When friends have big birthdays, typically ones that end in a ‘0’, we want to celebrate them and this often means buying them a meaningful gift. But coming up with the right gift can be tricky! It has to be in the right price range (don’t want to insult, don’t want to break the bank), show your thoughtfulness in choosing it, and of course be something your friend didn’t know they wanted and LOVE beyond words upon receipt. Depending on the recipient, it could be an experience, a piece of jewelry, a meal, an item of clothing, or something more personal!
A unique gift can come from you alone, or from a group of friends, and this decision will impact what the item is. This past week a friend had her 60th birthday and instead of each friend individually gifting something, one friend put out a quick email to everyone and we went in together on a group gift. It was a win-win all around. With everyone pitching in, we were able to get her a beautiful diamond necklace, because when 15+ people put in $50 each, the item gets super nice very quickly! And the recipient was thrilled with one really nice, meaningful gift that she’ll treasure forever instead of 15 items that may not have lasted a lifetime.
Here are our combined Fab5 suggestions for both individual and group ‘special birthday’ gifts.
- Personalized bag. LL Bean and Land’s End have canvas options that you can personalize – with initials, a saying, or otherwise. Mark and Graham has beautiful options. Scout has fun, affordable bags that we love and that last for years, however they can’t be personalized.
- Photobook or framed pictures. Make a photobook of your years of friendship – anyone would love that and having something personalized that you took time to great is so meaningful. A personalized photo gift is also to be appreciated. I’ve read recent great recs about this company to print photos online.
- Glassybaby handmade votive holders in colors that have meaning to the birthday recipient. Each one has a ‘name’ so you can choose the colors based on the names that are meaningful to the birthday recipient. You also do this as a group gift with everyone choosing a votive with a name that reminds them of the recipient.
- Beautiful ‘personalized’ sweater. Staud makes beautiful ones that you can have personalized with a picture of a pet. They have cashmere options as well as more affordable sweatshirts that are adorable! Lingua Franca also makes beautiful cashmere sweaters you can personalize with words on the front. Great group gift as well, depending on the price of the item you choose.
- Nice PJ’s. Most people I know don’t splurge on really nice sleepwear. Even though we wear it daily there seems to be a guilt often associated with spending here for some reason. So help a friend out! Who wouldn’t love a set of beautiful comfy PJ’s from Lake (lots of choices in short sleeves, long sleeves, different types of cotton etc) or a fun print from PrintFresh? Good group gift as well!
- Bonus: Gift the number of items of the birthday being celebrated. If it’s a 50th birthday, how about giving a box of 50 delicious chocolates from Frans or Sees? Or you can write 50 things you like about the person and put them in a beautiful vessel.
- Bonus Bonus: Is there a cause your friend cares about? For my birthday a friend adopted an orphaned elephant in my name at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi because she knew it was important to me. It was a great gift.
Group Gifts (obviously depends on how many people are going in on it and the per-person budget!)
- Jewelry. So many options here! I’ve gone in on group gifts from Nordstrom like this diamond necklace, or this one, which I have and basically never take off. You can also check The Real Real for great finds on jewelry – a little hunting on the site can really pay off. A silver charm bracelet like this one or this more budget friendly option where everyone goes in together on the bracelet and then picks out an individual charm that is meaningful to them about the recipient (have them get the kind of charms that clip on and don’t need to be put on my a jeweler!). Also check out Etsy for both the charm bracelets and charm options. Gabrielle Sanchez earrings are always a beautiful option as well if budget permits.
- A spa day. Who doesn’t want a day of R&R as it’s something few of us give ourselves? A gift certificate for a massage and a facial would be a great gift. You could combine it with a robe or jammies from Lake or PrintFresh (see #5 above).
- An experience. Does your friend enjoy a hobby in particular that you could use for a gift idea? If she loves Pickleball, how about giving her a fun personalized racquet with her photo on it or a cute new workout jacket and setting up a surprise late afternoon round-robin tournament with friends followed by drinks and appetizers?
- Bag/purse. I got this Clare V bag as a gift from some girlfriends and I just love it! There are a ton from which to choose depending on her style and needs. If your budget is bigger you could go for a Jerome Dreyfuss bag.
- A night or weekend away. A one or two-night get-away can be a huge treat, especially for someone who doesn’t get away much, has small kids, or has been through a rough patch and just needs a break. It could be an Airbnb gift card, a hotel gift card and if it is a staycation at a nearby hotel, an Uber gift card would be a nice add-on.
- Bonus: Theater/Concert Tickets: Is there a great play or concert coming to town? You may have to confirm your friend is in town, but once that is agreed upon, one or two tickets to the latest stage hit or upcoming concert of a favorite artist would be a perfect gift.