Americans make more over birthdays that Japanese do, so if you want to show appreciation for an American co–worker or friend, a birthday is a good opportunity. If the person has been especially nice to you and you have felt that you would like to offer a Japanese–style orei, this is an excellent opportunity.
America is a “greeting card kingdom” and a birthday card is an inexpensive way to show you think a person is special. If you want to also give a present, it should reflect the closeness of your relationship. Home–baked cookies or something that is hand–made is always welcome. The time you have taken to prepare the gift is an expression of friendship.