tea and I go way back. I was their consistent customer all throughout quarantine, being one of the only students left on campus through the trenches of COVID-19 (March, April, May). I told him it was my birthday, and I didn’t have to say anything more.

Finally, I got my free Starbucks drink. Reward members can get a free drink on their birthday. I actually got two free drinks because the baristas I spoke to were REALLY nice. This location wasn’t by campus, but it’s offered by campus too.

Unfortunately, it seems that most places don’t actually have set birthday deals near campus. However, if you are shameless and overly obsessed with your birthday like I am, feel free to ask around. These places worked for me, but along the way I did also get rejections from Shake Shack, Junzi, Pressed Juicery, and the new Blue Bottle Coffee. Embarrassing, but worth it.

Images via The Amazing Internal Editor Birthday Girl Vivian