Everybody loves getting stuff for free, but we’re often times left not knowing where to look, or when we can get it. Each and every year there are days on the calendar that businesses set aside as freebie days to attract customers (or just to have some fun). When it comes down to it, holidays and pseudo-holidays make for great times to troll for free stuff, and you can get all sorts of things gratis these days. Whether it’s food, office supplies or massages, these are the 12 best days of the year for getting free stuff — so mark them on your calendars.
National Pancake Day – February 23
So what if IHOP’s National Pancake Day is based on a religious holiday — free pancakes are free pancakes, so join the celebration! Plus, IHOP is doing it for a good cause, so why not join them on National Pancake Day? This year’s NPD has already passed, but they’ve been celebrating this wonderful day every year since 2006, and have raised over $3.25 million through donations in the process. IHOP hopes to raise over $5 million for Children’s Miracle Network in five years, so make sure you add this one to your calendar.
Cyber Monday – Monday Following Black Friday
Cyber Monday is a newly coined holiday, invented in 2005 by the National Retail Foundation, to signify the beginning of the online holiday shopping season — a great partner to Black Friday. It really went mainstream last year, and there were some decent freebies to be found. After searching, we found a great deal that Staples offered last year, for $25 worth of Sharpies and $25 worth of Duracell batteries — free. It required a little bit of following directions, but was well worth it. This year, be sure to keep an eye peeled for similar freebies and other price-slashing deals.
Mother’s Day – Second Sunday in May
The first national Mother’s Day was in 1914, and started off as something a bit different than it is today — President Wilson declared that citizens show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war. Nowadays, Mother’s Day has become a bit more commercialized, but we still pay tribute to the all the moms we know and the bonds we share with them. There are tons of freebies out there for Mother’s Day, so if you didn’t catch any other them this year, you’re not out of luck. Many restaurants offer anything from free appetizers and desserts to full meals for dear mother, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find things like free massages to help her de-stress. She probably needs it.
Starbucks Free Pastry Day – March 23
Whether you love the mainstream coffee chain or not, you can’t pass up Starbucks’ yearly Free Pastry Day. All you have to do is set your alarm, make sure you have the invitation printed out — or ready to show on your mobile device — and drag your bum out of bed to the nearest Starbucks on March 23. Why the alarm? Well, the promotion ends at 10:30 am on the day of, and those pastries will probably clean out quickly. Oh, there’s a small catch: You must purchase one of their hand-crafted or brewed beverages. It’s totally worth it though, and whether you prefer scones, muffins, donuts or pound cake; they’ve got it all.
Super Bowl Sunday – First Sunday in February
After Thanksgiving Day, Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption. Americans get together en masse to watch their teams duke it out for bragging rights, and it requires some serious chow to keep the huge parties going. Sandwich platters, wings, chips, and decorations — we go all out. Whether you watch the big game at home or at your favorite bar, there are freebies to be had! Many restaurants and bars offer free appetizer buffets and killer beer specials, with contests and prizes during half-time. We even found a couple companies offering free bottles of hot sauce and spreads through their Facebook page. One of the biggest Super Bowl promotions in recent memory is Denny’s free Grand Slam Breakfast in celebration of this de facto holiday.
Valentine’s Day – February 14
Valentine’s day is observed by many countries, and although here in the U.S. it has turned into a commercialized mess, you can still take advantage of some freebies to share with your significant other. If you want to go out to grab a bite, Schlotzsky’s Deli offers a free slice of cheesecake, carrot cake or 3 cookies with any purchase. Buca di Beppo will treat you with a free order of chocolate covered strawberries when you dine with them (which is pretty nice since it’s already a good Vday spot). If dining out isn’t your thing, many beauty, hair and skin care companies — like Aveda and Sephora — offer free samples with purchase both online and in stores.
National Pretzel Day – April 26
National Pretzel Day is an unofficial holiday of uncertain origins, but it’s a tasty and gastronomically beneficial one nonetheless. Just like National Donut Day, you can find free pretzels at many different locations on National Pretzel Day, whether it’s a local shop or mainstream chain. In the past, Pretzelmaker and Pretzel Time have offered free pretzels to the first 100 patrons to say ‘combo crazy’ at the counter on April 26th. Make sure that when National Pretzel Day comes around next year, you start searching for participating places near you. And even if you do miss it, Auntie Anne’s runs their own Free Pretzel Day on February 20th.
Tax Day – April 15
Tax Day isn’t usually a favorite on the long list of special days, but many retailers and restaurants do their best every year to raise our spirits with free stuff. Last year, Starbucks offered free coffee if you brought your own mug, Dunkin Donuts a free donut with coffee purchase, Taco Del Mar a free taco, Boston Market a BOGO meal, and Cinnabon even offered free mini cupcakes — the list goes on. For those interested in some relaxation, HydroMassage offered free 10 minute massages. Basically, if you walk outside on Tax Day, you can find something free — or at the least discounted.
Father’s Day – Third Sunday in June
Though it took years to make this holiday official (it was introduced in 1910, but wasn’t made a national holiday until 1972), Father’s Day is now proudly celebrated alongside Mother’s Day. And what better way to celebrate than to show off to your old man how clever you’ve grown up to be by finding a ton of free stuff! At the Spaghetti Warehouse, dads eat free with a purchase of entree and drink; TCBY offers dads a free cone, and he can even stop over at Ikea for a free breakfast before shopping. Last year, a Canadian radio station ran a contest for a free Father’s Day vasectomy. If you keep your feelers out, who knows what other free things you can come across.
Black Friday – Friday Following Thanksgiving Day
Traditionally, the Friday following Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season, and is aptly named Black Friday for all of the crazies storming retail stores. There’s an unspeakable amount of free stuff you can come across, especially if you’re willing to send in rebates (and actually wait for a response). What kinds of free stuff? Staple guns, DVD-Rs, office supplies, food and beauty samples, snow globes, breakfast, appetizers, gift bags, vouchers, and even slices of pie. Just make sure you plan out your Black Friday to take advantage of the freebies, as they tend to get snapped up quickly.
It’s your birthday: a celebration of getting through another year, and that means presents! So, if you want to pad those numbers with even more free stuff, there are many lists of things to take advantage of. If you play it right, you can probably end up feeding yourself on free food alone. Burgers, ice cream, stir fry, subs, pizza — the list goes on. Some deals require that you simply show up, others require a printed coupon and/or joining their email club, so make sure you read up on the things you’re going after; you don’t want to end up disappointed on your big day. Once you’ve had your fill of food, there are even entertainment and other offers to be taken advantage of, like baseball tickets and free movie rentals.
National Donut Day – First Friday in June
National Donut Day started in 1938 as a fundraiser for the Chicago Salvation Army to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to pay homage to the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I. These days it serves as a great excuse for both independent donut shops and large franchise chains to reel in droves of hungry customers with their warm, sweet treats. Look to your local donut shops for free donuts on National Donut Day, this year it was on June 4th. If mainstream is your thing, Dunkin’ Donuts is offering a free donut with coffee purchase, and Krispy Kreme is offers a free donut too — no strings attached.
Looking for more freebies? Our friends at WiseBread posted a helpful blog post/podcast on How to Find Really Free Freebies.